The Oregon Board of Bar Examiners administered the first Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in July of 2017. In 2017, Oregon also lowered its passing score (or “cut score”) from 284 to 274 after complaints from law school deans (who pushed for a cut score of 266). A score of 284 would have been the highest score required to pass in a UBE jurisdiction.
Oregon Bar Exam Passage Rate Much Higher after
Oregon Administers UBE and Lowers Passing Score
The Board of Bar Examiners lowered their score for many reasons, and noted that 273.4 was an average cut score for western states (excluding Oregon). Indeed, a score of 274 is more in line with other state scores. So far, all UBE jurisdictions have passing scores of 260 to 280. You can see passing UBE scores by state here.
The combination of the administration of the uniform bar exam plus a lower cut score lead to a large jump in passage rate. You can see that the overall passage rate has not been close to 79% in the last several years.
The following are the past few July passage rates from Oregon as well as the most recent July passage rate:
- 2010 – 70% overall (74.8% first time takers)
- 2011 – 72% overall (78.8% first time takers)
- 2012 – 73% overall (82% first time takers)
- 2013 – 75% overall (81% first time takers)
- 2014 – 65% overall (71% first time takers)
- 2015 – 66% overall (68% first time takers)
- 2016 – 58 % overall (62% first time takers)
- 2017 – 79% overall (84 % first time takers)
There was quite a bit of speculation of how exactly the new exam and the lower passing score would affect bar takers. It appears to be affecting them very favorably, with a 21% increase from the July 2016 Oregon bar exam passage rate and a significant increase from past Oregon bar exam passage rates overall.
Note that this is not a reason to feel bad if you failed the Oregon bar exam! One in five takers failed the Oregon bar exam (even with this higher Oregon bar exam passage rate!). So you are certainly not alone. Please read this post on what to do if you failed the Oregon bar exam.
This is also not a reason to feel bad if you passed the Oregon bar exam! Lowering the passing score to 274 lets more bar exam takers through the door, but it still requires passing a difficult bar exam with a relatively high passing score in comparison with other jurisdictions.
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