How Hard is it to Pass the Texas Bar Exam?
Brian White | May 11, 2020 | Texas Laws
Graduating from law school is a tremendous accomplishment – one that requires years of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, it is not the final step on your road to becoming an attorney. Before you can practice law in the state of Texas, you must overcome one last challenge: the Texas Bar Exam.
What is the Pass Rate for the Texas Bar Exam?
The Texas Bar Exam is graded on a scale of 1 to 1,000. Examinees are required to record a score of 675 or higher to pass the test and become attorneys.
In February of 2020, a total of 996 law school graduates took the Texas Bar Exam. Only 457 of them passed. That is a 45.88 percent overall pass rate.
Of course, the pass rate for the Texas Bar Exam tends to change quite a bit from one sitting to the next. Other recent iterations of this challenging test resulted in the following pass rates:
- July 2019: 68.47 percent
- February 2019: 53.52 percent
- July 2018: 64.65 percent
- February 2018: 45.22 percent
- July 2017: 71.78 percent
In most sittings of the Texas Bar Exam, first-time test-takers tend to outperform those who are repeating the exam. In February of 2020, the pass rate among first-time examinees was 56.78 percent. Meanwhile, repeaters recorded an overall pass rate of just 37.43 percent.
In July of 2019, first-time test-takers recorded a pass rate of 77.03 percent, while repeaters passed 34.36 percent of the time. In the February 2019 iteration of the test, first-timers passed at a rate of 67.80 percent – which compares very favorably to the 43.23 percent pass rate recorded by repeaters.
Understanding the Format of the Texas Bar Exam
The Texas Bar Exam is a detailed and complex assessment that takes two and a half days to complete. The exam is comprised of the following components:
Multistate Performance Test
The multistate performance test lasts for 90 minutes and accounts for 10 percent of the overall Texas Bar Exam score. It is designed to assess an examinee’s abilities to use their legal skills in real-world situations. It typically accomplishes this goal by asking them to perform a task such as writing a client letter or a brief.
Procedure and Evidence Test
The procedure and evidence test also lasts 90 minutes and accounts for 10 percent of the overall Texas Bar Exam score. In this test, examinees are required to answer 40 short-form questions.
20 of these questions are about Texas and Federal Criminal Procedure and Evidence. The remaining 20 questions cover Texas and Federal Civil Procedure and Evidence.
Multistate Bar Exam
The multistate bar exam takes place over six hours on the second day of the assessment – with a 90-minute lunch-break at the half-way point. It accounts for 40 percent of the overall Texas Bar Exam score.
The multistate bar exam is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions that are standardized across the nation. These questions cover the following topics:
- Criminal Procedure
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Property Law
Of these 200 questions, 175 are counted toward the examinee’s score. The remaining 25 are unscored pretest questions.
Texas Essay Test
The Texas essay test takes place over six hours on the third day of the Bar Exam – with a 90-minute break at the half-way point. Like the multistate bar exam, it accounts for 40 percent of an examinee’s overall score.
During this test, examinees are required to answer 12 essay-style questions. These questions are designed to test their knowledge of the following topics:
- Business associations
- Real property law
- Family law
- Uniform Commercial Code
- Wills and estates
- Trusts and guardianships
- Tax law
The list of subjects covered in this essay test can change regularly. All updates are published in the Texas Board of Law Examiners’ Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Texas.
How to Improve Your Chances of Passing the Texas Bar Exam
Now that you know a little more about the format of the Texas Bar Exam, and how difficult it can be to achieve a passing grade, you may be wondering what steps you can take to boost your chances of recording a score of 675 or higher.
Well, in the weeks and months before the test, you can increase your odds of success by:
- Building a support system – ask friends or family members to help you study
- Developing a weekly study schedule and sticking to it
- Taking time off work – make studying your full-time job
- Taking plenty of practice tests
- Focusing on the most high-tested areas of law
On the day of the exam, you can increase your chances of passing by:
- Reading the questions carefully
- Answering everything – even if you aren’t sure
- Making your answers easy to read by using paragraphs and headers
- Managing your time wisely – don’t spend too long on any one question
Above all else, try to remember to breathe. Before long, you will have passed the test and will be moving on to your career as a family law, criminal defense, or personal injury lawyer.