Pass rate for Indiana bar exam in February was just 49%, second lowest since at least 2002

Keywords Attorneys / Law / Law Schools

Indiana’s bar exam for February had a pass rate of just 49%, the second lowest rate since at least 2002, according to post-appeal data from the Indiana Office of Admissions and Continuing Education.

The winter exam, the last one to include Indiana essay questions, had 146 applicants, with 65% of first-time takers and 30% of repeat takers passing. The passage rate was even worse, 48%, for the February 2020 bar. In that exam, 62% of first-time takers and 36% of repeat takers successfully navigated the test.

February marked the end of the Indiana bar exam with essay questions specifically about Hoosier law. In July, the state will be switching to the Uniform Bar Exam, joining about 37 other states that have adopted the national test. Applicants who pass the UBE have the ability to transfer their scores and become licensed in multiple states.

Indiana’s passage rate has been falling in recent years. The 2015 February exam posted a pass rate of 67%, but the percentage of successful applicants sank to 55% with the February 2016 exam and continued declining before slipping to 50% with the February 2019 test.

Like the August 2020 exam, the February 2021 bar was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, software malfunctions caused the Indiana Supreme Court to revamp the summer test so that it was all short answer and essay questions. Also, applicants were allowed to refer to their books and notes when writing their responses.

That exam’s passage rate was higher, 74%.

Applicants who passed the February 2021 bar will be admitted during a virtual ceremony May 18.

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7 thoughts on “Pass rate for Indiana bar exam in February was just 49%, second lowest since at least 2002

  1. Not surprising. All of higher ed routinely admits large numbers of students that are not really college ready and/or never will be to keep the tuition money coming in, and law schools are no different (remember Valparaiso Law School?). The first time pass rate for the most common elementary teacher licensing exam is even worse.

    Our student debt crisis is just a gigantic, in-your-face signal that a huge share of college students should have never been admitted in the first place, but no policymaker (and certainly no one in higher ed administration) has the nerve to say that a more honest system would mean telling the majority of high school students that they just don’t have what it takes to obtain a serious degree in 4 years and there are other options that better suit them. Instead we have established an ecosystem of fluff courses and majors to make sure students who incur tens of thousands in debt after 5-6 years don’t feel like they’ve been fleeced, even though that is exactly what is going on.

  2. It would be interesting to see the passage rates for the three in-state schools broken out…IU Bloomington, IU Indy, and Notre Dame. And then show out of state graduates.

    1. This does not necessarily change the passage statistics but Wisconsin may be padded by their state policy allowing any graduate of a Wisconsin law school to practice in the state without taking the bar.

  3. I may be showing my age, but I know it used to be that graduates of UW law school were automatically admitted in WI. When did this change?

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