It is hard to generalize I think a lot of retakers particularly second time ones likely perform much better on their second attempt. If a student took the July exam and did not pass by 5 points they had sufficient knowledge to pass the first time, but just missed it and if they have another six months to study the same material their score will likely be exponentially higher. In addition to that many law school May graduates wait until February of the next year to take the exam to provide them with an additional time to study, which gives them an additional edge. On top of that the reality is any student will know some areas of the law extremely well and not others and the California Bar Exam does not test half the subjects on the essays that you study for it is purely at random. You could have essays on Civil Procedure, Contracts, Con Law, Corporations, Wills & Trusts and Community Property in July. Then in Feb you could have essays on Property, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Corporations, Torts & Remedies and Criminal Law. If you knew evidence and criminal law and procedure well you would probably get by with medicority on Torts, Property, and Corporations. However, if you took the July exam and only Crim Law, Crim, Pro, and Evidence really well those would not have been tested and your mediocre understanding of the other subjects would be insufficient to pass. Bottom line I think there is luck involved with the bar exam and in addition each person has their own unique situation it is a test and each person will handle the pressures of the exam in their own unique way, and I do not think it can be quantified.
I agree that there is a lower pass rate and thus "harder" on paper but I guess what I'm asking is this.Since the average taker is a retaker (who statistically do worse) and/or a foreign trained attorney (same type of stats) wouldn't that lower the curve for the otherwise average person?For example, if I showed up to a class in Algebra that was filled with remedial math students that was on the curve I'd get an A even though I am most likely not an A student in math otherwise.That is the angle I was looking at it from.
Quote from: NewlyMinted on May 14, 2014, 02:13:09 PMI agree that there is a lower pass rate and thus "harder" on paper but I guess what I'm asking is this.Since the average taker is a retaker (who statistically do worse) and/or a foreign trained attorney (same type of stats) wouldn't that lower the curve for the otherwise average person?For example, if I showed up to a class in Algebra that was filled with remedial math students that was on the curve I'd get an A even though I am most likely not an A student in math otherwise.That is the angle I was looking at it from.You'd be exactly right if the scale worked like a curve but it's slightly different. The way the MBE scale works is that it takes a subset of about 20-30 questions on each exam iteration and studies how students did on that subset as compared to how they did overall. The subset is comprised of easy, medium and difficult level questions and these same questions have been repeated (with minor variations) from year to year since the MBE was first administered. Students who performed poorly on the MBE should, in theory, perform poorly on the subset of questions. Students who performed so-so on the MBE should, in theory, perform so-so on the subset and likewise students who aced the MBE will ace the subset.If enough students who aced the MBE have trouble doing equally as well on the subset, then the exam is "scaled" up to compensate for the difficulty of the exam. Similarly, if enough students who bombed the MBE unexpectedly end up acing a significant amount of the subset questions then the exam will actually be "scaled" down. The theory is that by using this scaling process every MBE that is given each year should not be any harder or easier than the first MBE that was ever given way back when. So even though February does have a large % of retakers, and retakers do tend to perform poorly, the test will not be scaled up or down just because the retakers perform poorly. The scale already accounts for that. In order for the scale to move the needle one way or the other, a lot of smart kids have to do well on the MBE as a whole while simultaneously screwing up on the subset (meaning that the exam was harder than previous years which will result in a bump up for everyone), or alternatively, a lot of not-so-smart kids have to screw up on the MBE as a whole while simultaneously acing the subset questions (meaning that the exam was harder than previous years which will actually result in a bump down for everyone).I know, it's crazy right?