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.
Results from the first two years have been promising: the program increased the likelihood of participants passing the bar exam ranging between 6.8 to 9.6 percentage points, controlling for other factors. The impact was even higher for applicants in disadvantaged groups, including those in underrepresented racial/ethnic populations and those who are first-generation college students.
The State Bar offered the program again to all applicants for the October 2020 and February 2021 exam takers and will offer it again for July 2021 bar exam takers.
Early registrants will be invited by email to apply for the program no later than April 21, 2021, in order to have access in mid-May. Applicants can also sign up within the Applicant Portal by following these instructions.
A second registration period for the Strategies and Stories Program will open in mid-April 2021, with bar exam applicants invited by email, and will be available until June 3, 2021. These registrants will have access to the Strategies and Stories Program in late June.
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 multiyear decline in pass rates.