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Lawyers debate largest decline ever in bar exam pass rate

When licensing exam scores decline, is it a result of less competent test takers or because of the test becoming unreasonably complex? Scores on the Multistate Bar Exam dropped sharply throughout the nation in the month of July. The explanation for the decline from Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, was because the group of test takers this year were “less able.”
Moeser’s assertion drew criticism. Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard, sent out a letter, criticizing Moeser’s claims of incompetency in this year’s test-takers.
Frankly, your statements ring hollow,” 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.”
Allard contends the NCBE has no evidence to support the claim that this year’s group of test takers are “less able.” In fact, Allard posits that his data is juxtaposed to such an assertion, “Their credentials were every bit as good as our 2013 graduates, if not even better.” Allard also called Moeser’s accusations of incompetent test takers “offensive.”
Publication Above the Law published some figures in a Nov. 7 story on the issue. Nationwide scores on the Multistate Bar Exam are nearly three points lower than the national mean for the July 2013 exam, which is “the largest year-to-year drop since the start of the test.”
Among the 29 jurisdictions that have so far released July 2014 scores, four have seen a decrease in pass rates of at least 10 points,” Above the Law reported. “Thirteen have seen drops of five to nine points. Only eleven states’ averages remain unchanged or dropped four or fewer points.”
Read the Above the Law report here.