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Friday, April 5, 2013

Anderson: State Bar Exam Difficulty Rankings

My Pepperdine colleague Rob Anderson blogs The Most Difficult Bar Exams:

Law students and lawyers evaluate the relative difficulty of bar exams all the time. The most intuitive measure involves simply comparing bar passage rates among the states. That gives some indication of the bar exam's difficulty, but of course the composition of bar takers may vary significantly across states, making such a comparison potentially misleading.

To develop a slightly more accurate assessment of relative bar difficulty, I ran a regression of the bar passage rate for each ABA-accredited school for 2010 and 2011 on the school's median undergraduate GPA and LSAT, with an indicator variable for each state, weighted by the number of takers at each school. I collected this information from the LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools (Alaska, Delaware, and the DC bars were omitted because of too few observations).

The table below sets out the resulting ranking of state bar exams in order from most difficult to least difficult. For each state, the weighted average LSAT score and the calculated (in the data) and overall (reported by the state) bar passage rates for 2010-2011 is set forth, along with the "bonus percent" relative to the California bar. The "bonus percent" is, roughly speaking, the percentage point bonus for a school's bar passage rate relative to the California bar (with predictors held at their averages).

Here are the 10 most difficult state bars under Rob's analysis:

State Bar Examination

Bonus Percent

Calculated Average LSAT

Calculated Passage Rate

Overall Passage Rate

1

California

0.00

160.92

75.69

72.22

2

Arkansas

1.43

155.21

72.75

73.35

3

Washington

3.29

158.45

76.52

72.82

4

Louisiana

3.78

154.86

73.09

70.00

5

Nevada

4.72

158.41

77.85

72.86

6

Virginia

5.10

163.10

83.43

77.61

7

Oregon

5.19

159.21

78.67

76.04

8

West Virginia

6.47

153.43

76.78

78.80

9

Vermont

7.87

155.04

77.78

81.18

10

Maryland

7.99

160.40

82.82

79.08

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