Paul L. Caron
Dean


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Five Days Before The Bar Exam, California Bar Inadvertently Released The Topics Covered On The Exam

Ca Bar 2

State Bar Email

State Bar 5

State Bar of California, Bar Exam Topics Release FAQs:

  • What happened? ...
  • Does this impact the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) as well? ...
  • Was this a systems or human error? ...
  • Why did only 16 deans get the memo? ...
  • Which deans got the memo? ...
  • What led to the decision to release the topics to all applicants? ...
  • Did the State Bar consider changing the topics for the exam? ...
  • Did the State Bar consider postponing the exam? ...
  • How will this event affect the scoring of the exam? ...
  • What measures is the State Bar taking in the aftermath of this error? ...

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), California's Leak of Bar Exam Topics Should Have Little If Any Impact on Likelihood of Passing:

The California State Bar made a big mistake with a lot of questions that remain to be answered. Fortunately, the mistake should have little, if any, impact on anyone’s likelihood of passing the July 2019 bar exam.

Revealing the topics of the essays gives everyone two advantages. The first is common (assuming everyone opens the email more than a few hours before the essays Tuesday, July 30.) You know that Question 1 is about Civil Procedure. Everyone knows that and can start from word go addressing Civil Procedure and only Civil Procedure on Question 1. So everyone’s scores may go up a bit. ...

The second advantage is that students can stop studying other, irrelevant topics like Wills & Trusts and focus exclusively on these areas. Again, it should have the same effect: everyone studies the same set of topics, everyone knows them a bit better, everyone scores a bit better. ...

[F]or the vast majority of law students, the leak should not affect them at all. I hope this gives a small comfort to the thousands of test-takers ahead of Tuesday’s test—you have worked very hard for many long hours, and it is that that will overwhelmingly determine your performance. Hang in there.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/07/five-days-before-the-bar-exam-california-bar-inadvertently-released-the-topics-covered-on-the-exam.html

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Comments

I guess the California State Bar saw how the SAT keeps getting leaked out of Asia the week before it is administered in the US and thought "That's the sort of 21st century forward-thinking test administration we want!"

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 28, 2019 12:30:31 PM

Actually, the real reason it won't make any difference is that all bar essay scores are scaled to the MBE scores, and the MBE scores won't be affected by the release--at least, not favorably. Maybe people will spend time on the Cal-law tested issues and get confused on general or federal law.

Posted by: Old law pro | Jul 28, 2019 1:31:14 PM

Quote: [F]or the vast majority of law students, the leak should not affect them at all. I hope this gives a small comfort to the thousands of test-takers ahead of Tuesday’s test—you have worked very hard for many long hours, and it is that that will overwhelmingly determine your performance.

Yeah, but what is not said is more revealing. Those smart enough or hard-working enough to pass without this boost will still pass. Those on the borderline for whatever reason will benefit. Some of those who might have failed will now pass thanks to last-minute cramming.

That's why, although the release to the deans might be inadvertent, the decision to tell every who will be taking the test is not. Why they made that choice is all too obvious. It will drag a few marginally unqualified test takers across the line, improving the closely watched pass rate for their particular law schools.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Jul 29, 2019 11:03:25 AM