July 2019 California Bar Exam takers received a surprising email on Saturday, July 27th, mere days before the California Bar Exam:
The official account of the California Bar confirmed that this is not a drill:
To all applicants of the July 2019 California Bar Exam: yes, the email you received this evening regarding bar exam topics is authentic. This account has not been hacked. The email was sent as soon as the error became apparent. We are working to confirm an official statement.— State Bar of California (@StateBarCA) July 28, 2019
In addition to adding to the pre-examination anxiety, this announcement raises some serious questions about the California Bar exam, which already has a notoriously low passage rate. The California Bar confirmed that the leak happened on Thursday, potentially giving certain students access to the information before other test takers.
The California Bar noted that it is working on an official statement, and lawyers and test-takers are discussing the leak on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Some of the questions being asked are indicative of the potential seriousness of the issue:
- How, why, and to whom were these questions leaked?
- Did any students get earlier access to this information, creating an unfair advantage?
- Was similar information disseminated during previous bar exams, potentially undermining the integrity of those tests?
The Bar took the right step in being transparent about the leak. Nevertheless, this is a puzzling happenstance that deeply affects test takers: it eliminates about a dozen possible essay topics, and bar exam takers who are aware of this leak now know exactly which essay topics to focus on and which to ignore in their last days of preparation. If you know a student who has turned off email and social media notifications in preparation of the test... now is the time to send them a text.