Oct 30, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

New York State students who attended an ABA-accredited law school and took the bar exam for the first time experienced a successful 83 percent pass rate, but that was three percentage points lower than the previous year.

They did better than those who did not attend ABA-accredited schools. Just 63 percent of the total number of students who took the July exam passed, a 5 percentage point decrease since 2017. 

What's going on?

Susan DeSantis, of the New York Law Journal, analyzed the data earlier this month and found New York's falling performance on the bar exam mirrors a nationwide trend, which has many law schools worried.

In New York, the number of test takers decreased by 253 candidates to 9,679 in July 2018, the lowest number of candidates since 2004.

The number of foreign-educated candidates in July was a record 3,232, or 33 percent of all candidates, but they saw an even bigger decrease in passing rate. Just 41 percent of foreign-educated candidates passed, a  seven percent decrease.

The State Board of Law Examiners said that passing rates matched recent national results. The 83% pass rate for first-time test takers who are graduates of ABA-accredited law schools was the same as that group achieved in July 2016 and July 2014.

Learn more about studying law. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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