The bar exam curve: It’s real

Share This Article:

The bar exam curve is very real. In fact, MBE score results consistently fall into a bell curve pattern every single bar exam administration.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) National Scaled Score Distribution
Source: The Bar Examiner

Still, there will be detractors of the bar exam curve. The bottom line is that BARBRI has studied the MBE since it debuted in 1972. The best bar exam passing strategy starts with an understanding of the bar exam curve and by tracking your percentile rank during bar prep.

Click here for a deeper explanation pertaining to the bar exam curve, including MBE scores dating back several years. 

Many students go about studying for the bar as they would for any other exam they’ve ever had. They’re focused on percentage correct in each subject – achieving an “A” or a “B” based on common grading scales. But preparing this way can negatively impact your success by focusing your attention on the wrong kinds of results during bar prep.

You have to remember that the bar exam is pass/fail. Yes, it covers a lot of legal material. And the key to passing is simply doing well enough, in enough of those areas that will be tested. For many students who accept nothing less than excellence on every topic, this way of thinking (pass/fail) isn’t intuitive and doesn’t feel right. They want to ace every section and can’t mentally move on if they have a 60% (“D” grade), for example. When it comes to the bar exam, that may be good enough to pass.

Scroll to Top