February bar’s pass rate was just 49%, second lowest since at least 2002

The February bar exam had a pass rate of just 49%, the second lowest rate since at least 2002, according to post-appeal data from the Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education.

The winter exam, the last one to include Indiana essay questions, had 146 applicants, with 65% of first-time takers and 30% of repeat takers passing. The passage rate was even worse, 48%, for the February 2020 bar. In that exam, 62% of first-time takers and 36% of repeat takers successfully navigated the test.

February marked the end of the Indiana bar exam with essay questions specifically about Hoosier law. In July, the state will be switching to the Uniform Bar Exam, joining about 37 other states that have adopted the national test. Applicants who pass the UBE have the ability to transfer their scores and become licensed in multiple states.

Indiana’s passage rate has been falling in recent years. The 2015 February exam posted a pass rate of 67%, but the percentage of successful applicants sunk to 55% with the February 2016 exam and continued declining before slipping to 50% with the February 2019 test.

Like the August 2020 exam, the February 2021 bar was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, software malfunctions caused the Indiana Supreme Court to revamp the summer test so that it was all short answer and essay questions. Also, applicants were allowed to refer to their books and notes when writing their responses.

That exam’s passage rate was higher, 74%.

Applicants who passed the February 2021 bar will be admitted during a virtual ceremony May 18.

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