No Content Changes, No Cut Score Adjustment To The CA Bar Exam

In February 2017, the CA Supreme Court directed the Committee of Bar Examiners to conduct a study of the content of topics tested on the bar examination. Ten top panelists who convened in June to make judgments about the subjects and cognitive complexity of the test found the examination matched with job-related expectations for the practice of law.

Chad Buckendahl, a psychometrician hired by the CA Committee of Bar Examiners, along with a panel of recently licensed attorneys, experienced lawyers, and employees of colleges and universities, recently published their report concerning the scope of the subjects tested on the CA Bar Examination. Their findings have been published in an article in the October 10, 2017, Daily Journal. According to Mr. Buckendahl in his final report, “Summary results suggested that all content on the examination matched with job-related expectations for the practice of law.”

The study, finalized last week, relied on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ 2012 occupational analysis. The content of the study will be discussed by the Committee of Bar Examiners at a meeting scheduled on October 20, 2017.

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At this time, there does not appear to be any conclusive evidence to support a change in the scope of the subjects tested on the bar examination. All subject matter previously included as testable as of July, 2017, will not change at this time, despite criticisms by Mitch Winick, dean of the Monterey College of Law, who has been quoted as writing in an e-mail to the Committee of Bar Examiners, “The reported study results appear to ignore the State Bar’s Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform recommendation and the other important findings of the study that indicates that the current format of the bar exam does not effectively measure critical lawyering skill.”

For more information, go to the full article in the Daily Journal at VOL. 130 NO 196 or contact

Further, as reported in a CA Supreme Court letter of decision issued on October 18, 2017, the decision denying the proposal to adjust the cut score will not be considered again until the “next review period.” The next review period will be seven years from now according to an amendment to California law that will become effective on January 1, 2018. (See Cal. Rules of Ct., rule 9.6(b), eff. Jan. 1, 2018.) The Court has the power to revisit the issue before then, but there is no indication in the letter of decision that a review sooner than seven years is likely to happen.

The Court’s letter of decision is located online at the following URL: