Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Page 1


State Bar Exam Passage Rate Plummets to 27.3 Percent

Lowest Rate in the Period From 1951 to Present


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The passage rate for the February 2018 State Bar examination was only 27.3 per cent, the worst showing during the past 67-year period.

Of the 4,701 applicants who completed the exam, only 1,282 passed it.

The State Bar released statistics on the success rate starting with the Fall results for 1951, when 37.6 percent of the 1,040 applicants—a total of 391 persons—passed.

The highest percentage came when, in the Fall of 1962, it was announced that 63.4 percent of those taking the exam had come up with passing scores.

As is normal, a higher percentage of those taking the exam for the first time succeeded than repeaters and graduates of law schools accredited by the American Bar Association did better than those who were taught at other schools.

Supreme Court Directive

In light of declining passage rates, the California Supreme Court in February 2017 directed the State Bar to undertake a “thorough and expedited”‘ study of the exam. A Final Report on the 2017 California Bar Exam Studies was sent to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Sept. 14 of that year by State Bar President Executive Director Leah T. Wilson, with copies to members of the Legislature and law school deans.

 The report set forth, without recommendation, three alternatives: keep the required score for passage at 1,440; lower it to 1,414; lower it to 1,390. A group of law school deans urged lowering the needed number of points.

The Supreme Court in October decided to maintain the current standard.

Executive Director Comments

Wilson said in a press release issued late Friday:

“I warmly congratulate the 1,282 applicants who passed the latest California Bar Exam. I also want to acknowledge a low overall pass rate. In order to help improve performance on the bar exam, we recently launched the Productive Mindset Intervention Program. Through this program and ongoing study, we hope to better understand the downward trend of bar exam pass rates.”

The attorneys’ examination was administered to 577 out-of-state lawyers and 25 disciplined California lawyers required to pass the exam as a condition of reinstatement. Of the 602 taking the exam, 261, 43.4 percent, passed, none of whom, was among the 25 in-state lawyers.







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