Official Magazine of the Denver Bar Association

New UBE Rules Mean Big Changes Ahead for July 2016 ~ By Special Correspondent Eden Rolland

WritingThe Docket has recently acquired an advance copy of newly-revised regulations for taking the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which were inspired by the ABA House of Delegates’ adoption of Resolution 109 on February 8, 2016. The regulations, which are scheduled to go into effect in July 2016, largely impact the MEE essay portion of the exam. To assist readers and future UBE examinees, The Docket has generously combed through and condensed the new regulations into the following tips for success:

  • All essay answers must now be handwritten. Typed answers will not be accepted. Accordingly, all laptops and laptop cords, batteries, and peripheral devices will be prohibited from the test room.
    Penmanship will be graded and will constitute a significant portion of the final essay score. Cursive handwriting is preferred, and, consequently, worth more points, but printed block letter script will also be acceptable.
  • Examinees must also purchase their own cheat-proof essay answer booklet. Answer booklets must be of the yellow variety, lest they be confused with a certain legal citation manual of a different color. Due to the amount of time required to decipher, read and grade thousands of handwritten answers, the bar exam results will not be finalized for approximately six to eight months.
  • The revised regulations also include a new and innovative tool called the “Essay Generator.” Designed as a helpful study aid, the Essay Generator is a list of over a thousand legal words and phrases. The UBE regulations suggest that memorizing the Essay Generator’s words and phrases, and then using them in random combinations on essay answers, may lead to an improved essay score. Keep in mind that such terms must also be spelled correctly.
  • Each UBE test administration site will have a photocopy machine available. To prevent the loss of test booklets and to ensure that all answers are backed up in the system, each examinee will be required to photocopy his or her answer booklet after the test is completed (examinees should expect to pay ten cents per page, cash only) and place the photocopied answers in a UBE approved envelope (also to be provided by the examinee). The photocopied back-up answers must be sent to UBE administrators in an expedited fashion at the examinee’s expense.
  • To prevent cheating, answers must be written in UBE certified disappearing ink. When asked to explain how the disappearing ink essays could be graded and photocopied, a spokesperson replied, “We’re working on that.” Of course, examinees will be responsible for purchasing their own A-grade disappearing ink.
  • Finally, it has been rumored that several major commercial bar exam preparation companies received a leaked copy of the draft regulations. According to one source, who wishes to remain anonymous, the bar prep companies are rushing to produce deluxe penmanship practice handbooks. They are also developing proprietary “Essay Gener8ors” and ordering massive quantities of disappearing ink.

The spokesperson from the National Center for Creatively Clarified Bar Exams (NCBE), the organization that produced the draft regulations, has announced that “The NCBE has worked long and hard on these new regulations. We are confident that UBE examinees will feel as strongly about them as we do.” When asked about the overall impact of the changes, the NCBE spokesperson stated that the revised regulations are intended to: (a) reduce the stress associated with bar exam preparation; (b) increase transparency and/or decrease ambiguity; (c) increase stress associated with bar exam preparation; (d) obscure transparency and/or optimize ambiguity; or (e) all of the above. When asked to clarify the meaning of this statement, the NCBE spokesperson suggested that we were to choose the most appropriate response.The Docket sincerely hopes that this article proves useful and informative for future UBE examinees.

Good luck! D


Eden Rolland is a graduate of the University of Colorado Law School, and she used her laptop to take the Colorado bar exam in July 2015. She is currently a litigation fellow at the Denver City Attorney’s Office and can be reached at edenrolland@gmail.com.

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