Paul L. Caron
Dean




Saturday, January 9, 2021

California Bar Exam Pass Rate Is Highest In 12 Years, Due To Lower Cut Score; Supreme Court May Grant Licenses To 2,000 Applicants Who Failed Exams Since July 2015 And Scored 1390 Or Higher

California State Bar (2019)The California State Bar has released the results from the October 2020 online bar exam. The overall pass rate was 60.7%, up 10.6 percentage points from last year's July exam. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate for first time test-takers was 84%, up 12.7 percentage points from 2019. The was the first exam graded under the new cut score of 1390, reduced from 1440 by the California Supreme Court on July 16, 2020.

State Bar of California Releases Results of October 2020 Bar Exam:

Today the State Bar released results of the October 2020 California Bar Exam and announced that 5,292 people (60.7 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. If those who passed satisfy all other requirements for admission, they will be eligible to be licensed by the State Bar to practice law in California. The October 2020 General Bar Exam pass rate is the highest in more than a decade, since July 2008.

“We heartily congratulate the 5,292 applicants who passed the General Bar Exam and the 323 candidates who passed the Attorneys’ Exam in this tremendously challenging year. We are pleased that the first-ever remote bar exam will result in such a large influx of new attorneys at a time when more people than ever need legal help. We hope to welcome all those who passed to California’s legal profession very soon," said Donna Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director of the State Bar.

The October bar exam was unprecedented in several ways:

  • It was administered to a near-record number of examinees, 9,301, the largest cohort since 2013.
  • It was the first-ever to be administered online remotely. Of the total cohort, 8,920 took the exam online.
  • It was the first exam graded under the new cut score of 1390, reduced from 1440 by the California Supreme Court on July 16, 2020.
  • It was the first exam graded under a streamlined two-phase grading system, approved by the Committee of Bar Examiners in August 2020 to increase efficiency and shorten the grading timeline.

October 2020 General Bar Exam preliminary statistics

  • Completed the exam: 8,723 applicants
  • First-time applicants: 4,999 (57.3 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for first-time applicants: 74.0 percent overall
  • Repeat applicants: 3,733 (42.8 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for repeat applicants: 43.0 percent overall

Pass rate for the General Bar Exam (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type:

School Type

First-Timers

Repeaters

California ABA

84%

50%

Out-of-State ABA

78%

43%

California Accredited (not ABA)

40%

30%

Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility

56%

27%

Unaccredited: Correspondence

34%

47%

Unaccredited: Distance-Learning

36%

34%

All Others

49%

44%

All Applicants

74%

43%

Derek Muller (Iowa), California Bar Exam Jumps After Lowering of Cut Score:

The first-time pass rate among California ABA-accredited law schools rose from 71.3% to 84%. This is a big jump and good news for many law schools. Part might be the loss of some more marginal formerly-accredited schools in this figure. But the bulk is assuredly because California test-takers are more capable than the typical test-taker, and while 139 is still a relatively high cut score, it swept in a lot of new passers. The out-of-state ABA pass rate rose from 73% to 78%, not as dramatic. ... [I]t’s good news for law schools and law students in the state of California.

The Recorder, Pass Rate on California's October Bar Exam Jumps to 12-Year High:

California’s exam, moved online due to pandemic-related crowd concerns, was a magnet for scrutiny and complaints about the technical software and testing accommodations. More than 3,100 test-takers were initially flagged for possible rules violations, such as leaving the camera’s field of vision.

After reviews, most of the flagged activity was cleared, according to the bar. Of the 400 issues that were investigated further, 47 violations were affirmed, 376 were not affirmed and six have not been decided, according to the bar.

California’s bar will hold next month’s exam online as well.

Bloomberg Law, California Bar Exam Pass Rate Spikes in First-Ever Online Test:

Test takers across the country have seen mixed results in their states’ first-ever online bar exams.

The October pass rate spiked to 84% in New York, a nearly 20% jump from the in-person test in July of 2019. The number of test takers for the online exam dropped by nearly half, however, a change that observers said likely boosted the pass rate.

Pass rates ticked up in Washington, D.C. (76.3%), Maryland (70%), and Ohio (77.3%) in those states’ online exams, while Texas saw its pass rate (60%) plummet by 17%.

Law 360, Calif. State Bar Approves Plan To Expand Temporary Licenses:

A California State Bar committee on Friday voted to extend the temporary lawyer licensing program to any test-taker since July 2015 whose scores passed a newly reduced threshold, providing a path for more law graduates to be admitted by the bar without having to retake the exam.

The Bar's board of trustees approved Rule of Court 9.49.1, which amended the recently adopted provisional bar licensure program to allow any bar applicant who scored 1390 or higher on the bar exam between July 2015 and February 2020 to temporarily practice under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

The amended rule will also allow program participants who have completed a certain number of supervised work hours to gain admission to the State Bar without having to take another bar exam.

Members of the State Bar of California's provisional licensure working group have proposed two options for the number of required hours of supervised legal practice. The first requires 360 hours for participants who scored 1390 or higher on the exam before July 2017, and 480 hours for those who scored at least 1390 between July 2015 and February 2017. The second option would raise the work requirements to 600 hours and 400 hours, respectively.

Both options are now heading to the California Supreme Court for review and final approval.

October 2020 California Bar Examination Percentile Table

Percentile

Score

5

1156

10

1218

15

1259

20

1293

25

1319

30

1343

35

1364

40

1392

45

1406

50

1426

55

1446

60

1466

65

1489

70

1516

75

1543

80

1570

85

1606

90

1647

95

1702

The table above shows the percentage of General Bar Examination candidates who completed the examination who had total scale scores that were as high as the tabled value or less. For example, 65 percent of the candidates had a total scale score of 1489 or less. Thus, 35 percent had total scale scores that were greater than 1364.

ABA Journal, California Releases Bar Exam Results, and Like Many Jurisdictions Sees Increase in Pass Rates

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2021/01/california-bar-exam-pass-rate-is-highest-in-12-years-due-to-lower-cut-score-supreme-court-may-grant-.html

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink