Bar Exam Performance Tool Is Promising
A two-year study of an online learning program in California has shown promising results, thus increasing applicants’ chances of passing the examination. The program was designed to assist applicants to handle the challenges of preparing for the California Bar Exam. The State Bar offered the free program to October 2020 bar exam applicants.
The program was developed by the California State Bar in tandem with a team of law and psychology researchers from distinguished universities. The team used surveys and focus groups of recent California Bar Exam participants to develop the program’s content to help improve the adaptive mindsets of examinees.
The California Bar Exam Strategies and Stories Program increased the likelihood of participants passing the bar exam, increasing scores by between 6.8 to 9.6 percentage points, controlling for other factors. The effect was even higher for applicants in disadvantaged groups, including those in underrepresented racial/ethnic populations and those who are first-generation college students.
The contents of the program include an introductory film, stories from prior examinees, and a writing exercise where insights and strategies are shared that may be useful to future examinees. The program was first offered to applicants for the July 2018 bar exam and then repeated for the July 2019 bar exam. Several hundred test-takers have completed the program.
Donna Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director stated the following:
“We are excited by these preliminary results from the first two years of this study. “This program has been and continues to be one of the ways that we are addressing the legitimate concern about low bar pass rates in California. We believe that the program will be even more valuable this year as we move forward under the Supreme Court’s direction with the online exam and lowered cut score.”
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