February 2013 California Bar Exam Essays 2008

All bar exam results from the July 2016 administration of the test have officially been released, and in California’s case, it seems that the absolute worst may have been saved for last. The results of the state’s exam were scheduled for mailing on Friday, and test-takers were able to see whether their names were on the pass list on Friday evening.

Save for a few states, bar passage rates have continued to decline nationwide, and many have been waiting to see if California’s passage rates for the July 2016 exam would tank as badly as they did in July 2015, which were the worst the state had seen in nearly three decades. If you thought last year was bad, just wait until you see this year’s results.

According to a press release from the State Bar of California, the overall pass rate for the July 2016 exam was 43 percent, while the pass rate for first-time takers was 56 percent. In July 2015, the overall pass rate was 46.6 percent, and the pass rate for first-time takers was 60 percent. Although California’s overall pass rate dropped by 3.6 percentage points, its examinees seemed to be more able than test-takers in other states. The state’s mean scaled MBE score was 1421 compared with the national average of 1403.

Perhaps that bright spot ought to be taken with a grain of salt, because this is the lowest overall pass rate California has seen for the July administration of the bar since results were released in the fall of 1986, when only 44.4 percent of all test-takers passed the exam. The state hasn’t seen an overall pass rate this low in 32 years. In fact, this passage rate is historically mediocre — it’s actually the third-lowest summer passage rate the state has seen since 1951, when the July passage rate was just 37.6 percent.

YearOverall Pass Rate
July 201643 percent passed
July 201546.6 percent passed
July 201448.6 percent passed
July 201355.8 percent passed
July 201255.3 percent passed
July 201154.8 percent passed
July 201054.8 percent passed
July 200956.4 percent passed
July 200861.7 percent passed
July 200756.1 percent passed
July 200651.8 percent passed
July 200548.8 percent passed
July 200448.2 percent passed
July 200349.4 percent passed
July 200250.5 percent passed
July 200156.9 percent passed
July 200055.3 percent passed
July 199951.2 percent passed
July 199852.5 percent passed
July 199762.9 percent passed
July 199655.9 percent passed
July 199559.4 percent passed
July 199463.2 percent passed
July 199359.0 percent passed
July 199259.4 percent passed
July 199154.9 percent passed
July 199058.0 percent passed
July 198959.5 percent passed
July 198852.5 percent passed
July 198750.3 percent passed
July 198644.4 percent passed
July 198545.4 percent passed
July 198441.8 percent passed

Here are some additional statistics from this summer’s administration of the exam:

Once again, graduates of ABA-accredited law schools displayed an obvious advantage over their peers who attended California-accredited or unaccredited law schools. We’re eager to see the pass rates for individual law schools when that data is available.

Congratulations to everyone who was lucky enough to have passed the California bar exam. Fewer than half of your peers passed, so this is really quite the achievement.


Staci Zaretsky is an editor at Above the Law. She’d love to hear from you, so feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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