The results for the most recent New York Bar Exam, which took place this past February, have officially been released, and it looks like more than half of the test-takers failed, according to the New York Law Journal.
Apparently only 41 percent of the test-takers passed the bar exam.
This passage rate is lower than the results from the February 2015 and the July 2015 exams. The drop is problematic but the pass rate has been fluctuating for several years, according to the New York State Board of Law Examiners. In fact, 48 percent of test-takers passed the February 2011 New York Bar Exam—a mere 7 percentage points higher than this year’s results—while 69 percent passed the July 2013 New York State Bar Exam. Pass rates also dropped for those taking the exam in February for the first time, compared to previous years. In 2016, 63 percent of New Yorkers who first took the bar exam in February passed, but 68 percent of those who took it in 2015 passed and 67 percent who took it in 2014 passed.
Things Are Looking Up
Let’s be clear. These are results from the state’s last bar exam. In May 2015, New York adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) but it won’t be administering the first UBE until July.
It will be interesting to see whether the switch will improve the results, since the UBE takes a huge weight off of test-takers’ shoulders because they do not need to know state-specific laws as they previously did. Instead, they can devote all of their attention to learning the general legal principles.
Since 70 percent of the New York Bar Exam already included these uniform ideas, the UBE shouldn’t be a heavy lift for test-takers. After they’re done with the UBE, New Yorkers will still have to study the New York Law Course and the New York Law Exam—prerequisites the state requires in order to become a lawyer here. But they come later.
If you’re one of those who just found out you failed, don’t get discouraged because plenty of other people are going to retake the bar exam with you. So seize this opportunity to do a better job preparing for the bar, and you’ll be sure to pass the next time around.