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Declining Bar Exam Scores: Who Is to Blame?

The bar exam is the most important test for a young, aspiring lawyer and possibly one of the most difficult tests he or she will take in their career. This past year proved the difficulty of the bar exam with declining test scores. There were about 3,740 test takers this year, and only 83% of the graduates passed; last year there was an 88% pass rate. Now, a spark in finger-pointing and the blame-game has ensued. But who is truly to blame for the lower than average scores?

To add fuel to the fire, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Erica Moeser, says the scores of this year have raised concerns about the ability of aspiring lawyers when taking? the exam. She also went on to speak about the fact that those who took the test this July were a less able group compared to the 2013 test takers.

What is interesting is that this decline in Bar exam scores has come during a time when many law schools have changed the way they prepared their students for the test. More law schools offered free bar review sessions, and hosted test-taking workshops than ever before.  There were even claims that the class of 2014 was better prepared for the Bar exam compared to past graduating classes.

The amount of preparation students went through this year is making deans question the test and not the ability of their students. Across the country, law schools have seen declining scores of 2% to 11% compared to 2013. On the bright side, the highest bar score in Texas belonged to a musician named Jamie Yarbrough, who scored 869 out of 1000 on the exam. He even says he didn’t do anything “special” to receive the score other than study and “stay sane” with the help of his wife.

There is no exact reason found so far for the reason why the Bar exam scores are so low compared to previous years. Luckily, many bar review courses offer free repeat courses for applicants who were not successful. Marino Bar Review even offers a Retaker Course for those who did not pass the New York & New Jersey test. We may never fully know why the scores for this year’s bar exam were so low, but we hope that the class of 2015 test takers will be well prepared and excel at the exam.

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