The Bar Blues

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Why Did So Many People Flunk The Bar Exam This Year?

The results from the most recent bar exams (July) came in last week and spurned a memo from the President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Erica Moeser. The nonprofit group prepares the multiple-choice section of the exam that saw the largest drop, a whopping 10 percentage points. Moeser wrote to law school deans across the country that this year’s group was “less-able” than the previous year’s cohort.

So, why did so many people bomb the test? Jerry Organ is a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law and researches trends of LSAT scores for admitted students and bar exam scores. Organ’s research found law schools admitted 50% more students with lower LSAT scores than they did just three years ago. What’s more, Organ tracks the correlation between LSAT scores and bar exam scores and predicted this year’s class would have slightly lower scores. He did not predict them to bomb, however.

So what was the issue? A software glitch, perhaps. Examsoft is the test company that administers the bar exam in 43 states and had a glitch in the system that did not allow exam takers to upload their answers for hours on the first day. This led to many frantic and stressed test takers trying to upload answers for hours into the night. All answers were secured but having to come back and continue the exam the morning proved to be too much for some.

Frenzied test-takers were doing everything they could from calling former professors in the middle of the night to breaking down and crying their eyes out. Students were fighting the technological battle until 1 or 2 in the morning and then waking up at 5 a.m. for day two of the exam.

Still, it does not cover up the fact that law schools are increasingly accepting students with lower LSAT scores than they have in recent years. Law schools still have to make their bottom line by generating tuition money. This means they have to be at least somewhat consistent with enrollment numbers. With a smaller applicant pool to chose from, quality might be compromised until the great law pendulum swings back to lower debt and better employment rates.

Source: Businessweek

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