AdaptiBar Survey: One-Third of Law Students Give Schools Failing Grade for Bar Exam Prep

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AdaptiBar poll of more than 900 students also finds third- and fourth-tier schools take more steps to proactively improve bar passage rates than top-tier institutions

With 2012 bar exam passage rates in the books, a new AdaptiBar survey has found that almost a third of law students would give their schools a failing grade in preparing them for the test.

Thirty-one percent of more than 900 survey respondents gave their law schools a “D” or “F” in bar exam prep, while only 14 percent think their institutions deserve an “A” grade. The findings also reveal that third- and fourth-tier law schools are more aggressive about bar exam prep than institutions in the top two tiers.

As law schools debate how proactive they should be about improving bar exam passage rates, the survey reveals that students often feel like they’re on their own when studying.

“We’ve been arguing for years that law schools should start preparing students for the bar exam in the first year,” said Tarek Fadel, founder and CEO of Chicago-based bar prep program provider AdaptiBar. “There is a direct correlation between first-year performance and bar exam passage rates. Law schools would benefit tremendously from putting mandatory prep programs in place early, and students would feel less stressed out and more confident heading into the exam.”

The AdaptiBar survey provides insight into how law schools and students prepare for the bar exam:

  •     More than 71 percent of students start studying for the bar exam after graduation. Only 2 percent start in their first or second years.
  •     Fifty-one percent of the respondents said their law schools start preparing students for the bar exam in their third year, while 38 percent said their schools don’t offer any formal bar prep at all.
  •     Only 18 percent of schools mandate a prep course, compared to 47 percent that offer an optional prep course.

Students at fourth-tier schools feel most prepared and confident heading into the bar exam, according to the survey. Those respondents were most likely to give their schools an “A” for bar exam prep (22 percent) and say they feel or felt “very confident” about passing the exam (15 percent).

The findings reflect the extra steps lower-tiered law schools take to improve bar exam passage rates. For example, 21 percent of Tier 4 law schools mandate a bar exam prep course, compared to 16 percent for Tier 3, and only 4 percent of Tier 1 and 2 schools. Sixty percent of top-tier students said their school doesn’t offer any formal bar prep assistance, compared to 50 percent of Tier 2 students, and around a quarter of Tier 3 and 4 students.

To conduct the survey, AdaptiBar polled 933 law school students taking the bar exam between February 2011 and July 2013. The responses were collected from Nov. 14 to 26.

For more information on AdaptiBar, visit

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Dave Parro
Walker Sands Communications
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