First UBE brings slight improvement in bar passage

Indiana’s first use of the Uniform Bar Exam for the July test has yielded an overall pass rate of 69%, slightly above the rates for previous summer exams.

The results for the lawyer licensing test were released Monday from the Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education. A total of 432 individuals took the exam in July, which included 357 first-time takers and 75 repeat takers.

First-time takers posted a pass rate of 78% while repeat takers passed at just 27%.

July was the first time the state administered the UBE, which the Indiana Supreme Court adopted in an order issued in November 2020. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, the test was given remotely.

The switch meant the state had to drop its essay questions that focused on Indiana law and substitute in the Multistate Essay Examination, which consists of six 30-minute questions and requires the examinee to demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively in writing. Indiana had already been using the other two parts of the national test: the Multistate Performance Test, which tests an examinee’s fundamental lawyering skills, and the Multistate Bar Examination, which consists of 200 multiple choice questions given over six hours.

July’s results were a few percentage points above the results from the July exams administered in recent years. The overall pass rates for 2019 and 2018 were 65% and for 2017 was 66%.

First-time takers passed at a rate of 76% for 2019 and 75% for 2018 and 2017. Repeat takers posted passage rates of 23%, 35% and 32% for 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

The July 2021 results are dwarfed by the 2020 summer test, which brought in an overall pass rate of 78%, a rate not seen since the July 2011 exam. However, last summer’s bar exam was upended by the pandemic and multiple technological problems, forcing the Indiana Supreme Court to retool the exam midstream. The typical two-day test was reduced to a single day exam that was administered remotely and contained short-answer and essay questions composed by the Indiana Board of Law Examiners.

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