Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, May 25, 2005


Page 3


Passage Rate for February Bar Examination Drops to 35.3 Percent


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Just over 35 percent of the 4,386 applicants who took the February California bar examination passed it, the Committee of Bar Examiners has reported.

The pass rate of 35.3 percent was down slightly from the February 2003 exam, which 37.3 percent of those taking it passed, according to a preliminary analysis released Friday by the committee. Just under 30 percent of those who took the exam were doing so for the first time, and 46.6 percent of them achieved a passing score, the committee said.

The first-timer pass rate was 49.5 percent for applicants who attended ABA-approved law schools in California and 52.1 percent for applicants from outside the state. The committee separately accredits some non-ABA California law schools, and 31.9 percent of the first-time applicants from those institutions passed.

The pass rate on the February bar exam is usually lower than that for the July exam, since many of those who fail the July exam repeat it in February. The number of people taking the February exam is also typically much smaller.

  The pass rate for the July 2003 exam was 49.4 percent, also down slightly from the 50.5 percent rate for the previous yearís exam. About 69 percent of the 7,788 applicants who took the exam in July were taking it for the first time.

  For the 3,076 applicants repeating the bar exam in February, the passing rates were 30.5 percent overall, 40.5 percent for applicants from California ABA-approved law schools, 36.5 percent for applicants from ABA schools outside of California, and 16.3 percent for applicants from schools accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners, which is a part of the State Bar of California.

  The bar examination consists of a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination, six essay questions, and two performance tests that are designed to assess an applicant’s ability to apply general legal knowledge to practical tasks.

The MBE is a nationwide test, and the mean scaled MBE score for the California exam was higher than the national average for the February 2004 exam, as it was for the February and July exams last year. For the February 2004 administration, the mean scaled MBE score in California was 1392, while for February 2003 the mean was 1397, compared with a national average 1359 for both years.

California also administers an attorneysí examination, which consists of the essay and performance test sections of the bar exam and is open to lawyers who have been admitted to the active practice of law in good standing for at least four years in another jurisdiction. The committee reported that 353 lawyers took that exam in February and 191 of them passed.

  Successful applicants who have satisfied other requirements for admissionóthose who have not been reported by local district attorneys for being in arrears with family or child support payments, who have received positive moral character determinations and who have received a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examinationómay be sworn in individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state during June.

In releasing the examination results, the committee noted that two incidents occurred during the February exam that impacted some of the applicants. Heavy rains in Southern California on the evening before the exam led to flooding of the Pasadena laptop test center, delaying the start of the morning session and forcing cancellation of the afternoon session.

  Some applicants at that center also experienced delays while attempting to save their answers using the test-taking software, which prevents access to other programs while taking the exam.

After consulting with psychometric experts, the committee awarded additional points to some applicants who experienced significant delays and estimated scores for the missing afternoon session based on the applicantsí scores for the remaining portions of the exam.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company