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Appeal process bumps up February bar exam passage rate

September 14, 2016

The February 2016 Indiana Bar Exam results have been amended to reflect those who successfully appealed their initial failure, resulting in a 4-percentage-point increase in the overall pass rate.

Statistics available on the Indiana Board of Law Examiners’ website show that 55 percent of the 258 people who sat for the February test were successful. When the list was originally released in April, the overall pass rate for all takers was 51 percent.

Last year, the overall pass rate for test takers saw slight increases after the appeals process was complete. The July 2015 bar exam overall pass rate when from 72 percent to 74 percent; the February 2015 bar exam overall pass rate increased from 64 percent to 67 percent.

Bradley Skolnik, executive director of the Indiana Board of Law Examiners, said that almost every applicant who is within the range eligible for appeal – a combined scale score of 255-263 – files an appeal. It is a simple form to complete and applicants have two weeks after the issuance of their results to appeal, based on Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 14.

Under the rule, certain BLE members are appointed as “appeals reviewers,” who consider and decide all appeals of bar exam results. Skolnik said the BLE takes a great deal of time to review the appeals and it can take approximately a month or more to render a decision.

Skolnik declined to release the number of people who have appealed the July 2016 bar exam or previous bar exams and the number of successful applicants, citing Admission and Discipline Rule 19 on confidentiality.

Indiana Tech Law School, which had 12 students sit for the July bar exam but just one pass, said of those 12 students, some were within the appeal range. A spokesman for the school did not confirm how many of those students, if any, would be appealing.

The bar passage rate in Indiana has been on the decline in recent years. July bar passage rates traditionally were in the high 70s or even low 80s, but dipped to 72 percent in July 2014 and 74 percent last year. The results of the February bar exam, which traditionally sees a lower pass rate due to higher repeat test takers, have fluctuated. In 2007, 70 percent of overall test takers passed. In 2014, only 61 percent passed. The last time the overall pass rate for the February test was in the 50 percent range was 2002, where 57 percent of all test takers passed.

Archived statistics of bar passage rates going back to 2002 are available on the state judiciary’s website.

“The decline in the passage rate in Indiana is part of a national trend,” Skolnik said. “Unfortunately, we’re not immune to what’s happening around the country.”
 

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