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Wait Is Over! Summer Bar Exam Postponed And February Results Out

The wait is finally over. Maine's July bar exam has finally been cancelled - and February’s bar exam results and pass rate have been released.

The decision to cancel the July exam was announced via an order by the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday, upon a recommendation by the Board of Bar Examiners, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two-day Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) had been scheduled to be held on the same day nationally, and was slated for July 28 and 29 at one location, in South Portland. The decision means Maine joins other states that have already said the exam will not go ahead on those dates. Instead it be held in September 30 and October 1. The application deadline is now July 17.

Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, and New York have all postponed the UBE until the fall. Massachusetts made its decision to cancel on March 30.

Meanwhile, of those who took February’s exam, the Board of Bar Examiners revealed that exactly 50% passed. Maine adopted the Uniform Bar Exam in 2017, when it set the passing score at 276, one of the highest in the United States. This was changed in January to 270.

February’s bar exam was the first since Maine lowered the score, making an analysis about the pass rate an 'apples to oranges' comparison. Last year, with that higher score, the pass rate was 31%.

It is more useful to see how Maine compares with other states that have the same passing or cut score with the most up to date scores for the February exam. As of the time of writing, no other states with a 270 cut score appear to have released their results, so 2019 are the most recent available.

In Massachusetts (270 cut score), the 2020 February exam results have not been released, but in 2019 the same exam had a 46.4% pass rate (compared with 71.5% for July). Vermont (270 cut score) had a pass rate (the most up to date scores) of 58.5% for the February 2019 exam, and 61% for July. Results for New Hampshire, which also has a 270 cut score, are not available. Rhode Island and Connecticut have 276 and 266 cut scores respectively so, again, a comparison is not useful.

Other states with a 270 cut score: Michigan saw 56.8% pass in February 2019 and 61.5% in July 2019. Nebraska had a 78.8% pass rate for the February 2019 exam, and 80.8% for July 2019. Tennessee had a 46.4% February 2019 pass rate, and 70.9% for July 2019. Washington state had a 50.5% February 2019 pass rate, 68.5% for July 2019. West Virginia had a February 2019 pass rate of 47.9%.


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