The State Bar of California admitted Sunday to “inadvertently” leaking essay topics for Tuesday’s exam to more than a dozen law school deans last week.
The agency became aware on Saturday that it prematurely gave deans at 16 California law schools a list of general topics that are in this month’s California bar exam that takes place Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a statement released Sunday by Donna Hershkowitz, chief of programs. The statement said the release was a memo that is usually sent after the exam as part of an invitation to observe a grading session of the exam.
“We have no evidence the information was shared with students. However, out of an abundance of caution and fairness, and in an attempt to level the playing field should any applicants have had access to the information contained in the memo, on Saturday evening, we emailed the same information, verbatim, to all those preparing to take the examination,” the statement read. “We apologize for the error.”
The National Conference of Bar Examiners confirmed to the California State Bar that the leak did not affect the national component of the exam, only the portion about California law.
The essay topics that were leaked are civil procedure; remedies/constitutional law; criminal law and procedure; professional responsibility; and contracts. The leak also included the performance test question’s task and topic, which was respectively “objective memo” and “evidence.”
Teresa Ruano, a program supervisor for the Office of Strategic Communications with the State Bar of California, said that the exam will take place without the changes despite the leak, according to The Mercury News.
“The good news for exam takers is that it eliminates about a dozen possible essay topics, so they know exactly which essay topics to focus on and which to ignore in their last days of preparation,” said Kaplan Bar Review Vice President Tammi Rice, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The topics cover the written portion of the exam, which takes place on Tuesday. The multiple-choice questions will happen on Wednesday. The Bee reports that approximately 9,000 people this week are expected to take the exam, which is generally considered to be one of the toughest tests in the country.
Pass rates for California’s bar exam have declined in recent years, resulting in law school deans to call for an overhaul of the exam. Deans have said the state’s minimum passing score is too high at 144, compared to the national average of 135.