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Which State Has the Worst Bar Pass Rate?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Is it harder to pass the Mississippi bar exam or to spell the state's name -- without looking or repeating that memory jingle?

If that mnemonic jumped into your head or you looked, no worries -- let's just say 50 percent of the people can't spell "Mississippi" without cheating a little. But did you know that barely 36 percent of the people who took the Mississippi bar exam in February passed?

That is just wrong. Or at least, that is the worst bar pass rate in like forever.

Is It the Water?

According to reports, Mississippi's most recent bar pass rate dropped to 36%. James Mullen of Bar Exam Stats, said:

"Mississippi's February Bar Exam pass rate was 36%, approximately a 27% decline from last year," he reported. Mullen said the low-water mark continued a downward trend for the state.

"I am honestly baffled why it declined so much as I have not seen any major changes to their exam format, nor did they adopt the UBE," he said.

Joe Patrice, an acerbic blogger, said "Mississippi will find a way to be worse at everything." He blamed law schools for the failing rates.

Lower Admissions, Lower Pass Rates

"Bottom line, no matter how a state got to this point, when states see bar exam struggles, it's usually the fault of admissions moves," Patrice wrote for Above the Law.

Mississippi lawyers have seen it coming, with fewer attorneys joining the ranks over the years. It started with a decline in law school admissions, and turned into sliding bar exam scores. And the repeat offenders, who typically take the February exams, are skewing the pass rates.

"Last year, Mississippi bar repeat takers passed at a rate of 35%," said Philip W. Thomas in a litigation review last August.

While Mississippi reports the lowest scores in the United States, the problem is occurring all over the country. California law schools, for example, have asked the state Supreme Court to make the test easier in response to falling bar pass rates.

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