New York, the state with the most lawyers, is the latest to report bar pass rates. It’s also one of the latest states to report another drop in both test-takers and pass rates. The overall pass rate for all test-takers for the July 2015 bar exam was 61%–down from 65% the previous year. The rate is the lowest in at least 35 years.
The pass rate for first-time test-takers who graduated from an American Bar Association-accredited school was not as bad at 79%. Still, it was four percentage points lower from last year. That number is the lowest since 2004 and more than 11 percentage points lower than 2008’s outstanding 90.5% pass rate.
At 6,535, the number of test-takers is also the lowest in at least a decade, according to the New York State Board of Law Examiners. Interestingly, the amount of foreign-educated test-takers was at an all-time high at 3,154. While the results released from The New York State Board of Law Examiners did not release individual school information, you can actually look at an alphabetized list of everyone who passed here.
This, of course, comes on the heels of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) releasing nation-wide bar averages. The NCBE, which runs the 200-point multiple-choice section of the bar for many states announced average scores of 139.9—the lowest since 1988 and another 1.6 point drop from 2014.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 30 states have reported their individual results and more than two-thirds of those states have reported drops. Excess of Democracy, a blog run by Pepperdine University Law School professor, Derek T. Muller tracks individual bar results and currently has 27 states reported. The percentages reported on Muller’s blog are overall bar results, which include all test-takers. Mississippi, which dropped a whopping 27 full percentage points, now has the lowest pass rate at just 51%. North Dakota and Iowa have reported the highest increases so far with six point and five point upticks, respectively. However, it should be noted North Dakota had 62 test-takers this year (a typical number) and so often has volatile results.
The recent declines have caused NCBE President, Erica Moeser, to continue to express concern on lowering standards of admission for law schools nation-wide. Moeser’s claim has been supported by recent research from nonprofit, Law School Transparency. The research shows a national average of schools admitting students with lower LSAT scores since 2010.
Both Law School Transparency and Moeser suggest declining pass rates will be the ‘new normal’ for at least a few years until schools become more stringent on admissions standards again.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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