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Only 35 percent of those who sat for the California State Bar’s exam in February passed the test, about 2 percent fewer than last year. This year’s test was marked by computer glitches as well as flooding at one test site in Pasadena, which led to the cancellation of an afternoon session. The State Bar hired psychometric consultants — specialists in psychological testing and statistics — to make grading adjustments for test-takers affected by those problems. The end result: “In terms of scoring, I don’t think it had any effect,” said Jerome Braun, the State Bar’s senior executive for admissions. Of the 4,739 test-takers statewide, about 700 were affected by the Pasadena deluge, Braun said, while an unknown number were delayed by computer problems in San Francisco, Sacramento and Pasadena. A total of 1,594 people were registered at the laptop centers. To make up for the Thursday afternoon session canceled due to flooding, the Bar assigned a score for test-takers based on their scores on other portions of the exam. Braun said this was a standard statistical remedy for such events. And the Bar awarded people whose laptops stalled for long periods of time additional points based on a precise calculation. Braun said anyone who has questions about the scoring methods should check the report posted on the State Bar’s Web site. First-time examinees saw their results dip even more. Of the 1,310 first-time test takers this year, 46.6 percent passed the test, compared with 50.2 last year. Overall, Braun was disheartened. “It’s always disappointing when the pass rate is as low as it is.” Still, if those who passed the test satisfy other requirements, including moral character tests, California will soon have 1,550 more lawyers.

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