Are there ways to help all who take the California Bar Exam better prepare and improve their performance? That is the question being studied by the State Bar in conjunction with a team of law and psychology researchers from Indiana University, University of Southern California, and Stanford University.
The research team used surveys and focus groups of recent California Bar Exam participants to help develop the California Bar Exam Strategies and Stories Program. The program was offered for the first time to all applicants for the July 2018 bar exam, and a second time to all applicants for the July 2019 bar exam.
The online program includes an introductory film, stories from prior test takers, and a writing activity in which participants share insights and strategies that may be useful to them and to future test takers.
Initial results were promising: the program increased the likelihood of passing the bar exam by at least 7.4 percent among test takers who timely registered for the July 2018 bar exam. Replication is required to confirm the results.
The State Bar is offering the program again, to all applicants for the July 2020 bar exam. Online registration for students who wish to participate in the program is open from March 1, 2020, to June 7, 2020.
This research effort complements a series of studies that the State Bar has undertaken to comprehensively evaluate the California Bar Exam, prompted by several factors, including a multi-year decline in pass rates.