CA Bar Exam Results Hit New Low

After the Committee of Bar Examiners shortened the CA bar exam from 3 days to 2 days, the success rate appeared to have improved on the July, 2017 exam. However, the results of the February, 2018 exam showed the opposite. To explain the poor results, critics of the scoring system point to CA’s higher cut rate on the multiple-choice portion of the exam, as compared to all other states in the U.S. whose cut rate is lower.

“It is a shameful act by the bar and the court to perpetuate this myth of fairness or honesty in the face of statistical proof that the system is faulty and needs urgent change,” said Mitch Winnick, dean of the Monterey College of Law. He went on to say, "Lives are being ruined by a stubborn effort to hold on to an invalid standard that does not meet the legal statutory requirement of measuring the 'minimum competence for the first-year practice of law.'"

Many theories abound to explain the declining bar exam pass rate. After 36 years of working with bar candidates from every law school in the state, Fleming's has determined that it is not the lack of legal knowledge, but rather, the lack of test-taking skills that account for the decline. Fleming's has found the overwhelming majority of bar candidates know enough law to pass. What is costing most students the passing score is a lack of test-taking skills related to applying the law to the essay and multiple-choice exam facts. This is compounded by a lack of skills necessary to handle the Performance exam under timed conditions. All of these weaknesses can be cured with consistent exam practice during bar review, followed by professional feedback that directs each student on what he or she needs to do to improve method and technique. Fleming's provides weekly test-taking exercises under simulated bar exam conditions in its courses. These exercises bridge the gap between the law and exam application skills. "Perfect practice makes perfect," says Professor Fleming. 

Law School Exam Writing Guide

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Fleming’s knows that the bar exam is a skills test. It is not an intelligence test. It is not an exercise in bare memorization. Fleming's constantly reminds its bar candidates that memorizing the law is important, but memorizing is just the beginning for successfully passing the bar exam. The ability to apply the law is equally important. For this reason, Fleming's includes exam skills and methods for all bar exam testing formats in each of its 6 bar review programs.

Fleming’s tailors its bar review courses around test-taking skills, together with precise methods for issue spotting, organizing, and writing. Fleming’s is the only bar review that has an actual step-by-step method for taking the Performance exam. Every Fleming's substantive law lecture integrates exam taking methods and techniques, which illustrate how the law and hypothetical facts must be weaved together for proper application.

Not only does Fleming’s present a full, comprehensive substantive law lecture for every bar exam subject, it also integrates essay, multiple-choice, and Performance testing practice in every phase of its bar review presentation. Its bar review candidates submit their assigned written exams to the Fleming’s team of professional attorney readers who then provide the students with a personal, audio critique of their work every week. These critiques point out what the bar examiners expect in a passing answer, where the student deviated, and most importantly, how to correct the identified errors. No other bar review provides this valuable feedback in such an individualized way. It is for this reason the Fleming’s bar review students typically exceed the state pass rates.

For more information about the February, 2018 bar exam pass rates, go to The article is located in the Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Vol. 131 No. 99 publication.