Paul L. Caron

Saturday, November 17, 2018

July 2018 California Bar Exam Pass Rate Falls To 67-Year Low

California Bar ExamThe California State Bar has released the results from the July 2018 bar exam. The overall pass rate was 40.7%, down 8.9 percentage points from last year and a 67-year low. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate was 64%, down 6 percentage points from 2017.  The mean scaled MBE was 1404 compared with the national average of 1395 (a 32-year low).

The Recorder, Nearly Six in 10 Failed California's July 2018 Bar Exam:

The results mirror lower bar scores in other states. The percentage of successful test-takers in Pennsylvania, Texas [results by school], New York [results by school], Florida [results by school], and Indiana all dipped year over year. ... But California’s nearly six-in-10 failure rate is shocking for a state that has tried to boost scores by shortening the test by a day and conducting studies of the notoriously difficult exam.

State Bar of California, State Bar Releases July 2018 Bar Exam Results:

"I want to congratulate the thousands of applicants who passed the July 2018 California Bar Exam. We’re also troubled by a low pass rate, and are working to better understand the reasons behind this national trend," said Leah T. Wilson, Executive Director of the State Bar of California. "Over the last 18 months we have conducted four distinct studies on the California Bar Exam designed to determine if the passing score is appropriate and the content valid. While these studies did not suggest that changes to either should be made at this time, the State Bar takes seriously its commitment to ensuring integrity and fairness in the admissions process. We have just launched a California Attorney Job Analysis Study to collect information about the knowledge and skills that entry level attorneys need. This job analysis will form the basis of a new review of the exam itself to ensure that the Bar Exam is relevant and actually testing what’s needed."

The first meeting of the working group for the Job Analysis Study will be held on December 10, 2018, at the State Bar’s San Francisco office. The study is currently expected to be published in December 2019.

The State Bar is also looking forward to the evaluation of the Productive Mindset Study, which may assist the State Bar and California law schools in developing mechanisms to help students better position themselves for success on the Bar Exam.


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If you'd like to believe that, please do some further research. It's a private agency that masquerades as a state doesn't fool anyone. No one is elected. It's pure cronyism and biased essay grading, fixing re-reads and final decisions as to who gets in first.

Posted by: M Hayden | Nov 24, 2018 12:36:28 PM

The State Bar of California is a state agency. The website is, for example.

Posted by: Timothy Kelly | Nov 21, 2018 7:19:22 AM

Depends on what you call "substantially." The overall 1st time pass rate was 55%, the first-time pass rate for out-of-state ABA schools was 58%, and the first time pass rate for California-based ABA schools was 64%. While 64 is certainly higher than 55, a 64% first-time pass rate for in-state ABA schools is still nothing to write home about.

Posted by: Au contraire | Nov 19, 2018 7:18:51 AM

That is commented all the time. However, non-ABA schools are a small minority of test takers. Furthermore, the consist of many hardworking intelligent adults, most of whom are mid-career, trying to join the ranks of an elitist society. CaBar endures that Stanford, USC, etc have the most passers or those programs (and the ABA itself) would lose its elitism and the US’ belief in it. This is being called out. CaBar is a private (not state) agency and is nothing short of a country club. It’s been widely whispered that the graders or committee members who make the final decisions can actually see what school the examinee attended. This needs to be investigated

Posted by: M Hayden | Nov 19, 2018 6:02:56 AM

Perhaps but what would it matter. It says the pass rate for ABA schools are 64% so thats very high if thats what you choose to do.

Posted by: rocket | Nov 18, 2018 9:11:29 PM

I took the exam and passed, July1984. My wife did not. The pass rate was about 42. Now my son failed July 2018 when the rate was about 41 %.
Is the bar out to get examinees with my last name or is there a logical explanation?

Posted by: Steve Benton | Nov 18, 2018 9:43:43 AM

If California were to require graduation from an ABA-accredited law school, the pass rate would improve substantially!

Posted by: John Saunders | Nov 17, 2018 12:04:36 PM