Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 3, 2016

MBE Average Score Plummets To 33-Year Low; Declining LSAT Scores Of Current Law Students Portend Even Worse Bar Exam Carnage In 2016, 2017 & 2018

MBEABA Journal, Multistate Bar Exam Average Score Falls to 33-Year Low:

The mean scaled score on the February administration of the Multistate Bar Examination fell to 135, down 1.2 points from the previous year and the lowest average score on a February administration of the test since 1983.

The number of test-takers was up 4 percent from last year, from 22,396 in 2015 to 23,324 this year, according to Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which developed and scores the test. February scores are typically lower than July scores, Moeser said, because July test-takers tend to be first-time test takers, who generally score higher on the exam than repeat takers. ,,,

The July 2015 results were also down 1.6 points from the previous year, to 139.9, its lowest point since 1988.

Wall Street Journal, Bar Exam Scores Slip Even Further:

Disappointing but not a shock is how Ms. Moeser described the results. For a couple of years, she’s been warning — and arguing with some law schools — about the caliber of students they’re admitting.

She’s not the only one. Other legal education experts, pointing to an overall slide in LSAT scores of recent incoming classes, have projected weaker bar-exam performance.

As University of St. Thomas law professor Jerry Organ observed in January at the Legal Whiteboard blog:

Given that the LSAT profiles of matriculants and of law schools for fall 2013, fall 2014 and fall 2015 are less robust than those for fall 2011 and fall 2012 (the classes that graduated in 2014 and 2015, respectively), one can anticipate that the declines in median MBE scaled scores and corresponding bar passage rates in 2014 and 2015 will continue in July 2016, 2017 and 2018 absent increases in attrition … significant improvement in academic support programs at law schools, or improved bar preparation efforts on the part of graduates.


Above the Law, Multistate Bar Exam Average Score Plummets To Three-Decade Low:

"We believe we’re in the middle of a downward trend that is likely to continue for at least a couple more years," [Moeser] said.

How can this “downward trend” be stopped? One need only look to America’s law schools to find both the source and the solution to this problem.

When enrollment began to decline, numerous law schools lowered their admissions standards to fill their otherwise empty seats in an effort to avoid future financial troubles, with little regard as to whether their newly admitted students would be able to pass the bar exam after graduation. Admission standards must be raised to end this misery. If for some reason law schools find themselves unwilling to do so, they must institute and enforce the taking of remedial bar-exam preparation courses for all students, free of cost, for it was the law schools that set these students up for their incredibly expensive, but perhaps fruitless journeys in the first place.

We’ve said it multiple times in the past, and we’ll say it again because it continues to bear repeating: “Until law schools realize they’re doing a disservice to everyone — their students, their graduates, and their graduates’ future clients — things will only continue to get worse.” Don’t let the dumbing down of the legal profession happen on your watch.

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), February 2016 MBE Bar Exam Scores Drop to Lowest Point Since 1983:

The February 2016 results are the fourth consecutive exam to display a significant decline in MBE scores. In fact, it's the lowest score on the February test since 1983—even worse than the July 2015 results, which were the lowest since 1988. Below is a visualization of February test scores since 2005—note the precipitous drop in the last two tests.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink


So if the smarter students aren't going into law, what are they doing? Are they picking STEM subjects, including medicine and engineering?

That'd hardly be a loss for society. A stupid doctor and a patient dies. A stupid engineer and a bridge collapses. But lawyers come in clashing pairs. If stupid lawyer on one side is matched by one on the other, the result is perhaps unchanged.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Apr 3, 2016 7:09:08 PM