Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Bar Pass Rates Are Up. Is the Worst Over?

National Law Journal, Bar Pass Rates Are Up. Is the Worst Over?:

The six-year slide in bar exam pass rates looks to be at an end.

All but a handful of jurisdictions have thus far announced their results for the July 2019 exam, and the vast majority posted modest gains in their overall pass rates while a smaller number saw pass rate increases of 7% or more. That’s a welcome change for legal educators, who have been trying for years to reverse the decline in bar passers. ...

The National Conference of Bar Examiners predicted higher pass rates in early September, when it revealed that the national average score on the Multistate Bar Exam—the daylong, multiple-choice portion of the exam—had increased 1.6 points from the previous year, which represented a 34-year low. ...

It’s too soon to tell whether July’s relatively stronger results represent the start of a sustained turnaround in national bar pass rates, according to Pepperdine University law professor Derek Muller. But it’s a positive sign. “As incoming student quality has improved over the last few years, we should expect bar pass rates to continue to improve, too,” he said.

It remains to be seen whether California’s dismal bar pass rate will improve this year. Scores are not scheduled to come out until Nov. 15, and many are eagerly awaiting to see what happens in the state. Just 41% of bar takers there passed last July, and bar leaders have come under increasing pressure to lower its exam cut score, which is tied with Delaware as the highest in the nation.

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