More aspiring US lawyers tanked their bar exams in 2014 than the previous year, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).
The bar exam is necessary for anyone who wants to practice law and can cost graduates $US800 just to take the test, Bloomberg reported. But last year, 40 states — including Washington, DC — dropped in their passing rates.
According to Bloomberg, Erica Moeser, president of the NCBE, stated in a letter that one of the reasons for the drop was simple: law students and their graduates are simply not as smart as they used to be.
Moeser stated that over the years, more students have been admitted into law programs with lower LSAT scores. Because there is a correlation between LSAT and MBE (multi-state bar exam) scores, she writes, law schools with lower LSAT scores can expect fewer students to pass their bar exams.
Moeser also wrote a letter to law school deans, stating that the NCBE reviewed the examination for flukes and that 2014 test-takers were simply “less able” when compared to those who took the test in 2013. Critics of Moeser’s response state that the problem isn’t based solely on the student’s competency but could also be related to the exam itself.
Nicholas Allard, Dean of Brooklyn Law School, wrote Moeser back and rebutted her position, describing her letter as both defensive and offensive.
“There is no explanation how you reached your conclusion, nor transparency to your process, so how can we have confidence in this self-serving unaudited assertion,” Allard wrote. “Given how this exam affects the lives and careers of tens of thousands of graduates, you can do better and provide both the deans and graduates a more thorough review.”
According to the NCBE, here’s a list of the five states that dropped the most in total passing rates between 2013 to 2014:
5. Delaware, North Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming: tied at -9%
Delaware and North Dakota both dropped from 72% to 63% passing rates. Vermont dropped from 76% to 67%, while Wisconsin dropped from 83% to 74%.
4. Texas: -10%
Texas dropped from 80% to 70%.
3. Idaho: -11%
Idaho dropped from 79% to 68%.
2. South Dakota: -15%
South Dakota dropped from 87% to 72%.
1. Montana: -20%
Montana dropped from 85% to 65%.
The lowest percentage of students passing in 2013 and in 2014 was Washington, D.C. at 47% and 40% respectively.
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