Thursday, October 10, 2013

Notes from the NCBEx Conference 2013

I saw a good number of a ASP faces at the NCBEx conference in Madison, WI last week, but there is not complete overlap between our worlds. For those of you who work in bar but could not attend the conference, here is a brief overview:

Susan Case, psychometrics guru of NCBE, started off by explaining the four multistate exams; MBE, MEE, MPT, and MPRE. Next, we heard from Christina Whitman of Minnesota, who discussed how the MBE committees draft MCQ's for the MBE. The bottom line: your faculty CANNOT draft MCQ that are similar to the MBE, unless they work in a group of ten experts and test teach MC question for at least five years. Judy Gunderson discussed the process of developing MEE and MPT items. Interestingly, MEE questions are drafted in a similar manner to MBE questions. The next sessions were devoted to discussion among bar graders about what they look for in a good bar exam answer. What they said would not surprise anyone in ASP; they look for a concise, well-drafted, organized answer that includes the relevant rule and an analysis. They do not want to see fact recitation in lieu of analysis, they don't like disorganized answers, and a treatise on the law with no analysis of the relevant facts isn't going to score well. Susan Case also discussed the predictors of bar success and bar failure; they are the factors we know well--MPRE passage, law school grades, and to a much lesser degree, LSAT's and UPA's. There was an open discussion on construction of bar courses at our schools; we are all trying a variety of methods. The variety reflects the diversity among law schools; different methods work for different students taking different bar exams.

In addition to the sessions, we discussed the spread of the UBE and what that means to bar exams everywhere, and the necessity of waivers so we can get access to essential graduate bar data for ABA reports.

Overall, it was an excellent, very, very packed  conference. I don't think a second was wasted; we woke up, ate an amazing breakfast, and had session after session filled with fascinating and critically important information on the bar exam. (RCF)


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