California Bar Exam Controversy

SUPERFEVER
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California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby SUPERFEVER » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:50 pm

This is my first thread, so I hope I've followed all community rules.

SACRAMENTO—Democratic members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee asked the California Supreme Court on Thursday to temporarily reduce the required passing score on the state bar exam.

The Recorder - http://m.therecorder.com/#/article/1202780420807/Lawmakers-Ask-Calif-Chief-Justice-to-Cut-State-Bar-Exam-Score?mcode=1202617072607&curindex=2&_almReferrer=https:%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Nearly all the deans of California's ABA law schools have petitioned or appeared in front of legislature to plead for changes to the Bar Exam in California. According to the information presented in the webcast of the legislative hearing, the exam pass score hasn't been re-evaluated in about 30 years.

This lowering in the pass rate will be temporary to help lawmakers and the bar association collect data on how to move forward. There have been many views expressed on how to improve the bar and I have compiled some of the prevailing ideas as well as some of my own below:

1. Don't reinvent the wheel. There are many working certification processes for other industries. One strategy that could be borrowed is to allow passing of the written and MBE portions separately. Many applicants have passed the MBE and written portions on separate occasions but they're not attorneys today because they couldn't do it all at once. Another strategy could be to stagger the MBE and written portions throughout the year so the MBE would be Feb and July, and written will be in May and October. If students could dedicate their months of studying to one task they would be more likely to meet the high threshold without changing it. A more experimental idea is "bonuses" where students can earn bonuses for working in the legal field while they study or community service / etc. A minority internet presence suggests a small lowering of the individuals passing threshold if they are not able to pass within a certain number of attempts, but I disagree with this because it rewards failure.

2. Eliminate conflicts of Interest. A testable issue on the bar is "conflict of interest". Ironic, considering the conflict of interest that bar essay graders have, because they are lawyers themselves. Data presented by the bar associations experts showed a gradual rise and fall in passing scores every 4-6 years. Maybe instead of bar takers abilities, it's actually bad faith of grading that's cyclical. Why would any reasonable person want more people added to their profession? Students would suspect less foul play if they knew the graders were not attorneys, or at least retired/ non-practicing attorneys.

3. Sword / Shield - Let's assume that the bar's method of scaling, really does hold the difficulty level constant from exam to exam. The bar wants you to believe that it's the human element of student intellect causing the changes in pass percentage. They are happy to accept a mysterious change student intelligence as an explanation, so they should be equally open to other experimental theories. If it's totally feasible that students gradually get smarter or stupider over the years, than it's equally possible graders get more or less honest over the years. It's already irrefutable that they have a conflict of interest. If we can get dumber against our own interests then graders can certainly be less honest in favor of their own interests.

4. Transparency. There is nothing preventing a grader from failing an applicant for something arbitrary. "I don't like headings in italics" or "i'm in a hurry today" can be enough to award a 50 with no recourse for the student. I'm told that essays are accompanied by a grading rubric which decides the fate of bar essays. If the essays themselves are returned to students, why not return the rubrics as well? If this is too outrageous, how about an appeals process for errors in grading that students believe are egregious? One essay or PT per year can be appealed and if the grade doesn't change, the bar can provide up to 500 words of feedback on why the essay failed.

5. $$$$$. The bar exam sticker price is 830 dollars. Why would a business willingly turn away repeat customers? In July 2016, 5396 applicants took the bar, and 2998 passed. This means 2398 people need to re-take the exam, which amounts to 2 million dollars in additional revenue just from repeaters. This is unsettling for the less contemplated reason, that California takes 2-3 weeks longer than 49 states, DC and outlying provinces to get results back. 2 million from repeaters isn't enough to hire a few more graders? Such a small window to process the failure, regroup and begin studying again is a huge strain on repeaters, and it creates a convenient and ongoing revenue stream for the bar. Maybe it's time the bar was forced to increase its manpower and get tests returned correctly and faster.


The points above are a non-exhaustive list of problems and proposed solutions.

I'm very curious to hear everyone's take on the situation and I'm equally open to constructive counter arguments.

ChocolateMilk
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby ChocolateMilk » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:39 pm

Wow! Sounds legit! I love the conflict of interest argument :) My personal suggestion would be that professors make the best graders. Bar exams are pedagogical in nature anyways, I think it'd be counterintuitive to have practitioners marking them

The passage rate is troublesome, makes this whole bar exam thing sounds even unethical...too profit orientated! Best of luck!

AspiringCALawyer
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby AspiringCALawyer » Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:21 pm

ChocolateMilk wrote:Wow! Sounds legit! I love the conflict of interest argument :) My personal suggestion would be that professors make the best graders. Bar exams are pedagogical in nature anyways, I think it'd be counterintuitive to have practitioners marking them

The passage rate is troublesome, makes this whole bar exam thing sounds even unethical...too profit orientated! Best of luck!


Too bad it can't be retroactive such that my previous failing score would now be a winner!

jphiggo
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby jphiggo » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:14 pm

I personally think the conflicts of interest argument is fairly silly and detracts from some of the other (legitimate) concerns.

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rcharter1978
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby rcharter1978 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:28 am

Really though, what are the legitimate concerns. California is overrun with licensed attorneys who can't find legal work. Why is there a great rush to admit everyone?

All of this smoke and mirrors hides the real problem and the real solution.

The real problem = too much supply, and not enough demand
The real problem, part 2 = not enough legal jobs paying enough to justify the high cost of education
The real solution = closing some law schools

NOT the real solution = adding more attorneys to a state that already has too many attorneys.

Now, will the ABA, or anyone actually close law schools so that they aren't receiving federal loan money even though they can't get students to pass the bar? Probably not.

But the solution IS NOT to make the test easier to pass, and I say this is as someone who had to retake. The test is already being made into a 2 day exam, with 50% being MBE. I don't know what else people want, maybe the bar can be a take home exam at some point so everyone can pass.

SUPERFEVER
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby SUPERFEVER » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:27 am

rcharter1978 wrote:Really though, what are the legitimate concerns. California is overrun with licensed attorneys who can't find legal work. Why is there a great rush to admit everyone?

All of this smoke and mirrors hides the real problem and the real solution.

The real problem = too much supply, and not enough demand
The real problem, part 2 = not enough legal jobs paying enough to justify the high cost of education
The real solution = closing some law schools

NOT the real solution = adding more attorneys to a state that already has too many attorneys.

Now, will the ABA, or anyone actually close law schools so that they aren't receiving federal loan money even though they can't get students to pass the bar? Probably not.

But the solution IS NOT to make the test easier to pass, and I say this is as someone who had to retake. The test is already being made into a 2 day exam, with 50% being MBE. I don't know what else people want, maybe the bar can be a take home exam at some point so everyone can pass.


I fully agree that schools need to close. I can think of about 10, and one of them is the one I graduated from. But don't you think that will only fix a future problem without addressing the current one - that thousands have a diploma with "Juris Doctor" and no way of using it? A temporary lowering in the pass score could remedy the current problem like Sunset Provisions do for racial and ethnic discrimination. BUT that will be a short-lived victory if some (about half) schools don't close. If there are still too many schools then the problem will just happen again and again.

The school closure angle is one I definitely should have addressed in my original post.

To expand on this - Just this month, the ABA imposed a new rule on all schools: 75% of the graduates must pass the bar within 2 years or they lose their accreditation. The old rule was 5 years. As someone who's failed the bar 4 times, there is a silver lining that maybe I'm one of the reasons my school closes and can't sell more people a lie. Unaccredited schools can't survive, and I think this is a step on the right direction even if it takes a few years to yield results.

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rcharter1978
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby rcharter1978 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:51 am

SUPERFEVER wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:Really though, what are the legitimate concerns. California is overrun with licensed attorneys who can't find legal work. Why is there a great rush to admit everyone?

All of this smoke and mirrors hides the real problem and the real solution.

The real problem = too much supply, and not enough demand
The real problem, part 2 = not enough legal jobs paying enough to justify the high cost of education
The real solution = closing some law schools

NOT the real solution = adding more attorneys to a state that already has too many attorneys.

Now, will the ABA, or anyone actually close law schools so that they aren't receiving federal loan money even though they can't get students to pass the bar? Probably not.

But the solution IS NOT to make the test easier to pass, and I say this is as someone who had to retake. The test is already being made into a 2 day exam, with 50% being MBE. I don't know what else people want, maybe the bar can be a take home exam at some point so everyone can pass.


I fully agree that schools need to close. I can think of about 10, and one of them is the one I graduated from. But don't you think that will only fix a future problem without addressing the current one - that thousands have a diploma with "Juris Doctor" and no way of using it? A temporary lowering in the pass score could remedy the current problem like Sunset Provisions do for racial and ethnic discrimination. BUT that will be a short-lived victory if some (about half) schools don't close. If there are still too many schools then the problem will just happen again and again.

The school closure angle is one I definitely should have addressed in my original post.

To expand on this - Just this month, the ABA imposed a new rule on all schools: 75% of the graduates must pass the bar within 2 years or they lose their accreditation. The old rule was 5 years. As someone who's failed the bar 4 times, there is a silver lining that maybe I'm one of the reasons my school closes and can't sell more people a lie. Unaccredited schools can't survive, and I think this is a step on the right direction even if it takes a few years to yield results.


The problem is that:

a) you're still going to put out attorneys in an oversaturated market, so unless someone is going to make more jobs, the JD's that benefit from a lower pass rate are going to face the same problem that current attorneys face. And it will likely be worse, because with even more supply out there, its possible to lower salaries even more.

b) the bar is a minimum competency test, do we really want to put out attorneys just because they can't find a job without reference to their actual ability? I mean, even if you disagree with the proposition that the bar tests minimum competence, that is what its designed to do, so saying that jobless JD's matter more than the right of clients to have an attorney who is minimally competent doesn't seem like the best idea

I've heard of the 2 year rule, and I'm annoyed that schools are fighting it so hard. They know full fucking well that they are accepting and graduating students who can't pass the bar exam. And instead of trying to make progress with either admissions or early intervention, the answer is to hope they can lobby their way into continuing to take money they don't deserve.

I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with the bar, and I know it fucking sucks. But I swear to you, the minute you pass,it will have all been worth it. Did you take it in February? How did you feel? I think July will be the better exam. 50% MBE alone makes it a far less subjective exam. I think the PT is significantly shorter, and you have one less essay.

As for the job market, I do think there are actually JD advantage jobs. I remember looking at a few positions for the State of CA that really didn't require someone to be an attorney, but the "attorney" classification was being requisitioned to fill the positions. And truly, this is another area where I get mad with law schools, because they are perfectly fine taking your money and knowing you'll probably have a hard time passing the bar exam, but when you need them to help you get a job because you have JD but can't pass the bar, they are nowhere to be found. Annoying.

SUPERFEVER
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby SUPERFEVER » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:43 am

rcharter1978 wrote:
The problem is that:

a) you're still going to put out attorneys in an oversaturated market, so unless someone is going to make more jobs, the JD's that benefit from a lower pass rate are going to face the same problem that current attorneys face. And it will likely be worse, because with even more supply out there, its possible to lower salaries even more.

b) the bar is a minimum competency test, do we really want to put out attorneys just because they can't find a job without reference to their actual ability? I mean, even if you disagree with the proposition that the bar tests minimum competence, that is what its designed to do, so saying that jobless JD's matter more than the right of clients to have an attorney who is minimally competent doesn't seem like the best idea

I've heard of the 2 year rule, and I'm annoyed that schools are fighting it so hard. They know full fucking well that they are accepting and graduating students who can't pass the bar exam. And instead of trying to make progress with either admissions or early intervention, the answer is to hope they can lobby their way into continuing to take money they don't deserve.

I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with the bar, and I know it fucking sucks. But I swear to you, the minute you pass,it will have all been worth it. Did you take it in February? How did you feel? I think July will be the better exam. 50% MBE alone makes it a far less subjective exam. I think the PT is significantly shorter, and you have one less essay.

As for the job market, I do think there are actually JD advantage jobs. I remember looking at a few positions for the State of CA that really didn't require someone to be an attorney, but the "attorney" classification was being requisitioned to fill the positions. And truly, this is another area where I get mad with law schools, because they are perfectly fine taking your money and knowing you'll probably have a hard time passing the bar exam, but when you need them to help you get a job because you have JD but can't pass the bar, they are nowhere to be found. Annoying.


First thank you for your response. I welcome a free exchange of ideas and alternative views. It seems we're already in agreement about one thing... schools should shut up about the two year rule. I actually think it should be a one-year rule to keep schools honest. They accept a ton of 1L's and make that front-end money. Then they jack up the attrition rate to keep a friendly sized graduating class.

Your market saturation concerns are valid, but... "There are too many lawyers" "Not enough legal jobs" "Salaries will be lower" (paraphrased). You have these thoughts and so do the graders because you're similarly situated as far as job security. There is nothing preventing a grader from writing 55 until he gets writers cramp just because he wants to corner the market for himself. No safeguards whatsoever. Is this a fair assessment of capability?

You mentioned that the bar is designed to be a minimum competency test. Unfortunately California's design is 30 years old. Would you be willing to concede that there's room for improvement? I doubt you believe it's a flawless system.

The bar shouldn't only be a tool to control the market. Yes, it has the incidental effect of limiting lawyer population, but if any deliberate market control was happening it would turn the Bar into the dictionary definition of a cartel. The free market is the most democratic force in the world, and if there is saturation, consumers will naturally select the best product and those who are unfit will be ejected from the industry or forced to move where it's less competitive (out of state).

To answer your question. February felt great. Essays were solid, despite 1 or 2 small issues I missed. MBE is hard to gauge but I was answering a lot more Qs with confidence. The Pts were the two best ones I've ever wrote. (Just based on the feeling you get when you finally "untangle the headphone cables.")

Now I have a question. You failed the bar your first time, but you're a lawyer now. Let's say there was a clerical error - and they said you passed the first time. Based on that, you entered the industry. Would you have poorly represented the rights of clients? Prejudiced their rights with your total incompetence? Would you have been ordered to retake the bar as a sanction? Did your ability to practice change that tremendously in the half-year between the first bar and second? I'm going to guess the answer is no. You would have been as competent and effective as you are today. I realize this isn't true for all people but at least some are just like you were after your first attempt: competent, capable but f*cked for another 6 months.

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rcharter1978
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby rcharter1978 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:37 am

SUPERFEVER wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:
The problem is that:

a) you're still going to put out attorneys in an oversaturated market, so unless someone is going to make more jobs, the JD's that benefit from a lower pass rate are going to face the same problem that current attorneys face. And it will likely be worse, because with even more supply out there, its possible to lower salaries even more.

b) the bar is a minimum competency test, do we really want to put out attorneys just because they can't find a job without reference to their actual ability? I mean, even if you disagree with the proposition that the bar tests minimum competence, that is what its designed to do, so saying that jobless JD's matter more than the right of clients to have an attorney who is minimally competent doesn't seem like the best idea

I've heard of the 2 year rule, and I'm annoyed that schools are fighting it so hard. They know full fucking well that they are accepting and graduating students who can't pass the bar exam. And instead of trying to make progress with either admissions or early intervention, the answer is to hope they can lobby their way into continuing to take money they don't deserve.

I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with the bar, and I know it fucking sucks. But I swear to you, the minute you pass,it will have all been worth it. Did you take it in February? How did you feel? I think July will be the better exam. 50% MBE alone makes it a far less subjective exam. I think the PT is significantly shorter, and you have one less essay.

As for the job market, I do think there are actually JD advantage jobs. I remember looking at a few positions for the State of CA that really didn't require someone to be an attorney, but the "attorney" classification was being requisitioned to fill the positions. And truly, this is another area where I get mad with law schools, because they are perfectly fine taking your money and knowing you'll probably have a hard time passing the bar exam, but when you need them to help you get a job because you have JD but can't pass the bar, they are nowhere to be found. Annoying.


First thank you for your response. I welcome a free exchange of ideas and alternative views. It seems we're already in agreement about one thing... schools should shut up about the two year rule. I actually think it should be a one-year rule to keep schools honest. They accept a ton of 1L's and make that front-end money. Then they jack up the attrition rate to keep a friendly sized graduating class.

Your market saturation concerns are valid, but... "There are too many lawyers" "Not enough legal jobs" "Salaries will be lower" (paraphrased). You have these thoughts and so do the graders because you're similar situated as far as job security. There is nothing preventing a grader from writing 55 until he gets writers cramp just because he wants to corner the market for himself. No safeguards whatsoever. Is this a fair assessment of capability?

You mentioned that the bar is designed to be a minimum competency test. Unfortunately California's design is 30 years old. Would you be willing to concede that there's room for improvement? I doubt you believe it's a flawless system.

The bar shouldn't only be a tool to control the market. Yes, it has the incidental effect of limiting lawyer population, but if any deliberate market control was happening it would turn the Bar into the dictionary definition of a cartel. The free market is the most democratic force in the world, and if there is saturation, consumers will naturally select the best product and those who are unfit will be ejected from the industry or forced to move where it's less competitive (out of state).

To answer your question. February felt great. Essays were solid, despite 1 or 2 small issues I missed. MBE is hard to gauge but I was answering a lot more Qs with confidence. The Pts were the two best ones I've ever wrote. (Just based on the feeling you get when you finally "untangle the headphone cables.")

Now I have a question. You failed the bar your first time, but you're a lawyer now. Let's say there was a clerical error - and they said you passed the first time. Based on that, you entered the industry. Would you have poorly represented the rights of clients? Prejudiced their rights with your total incompetence? Would you have been ordered to retake the bar as a sanction? Did your ability to practice change that tremendously in the half-year between the first bar and second? I'm going to guess the answer is no. You would have been as competent and effective as you are today. I realize this isn't true for all people but at least some are just like you were after your first attempt: competent, capable but f*cked for another 6 months.


I'll start with the hypo you posed first. No, but at this point I'm so green behind the ears that without any guidance I'm likely to fuck up anyways. But, I think passing this test should tell you that, this is a person who is able to learn, retain information and analyze. This means that they have the minimum competence to learn about the actual practice of law and figure things out. I don't think its a test is a measure of whether or not you're really going to be able to set up your own shingle the next day without any preparation or additional work, and I don't know that that is what the test was ever meant to be.

Now, to the start. I'm sure graders write 55s, but they also write higher scores, or else none of us would ever pass. I guess they could write 55s all day, but I can tell you right now that there was a difference in my writing between the first and second exam. And my first exam essay scores were absolutely awful...horrific even. I thought I failed the second time, but I had a good feeling that my writing scores would be better, because I knew I wrote better on the second exam. So, I don't know that I feel its particularly stacked. I also assumed that they did random audits of the scoring/scorers. Maybe they don't, but my own anecdotal data leads me to believe that they do take quality into account and the grading is somewhat reasonable.

BUT, I would absolutely agree that essays are super subjective, and there is no way of getting around that. I think they are important, and I think holistic grading is important. But I think a 50/50 split between writing and MBE's is a more reasonable solution, and I think it will lead to higher test scores.

While I think your free market theory works in theory, I'm not sure it works in practice. Just look at the shady lawyers out there in particular communities. Especially certain ethnic communities. People tend to go with someone they may know, or someone who is just cheap, or the first person they pass. In that case the free market doesn't really work.

And even if the free market theory did work....you don't want to put people in a position to have to have suffered a harm and then go back and try to rectify it. Especially when its their rights on the line....in some cases, their right of freedom. Its so hard to get a case overturned on appeal, its hard, and its costly. And so for a criminal defendant who didn't get good representation because they had an incompetent attorney, you're asking them to suffer the harm first and that harm is the potential loss of freedom. So, I do think it makes more sense to have a test upfront, as much as it sucks total monkey balls, and even though it still doesn't keep out incompetence. But I think a state would be remiss if it didn't at least try to have some test of competence.

The bar isn't flawless, its a difficult test, and as it stands now, mostly subjective. I think the changes made for July '17 even that out in making it 50% MBE (more objective) and 50% written (to test writing/analysis). You have one less PT and one less essay, so I'm thinking there will be fewer graders, which should make the grading more uniform.

Fingers crossed for February! I think when you get your pass letter, your pass will mean more to you than it meant to a lot of other people. I always say that I wish I could bottle up that feeling I had when I got that pass letter in the mail. And you will too, it will feel just incredible. I'm glad to hear that you feel good about the PT's. People sleep on PT's, and I think thats a BIG mistake.

comet_halley
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby comet_halley » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:28 pm

jphiggo wrote:I personally think the conflicts of interest argument is fairly silly and detracts from some of the other (legitimate) concerns.


Yes, because all the final essay scores were curved according to MBE result.

That might be one of the reasons why the their students could not pass the bar.

Even if there was a conflict of interest, it has nothing to do with the high cutting score.

InterAlia1961
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby InterAlia1961 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:43 pm

Thanks for sharing this information. I read the letter. The legislators want the lower cut rate to go into effect for July 2017, not the latest administration.

I'm not sure how I did this time. At first, I thought for sure I added five points to all my essays. But after thinking about it, I had some weak rule statements. Spotted a bunch of issues, though. I definitely fared better on the PTs, but I did 21 in preparation. I failed both last time with only 55 on each. I did way better this time. I can identify 13 questions I know I missed on the MBE, but I do feel like I was more confident while I was taking the test. If my math is right, it's only necessary to get 123 right to get to 70%.

There's no reason not to look into revising how the test is administered and scored. A little policy review never hurt anyone.

I'm just trying to deal with the anxiety more productively this time. I'm trying to remember that I just need to pass. It doesn't have to be pretty.

InterAlia1961
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby InterAlia1961 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:15 pm

comet_halley wrote:
Yes, because all the final essay scores were curved according to MBE result.

That might be one of the reasons why the their students could not pass the bar.

Even if there was a conflict of interest, it has nothing to do with the high cutting score.


Even if the State Bar declines to lower the cut score for July, we'll know for sure after the results are released whether the subjective grading in California is the problem. If the pass rate skyrockets in July, when there will be 50% less subjective grading involved because there will be only one day of writing as compared to two, then the reasonable inference is that the grades jumped because of a decrease in subjective grading. Proof positive. And if that's the case, I'm going to put my law degree to good use, especially if I don't pass this time. You can't have the July administration be that much easier than the Feb. administration of the same year.

jphiggo
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby jphiggo » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:29 pm

InterAlia1961 wrote:
comet_halley wrote:
Yes, because all the final essay scores were curved according to MBE result.

That might be one of the reasons why the their students could not pass the bar.

Even if there was a conflict of interest, it has nothing to do with the high cutting score.


Even if the State Bar declines to lower the cut score for July, we'll know for sure after the results are released whether the subjective grading in California is the problem. If the pass rate skyrockets in July, when there will be 50% less subjective grading involved because there will be only one day of writing as compared to two, then the reasonable inference is that the grades jumped because of a decrease in subjective grading. Proof positive. And if that's the case, I'm going to put my law degree to good use, especially if I don't pass this time. You can't have the July administration be that much easier than the Feb. administration of the same year.


Might want to check your math. There isn't a 50% reduction in material to be graded. The new exam is 5 essays instead of 6 and 1 PT instead of 2. Still, a silly argument to be making.

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rcharter1978
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:35 pm

jphiggo wrote:
InterAlia1961 wrote:
comet_halley wrote:
Yes, because all the final essay scores were curved according to MBE result.

That might be one of the reasons why the their students could not pass the bar.

Even if there was a conflict of interest, it has nothing to do with the high cutting score.


Even if the State Bar declines to lower the cut score for July, we'll know for sure after the results are released whether the subjective grading in California is the problem. If the pass rate skyrockets in July, when there will be 50% less subjective grading involved because there will be only one day of writing as compared to two, then the reasonable inference is that the grades jumped because of a decrease in subjective grading. Proof positive. And if that's the case, I'm going to put my law degree to good use, especially if I don't pass this time. You can't have the July administration be that much easier than the Feb. administration of the same year.


Might want to check your math. There isn't a 50% reduction in material to be graded. The new exam is 5 essays instead of 6 and 1 PT instead of 2. Still, a silly argument to be making.


True, but the mbe will be worth 50% which means only 50% of the score will be based on subjective grading. As much as you can consider the mbe objective.

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cnk1220
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby cnk1220 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:45 pm

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Last edited by cnk1220 on Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

comet_halley
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby comet_halley » Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:13 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:
jphiggo wrote:
InterAlia1961 wrote:
comet_halley wrote:
Yes, because all the final essay scores were curved according to MBE result.

That might be one of the reasons why the their students could not pass the bar.

Even if there was a conflict of interest, it has nothing to do with the high cutting score.


Even if the State Bar declines to lower the cut score for July, we'll know for sure after the results are released whether the subjective grading in California is the problem. If the pass rate skyrockets in July, when there will be 50% less subjective grading involved because there will be only one day of writing as compared to two, then the reasonable inference is that the grades jumped because of a decrease in subjective grading. Proof positive. And if that's the case, I'm going to put my law degree to good use, especially if I don't pass this time. You can't have the July administration be that much easier than the Feb. administration of the same year.


Might want to check your math. There isn't a 50% reduction in material to be graded. The new exam is 5 essays instead of 6 and 1 PT instead of 2. Still, a silly argument to be making.


True, but the mbe will be worth 50% which means only 50% of the score will be based on subjective grading. As much as you can consider the mbe objective.

Exactly, what's more, the final essay scores are curved according to MBE curve. So, even if the graders gave out very low scores for everyone, it won't have any effects on the final scores as long as they use the same standard.

9xSound
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby 9xSound » Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:43 pm

Interesting thread.

I've been a CA lawyer for a little less than 2 years. Although I have had success tutoring others, I certainly don't call myself a bar expert.

During that anguished six months between failing my first time and passing on the second, I kicked around every complaint and potential solution for the unfair bar exam that one might imagine. But it was a waste of time. After I passed, I found it easier to detach myself from all the anger and I came to understand why I had failed in the first place. The fact is, despite what I thought, I simply did not deliver what the graders wanted to see as well as the people did who passed. I delivered average answers. Average = failing.

While you're struggling to get the exam behind you, the temptation is to blame the exam and focus on those who administer it, but this is misplaced energy. Your goal is to pass. Worrying about whether the test is fair and objective won't advance you one inch closer to your goal. You have to just accept that this is not an objective test. A truly objective test, theoretically, could be passed by 100 percent of the candidates. But you know that this is never going to happen. The CBE would not stand for it. What you know to be true is that they are going to admit a certain percentage of candidates with every exam, and they are going to deny a certain percentage. Whether those percentages are fixed before the test is administered, as every repeater wants to believe, I can't say. But the practical upshot is that the bar exam is not really a test. Get your arms around this. The bar exam is a competition for a limited number of licenses. If you want the license, you have to outperform some 2/3 of the other people who take the test. This means that you have to do better on the exam than the people sitting to your left and to your right at the table. The people who study for the exam with the idea that this is a test of minimum competency foolishly deceive themselves into believing that mediocrity is acceptable. It isn't. Passing is no different than a football game: the team with the most points at the end wins. You have to fight for every single point. Winning requires you to deliver exactly what they have asked you to deliver, no more, no less, and to deliver it in a package that outperforms the minimal competence tendered by the majority of the other candidates. In other words, you have to perform at a level well above the average candidate. When you are preparing to take the thing, you should be focusing not merely on how to get it right, but how to outshine the efforts of everybody else on every level.

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rcharter1978
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby rcharter1978 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:23 am

9xSound wrote:Interesting thread.

I've been a CA lawyer for a little less than 2 years. Although I have had success tutoring others, I certainly don't call myself a bar expert.

During that anguished six months between failing my first time and passing on the second, I kicked around every complaint and potential solution for the unfair bar exam that one might imagine. But it was a waste of time. After I passed, I found it easier to detach myself from all the anger and I came to understand why I had failed in the first place. The fact is, despite what I thought, I simply did not deliver what the graders wanted to see as well as the people did who passed. I delivered average answers. Average = failing.

While you're struggling to get the exam behind you, the temptation is to blame the exam and focus on those who administer it, but this is misplaced energy. Your goal is to pass. Worrying about whether the test is fair and objective won't advance you one inch closer to your goal. You have to just accept that this is not an objective test. A truly objective test, theoretically, could be passed by 100 percent of the candidates. But you know that this is never going to happen. The CBE would not stand for it. What you know to be true is that they are going to admit a certain percentage of candidates with every exam, and they are going to deny a certain percentage. Whether those percentages are fixed before the test is administered, as every repeater wants to believe, I can't say. But the practical upshot is that the bar exam is not really a test. Get your arms around this. The bar exam is a competition for a limited number of licenses. If you want the license, you have to outperform some 2/3 of the other people who take the test. This means that you have to do better on the exam than the people sitting to your left and to your right at the table. The people who study for the exam with the idea that this is a test of minimum competency foolishly deceive themselves into believing that mediocrity is acceptable. It isn't. Passing is no different than a football game: the team with the most points at the end wins. You have to fight for every single point. Winning requires you to deliver exactly what they have asked you to deliver, no more, no less, and to deliver it in a package that outperforms the minimal competence tendered by the majority of the other candidates. In other words, you have to perform at a level well above the average candidate. When you are preparing to take the thing, you should be focusing not merely on how to get it right, but how to outshine the efforts of everybody else on every level.


I had never considered this point of view, but it makes sense.

Honestly, when I walked out of the bar the first time, I knew I failed, and I knew I deserved to fail.

I would have had zero respect for the exam if they had passed me with my terrible responses.

I think it made my passing like 10x better knowing that the exam was really a challenge.

I'll be VERY interested to see the pass rate for the 2 day CBX. Ostensibly, it should have a higher pass rate, since 50% of it is standardized.

Zebra
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby Zebra » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:18 pm


InterAlia1961
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby InterAlia1961 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 11:09 am

Thank you

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Yukos
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby Yukos » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:02 pm

SUPERFEVER wrote:
3. Sword / Shield - Let's assume that the bar's method of scaling, really does hold the difficulty level constant from exam to exam. The bar wants you to believe that it's the human element of student intellect causing the changes in pass percentage. They are happy to accept a mysterious change student intelligence as an explanation, so they should be equally open to other experimental theories. If it's totally feasible that students gradually get smarter or stupider over the years, than it's equally possible graders get more or less honest over the years. It's already irrefutable that they have a conflict of interest. If we can get dumber against our own interests then graders can certainly be less honest in favor of their own interests.


It's not a "mysterious change [in] student intelligence." Law schools have been lowering their admissions standards for years. As a matter of mathematics, that has made the average law student less qualified than in years past. Predictably, that has led to a declining bar passage rate. As many people in this thread have pointed out, the solution is not (only) changing the exam/grading, but forcing schools to raise their standards or shut down.

Also, law professors would have a much worse conflict of interest in grading. Their jobs depend on their schools not losing accreditation, which depends on their schools having a certain bar passage rate.

Genius
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby Genius » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:32 pm

The market regulates itself. People who graduated from TTT and passed the bar can do contract work or public interest work. They knew going in that that was their only likely option. Nobody would hire them at biglaw/midlaw anyway. So it isnt like there is oversaturation in the market. There is oversaturation of TTT lawyers in lower echelon of the market. I think most ppl who graduated from good schools are doing just fine.

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sublime
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby sublime » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:27 pm

They should just go to UBE. As should every other state.

run26.2
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby run26.2 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:28 pm

9xSound wrote:Interesting thread.

I've been a CA lawyer for a little less than 2 years. Although I have had success tutoring others, I certainly don't call myself a bar expert.

During that anguished six months between failing my first time and passing on the second, I kicked around every complaint and potential solution for the unfair bar exam that one might imagine. But it was a waste of time. After I passed, I found it easier to detach myself from all the anger and I came to understand why I had failed in the first place. The fact is, despite what I thought, I simply did not deliver what the graders wanted to see as well as the people did who passed. I delivered average answers. Average = failing.

While you're struggling to get the exam behind you, the temptation is to blame the exam and focus on those who administer it, but this is misplaced energy. Your goal is to pass. Worrying about whether the test is fair and objective won't advance you one inch closer to your goal. You have to just accept that this is not an objective test. A truly objective test, theoretically, could be passed by 100 percent of the candidates. But you know that this is never going to happen. The CBE would not stand for it. What you know to be true is that they are going to admit a certain percentage of candidates with every exam, and they are going to deny a certain percentage. Whether those percentages are fixed before the test is administered, as every repeater wants to believe, I can't say. But the practical upshot is that the bar exam is not really a test. Get your arms around this. The bar exam is a competition for a limited number of licenses. If you want the license, you have to outperform some 2/3 of the other people who take the test. This means that you have to do better on the exam than the people sitting to your left and to your right at the table. The people who study for the exam with the idea that this is a test of minimum competency foolishly deceive themselves into believing that mediocrity is acceptable. It isn't. Passing is no different than a football game: the team with the most points at the end wins. You have to fight for every single point. Winning requires you to deliver exactly what they have asked you to deliver, no more, no less, and to deliver it in a package that outperforms the minimal competence tendered by the majority of the other candidates. In other words, you have to perform at a level well above the average candidate. When you are preparing to take the thing, you should be focusing not merely on how to get it right, but how to outshine the efforts of everybody else on every level.

While I think you overstate how well you have to do to pass, this really is a solid post and a useful way to approach bar prep. Especially the bolded.

run26.2
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Re: California Bar Exam Controversy

Postby run26.2 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:34 pm

Genius wrote:The market regulates itself. People who graduated from TTT and passed the bar can do contract work or public interest work. They knew going in that that was their only likely option. Nobody would hire them at biglaw/midlaw anyway. So it isnt like there is oversaturation in the market. There is oversaturation of TTT lawyers in lower echelon of the market. I think most ppl who graduated from good schools are doing just fine.

The problem with this perspective is that it assumes that people that have no idea what they're doing, and thus no business practicing law, will get weeded out. I don't think that's necessarily the case. And while I can't prove that it's not the case, I have heard enough anecdotes from people who went to this lawyer or that lawyer that seemingly overcharged and underdelivered and yet have been practicing law for decades. I think there would be more of that if the bar exam didn't perform a weed-out function.




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