Bar Examinations and High-Stakes Assessments

Title

Testing the Testers: The National Conference of Bar Examiners' LSAT Claim and a Roller Coaster Bar Exam Ride

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date

9-2016

Keywords

bar passage, LSAT scores, Uniform Bar Exam

Abstract

Ostensibly, the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is a consistent measurement of minimum competency to serve as an officer of the court. But bar exam pass rates have been undergoing substantial declines as of late. Although the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) posits a variety of possible reasons for the declines, the NCBE provides empirical evidence for one claim, namely, that bar exam declines correspond with similar declines in Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores by admitted law students (and therefore, by implication, subsequent bar exam test takers). Taken at its face value, the NCBE’s LSAT claim seems reasonable. In this article, we test the NCBE’s LSAT claim using step-by-step empirical analysis of a database of all University of Denver first-time Colorado bar exam takers for July bar exams for the period 2008 to 2015. Based on statistical analysis, the NCBE’s LSAT claim lacks merit.

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