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Bar ExamWhat Bar Passage Rates Mean For Current Law School Applicants

It’s official. July bar passage rates have dropped yet again. National Conference of Bar Examiners, Erica Moeser, wrote in the NCBE’s September report that the national average score for July’s test was 139.9. It’s the lowest national average for the 200-point test since 1988 when the average was 139.8. Last year’s score was 141.5 and 2013 was 144.3—revealing a continued slide.
And Moeser doesn’t see things changing. “This is the ‘new normal,’ and the new normal will be with us for a while,” she wrote. What does this mean for law school applicants or those considering law school? U.S. News & World Report set out to ask the experts. Broadly, they say to not let a school’s recent bar passage rate be a deal breaker (or maker) when deciding on which school to attend.
“I’m not sure that it’s very relevant,” Mayssoun Bydon, founder and managing partner at The Institute for Higher Learning, an admissions advice and test prep firm told the U.S. News. “The same applicant, no matter what law school they attend, if they’re going to have a hard time passing the bar, they’re going to​ have a hard time passing the bar,” Bydon continued, also noting that students who struggle with standardized tests—like the LSAT—are likely to struggle with the bar.
“The bar exam tests your knowledge of the actual laws and many times the laws of the particular state in which you’re taking the bar exam,” Dan Sullivan, principal at Sullivan Law Schools Admissions Consulting explained to the U.S. News. Sullivan added that often times, success rates come down to the student’s ability to memorize and retain knowledge—skills that are largely innate and law schools don’t have much influence with.
Still, Sullivan explains, many lower ranked schools put a heavier emphasis on training students to pass the bar. Additionally, the likely cause of lower bar passage rates, Moeser writes, has less to do with schools prepping students to pass the bar and more to do with schools admitting students they wouldn’t have in previous years.
Moeser notes in her letter average LSAT scores for enrolled law students dropped from 154 in 2011 to 153 in 2012 (the incoming class taking this July’s bar exam). She also adds the number dropped again to 152 in 2013, which will be the July 2016 bar test-takers, adding there should be “no surprise” in next year’s results.
So, instead of the school an applicant chooses influencing the chances of passing or failing the bar on the first time, future law students should look towards their history with standardized tests and work ethic as indicators of ample preparation and odds.
Source: U.S. News

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