The Influence of Metacognitive Skills on Bar Passage: An Empirical Study
This article builds on our prior research about metacognition and its importance for law students’ learning. We hypothesized that given our past findings about the relationship between metacognition and academic performance in law school, it was possible that metacognition might also play an important role in success on the bar exam.
Our current study documents law students’ metacognitive skills during a final semester bar prep course and examines the relationship between those students’ metacognitive skills and bar passage. We found that students are capable of gaining metacognitive knowledge and regulation skills during law school and even as late as the last semester of law school. We also found evidence that instruction and prompts to practice metacognitive regulation during the first year of law school had a long-term impact on students’ continued use of those skills. This evidence is important because we also found, as we have in prior studies, that students’ success in a final semester 3L bar preparation course, as well as their cumulative law school GPA, are associated with their level of metacognitive knowledge and regulation skills. While we did not find evidence of a direct relationship between metacognitive skills and bar passage, there was a relationship between bar passage and both course performance and cumulative GPA. Accordingly, we contend that metacognitive skills are an indirect support of bar passage given that they contribute to success in law school, which in turn supports success on the bar exam. We conclude that, based on the relationship between metacognitive skills, academic success in law school, and bar passage, law schools have an ethical obligation to support law faculty in explicitly and intentionally incorporating metacognitive skills instruction into the law curriculum.