The results are in and they are troubling. Law students’ performance on the Multistate Bar Exam, has fallen to the lowest level since 1988, according to The National Conference of Bar Examiners. Are folks just getting dumber? Probably not. What’s behind the drop? We can see nationwide, law school applications are down due to a glut of lawyers looking for, but not finding, work. With applications down and classes to fill, the standards for admission fall. Inevitably, as the quality of the students declines, the bar passage rate will be adversely affected.
It was not unexpected,” says Erica Moeser, the president of the NCBE, which creates the multiple choice part of the test. “We are in a period where we can expect to see some decline, until the market for going to law school improves.”
Law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who “may encounter difficulty” when taking the bar, Moeser says.
Another possible reason for the lowering of MBE scores around the country is that test may be getting harder. This was the first July exam to include questions about Federal Civil Procedure, which was previously untested on the MBE.
The authors of the bar exam dismiss this idea however, stating that students did not do markedly worse on civil procedure questions than on any other topic the test covered. So what can you do about this development if you are considering law school? Study harder. If you are concerned about getting a talented lawyer—you can always contact me. I took the MBE in 1977 and passed. One thing is for sure, I never want to take that again!