TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anderson:  The Top Ten Myths About the Bar Exam

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Top Ten Myths About the Bar Exam:

Myth #1. Bar exam difficulty is similar across all jurisdictions.
The fact is that the difficulty of passing the bar varies greatly from state to state. A person could pass the bar with a significant margin to spare in one state and still fail by a significant margin in another. The difficulty of most state bars is scaled to a passing score based on the Multistate Bar Exam. California and Delaware have the highest required scores to pass, and most other states have much lower scores. To give an illustration, in the California July 2016 bar only 43% passed. If they had taken the bar in New York, 70% would have passed.

Myth #2. The New York bar exam is a very difficult exam compared to other states.

This myth is often repeated by people who note that New York historically had a lower pass percentage than many other states. However, this is largely because of the large number of foreign-trained lawyers who take the bar in New York, who pass at much lower rates than US-trained lawyers. The reality is that New York's bar exam is average in its difficulty to pass. ...

Myth #8. The LSAT is the best predictor of your chances of passing the bar.
The LSAT actually is a fairly good predictor of your chances of passing the bar, but not the best. Your law school GPA (in particular your first-year GPA) is a much better predictor. This is especially true if you also take into account the competitiveness of the law school.

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