We get asked a lot of questions about the repeat taker bar exam pasage rate. Fortunately, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has just released data with the most recent numbers from the 2017 bar exams. Here, we tell you what the data says and what it doesn’t say!
What is the Repeat Taker Bar Exam Passage Rate?
For the February 2017 exam, the first-time taker passage rate is 60%. The repeat taker passage rate is 36%.
For the July 2017 exam, the first-time taker passage rate is 75%. The repeat taker passage rate is 33%.
The totals for the 2017 exams were:
- A first-time taker bar exam passage rate of 72%
- A repeat taker bar exam passage rate of 35%
A total of 46,298 first-time takers took the bar exam in 2017, with 24,559 repeat takers taking the exam.
(The NCBE defines a “first-time taker” as examinees taking the bar examination for the first time in the reporting jurisdiction. A repeat taker is any examinee who has taken the exam at least once in the reporting jursidiction.)
What the numbers do NOT say:
Many repeat takers get worried when they hear that only about 35% of repeat takers pass the bar exam and they wonder that if that means they only have a 35% chance of passing the exam. The answer is a definite no! You may have a much higher chance or a much lower chance. We specialize in helping repeat takers pass the bar exam (and have helped hundreds of second-, third-, fourth-, fifth+ time takers pass). Here is what we have seen from our own students:
- It depends how far you were from passing. If you scored a 95 on the MBE, you have quite a ways to go. Versus if you scored a 130. You are more likely to increase your score if you scored higher! The numbers above do not tell us anything about where students are starting from.
- It depends on how many times you have taken the exam. If you are on your second time taking the exam, you are more likely to pass than if you are on your ninth try (though we did just have a ninth-time taker pass so it is definitely possible!). The numbers given by the NCBE do not distinguish between second time takers and other repeat takers.
- It depends a lot on your study method. If you decide that you are going to put in minimal effort or if you make up excuses (you got “unlucky” with the essay questions or whatever) you are less likely to pass. However, if you decide to totally revamp your approach and study for it like you are studying for the first time, you are much more likely to pass! This is probably the most important factor in whether you pass!
We have a very high passage rate among our repeat takers – close to 80% or 85% for many different levels of repeat takers. So you do not have to be too worried about statistics as they do not say anything about your personal approach or your individual circumstances!
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