The ABA recently posted an article about the recent all-time-low MBE scores. Last February’s MBE average was 135. This year’s is 134.1. We all know one point can make a difference in passing and failing. It is also low considering that iother years have had much higher MBE averages (e.g. 137 in 2012 and 138 in 2013 and 2014).
Erica Moeser from the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ credits the drop to lowering standards for admissions. She says that the decrease in scored questions from 190 to 175 is not a factor. While overall bar passage rates have been falling in recent years, so far it does not look like the decrease of .9 points from last year has not been extremely devastating for pass rates among the states that have released results.
Indeed, of the states that have released results, some states have increased their scores significantly and some have seen their scores decrease. According to the data we have available, 5 states saw an increase in passage rates while 6 saw a decrease in passage rates. Also, the average increase was 8.74% while the average decrease was 4.3%.
Indeed, this data is not perfect. Many states have not provided statistics. And these are not “big” states for the most part. However, the data does mean something.
What does it mean?
- It means students are making up for lower MBE scores on the written portion of their exam. Some jurisdictions with grading systems that allow it may even just scale the essay portion up higher.
- In many states, if you receive a 134.1 (the average MBE score on February’s exam) on the MBE and essay portion, you will pass the bar exam. This is true for any state that requires a score of 268 and below (which includes prominent jurisdictions like New York, which requires a 266).
So it is true that the average MBE score has dropped to yet another new all-time low. But it does mean that bar exam passage rates are extremely devastating this February as some believe. And, if you are awaiting results yourself, it does not mean you failed!
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