Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Page 1


Passing Rate for February Bar Exam Drops Below 37 Percent




A little less than 37 percent of the 5,167 applicants who took the February California bar examination passed it, the Committee of Bar Examiners has reported.

The pass rate of 36.8 percent was down from last year’s 39 percent, according to a preliminary analysis released Friday by the committee, but was higher than that for the February 2005 exam, which 35.3 percent passed.

Just over 30 percent of those who took the exam were doing so for the first time, and 53 percent of them achieved a passing score, the committee said.

The first-timer pass rate was 61 percent for applicants who attended ABA-approved law schools in California and 52 percent for applicants from ABA-approved schools outside the state.

July 2006 Results

The committee separately accredits some non-ABA California law schools, and 31 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.

Nearly 9,000 applicants took the July 2006 exam, and the passing rate was 51.8  percent, the highest in five years.

The pass rate on the February exam, by contrast, went into steady decline after 48 percent passed in 1997. It dropped to 33.4 percent, the lowest in over a decade, in 2002, and has hovered between 35 and 40 percent since.

School-Specific Rates

For the 1,560 applicants repeating the bar exam in February, the passing rates were 30 percent overall, 39 percent for applicants from California ABA-approved law schools, 34 percent for applicants from ABA schools outside of California, and 12 percent for applicants from California-accredited-only schools.

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 exam, as it typically is. The mean scaled MBE score in California was 1397, compared with a national average of 1369.

California also administers an attorneys’ 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 380 lawyers took that exam in February and 181 of them passed.

The full pass list appears in a supplement to today’s MetNews and is now available on the State Bar’s Web site at

Successful applicants who have satisfied other requirements for admission—those 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 Examination—may be sworn in individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state during June.


Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company