Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, September 7, 2017


Page 1


State Bar Trustees: No Preference on Proposal To Lower Required Bar Examination Score


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The State Bar Board of Trustees yesterday opted to take no stance on whether the standard for passing the bar examination should be lowered or not, simply passing on to the California Supreme Court three possible choices: retaining the present score of 1440 points, lowering it to 1414, or going down to 1390.

Those were the options the State Bar put forth in seeking public comment on the matter. It conducted its study based on a directive in February from the high court to do so.

Outgoing State Bar President James Fox said yesterday:

“The State Bar’s process of reviewing potential cut scores has been as thorough, diligent and inclusive as possible, which were implemented to allow for potential application to the July 2017 bar exam. I’d like to thank everyone who provided public comment for this long overdue review of the bar exam passing score.”

In the past, the Committee of Bar Examiners decided on the required score, but the California Supreme Court recently shifted that power to itself.

Last year, 3,332 applicants passed the bar exam, which amounted to 43.3 percent. If a score of 1414 had sufficed, 3,598 persons, or 46.8 percent would have been admitted; if the required score had been 1390, 4,010 persons, or 52.1 percent, would have joined the ranks of lawyers, a 20.3 percent increase.

The largest effect would have been on test-takers whose law schools, though recognized in California, are not accredited by the American Bar Association. Only 100 persons in that category, 13 percent, passed the exam; if 1414 points were required, 131 persons, which is 17 percent, would have succeeded; if 1390 points had been the requirement, 169 persons, 21.9 percent, would have received bar certificates—an increase of 69 percent.

The increase in passage rates at 1390 points would have been 40.4 percent for blacks, 26.1 percent for hispanics, 23.5 percent for asians, and 17.3 percent for whites.


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