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Texas' July bar exam pass rate holds steady, bucking larger trend

2 minute read

REUTERS/Mike Blake

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  • Texas is the largest state yet to report July results
  • Bar passage rates for July declined in many other jurisdictions

The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t appear to have hurt the performance of law graduates who sat for the Texas bar exam in July.

The overall pass rate for that full-length, in-person exam was 68%, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Board of Law Examiners. That’s the same pass rate as the July 2019 test, which, due to COVID-19, marks the last time the bar exam was given in person in the month of July in the state.

Texas offered two separate exams for those who had planned to take the bar in July 2020 — a full-length, in person exam in September that yielded a nearly 77% overall pass rate and a shortened remote exam in October that had a 60% pass rate.

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More than half of jurisdictions have thus far reported results from this year's July bar exam, with the vast majority seeing pass rates decline.

Legal educators say the decreased pass rates could be the result of pandemic burnout, the diminished effectiveness of remote learning, and technical problems that hit some July test takers. The company that provided the bar exam software, ExamSoft, reported higher-than-anticipated memory usage caused some examinee’s computers to crash mid-test.

Texas is the largest bar exam jurisdiction thus far to report its July results, with 3,154 test takers. Florida last month reported a nearly 72% first-time pass rate, which was down 0.1 percentage point from the previous year. New York and California are expected to release results in mid-December and Nov. 12, respectively.

The first-time pass rate in Texas was nearly 78% — one percentage point higher than the first-time pass rate in July 2019. Among graduates of Texas law schools, the first-time pass rate was 82%.

The University of Texas School of Law posted the highest first-time pass rate at nearly 95%. It was followed by Texas A&M University School of Law at 93% and Texas Tech University School of Law at nearly 91%.

Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law had the lowest first-time pass rate at 54%, according to the data from the Texas Board of Law Examiners.

(CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Texas' July bar exam was given remotely.  It was in person.) 

Read more:

Bar exam scores keep rolling in, nearly all lower than last year

'I sort of panicked.' Tech problems hit remote bar exam

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