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California Bar Examination Results - July 2018

40.7% pass rate is the lowest I can see since Fall 1951 for a July exam.  Per the Cal Bar:

Today the State Bar of California released the results of the July 2018 California Bar Exam, and announced that 3,284 people (40.7 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. The pass rate for first-time applicants was 55 percent. 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. The mean scaled Multistate Bar Examination score on the July 2018 Bar Exam in California was 1404 compared with the national average of 1395.

The latest results mirror a national downward trend in scores from the July 2018 bar exams.

  • The National Conference of Bar Examiners reported that the pass rate for the Multistate Bar Examination fell to a 34-year low in 2018.
  • The pass rate in Texas fell over 7 percentage points from July 2017 to July 2018.
  • The New York state pass rate fell by 5 percentage points from July 2017 to July 2018.
  • The California pass rate fell by 8.9 percentage points from July 2017 to July 2018.

"I want to congratulate the thousands of applicants who passed the July 2018 California Bar Exam. We’re also troubled by a low pass rate, and are working to better understand the reasons behind this national trend," said Leah T. Wilson, Executive Director of the State Bar of California. "Over the last 18 months we have conducted four distinct studies on the California Bar Exam designed to determine if the passing score is appropriate and the content valid. While these studies did not suggest that changes to either should be made at this time, the State Bar takes seriously its commitment to ensuring integrity and fairness in the admissions process. We have just launched a California Attorney Job Analysis Study to collect information about the knowledge and skills that entry level attorneys need. This job analysis will form the basis of a new review of the exam itself to ensure that the Bar Exam is relevant and actually testing what’s needed."

The first meeting of the working group for the Job Analysis Study will be held on December 10, 2018, at the State Bar’s San Francisco office. The study is currently expected to be published in December 2019.

The State Bar is also looking forward to the evaluation of the Productive Mindset Study, which may assist the State Bar and California law schools in developing mechanisms to help students better position themselves for success on the Bar Exam.

Preliminary statistical analyses from the July 2018 General Bar Exam:

  • 8,071 applicants completed the exam
  • 5,132 (63.6 percent) were first-time applicants
  • The passing rate for first-time applicants was 55.0 percent overall
  • 2,939 were repeat applicants
  • The passing rate for repeat applicants was 16.0 percent overall

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

School Type

First-Timers

Repeaters

California ABA

64%

22%

Out-of-State ABA

58%

12%

California Accredited (but not ABA)

16%

9%

Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility

12%

6%

Unaccredited: Correspondence

11%

8%

Unaccredited Distance Learning

23%

10%

All Others

31%

16%

All Applicants

55%

16%

The General Bar Exam is administered in February and July each year.

The exam consists of three sections: a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination, 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 multiple choice portion 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 522 attorneys who completed the Attorneys’ Examination, 169 (32.4 percent) passed.

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