California Bar Exam Delays Release of Exam Questions

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Twice a year the Los Angeles Daily Journal publishes a Bar Exam Results Issue of their paper. This issue is specifically geared towards those who are about to take, and who have just taken, the bar exam. In each issue (it is published twice a year to coincide with the release of the California bar exam results) the Los Angeles Daily Journal publishes the California bar exam pass list (all of the names of those who successfully took the most recent bar exam). Everyone waiting for results from the February 2013 bar exam certainly hopes to be on that list. The paper comes out just a few days after examinees receive their bar results online.

Years ago, examinees did not get the news that they passed by going on the internet. Instead, we got letters. When I passed the bar exam in 1994, the California bar examiners did something new – they set up a staff to answer the phones and we were allowed to call in and get our results over the phone. It took me 45 minutes to get through . . . what seemed like forever. We still got a letter (a few days later) and we still had the Los Angeles Daily Journal (and even some other newspapers) that published the pass list. For some, before you could get your results online, the Los Angeles Daily Journal was the first place that an examinee would learn whether they passed the bar exam or not because the letters did not always arrive before the pass list came out in the paper.

So this year the Los Angeles Daily Journal will be publishing, as they always do, the pass list from the most recent bar exam. However, what you will not see this year, is the publication of the most recent bar exam questions. As some of you know, the past questions (all six essays and both performance tests) are published in The Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Bar Results issue along with “model” answers. The model answers are typically written by individuals who do bar exam prep. I write pretty much every year and have for I think a decade now. I enjoy it and it has been an honor to be chosen year after year to write for the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

But, this year, the California bar will not release the questions from the February 2013 bar exam until “sometime in July”. This is unusual. I do not know the reason. But, it is what I am told. And, as a result, The Los Angeles Daily Journal’s Bar Results Issue will not contain the questions or model answers to the most recent bar exam. Instead, they will publish the questions, along with model answers, from February 2012. I will be writing an answer to Question 2, the Constitutional Law essay.

It is an interesting turn of events. I know first hand from my work with repeat bar takers, that examinees who have failed will be very interested in seeing the test questions from their most recent exam. And, there is always a high degree of interest in seeing “model” answers so that a person can get a sense of where they might need to improve and gain insight as to what went wrong.

It is not impossible to do this without the actual test questions, but, it will be harder. The same skills are required to pass the bar exam each bar round. As a result, it is not a requirement to see the past set of essays and performance tests in order to succeed on the next exam. However, psychologically, I think that for examinees who find out they have just failed the February 2013 bar exam, I do think it will be harder not being able to see the actual questions until sometime in July.

*Note: I have not spoken directly to the California bar regarding the release of the exam questions. I learned this information the same day the Los Angeles Daily Journal learned that the questions would not be available in time for their Bar Results issue that comes out in May. The California bar may decide to release the questions earlier than July. However, at the moment, this is the information I have been told – that the questions will not be released until “sometime in July”.

2 thoughts on “California Bar Exam Delays Release of Exam Questions

    • Hello Garry,

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for following the blog!

      I don’t know the reason why the California bar is delaying the release of the February 2013 questions. I heard that there were some layoffs last year. So perhaps that has something to do with it. But, it seems like it would be a fairly simple matter to release the questions.

      I presume they have a reason. I personally do not think that it is to mess with the minds of the July bar exam takers (although, it likely will cause some distress to examinees).

      Last year, the California bar exam released the questions to the July 2012 exam a few weeks later than usual. In fact, the bar released the questions to the Los Angeles Daily Journal (who then in turn released the questions to those of us who were writing model answers for them) before the questions were released to the public. I presumed this was to enable The Los Angeles Daily Journal to meet their print deadline and continue their longstanding, expected publication. However, this year, the bar is not releasing the questions.

      It will be interesting to see when the questions are released. Currently, I am told that the questions will be released “sometime in July”. That is a long way off and could even mean the night before the bar exam.

      We shall see.

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