Passing the Bar Exam: Psychological, Educational, and Demographic Predictors of Success

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



health and psychological barriers, bar passage, bar passage correlates, incoming indicators, standardized test scores, LSAT, law school performance, educational psychology and metacognition, study methods


With bar exam performance being relatively overlooked in the legal, psychological, and educational fields, the present investigation is likely the most ambitious attempt yet to uncover predictors of success on the bar exam. The results could lead to specific recommendations for law schools on how to provide improved counseling or educational services to their students and alumni as they prepare for the bar exam. We predicted that law school graduates who tend to experience higher levels of pathological worry, test anxiety, neuroticism, and extraversion would be more likely to have failed the bar exam. Conversely, we anticipated that law school graduates with better time-management skills and higher levels of conscientiousness and openness would be more likely to have passed the bar exam. Finally, graduates with higher LSAT scores and better LGPAs would be more likely to have passed the exam. The role of factors such as gender, ethnicity, employment during bar exam preparation, review courses taken, and recall of anxiety experienced prior to and during the test were also assessed. (210)