After years of steadily decreasing passage rates and increased criticism, the California Supreme Court has taken the authority to determine the minimum passing score away from the Committee of Bar Examiners. The court has amended the California Rules of Court, effective 2018, to specify that only the court has authority to set the passing score on the bar exam.
California, which is widely believed to be the hardest state in which to pass the bar exam, saw an overall passage rate of 34.5 percent for the most recent administration of the exam. California's required passing score, 144, is higher than that of 48 other states. Only Delware's cut score is higher.
But, California test-takers' mean scaled MBE scores are consistently higher than the national average. This suggests that California's exam is the most difficult to pass not because of its content or structure, but because of the high minimum cut score.
The State Bar of California agreed to analyze the test and cut score in response to many who voiced their concerns. The California Supreme Court either did not trust the State Bar to carry out this promise or felt the process was taking too long, and took matters into their own hands. The court has pressed that their goal is to create a scoring procedure that is both fair and uniform with scoring systems throughout the rest of the country.
In what appears to be a response to the court's unprecedented move, elected trustee of the State Bar of California Joanna Mendoza posted via Twitter: "The study on the CA bar exam cut score should be finalized next month and sent to the CA Supreme Court by Sept. It has already been publicly stated that a new cut score could be retroactively applied to July exam by Sup. Ct."
If applied retroactively, this could bring luck to July test-takers; who were the guinea pigs for the new two-day test, reduced from the former three-day format. While there must be some bar to entry in the practice of law to ensure the profession maintains an industry standard of qualified practitioners; no one can dispute the shockingly low passage rates in California for the past several years.
The content of this website including, but not limited to, this posting, has been prepared by Budris Law Group for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. The material posted on the website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship, and readers should not act upon it without seeking professional counsel. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.