Down it goes: Florida bar exam pass rate plummets again
A scene from a Florida bar exam. Image via Tampa Convention Center.


The number of first-time Florida bar exam takers who pass has slipped 4 percent from last year, to 67.2 percent from 71.3 percent, according to the state’s Board of Bar Examiners.

Results for the July 24-25 examination were released Monday. Overall, 3,249 people sat for the bar exam, of which 2,228 were taking it for the first time.

The latest pass rate has actually lost ground from two years ago, going a whole percent lower than the 68.2 percent from July 2016, records show.

Florida International University College of Law again retained the No. 1 spot in terms of highest pass rate, with 88.1 percent, bumping up from 87.8 percent last July.

Nova Southeastern University College of Law saw the biggest decrease year-over-year, dropping a little more than 27 percentage points, to 42.9 percent from 70.2 percent.

“We are deeply disappointed with the results of the July bar exam, particularly since the admissions predictors, grade predictors, and information from the bar preparation companies suggested that we would see modest improvement in the July test scores,” said Jon M. Garon, dean of the Shepard Broad College of Law at Nova Southeastern University.

“Our faculty and staff will work with our students and alumni to make all adjustments needed to return to appropriate bar passage numbers.”

Like many state bar exams, Florida’s is given twice a year, in late February and late July.

More law students traditionally take the exam in the summer, immediately after graduation and bar review. A smaller number, including those who fail the summer exam, take the bar in the winter.

Passage rates have been trending down nationwide in recent years. Law schools have lowered admission standards to fill seats as the number of overall applicants has declined.

Here are the July 2018 passage rates broken down by individual Florida law schools, with last July’s results in parentheses:

Florida International University College of Law — 88.1 percent (87.8 percent)

Florida State University College of Law — 84.8 percent (83.9 percent)

University of Miami School of Law — 83.2 percent (84.2 percent)

University of Florida College of Law — 70.9 percent (77 percent)

St. Thomas University College of Law — 70.2 percent (63.6 percent)

Stetson University College of Law — 67.2 percent (76.8 percent)

Florida Coastal School of Law — 62.5 percent (47.7 percent)

Ave Maria School of Law — 58.5 percent (51.3 percent)

Florida A&M University College of Law — 50.6 percent (51.3 percent)

Barry University School of Law — 45.5 percent (58.9 percent)

Nova Southeastern University College of Law — 42.9 percent (70.2 percent) 

Of test takers who went to law school outside Florida, 63.8 percent passed this July and lawyers from other states who also want to be licensed in Florida passed by 68.1 percent.

Statistics for previous exams are here.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]

One comment

  • Vertina Nieves

    September 25, 2018 at 8:47 am

    What a coincidence. As admission standards are lowered bar passage rates fall. How long until there’s a hue and cry to lower the score to pass the bar? After that happens, people will be represented by inferior members of the bar.

    Just another step in the decline of the American education system.

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