What is The First-Time Bar Exam Passage Rate?
The most prominent and newsworthy statistic as far as the bar exam is concerned is the dreaded first-time pass rate. The first-time bar pass rate is a key indicator of just how difficult test-takers find the exam. Over the course of the last decade, the national pass rate for first-time test-takers has slowly declined. States like California have suffered particularly devastating first-time bar passage rates in recent administration of the exam.
What is The First-Time Bar Exam Passage Rate?
The news isn’t all bad, however – Although states like California have seen record low pass rates, recent administrations of the bar exam have seen the national first-time pass rates increase overall. That’s great news for those studying and preparing for an upcoming administration of the bar exam.
For more information on the bar pass rates for specific states and law schools be sure to check out the American Bar Association’s statistics page. Having this information is an effective method of identifying which state bar exams seem to give examinees difficulty.
First-Time Test-Taker Bar Pass Rates 2009-2018
From 2009 to 2018, the bar exam saw a slow decline in national bar pass rates. Overall, the first-time bar pass rate dropped from a solid 79 percent in 2009 to 69% in 2018. Those percentages take the average first-time pass rate for both the February and July exams that are administered in each state. The 79 percent. pass rate enjoyed in 2009 carried all the way through to 2012, where the first-time pass rate dropped slightly to 77 percent nationally. The most significant dip took place in 2014, where overall the pass rate for first-time bar exam test-takers dropped to 74 percent.
2019 First-Time Test-Taker Bar Pass Rate
Recently, the Managing Director’s Office of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released bar passage outcomes for American Bar Association-approved law schools. The data released shows a healthy increase in the overall pass rate for first-time test-takers. In 2019, the aggregate pass rate for first-time examinees was 79.64 percent! That pass rate is welcome news for those individuals studying and preparing for an upcoming administration of the exam and also for the legal profession overall.
Additionally, 89.5 percent of test-takers who graduated in 2017 and had until 2019 to pass the exam did so, compared to 88.64% of 2016 grads. Overall, 97.1 percent of all 2017 graduates sat for a bar exam within two years of graduation, and the schools gathered bar passage information from 98.6 percent of 2017 graduates.
If you’re wondering what law schools came out on top in 2019, look no further. Harvard Law School had a first-time test taker pass rate of nearly 99 percent. Duke Law School came in second with almost 98 percent of first-time test takers passing. The University of Pennsylvania Law School rounded out the top three with a 97 percent first-time pass rate.
How to Pass the Bar Exam the First Time
Our blog is chock-full of advice on how to pass the bar exam the first time, but a few key points to highlight are these:
- Use good materials.
- Memorize the law (don’t just practice and practice without sitting down and studying the black letter law)!
- Make a study schedule and stick to it closely.
- Practice and review your work (including correct and incorrect work).
In order to prepare yourself to pass the bar exam the first time, check out our free guide that covers everything from signing up for a bar course to getting ready for bar exam day! If you’re looking for advice specific to passing the UBE on the first time, check this out. Or check out our post on passing the Michigan bar exam.
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