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CALIFORNIA SEES HISTORICALLY LOW BAR PASSAGE RATES
California’s bar exam pass rate saw a historic low 27.3% overall passage rate in February.
The state bar released figures showing how graduates across law schools performed on the exam, which has been called one of the most difficult state bar exams to pass.
THE HIGH AND THE LOW
Law.com reports that a number of schools performed well. Georgetown University saw an 82% passage rate for first-time takers. Santa Clara University boasted a 77% passage rate for first timers. While Loyola Law School saw 70%.
The overall pass rate for repeat test takers was 22.8%. Check out some highlights among schools that boasted high pass rates for repeat test takers, according to Law.com:

  • UC Berkeley: 63%
  • Loyola: 53%
  • UCLA: 53%
  • George Washington University: 53%

Among schools that had dismal pass rates? At Washington University, a total of 12 graduates repeated the test and none of them passed. Western State College of Law saw a 13% passage rate. While Golden Gate University saw a 14% passage rate, according to Law.com.
GENDER AND RACIAL TRENDS
For February’s exam, first-time takers who were men scored better than first-time takers who were women. For repeaters, women performed better than men.
Among racial groups, white, first-time takers of California-based ABA-approved schools outperformed graduates of other racial groups.
CALIFORNIA’S BAR IS NOTORIOUSLY DIFFICULT
California’s 27.3% passage rate in February highlights just how difficult the state’s bar exam is to pass.
According to the Sacramento Bee, February’s passage rate is about seven percentage points lower than last year. It was also the first time the state’s bar passage rate has fallen below 30%, since 1986.
Among the 50 states, California has the second highest required pass score. Delaware has the highest. But the high pass score may be one of the reasons California test takers are struggling to pass the bar.
Just last year, a number of law school deans called on the state to reduce the required pass score. But in October, the California Supreme Court declined lowering the pass score and cited that recent drops in passage rate are due to a “broader national pattern,” the Sacramento Bee reports.
“In making this determination, the court expects the State Bar to complete its other bar exam studies and to continue analyzing whether the exam or any of its components might warrant modification,” the California Supreme Court’s decision announcement reads.
Sources: Law.com, Law.com, Sacramento Bee, California Courts Newsroom