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Little is known about Amar Pal Singh except this: He’s living every law student’s worst nightmare. Singh got a 269 on the Georgia bar exam, which requires a score of 270 to pass. Singh and two statisticians claimed the scoring process is flawed and that he passed the February 2001 test with 0.27 points to spare. But the Georgia Supreme Court last week ruled unanimously for the bar examiners, holding that they did not violate the rules governing bar admission in calculating Singh’s score. Singh’s overall score, according to the court, turned out to be agonizingly close: 269.95. Singh declined to discuss his frustrations publicly, according to his lawyer, Kirk W. Watkins of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. Watkins said his client was not living in Atlanta and would not say what law school he attended. Watkins added that he would ask the justices to reconsider their ruling. Hulett H. “Bucky” Askew, the director of the supreme court’s Office of Bar Admissions, provided a little more insight: Singh has signed up to take the bar exam seven times without passing and is scheduled to take it again this month. Askew added that, unlike many bar applicants who barely miss a passing score, Singh has not called him to plead for ways to find an elusive point or two. He first heard of Singh’s plight when two statisticians from East Carolina University contacted him and sent a 16-page regression analysis arguing that the exam results were computed incorrectly. EXAMINERS’ METHODS CRITICIZED According to the court’s unsigned decision, the two unnamed statisticians concluded that the bar examiners’ methods were “inherently flawed” and “inconsistent and unfair.” “We took it very seriously,” Askew said of the charges. He said he consulted with the National Conference of Bar Examiners to see if the Georgia method was in error, but he was told that Georgia had not made a mistake. According to the court, the bar exam score is calculated by adding the applicant’s score on the Multistate Bar Exam, a multiple-choice test also known as the MBE, to the applicant’s score on an essay question test prepared by the Board of Bar Examiners. Raw test results are converted, or “scaled,” to conform to a format in which each test has a perfect score of 200 — or 400 total points. A passing grade is 67.5 percent, or 270. According to the decision, Singh’s February 2001 scaled results showed he received a 143 on the MBE and a 126 on the essays — totaling 269 points. But after obtaining his raw scores, Singh’s representatives calculated his scaled scores to two decimal places and claimed his MBE score was a 143.32, and his essay score was a 126.95 — totaling 270.27. In his appeal to the high court, he asserted the bar examiners used a “double-rounding/truncation” procedure that did not comply with the supreme court’s rules governing admission to the bar. MBE SCORE AT ISSUE Singh’s problem came from the MBE score, which Askew said comes to the bar examiners from American College Testing Inc., the company that grades that portion of the exam. Known as ACT, the company sends the raw data and a rounded, scaled score for each applicant-and since the 1980s the bar examiners have used the rounded MBE number. Thus, Singh’s MBE score was counted as 143, and when added to his 126.95 essay score, the result was a 269.95. Askew said that while the bar examiners use the rounded MBE scores, they do not round the total of the MBE and essay scores. Askew said that a computer program could expand the MBE scaled scores to two decimal places with relative ease, but he said he knew of no plans by the Board of Bar Examiners to do so. “There has to be a cut score,” he added, noting that if Singh had received a 143.5 or higher on the MBE, the testing company would have rounded it to 144, and Singh would have passed. ASKEW: SINGH ‘IS NOT ALONE’ Referring to the applicants who miss a passing score by a small margin, Askew said, Singh “is not alone.” Of the 607 students taking the February exam, 59.6 percent, or 362, passed. In its five-page decision, the court said the Board of Bar Examiners “acted within the confines of the rule when it adopted the policy to use the rounded, scaled score supplied by ACT as the scaled score for the MBE portion of the exam.” The court also denied Singh’s motion to be admitted to the bar by default because the justices did not decide his case within two terms — which is required by the state constitution for all cases that fall within the court’s general and exclusive appellate jurisdiction. Singh’s appeal was filed in September 2001, five terms ago. The two-term rule, the decision said, “is not applicable to those cases filed in this Court in furtherance of this Court’s exercise of its inherent authority to supervise and regulate the practice of law in Georgia.” In re Amar Pal Singh, No. S02Z0075 (Sup. Ct. Ga. Feb. 11, 2003).

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