Taking the easiest bar exam is a great strategy for those of you who are open to living anywhere in the country or for those who just need to pass a bar exam to waive into D.C. Alternately, knowing you’re in a state with one of the easiest bar exams may give you a little extra boost of confidence while you’re studying!
After three grueling years of legal study, we know you’re ready to get this last bit of studying done. We understand what you’re up against. So, we’ve pulled together a list of the easiest bar exams. In order to assess which states have the easiest bar exams, we’ll take a look at what makes a bar exam hard or easy, and how the bar exams differ among the states.
Bar Exam Components
For starters, about half the states have their own state-specific bar exams, and the other half use the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). If you’re not sure if your state administers the UBE, check out What are the UBE States.
For states that administer the UBE, the components are: the Multistate Performance Test, the Multistate Essay Exam, and the Multistate Bar Exam. All other states, except for Louisiana, include the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), so the MBE is a factor for almost everyone taking the bar exam. It also makes bar exams easier to compare among the states, because you just have to compare the non-MBE components.
For states that do not administer the UBE, like Michigan and California, the bar exam consists of more state law materials tested through essays and multiple choice questions. Some people believe this makes these tests more difficult, especially if you attended law school in a different state and haven’t studied these subjects before. For example, Oil & Gas on the Texas bar trips up a lot of folks who did not have the fortune (or misfortune) to learn about oil leases during law school. One factor to consider is definitely where you went to law school and whether you had the chance to study the bar exam topics during school.
Easiest Bar Exam
Now that you’re familiar with the components of different bar exams, let’s take a look at one really important factor in determining bar exam difficulty: passing rates. While the number of test takers does vary greatly between the more populated and the less populated states, the passing rate is a very strong indicator of how easy it is to pass on a particular bar exam.
Every state, even those that administer the UBE, set their own passing rates. For example, if you scored a 270 on the UBE, you would pass if you lived in Missouri or New Mexico, but not if you lived in Alaska or Arizona. Be sure to check out the passing score for your state before you start studying so you know what your score needs to be.
There are only a handful of states with passing rates above 70% for 2016. Those states are Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Utah. While a passing rate of 70% is promising, there are also a lot of states with pass rates above 65%. Those states are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
If your state is not one of the ones listed here or you want to learn more about bar passing rates, check out the 2016 passing rate statistics provided by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Hardest Bar Exams
California, Louisiana, and Texas are still considered among the hardest bar exams in the country. This is in part due to the amount of legal topics tested and the length of time involved in taking the exam. For example, the Texas bar exam and the California bar exam both cover around 14 areas of law. Louisiana always make the list of difficult bar exams because of the unique nature of its legal system and the length of the exam—it involves twenty-one hours of test taking.
We can also tell which bar exams are the hardest by looking at state bar exam pass rates. As a quick reference, a few of the states with the lowest passing rates are: Arizona, North Carolina, and California. However, California recently lowered its bar exam passing score so it will be easier to pass in California moving forward. Fingers crossed for the same luck in Arizona and North Carolina!
For more information about which bar exams are the hardest, be sure to review Top 10 Hardest Bar Exams.
Deciding which are the easiest bar exams depends on what you studied in law school, the components of the bar exam—namely, whether the components test any particularly hard state-specific topics—and the passing score for your state. Remember that every state, even UBE states, set their own passing score.
If you’re planning to take the bar in one of the easier states, congrats! If you just found out that your state is one of the harder bar exam states, don’t despair. No matter where you live the bar exam is going to take a lot of preparation. So, get started studying early!
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