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California Bar Exam Results Show Wide Range of Results
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Summary: The bar exam results from February’s test in California kept the same trend of July being higher, but the low results are still disheartening.

California’s February bar exam results are now available for all to see. What there is to see may be surprising to some. A wide range in pass rates appeared among the golden state’s American Bar Association-accredited law schools.


UCLA and Loyola law schools took demand of the results, posting a 65 percent passage rate in the category of law schools with at least 11 students taking the exam. Results from schools that have less than 11 students taking the exam are not released in order to protect the identity of those students.

Coming in at the bottom of ABA-accredited law schools was the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. They had 81 of their graduates take the exam, only 25 passed – that is a 32 percent passage rate.  The overall rate for the exam this go-around was 34.5 percent, which they just barely missed.

Two non-ABA-accredited law schools were able to beat the overall rate. San Joaquin College of Law was able to reach a 36 percent while Santa Barbara College of Law obtained a 40 percent passage rate.

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The February exam results tend to be lower than the July results, often because the people taking the test in the spring have already attempted it once. July is when most graduates attempt the bar for the first time with a greater amount of them passing.

With such lower rates and disparity among law schools, the criticism over California’s test will likely increase. Law schools deans, lawmakers and state bar officials have been forced to handle the growing scrutiny.

UC Hastings was able to beat the overall rate with a 48 percent passing score. Their dean, David Faigman, explained how the school has addressed lower scores in the past, especially the July 2016 results. Exam preparation programs for graduates were paid for by the school and they brought in alumni to help test-takers. They are also moving to make bar exam prep part of the curriculum, but Faigman is apprehensive about taking too much time away from teaching what matters. “It’s the right direction to be going in,” Faigman said. However, “It presents the danger of taking time away from teaching students how to be good lawyers so they can be better test-takers.”

Faigman and a number of other deans are asking state bar officials to take a look at the exam to determine if there are parts of it that need improvement. In the meantime, they would like to see the passing score lowered. The state Supreme Court refuses to lower the score for a temporary amount of time but has given the bar the opportunity to return with recommendations for other changes by the end of the year. The bar association is conducting studies on the exam to see if a solution can be made.

Here is a quick look at the rates for all the schools, both ABA-accredited and not:

California Western School of Law – 44 percent

Concord University School of Law – 9 percent

Golden Gate University – 36 percent

Humphreys College Laurence Drivon School of Law – 10 percent

Loyola Law School – Los Angeles – 65 percent

McGeorge School of Law – 32 percent

Monterey College of Law – 21 percent

Northwestern California University – 13 percent

Pacific Coast University – 11 percent

Pepperdine University – 53 percent

San Joaquin College of Law – 36 percent

Santa Barbara College of Law – 40 percent

Santa Clara University – 54 percent

Southwestern Law School – 41 percent

Thomas Jefferson School of Law – 29 percent

Trinity Law School – 12 percent

University of California – Los Angeles – 65 percent

University of San Diego – 53 percent

University of San Francisco – 52 percent

University of California Hastings College – 48 percent

University of W. LA-San Fernando Valley – 19 percent

Western State University – 46 percent

Are there any results that surprised you? Tell us about it in the comments below.

To learn more about bar exam results, read these articles:



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