Bar Exam

California's bar pass rate is at a 29-year low; these states also saw a drop

  • Print.

The percentage of people passing the California bar exam in July 2015 has dropped to 46.6 percent overall, down from 48.6 percent last July. The percentage is the lowest point since July 1986, when only 44.4 percent passed.

The pass rate for first time test takers in California also dropped, going from 61.4 percent in July 2014 to 60 percent in July 2015, report Above the Law and the National Law Journal (sub. req.).

The overall bar pass rate also dropped in Georgia (64.6 percent, down from 73.7 percent in 2014); New York (70 percent, down from 74 percent); and Pennsylvania (71.2 percent, down from 75.5 percent).

The overall bar pass rate also dropped in the District of Columbia and New Jersey, but the decline was less than a percentage point.

The drop in bar pass rates follows a drop in law school applicants. In 2010, there were 87,900 people who applied to ABA-accredited law schools, compared to 54,130 in 2015.

Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, sees a connection between the shrinking applicant pool and bar pass rates.

“It is reasonable to believe we are capturing the results of a downward trend in applications that has not been completely matched by a downward trend in law school admissions,” Moeser told the National Law Journal.

Related article: “New York bar pass rates at their lowest point in at least 11 years”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.