Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Add It Up

Could a horrifying February Bar pass rate actually signal an effective Bar Prep Program?

Imagine having roughly 100 students each year in a law school class.  Let's say 50 students pass the July Bar for a 50 percent bar pass rate.  The school decides to hire an ASP person to start a bar pass program.

The ASP person starts some type of Bar Prep.  The following February (this school has no Feb grads), the 50 past failers take the exam and 30 pass for a 60 percent pass rate -- so things are improving.  Importantly, those 30 new passers were students who only failed by a small margin, so the Bar Prep program's help was the real turning point.  The remaing 20 failers plan to take July.  In my imaginary jurisdiction, people can and will take the bar exam as many times as it takes to pass.  

The next July 85 out of 120 pass -- a 71 percent pass rate.  The following February 25 out of the remaining 35 pass -- again 71.

The ASP person is getting more experienced, receiving more faculty and student buy-in with the higher rates, and getting more comfortable with that state's exam, so the next July 90 of 110 pass (80 percent!) -- but only 10 out of 20 pass in February -- with a 50 percent February pass rate, things seem to be moving in the wrong direction .   Notably, with the new and improved program, there are very few close failers left in February and the returning failers seem to be getting deeper and deeper in a test-taking hole.  The school runs some statistics, and it seems that 10 of these students cannot pass the bar no matter what the school tries to do to help them.  In fact, being burned out on the entire law school thing, these 10 fail to ever respond to offers of help.  

The next July 92 out of 110 pass  -- but only 8 out of 18 in February-- a pass rate of 44 percent.  

The next July 95 out of 110 pass -- but only 5 out of 15 in February--a pass rate of 33 percent ... and so on and so forth.

At the end of the day, I don't think a school's bar pass rate is particularly useful in evaluating either the school or its ASP Program -- but, as a thought experiment, I thought it was interesting to note that July success may actually correlate with February failure.  (Alex Ruskell)

Bar Exam Issues | Permalink

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