Bar Exams

Pass rate for February's California state bar exam drops by more than 7 percentage points

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Continuing a downward trend in recent years, the overall pass rate for February's California state bar exam was 27.3 percent, according to a State Bar of California press release issued 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,” Leah T. Wilson, Executive Director of the State Bar of California, said in the release, which states that 4,701 applicants completed the exam.

Overall pass rates were 34.5 percent (1,532 passed) in February 2017, and 35.7 percent (1,700 passed) in February 2016, according to state bar data.

The state’s first-time-test-taker pass rate for the February 2018 bar exam was 39 percent, according to the press release. The February 2017 first-time pass rate was 39.1 percent (451 passed), and 44.7 percent (624 passed) for February 2016, state bar data reports.

The release regarding last February’s results notes that after “historically low passage rates” in 2017, the state bar commissioned various comprehensive studies, including a review of the cut score.

One of the undertakings surveyed 30,000 attorneys, and 80 percent favored leaving the cut score at 1440. However, many law school deans urged lowering the cut score. In October, the California Supreme Court decided to not adjust the cut score.

Another study, focused on knowledge and entry-level skills needed for California attorneys, is in the works, according to the press release, and results will be used to evaluate the content, format and “pass line” of the state bar.

“Over the long term, we need to be sure that we are testing for the skills and content that new attorneys need, and that we are doing so in the right format,” Wilson said in the release.

See also: What do falling bar-passage rates mean for legal education—and the future of the profession?

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