The New York Bar Exam Results Are In, And They’re Not Pretty
September 24, 2022
New York has one of the toughest bar exams in the country, but that doesn’t mean people don’t pass it. And this year, according to the NY State Board of Law Examiners,
only 39 percent of test takers passed (with an overall median score of 133 out of 200), while 61 percent failed (with an overall median score of 128). In other words, most New Yorkers don’t pass the bar when they first take it (or on their second or third try).
What Happened to the Passing Rate on the NY Bar?
For those who took the New York Bar this summer—there’s a lot to get through before you can exhale. The Bar Exam results are in and they’re not pretty. Of the 5,224 candidates who took the test this year, more than half—3,125 of them to be exact—failed to achieve passing scores (meaning they scored less than 145) on one or more of the four parts that comprise the exam. All these people are facing a difficult decision:
accept failure and move on with their lives; petition for readmission; or appeal. What’s even more startling is that there has been an 18% drop in passing scores from 2017-2018. So if you had hoped for some good news coming out of this situation., well you might be disappointed.
We’re not sure exactly what’s behind these abysmal Bar Exam results, but there are some theories. One has to do with an increase in undergraduate debt. When it comes to passing a professional exam like the NY bar you need to be emotionally and mentally prepared, Bar Exam which is hard if you’re buried under $100k+ of student loans.
Another possibility has to do with law school standards and curriculum that have changed in recent years as a result of national rankings systems like U.S.
So Why Is This Happening?
Law schools have had a long history of turning out graduates with high debt who can’t get jobs and wind up working in low-paying public interest jobs.
It’s absolutely laughable to see some law school officials claim they don’t know what to do when they graduate so many unqualified people, Jones said. Of course they know what to do; the problem is that it would interfere with their profits.
The problem is that most law schools have little incentive to care about their students’ success. As long as they’re attracting applicants, they don’t have to worry about whether their graduates are getting jobs.
The schools are interested in collecting student loans and tuition—the money they need to stay in business—and nothing else. Without oversight from a governing body like the ABA or accreditation agency like SACS,
there’s no way to tell if a school’s graduates will be able to pass the bar exam, so these law schools can admit almost anyone who has a pulse and charge them just under $100K for three years of education.
What To Do If You Failed the NY Bar
Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Know that the average person who applies for the bar exam has to take it 3-4 times before passing! I know this is hard and will take some time to get over, but here are a few steps you can take to help yourself through this difficult time:
1) Evaluate what went wrong (You may think you’ve failed because your score was lower than you wanted. However, the reality is that there’s many reasons someone might fail the bar and low scores are just one of them).
2) Get organized (If possible print off all your tests scores so you have all of them in one place).
3) Review how much time did you study?
4) How many hours did you study each day?
5) What materials did you use to study?
6) Who did you study with? (If possible try to form a team where everyone has a specific role).
7) How often were you actually studying for 8-10 hours per day instead of cramming all at once?
8) How much time away from studying did you take?
What To Do Now
With this news in mind, it’s important to develop a plan of action for moving forward. These are the key things to do:
Reflect on why you want to take the bar exam and examine if it is worth sacrificing so much of your life preparing for and taking it.
What was your motivation? If there was no real emotional or intellectual commitment, I’d recommend exploring other career options that would better align with what you really want to do. If there is an emotional commitment but not enough preparation time between now and the October sitting date, explore the California bar exam which takes place in February.
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