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February 2018 Cal Bar Examination results press release

27.3% overall pass rate.  Repeater pass rate 23%.  Attorneys' pass rate 43.4%

The 27.3% is lower than all pass rates for a February exam (and July, by definition), going back to at least 1951.  The Genral Bar Exam Pass Rate Summary's lowest pass rates before today was Spring 1983 (27.7%), Spring 1984 (29.5%), and Spring 1986 (28.1%).

The Cal Bar's press release is included here in full:

State Bar of California Releases Results of the February 2018 Bar Exam

   Categories: News Releases

Today the State Bar of California released the results of the February 2018 California Bar Exam, and announced that 1,282 people (27.3 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. If those applicants satisfy all other requirements for admission, they will be eligible to be licensed by the State Bar to practice law in California.

"I warmly congratulate the 1,282 applicants who passed the latest California Bar Exam. I also want to acknowledge a low overall pass rate," said Leah T. Wilson, Executive Director of the State Bar of California. "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 mean scaled Multistate Bar Examination score on the February 2018 General Bar Exam in California was 1,355; the national average was 1,341.

The Productive Mindset Intervention Program will be available to applicants beginning with the July 2018 Bar Exam. This program is a partnership with researchers at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Indiana University. The program is designed to improve exam performance across the board, with a particular boost for people of color and women. More than 1,700 applicants who are registered for the July 2018 California Bar Exam have registered for the program.

After historically low passage rates last year, the State Bar commissioned California’s first-ever comprehensive series of studies of the bar exam, including a review of the passing score and whether the content of the bar exam is appropriate to test the knowledge and skills needed by entry level attorneys. Based on the information available, no changes to the passing score or the content of the exam were adopted.

The State Bar is now preparing to undertake a California Attorney Job Analysis Study to collect information about the knowledge and skills that entry level attorneys need. The study results will provide the foundation for future evaluation of the content, format, and pass line of the California Bar Exam.

"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.

Preliminary statistical analyses from the February 2018 General Bar Exam:

  • 4,701 applicants completed the exam
  • 1,267 (27 percent) were first-time applicants
  • The passing rate for first-time applicants was 39 percent overall
  • 3,434 applicants were repeat applicants
  • The passing rate for repeat applicants was 23 percent overall

Passing rate (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type:

School Type



California ABA



Out-of-State ABA



California Accredited (but not ABA)



Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility



Unaccredited: Correspondence



Unaccredited Distance Learning



All Others



All Applicants



The General Bar Exam is administered in February and July each year. The February 2018 exam was the second administration in the new two-day format.

The exam consists of three sections: a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), five essay questions and one performance test that are designed to assess an applicant’s ability to apply legal knowledge to practical tests. The written portion of the exam (essay and performance test questions) and the MBE were weighted equally.

The Attorneys’ Examination consists of the essay and performance test sections of the General Bar Exam and is open to attorneys who have been admitted to the active practice of law and are in good standing for at least four years in another U.S. jurisdiction. Of the 602 attorneys who completed the Attorneys’ Examination, 261 (43.4 percent) passed. Twenty five were disciplined attorneys who took the exam as a condition of reinstatement; no disciplined attorneys passed.

A pass list from the exam will be published on the State Bar’s website on May 21, 2018. More detailed statistics about examination results will be available in 4-6 weeks on the State Bar website.

Successful applicants who satisfy all other requirements for admission may take the Attorney’s Oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held throughout the state in June 2018.

After applicants have taken the Attorney’s Oath and submitted their oath card to the State Bar, they are eligible to practice law in California. Approximately two weeks after forwarding the oath card to the State Bar, their names will appear on the State Bar website via the attorney search.

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