Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Predicting Success? Exciting Research from the Western Heart of Texas

There’s exciting research work going on in West Texas, entitled: “Will I Pass the Bar Exam? Predicting Student Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance,” co-written by Dr. Katherine Austin, Professor Catherine (Cassie) Christopher, and Dean Darby Dickerson, all hailing from Texas Tech University.

According to the abstract: “Texas Tech University School of Law has undertaken a statistical analysis of its recent alumni, comparing their performance in law school with their success on the Texas bar exam. The authors conclude that LSAT predicts bar exam success while undergraduate GPA does not. The also study replicates findings in previous literature that both 1L and final law school GPA predict bar exam success. Going beyond existing literature, this study also conducted more specific analysis of how student performance in specific courses can predict success on affiliated subcomponents of the bar exam; the Article identifies which courses have significant impact on bar exam performance and which do not. Additionally, the Article reports a completely new analysis of whether student participation in curricular student engagement activities (such as journal, clinic, and advocacy competitions) predicts bar exam success.”

As background, the researchers used first-time Texas Bar Exam results (and scores) to analyze a host of factors that might predict bar exam performance– such as UGPA, LSAT, first-year LGPA, graduating LGPA, law school grades in some bar-tested subjects, bar exam percentile subject matter scores, and final bar exam scores. The study pool comprised a total of 1562 Texas Tech law school graduates that sat for the Texas Bar Exam as a first-time taker during the period of 2008 to 2014. Consequently, the authors use a robust database for analyzing bar exam performance.

In brief, here are some of the major findings:

  • UGPA did not predict either LGPA or bar exam performance
  • LSAT scores predicted bar exam performance, albeit imprecisely as LSAT only predicted about 13 percent of bar exam scores
  • Final LGPA was a substantially better predictor of bar exam scores than LSAT scores, accounting for about 52 percent of the variance in bar exam scores
  • Law Schools can either use first year LGPA or final year LGPA to predict bar exam scores as both LGPA measurements have substantially similar predictive abilities
  • Because first year LGPA is substantially similar to final year LGPA in predicting bar exam scores, law schools can use first year LGPA to help with early intervention efforts to improve bar exam performance for their graduates
  • Civil procedure grades were more predictive of bar exam performance (accounting for about 25 percent of bar exam scores) than legal research & writing grades (accounting for about 18 percent of bar exam scores)
  • Journal participants had both higher LGPA and bar exam scores
  • Clinic participants had higher LGPA but lower bar exam scores (but only slightly lower with a mean bar exam score still substantially above passing)
  • Moot court and advocacy participants had higher LGPA and bar exam scores
  • Some bar-related “courses…predict[ed] bar performance on the relevant subcomponent of the bar exam, while others did not”

For the ground-breaking details, particularly regarding the relationship between law school courses and bar exam scores and the relationship between core extra-curricular activities and bar exam scores, please see the article at:  "Will I Pass the Bar Exam."  It provide us all with much to reflect upon and and talk about!  

And, if your state supreme court does not provide your law school with bar exam scores (as many do not), share this article with your local bar examiners because the researchers empirically demonstrate the priceless worth of transparent sharing of data in order to better understand the relationship between legal education and bar exam performance.  Or, as Helen Keller said:  "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

(Scott Johns)

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2016/09/predicting-academic-and-bar-success-exciting-research-from-the-western-heart-of-texas.html

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