Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 10, 2021

February California Bar Exam Pass Rate Rises 10 Percentage Points; It Would Have Hit All-Time Low Of 23.7% Without Change In Cut Score

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

California State Bar (2019)Today the State Bar released results of the February 2021 California Bar Exam and announced that 1,151 people (37.2 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. This pass rate represents an increase of 10.4 percentage points, or nearly 39 percent, from the February 2020 General Bar Exam pass rate of 26.8 percent.  ...

This year’s February exam was the second administered remotely, after the near-record cohort who took the exam in October. It was also the second graded under the reduced cut score of 1390, directed by the California Supreme Court in July 2020. If the cut score had remained at 1440, approximately 734 General Bar Exam takers (23.7 percent) would have passed this examination.

The February exam cohort was smaller than typical for a February exam (approximately 3,100 compared to 4,000–5,000 on average), likely attributable to the increased number of test takers for the October 2020 exam cohort, the availability of the new provisional licensure program, and the higher pass rate on the October exam. As is typical, a majority of the February exam cohort were repeat takers, although at a lower percentage than average (approximately 60 percent compared to the typical 70 percent).

February 2020 General Bar Exam preliminary statistics

  • Completed the exam: 3,098 applicants
  • First-time applicants: 1,227 (39.6 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for first-time applicants: 53.0 percent overall
  • Repeat applicants: 1,871 (60.4 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for repeat applicants: 27.0 percent overall

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

 School Type  First-Timers  Repeaters

 California ABA



 Out-of-State ABA



 California Accredited (not ABA)



 Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility



 Unaccredited: Correspondence



 Unaccredited: Distance-Learning



 All Others



 All Applicants



Cheryl Miller (The Recorder), California February Bar Exam Pass Rate Climbs to 37%:

Thirty-seven percent of those who took California’s February 2021 bar exam passed, the state bar announced Friday evening.

The pass rate marks a substantial improvement from the historic low of 27.9% who passed the February 2020 exam. But the percentage of those who passed is still lower than it was during many years in the 2010s, when the February pass rate climbed above 40% five times, even though the passing, or cut score, was 1440 instead of today’s 1390.

The state bar noted Friday that if February’s test had been graded with the 1440 cut score, just 23.7% would have passed.

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