The Legal Beat
This State’s Bar Exam Results Suck
Posted on Tuesday September 19, 2017
This spring, the results from Mississippi’s February administration of the bar exam were heavily critiqued for being downright atrocious; after all, a 36 percent overall passage rate is nothing to write home about. Granted, February exams are known to have lower overall passage rates than July exams, but Mississippi’s passage rates for each and every test administered have completely plummeted over the course of the past few years.
Just how bad has the problem become?
The results from Mississippi’s July 2017 administration of the bar exam were released yesterday, revealing that only 53 percent of all test-takers passed. That’s an 18 percentage point drop from the July 2016 exam, and a staggering 27 percentage point drop from the July 2013 exam. Something is wrong here.
Perhaps Mississippi College School of Law interim Dean Patricia Bennett knows why the state’s passage rates have dropped so much in the past few years. Here’s a statement on the issue that she gave to the Jackson Clarion Ledger:
Bennett has said there is no one explanation for the national decline in bar passage rates, and certainly Mississippi is not unique in that regard.
“Many states, including California and Florida, have seen significant declines,” Bennett said. “MC Law has never changed its admission strategy of enrolling students who we believe can ultimately become successful attorneys.”
There’s “no one explanation” for the decline in bar passage rates, eh? For years, we here at Above the Law have chronicled in detail the brutal fact that declining admissions standards have resulted in declining bar exam passage rates. It seems that people in Mississippi have a slightly different idea about why the passage rates have tanked in recent years:
During the spring admissions ceremony, a large number of the students were from out of state.
Some have speculated students from out of state attending law schools in Mississippi may be leading to lower passage rates.
Apparently Mississippi law school graduates who aren’t Mississippi locals are causing lower passage rates on the Mississippi bar exam. That’s a new one we’ve never heard before, and the logic it took to get there may explain why the passage rates on the Mississippi bar exam have sunk to historic lows.
Congratulations to you if you were able to pass the bar exam in Mississippi this summer. If you didn’t pass, don’t despair. Many very successful people have failed the bar exam (see our list of famous bar exam failures). Focus on February and develop a plan for passing. Believe in yourselves, because you can do it!
Mississippi bar exam passage rate dropping [Jackson Clarion Ledger]
Staci Zaretsky has been an editor at Above the Law since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.