Please note the following message from the NCBE regarding the July 2022 UBE exam, and regarding the MBE on the July 2022 Cal Bar Exam:
JUN 24, 2022
NCBE Statement on SCOTUS Decisions
Examinees taking the NCBE-developed July 2022 MBE, MPT, and MEE will not be required to be familiar with this term’s US Supreme Court decisions.
If you’re taking the Cal Bar, please know that the Cal Bar approved the questions for this exam in late April, even prior to the leak of the draft decision in Dobbs. You could see an abortion issue in a Cal Bar Con Law essay. Unlikely, but possible. If you see this come up, mention that it was a fundamental right before June 24, and subject to rational basis review afterwards. Maybe you get a bonus point as a result.
The Cal Bar posted results for the February 2022 exam at 6 pm tonight. The pass rate was 33.9% overall. This represents a drop of 8.9% from February 2021’s 37.2% pass rate. How February 2021 impacts things given that this was the exam right after the COVID-delayed October 2020 exam and less time to prep for February 2021 is unclear.
Considering February 2016-February 2020 pass rates, 33.9 is relatively normal for a February exam because those pass rates were 35.7, 34.5, 27.3, 31.4, and 26.8. Today’s 33.9% fits neatly within that context.
The MBE score nationwide is worth considering from this exam. The Cal Bar reports that the national average on the MBE dropped to 132.6, the lowest score all-time. That could explain the lower overall pass rate for this exam. It could also explain the 61.8% attorney exam pass rate, highest in 19 years!
At least 12 other states reported lower pass rates for February 2022, according to the Cal Bar. Repeater pass rate was 24.0%.
Full press release appears below.
If you find that you need tutoring, please reach out ASAP as I only have a few spaces remaining.
State Bar of California Releases Results of February 2022 Bar Exam
Today the State Bar announced that 1,056 people (33.9 percent of applicants) passed the February 2022 California General Bar Exam—the first in-person exam since February 2020. If those who passed satisfy all other requirements for admission, they will be eligible to be licensed by the State Bar to practice law in California.
“This is a day of pure joy for the 1,056 applicants who passed the General Bar Exam, and their families, as well as the 209 candidates who passed the Attorney’s Exam,” said Leah Wilson, State Bar Executive Director. “We congratulate all those who successfully passed the exam and look forward to welcoming them to California’s legal profession very soon.”
This year’s 33.9 percent pass rate on the General Bar Exam was a drop of nearly 8.9 percent from the February 2021 pass rate of 37.2 percent, but higher than the February 2020 pass rate of 26.8 percent.
Nationally, at least a dozen other states saw their February 2022 pass rates drop from the previous year, including
New York (45 percent compared to 49 percent in 2021),
Florida (44 percent compared to 47 percent in 2021),
North Carolina (50 percent compared to 60 percent in 2021), and
Pennsylvania (37 percent compared to 51 percent in 2021).
The national average score on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) dropped to 132.6—the lowest all-time score—matching the low reached on the 2020 February exam.
Attendance at California’s February 2022 General Bar Exam was slightly higher (3,113) than during the remotely administered February 2021 exam (3,098) but still low compared to past years, when 4,000 to 5,000 typically took the exam.
February 2022 General Bar Exam preliminary statistics
Completed the General Bar Exam: 3,113 applicants
First-time applicants: 1,090 (35.0 percent of total)
Pass rate for first-time applicants: 53.0 percent overall
Repeat applicants: 2,023 (64.9 percent of total)
Pass rate for repeat applicants: 24.0 percent overall
Pass rate for the General Bar Exam (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type:
The Attorneys’ Examination is open to those who have been admitted to the active practice of law and are in good standing for at least four years in another U.S. jurisdiction, as well as disciplined lawyers who are ordered to take the examination as a condition of reinstatement. Of the 338 attorneys who completed the Attorneys’ Examination, 209 (61.8 percent) passed.
Successful applicants who satisfy all requirements for admission may take the Attorney’s Oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held by their law school or others. Applicants are eligible to practice law in California after taking the Attorney’s Oath and submitting their oath card to the State Bar. Once again, the State Bar is enabling digital signing and electronic processing of oath cards.
I strongly recommend that the Committee continue the front-facing comments it’s provided to everyone throughout this process: in person testing, Feb. 22-23 exam date.
Mercifully, it appears that the Omicron variant is retreating/plateauing/cresting. The LA Times indicated as much in an article on January 19. But in today’s LA Times, we have an even STRONGER indication of such a pattern in the location centers of Bar Exam testing. As noted in today’s article:
The improvement is most pronounced in places like Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area, where health officials have voiced increased confidence in recent days that the coronavirus test positivity rate, as well as daily new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, have either stabilized or begun to convincingly decline.
“This downward trend is encouraging, and it signals that we’re likely to have passed the peak of Omicron transmission and are beginning to see a real decline in the number of newly infected individuals,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Candidly, any positive comment from LA County Public Health Director Ferrer is GREAT news for the status quo argument of Feb. 22-23 exam testing. If LA County had an overwhelming Omicron problem, she’d put up the red flag, and if LA County forces LA testing for the Cal Bar to go remote, then the whole state would.
More evidence from the article of a receding trend:
California’s Omicron surge appears to have peaked in the week of Jan. 10-16, when the state was recording about 122,000 new coronavirus cases a day. That figure has since dropped to 96,000 cases a day, according to state data released Tuesday that reflects cases reported through Monday.
Here’s the most compelling evidence we need:
Compared with their Omicron peaks, daily coronavirus case rates have dropped by 39% in L.A. County, 33% in Orange County, 25% in San Bernardino County and 21% in Ventura County, according to a Times analysis of state data released Tuesday.
Regionally, Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Greater Sacramento area have also observed declines of 25% to 28%.
“We are past the peak,” said Cody, the Santa Clara County health officer. “And we’re just beginning to see early signs that that our hospitals may be seeing a little bit of a reprieve.”
So let’s be clear: from this article, LA County is down 39%, Bay Area is down 25%, and Sacramento is down 28%. The article mentions San Diego, the fourth site, and says:
Yet the San Joaquin Valley and rural Northern California have yet to begin a persistent drop. In Southern California, San Diego and Riverside counties have also yet to observe the same.
No, San Diego hasn’t gone down 25-39%, but it hasn’t increased, either. So if 3 sites are down 25-39%, and one is unchanged/has a much less drop, none of that is evidence that there’s going to be a massive flareup in four weeks.
My sincere hope is that the Cal Bar internalizes this data and decides this weekend that there’s nothing to see here, and no reason to go remote. The consequences of going remote are severe: candidates are rumored to need several weeks to find locations to take the test that aren’t at home (due to too many people/animals at home to take the test in a quiet, solitary setting or internet reliability is a problem), plus the NCBE extorted all jurisdictions by saying that due to the spat with Examsoft, MBEs will be available in “late March” (March 23 or 30, probably). That means exam administration is delayed a month, that means grading gets pushed back, and that means results get pushed back to June, and that crimps the study schedules for those who fail the February exam.
Let’s NOT go there, Cal Bar and Cal Supreme Court. The Omicron is receding. Let’s mask up, be vaccinated or prove negative, and let’s get this exam in.
Finally, a note from our friends in Washington: a recently published “Exam Health Safety Plan for COVID-19”: in-person exam, while taking proper precautions.
A nice little bombshell today from the NCBE, the organization who administers the MBE for bar exam jurisdictions.
Evidently the NCBE and Examsoft aren’t getting along. The NCBE just announced that if a jurisdiction switches from an in-person to a remote bar exam format, “remote testing using NCBE exam materials is no longer an option for the February exam dates.”
So… a few options present themselves:
Hold your exam in person (come what may), and paper materials and status quo start date of February 22.
Pull a Nevada: hold the exam remotely, hold it at the status quo start date of February 22, and NO MBE.
Use the Examsoft equivalent program of ILG Exam360, have the NCBE use that service for its MBE administration, and hold the exam on the same dates – status quo
OR… as the NCBE states below, force a bar exam jurisdiction to postpone its exam to late March and provide MBEs then.
No, I’m not making this up. See below.
From the NCBE:
Update on Status of February 2022 Bar Exam
MADISON, WISCONSIN, January 10, 2022—NCBE is actively supporting bar admission agencies and courts as they prepare to administer the February bar exam consistent with their local health restrictions and requirements. As of this date, we anticipate that most jurisdictions will be administering the bar exam in person on February 22 and 23.
In the event that a jurisdiction’s February bar exam administration is prohibited due to public health restrictions, testing materials will be available for makeup dates in late March. Examinees are encouraged to watch for email and website announcements from the jurisdiction in which they plan to test, including announcements about specific COVID-19 protocols in place for the exam. Further information about administration of the bar exam in either February or March will come from the individual jurisdictions.
Due to firm deadlines set by ExamSoft, remote testing using NCBE exam materials is no longer an option for the February exam dates.
The NCBE is only going to provide in-person materials for the February 2022 exam. That means hardcopy materials. This is a strong leverage play. “OK, state bar licensing entities, you can do what you want, so long as you do what I say.” You want Uniform Bar Exam materials? Enjoy our hardcopy exams, people: you really didn’t want to think about having another remote exam, did you.
What does this mean for California? You want those MBE materials for 50% of your test, don’t you? Welcome back to in-person testing, people. California has about 60 days to decide right after the July 2021 Cal Bar Exam that, hey, it really was our idea, it really was! But we’re doing in-person testing for February 2022… and now you know.
NCBE’s press release from June 1 appears below.
NCBE Anticipates Return to In-Person Testing for February 2022 Bar Exam
MADISON, WISCONSIN, June 1, 2021—The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced today that February 2022 bar exam materials will be made available to jurisdictions for in-person testing only, unless restrictions by a public health authority prohibit a jurisdiction from administering the February exam in person.
NCBE is the not-for-profit corporation that develops the licensing tests used by most US jurisdictions for attorney admissions. In the second half of 2020 and throughout 2021, NCBE made bar exam materials available to jurisdictions for both in-person and remote exam administrations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar exam had been administered by each jurisdiction in person, in a secure, proctored testing environment. The July 2021 bar exam is expected to be the last that includes a remote testing option; 29 jurisdictions plan to administer that exam remotely, while 24 will administer it in person.
NCBE has advocated for in-person testing as the best mode of administration of the bar exam. According to Beth Hill, NCBE Director of Test Development, Operations, and Security, “Remote exams have been a valuable stopgap for jurisdictions during this time, allowing examinees to take the test without having to gather in a larger group. However, remote exams create challenges for exam security and uniformity, and for this reason, we have consistently advocated for in-person testing as the best option whenever possible.”
Hill acknowledges, however, that both NCBE and jurisdictions must continue to monitor the public health landscape: “Throughout the pandemic, jurisdictions have worked closely with their state and local health authorities to ensure that examinees may take the bar exam consistent with each jurisdiction’s safety requirements. Although conditions appear to be improving, NCBE recognizes that any jurisdiction’s public health authority may establish that candidates cannot test in person. Should that occur, we are committed to working with that jurisdiction on a solution that will enable its candidates to take the bar exam.”
The National Conference of Bar Examiners serves bar admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. It promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website athttp://www.ncbex.org.