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Out-of-State Law Students Improve on Dreaded California Bar Exam

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 30, 2018 2:56 PM

Perhaps it was the less-fatigue factor that helped test-takers improve on the California bar exam.

The exam -- once the toughest bar exam in the country with three days of sometimes impossible questions -- slimmed down to a two-day format last July. With that change, the overall pass rate climbed up 6 percent over the previous year.

It was a reprieve for students and California law schools, which were so desperate to improve pass rates they asked the state supreme court to lower the cut score. The latest results show, however, it's good to be an out-of-state law student.

Out-of-State Improvements

Law schools prepare students to pass bar exams -- some better than others. But California has its own procedures and specifics like community property, and out-of-state schools may not teach that information.

Their students have to learn it, typically in bar review, before they take the California bar. But bottom line, they may be at a disadvantage going in.

Yet out-of-state law students, who took the California bar for the first time, improved by more than 7 percent over those who took the same test the previous year.

Any comparison to in-state students could be misleading because California's overall pass rate included schools not accredited by the American Bar Association. But bottom line, it's good to go to another state for legal education.

Best Schools, Best Pass Rates

After all, Chicago is not in California. Yet 100 percent of its law school grads who took the California exam last year passed.

Yale, 97 percent; Harvard, 93.7, and the list goes on. California's Stanford came in right behind Yale at 96 percent, and the state's second place was Berkeley with 89 percent.

Generally, everybody did a little better on the California bar exam since the change to the two-day format. If nothing else, they got more rest.

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