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Should You Wait and Take the July 2017 California Bar Exam?

With the deadline for registering for the February 2017 California Bar Exam rapidly approaching, a lot of people have asked us whether they should wait until July or go ahead and sign up for February's exam. The answer is that unless you perform really well on multiple choice tests, go ahead and take the February 2017 bar exam. Don't wait. This is because the weight of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) in California will be increased beginning with the July 2017 exam—with a corresponding decrease in the weight for the written portion.

"The answer is that unless you perform really well on multiple choice tests, go ahead and take the February 2017 bar exam. Don't wait."

The impact of the changes will be negative for women as a whole and positive for men. This is because the current 35/65 weight (for the MBE and written portion, respectively) actually slightly favored women. The change in weight will result in a lower percentage of women passing under the new July 2017 scoring standards.

If you doubt this, please see the 2011 study by Klein and Bolus titled "The Estimated Effect on Examination Quality and Passing Rates of Different Ways of Modifying California's Bar Examination." The State Bar of California's Committee of Bar Examiners/Office of Admissions relied on this study in making its decision to change the scoring, citiing it as Attachment A in its August 14, 2015 notice "Modification to Format and Grading of the California Bar Examination Effective with July 2017 Administration" (In particular, see page 8 of the study, which documents their finding that increasing the weight of the MBE would increase the pass rate for men and decrease it for women).

Finally, please stay tuned for Dr. Saccuzzo’s suggestions on how to cope with the changing format, as well as his more detailed predictions for the February 2017 California Bar Exam.

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