By test difficulty, Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota tie as the easiest (UBE passing score of 260!). By academic first-time pass rate, Oklahoma is the victor (86.90%), with Puerto Rico (40.45%) being the hardest to pass! After attending law school, do you want to pass the most straightforward bar exam and be done with it in the most accessible state?
At Ehline Law Firm, we respect all lawyers, whether they passed the most difficult bar exam or the easiest bar exams before practicing law or were able to become a lawyer with no law school at all. Oklahoma won as the state with the highest first-time pass rate. What gives? Before we begin, the most challenging state bar exams by score and pass rate still appear to be California. Let’s take a closer look at some 2017-2019 numbers below with some guidelines, including reciprocity prior to law practice issues.
For example, Florida and Nevada have no reciprocity, so you will have to take their bar exams no matter what. While understanding bar passage rates in different states is beneficial, it doesn’t tell the whole story since the talent pool standing up to take the bar in every state differs significantly. Thus, you have to consider numerous factors when deciding which is the easiest besides bar exam pass rates.
Minimum Passing Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) Scores After Law School
One school of thought is the lower the minimum score needed, the easier the state bar exam, provided that grading is uniformly forgiving. It’s easier to compare UBE states alone as they have a uniform exam. If you’re taking the Kansas or Montana exam, for example, you need 266 points out of 400 to pass. You need 270 points if you’re in Utah. However, Missouri has one of the highest pass rates at 86.30% under its UBE system, not covering state-specific law.
Recent Pass Rates Per State
The pass rate offers an estimated idea of how difficult the exam will be in that state. Remember that this percentage doesn’t tell you how likely you are to pass. Perhaps the grading is more lenient, maybe the law students have improved, or perhaps there are not enough candidates to provide you with a precise figure.
It’s still up to you or a law professor to figure out how to make the best use of the materials, including what role LSAT scores or unaccredited law schools may play on the road to becoming experienced lawyers as first-time test takers.
First Time Taker State Pass Rates 2017
The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are included as among the lowest first-time pass ratios, with Oklahoma cranking out the highest pass rate in each neighboring state by percentage as follows:
- Oklahoma – 86.90%
- Iowa – 86.57%
- Missouri – 86.30%
- New Mexico – 85.71%
- New York – 83.92%
- Montana – 82.61%
- Utah – 82.61%
- Oregon – 82.55%
- Nebraska – 81.67%
- Kansas – 81.51%
- Minnesota – 80.07%
- Illinois – 79.82%
- Pennsylvania – 79.64%
- Idaho – 79.33%
- Massachusetts – 79.30%
- Alabama – 79.29%
- Wisconsin – 78.88%
- Tennessee – 78.83%
- Washington – 77.88%
- Connecticut – 77.69%
- Arkansas – 77.49%
- Louisiana – 76.85%
- Texas – 76.57%
- New Hampshire – 75.96%
- Delaware – 75.95%
- Hawaii – 75.71%
- Virginia – 75.62%
- Ohio – 75.52%
- Colorado – 75.37%
- Michigan – 75.14%
- West Virginia – 75.00%
- District of Columbia – 74.60%
- Maine – 74.38%
- Georgia – 73.23%
- Indiana – 72.88%
- Wyoming – 72.73%
- Nevada – 72.10%
- South Carolina – 71.79%
- North Dakota – 71.21%
- New Jersey – 69.89%
- Vermont – 69.33%
- Kentucky – 69.02%
- South Dakota – 68.18%
- Florida – 67.90%
- Maryland – 66.70%
- California – 66.19%
- North Carolina – 65.22
- Arizona – 63.99%
- Mississippi – 63.95%
- Puerto Rico – 40.25%
In California, for example, you don’t need to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school to take the test; however, this state has one of the most difficult bar exams with essays and multiple-choice questions (MBE score, etc.).
Only a few states offer a law office study program. But based on statistics, reading for the law is a more complex and not easier path to becoming full lawyers, with the notoriously difficult-to-pass baby bar examination required in California. (Kim Kardashian took the First Year Law Student’s Exam three times.).
Most other states (thirty-seven states), the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands utilize the exact same short answer UBE test. The states that have not enacted the UBE are not known for administering easy bar exams or state alternatives to the easier UBE.
We believe that current pass rates are a more remarkable indicator than older pass rates because recent trends and exams are moving towards the UBE and away from existing exams many other states require for first-time takers.
Score Transferability and Portability
To begin with, you can transfer your NCBE score to other UBE jurisdictions, even if you failed in the state where you took it! Let’s put it differently; you can apply for admission to any UBE state as long as your score is sufficient for the intended state. Texas, for example, implemented the UBE in 2021, and students need a passing score of 270.
Number of Applicants in Each State
The smaller the sample size, statistically, the less precise the data gathered gets, with a broader margin of error. How unique is the 70% pass rate, for example, if we consider a hypothetical jurisdiction with ten candidates and three of them failing one year? What if there were five applicants, two of whom failed? When you compare 100 candidates to 25 applicants that failed, you see a significant difference.
Easiest and Hardest Bar Exams for a Soon-to-be Lawyer
The state in which you practice law is where you take the exam. Consider your options carefully when choosing a state since the difficulty of the bar exams differs by state. Looking at the figures closely, you may notice that certain conditions have much lower passing rates than others ( which equals more difficult bar exams.).
According to many, the California bar exam has the lowest pass rate in the U.S., meaning it’s the most challenging. This CA Bar exam was updated in 2017 to incorporate a performance test to evaluate and grade the test taker’s ability to manage a client’s legal difficulties, five essay questions, and the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ standardized bar exam.
In Nevada, Las Vegas attracts both young and experienced lawyers. This test, set by the American Bar Association, takes two and a half days to complete, and the score to pass is greater. Nevada’s laws, combined with the standardized bar exam, make it longer than the other states.
Arkansas has a challenging bar test for those who want to become licensed attorneys. The exam lasts two days, much like in California. Furthermore, the amount of state and local laws examined in the bar test appears to be higher in this state than in others.
The bar exam in Washington is rigorous. With three law schools in Washington, including out-of-state learners from Seattle, the state generates many legal students. You must prepare for the Washington bar exam if you intend to take it. You could consider Oregon right next door, but they’re also ranked fifth in terms of challenges faced.
Louisiana’s unique legal system stands out when it comes to bar tests. Becoming a licensed attorney there means you need to sharpen up on the state legal systems civil law. The Louisiana bar will test common law and Roman/French Civil law. This state remains centered on the law curriculum of its four law schools, making it different from the legal challenges an experienced lawyer would face on another state’s hardest bar exam. Other than that, you may be left seeking admission pro hac vice to practice law in another forum, depending on the method you selected to obtain bar entry.
If you are unsure about your chances of passing the bar exam, you should look towards the central states. States like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska are on the list of states with straightforward bar exams. In Wisconsin, for instance, a policy known as diploma privilege is geared to let you join the state bar directly after graduating from law school. If you’re looking for the easiest option, make sure to avoid the California bar exam, with many factors saying take a more straightforward test in some other state.
Many experts advise taking the Multistate Bar Exam if you intend to move out of state in the future after college, etc. If the state you relocate to also uses a Multistate Bar Exam, it is easier for you to be accepted into the legal profession in that particular “easiest state.”
The Final Verdict: The Easiest vs. Most Difficult Bar Exams to Practice Law
Most people will be left to speculate about the factual differences between the bar exams because it’s impossible to have the same set of people take all of them as if it were their first time. Nevertheless, looking at the data, it’s evident that some bar exams are elementary compared to others.
Wisconsin v. Dakotas and Sotas on the Easy Scale?
To be clear, Wisconsin’s bar is by far the most manageable state for more people to gain bar admission, assuming you have a W.I. law diploma. Wisconsin has unique laws, including a “diploma privilege,” which means that these students don’t have to take or pass or take the state’s exam to become a practicing lawyer if they attended law school in the state.
Bar Passage Rate v. Scaled Minimum Scores
Here we look at the scores required versus the rate to pass the bar exam. Some bars have a super low scaled score, so we can measure that and say Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota tie as the easiest. They both have the same meager minimum passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE.). Other bar takers say that the South Dakota bar is still the easiest due to its 2013 93% bar passage rate. Overall, past scores are not an intelligent way to judge, as the UBE has changed a lot of scores.
Based on the passage rate, Oklahoma is the most accessible bar to pass. However, using test scores, Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota are neck and neck on the UBE easy scale.