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Bar exam pass rate jumps nearly 6 percent over 2007

The Committee of Bar Examiners announced last month that 61.7 percent of those who took the bar exam in July passed. If the 5,330 successful test takers satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar, bringing the number of California lawyers to almost 223,000.

The pass rate for the July exam has been steadily rising since July 2004, when it hit a low point of 48.2 percent. It was 48.8 percent the following year, 51.8 in 2006 and 56.1 percent last year.

The rate is the highest since 62.9 in 1997. Preliminary statistical analyses showed that of the 8,637 applicants who took the exam in July, 72.4 percent were first-timers. The pass rate for repeaters was 27 percent.

The results also showed that students who attended an ABA-accredited law school in California and took the exam the first time had the best chance of passing — 83 percent — followed by out-of-state ABA-accredited schools (75 percent). Students who attended California-accredited schools had a pass rate of 37 percent.

The pass rate for the 353 lawyers who took the attorneys' exam was 43.6 percent, an increase over last year's pass rate of 37.3 percent.

During the first morning session of the exam on July 29, an earthquake struck southern California. The bar exam committee's psychometric consultants found that the disruption appeared to affect some test centers, and the committee decided to adjust some scores.

The impact report may be found at

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