Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Muller: The MBE Was Not 'Harder' Than Usual This Year

NCBEDerek Muller (Pepperdine), No, the MBA Was Not "Harder" Than Usual:

I frequently read comments, on this site and others, commenting that the bar exam was simply harder than usual. Specifically, I read many people, often law faculty (who didn't take the exam this year) or recent graduates (the vast majority of whom are taking the bar exam for the first time), insisting that the bar, especially the Multistate Bar Exam ("MBE") is "harder" than before.

Let's set aside, for now, and briefly, (1) rampant speculation, (2) cognitive biases suggesting that the instance in which someone is taking a multiple choice test that counts for something feels "harder" than ungraded practice, (3) erroneous comparisons between the MBE and bar prep companies, (4) retroactive fitting of negative bar results with negative bar experiences, or (5) the use of comparatives in the absence of a comparison.

Let's instead focus on whether the July 2015 bar exam was "harder" than usual. The answer is, in all likelihood, no--at least, almost assuredly, not in the way most are suggesting, i.e., that the MBE was harder in such a way that it resulted in lower bar passage rates. ...

Law schools ignore this to their peril. Blaming the exam without an understanding of how it actually operates masks the major structural issues confronting schools in their admissions and graduation policies. And it is almost assuredly going to get worse over each of the next three July administrations of the bar exam.

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Can some faculty member please explain to me how this isn't a huge looming disaster? How will a school represent that it has a high bar-passage required employment rate when only 55% of the class passes the bar?

Posted by: JM | Sep 30, 2015 12:18:56 PM