The State Bar of California met Monday to discuss a study proposing that the state lower the passing score of the bar exam by three points — a change that could increase the rate of passing by about eight percentage points.The chair of the Committee of Bar Examiners, Karen Goodman, expressed concerns about the study's definition of "minimum competence."The State Bar may choose to make the lower cut score proposal available for public comment.A public comment period would last until August 25, with the state bar finalizing a recommendation in September.If the bar acts more quickly, the change in passing score could affect people who took the July 2017 bar exam last week.According to Faigman, the state Supreme Court and state bar’s attempt to do it quickly enough to have an immediate impact was not itself problematic.
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Around the Web
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By Isha Salian - Monday Jul 31, 2017
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By Isha Salian - Wednesday Sep 6, 2017
The Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California voted 6-5 Wednesday to send three recommendations on the passing score of the state’s bar exam to the California Supreme Court — including two options to lower the score. The court will have the final say on an intense debate about the score, which some argue is too high. California’s bar exam passing score of 144 is the second-highest in the nation, after Delaware. The score has not changed for more than three decades. Just 43 percent of test-takers passed the July 2016 California bar exam — the lowest figure in more than 30 years. “At no time previously in the state bar’s history have we conducted ...
- California Supreme Court moves to make bar exam easier to pass
By Elizabeth Olson - Friday Jul 14, 2017
The California Supreme Court, the ultimate authority over the bar exam, has decided to change the way the certification score is set.Each state offers its own bar exam, but many are moving toward more uniform exams, especially in the multiple-choice portion.“The cut score is almost everything,” said Robert Anderson, a professor of corporate law at Pepperdine School of Law, who did a study of the 10 most difficult state exams in 2013.Proponents for keeping the score argue that state bars have an ethical obligation to protect citizens from ill-prepared lawyers.[...] deans of law schools, which have been buffeted by declining enrollments, say setting the bar licensure standard so high serves only to shield the profession by keeping out large numbers of qualified lawyers.Some, including Fleming’s Fundamentals of Law, a California bar exam preparation business that tracks the debate over the certification score, called the court’s change “unprecedented.”Bar passage rates at Whittier, long an avenue for disadvantaged students to become lawyers, had plunged in recent years.“I see this development as bringing the role of the California court in bar admissions into the mainstream,” said Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, a nonprofit in Madison, Wis., that constructs and scores the professional entrance exam.“Virtually all state supreme courts exercise their inherent authority to regulate the admission of lawyers more closely than has appeared to be the case in California,” she said.
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- California considers lower bar for its tough lawyer exam
By SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press - Monday Jul 31, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The State Bar of California on Monday proposed lowering the minimum score on the most recent licensing exam for attorneys amid an alarming decline in people passing the test, considered one of the toughest in the U.S.Some observers have blamed the falling success rate on a dip in law school applications that has forced institutions to accept applicants who have not done as well academically.More than a dozen law school deans in California urged the state Supreme Court in February to temporarily reduce the bar exam passing score to between 133 and 136 while the state bar studies the issue.David Faigman, dean of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, said the study on which state bar staff relied was so flawed that its score recommendation was "basically useless."