Initial July bar exam results show little change from last year

Preliminary results released Monday for the July 2019 bar exam indicate the overall pass rate likely will remain between 60 and 65 percent even as the rate for repeat takers could hit a historical low of 20 percent.

Overall the pass rate for all takers of the July 2019 Indiana bar exam was preliminarily 62 percent — the same as the initial result for the July 2018 bar exam. The Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education posted the results Monday along with a list of the individuals who successfully completed the test.

The results are preliminary. Unsuccessful applicants can appeal, which could boost the final numbers by a few percentage points. After the appeals process last year, the July 2018 results rose from a preliminary 62 percent to the final 65 percent.

Still, the rate has been hovering in the mid-60-percent range for the past four years. The July 2017 overall pass rate hit 66 percent, up from the 64 percent recorded for the July 2016 exam. However, the rates are down from the 74 percent and 72 percent posted for the July 2015 and July 2014 exams, respectively.

Likewise, first-time takers in July 2019 returned a pass rate of 74 percent which is comparable to the 75 percent rate recorded for both the July 2018 and July 2017 exams. The pass rate is well below the high of 87 percent that first-time takers posted for the July 2007 exam.

Repeat takers fared far worse. Preliminary results for the July 2019 pass rate fell to 20 percent, down from 35 percent in July 2018 and 32 percent in July 2017. The previous low in the pass rate was 21 percent recorded for the July 2005 exam.

A total of 457 individuals sat for the July 2019 bar exam with 360 being first-time takers and 97 taking the exam again. Comparatively, 453 took the exam in July 2018 and 529 sat in July 2017.

The July 2019 results were released as the Indiana Supreme Court’s Study Commission on the Future of the Indiana Bar Examination continues its work.

Led by retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Nancy Vaidik, the commission has been tasked with reviewing bar exam and making recommendations for possible changes to grading, content, and the appeals process. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.

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