State Bar Lowers Passing Score Necessary For Bar Exam
On August 10, the California Supreme Court released an order that detailed final arrangements to permanently lower the passing score for the California Bar Exam, which will now be administered online in October 2020. In a letter sent to the State Bar of California’s Board of Trustees. the court stated that it would not apply the lower passing score retroactively to past test-takers.
Three other states: North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, have lowered Bar Exam passing scores during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the changes to the passing score in these states are temporary and only apply to future examinees.
“With one exception, the court is unaware of any jurisdiction in the past decade that has lowered the exam passing score and applied that decision retroactively,” the court wrote. The Montana Supreme Court in 2016 lowered the passing score retroactive to 2013 examinees to offset the effect of the court’s earlier decision in 2013 to increase the passing score. “No similar circumstances are present here,” the court reasoned.
The court first announced the lower passing score and plans for the October Bar Exam in its July 16th letter to the State Bar Board of Trustees, including permanently lowering the passing score from 1440 to 1390. The court also directed the California State Bar to expedite the creation of a provisional licensure program under supervision to 2020 law school graduates, which would be effective until they can take and pass a California bar exam; expiring no later than June 1, 2022.
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