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National Trends in Multistate Bar Exam Results for July 2023
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The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) results for July 2023 have been released by the National Conference of Board Examiners, showcasing notable changes in scores and test-taker demographics compared to the previous year. The data presents an intriguing overview of the performance of law candidates across various jurisdictions.

Overview of National Performance

The national mean scaled score for the MBE in July 2023 is 140.5, indicating a modest increase of 0.2 points from the previous year. Simultaneously, there has been a 2.8% rise in the number of test-takers nationwide, reaching 45,968 individuals, as reported in a recent news release by the National Conference of Board Examiners.

Jurisdictional Highlights

Top Performers

For July 2023, several jurisdictions stood out with impressive overall bar exam pass rates. Utah leads with an outstanding 92%, followed by Iowa with 86%, and Montana with 82%, according to information provided by the NCBE based in Madison, Wisconsin.


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Lowest Performers

Conversely, certain jurisdictions struggled with lower pass rates. California reported the lowest overall pass rate at 51.5%, followed by Alabama at 54%, and Michigan at 55%. These figures underscore the diverse challenges faced by candidates across the nation.

State-Specific Insights

Florida’s Surge in Passage Rates

Florida experienced a significant upswing in its overall bar passage rate, reaching 61%, marking a remarkable 10 percentage point increase from the previous year. Additionally, the state’s first-time pass rate rose to 71.6%, reflecting a seven percentage point improvement from July 2022.

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Compliance with ABA Standards

In the American Bar Association’s Standard 316 context, law schools must maintain a bar passage rate of at least 75% within two years of graduation. However, some law schools in Florida, including Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, St. Thomas University College of Law, Florida A&M University College of Law, and Cooley Law School, reported first-time passage rates below 60%.

Noteworthy State Performances

New York’s Consistent Results

New York, boasting the largest candidate cohort of 9,779 individuals, maintained its passage rates from the previous year—66% overall and 85% for first-time test takers, according to the New York State Board of Law Examiners.

California’s Challenges and Considerations

In California, 51.5% of the 7,555 applicants passed the bar exam in July, showing a slight decrease from the previous year. However, the first-time pass rate for the 5,083 candidates increased to 64.8%. Notably, the state is currently exploring alternatives to the traditional bar exam.

NextGen Bar Exam Trials

Implementation Plans and Results

Recently, the National Conference of Board Examiners announced that Oregon, Maryland, and Missouri would be the pioneers in administering the NextGen bar exam, commencing in July 2026, with Wyoming following in the subsequent year. Connecticut has also committed to the new test, with the administration date yet to be finalized.

Mixed Results

Jurisdictions embracing the NextGen bar exam witnessed mixed outcomes. Missouri’s overall passage rate surged to 81%, with a remarkable first-time rate of 88%, compared to 71% and 80% in 2022. Wyoming also saw a substantial improvement, reaching an 80% overall passage rate and an 85% rate for first-time test takers, compared to 55% and 61%, respectively, in July 2022.

Oregon’s Bar Exam Alternative

On the other hand, in addition to participating in the NextGen bar exam, Oregon approved an alternative called the Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination for the upcoming year, resulting in a decline in overall passage rates to 69%. Oregon’s first-time pass rate also decreased to 75%, down from 78% the previous year.

Maryland and Connecticut’s Challenges

Maryland experienced a notable decrease in its passage rate, dropping by ten percentage points from 2022 to 59% in July 2023. Additionally, the first-time passage rate declined by seven percentage points to 71%. Similarly, Connecticut witnessed a dip in overall pass rates, falling to 56% from 63%, and first-time pass rates, dropping to 67% from 71% in 2023.

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