Bar Exams, New Jersey, Screw-Ups

Is the New Jersey Board of Law Examiners Incredibly Incompetent or Willfully Negligent? You Make The Call.

Is Snooki in charge of grading bar exams in New Jersey?

If I turned on MTV and found out that the cast from the Jersey Shore had been given the “challenge” of grading the February 2012 New Jersey bar exam, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ll say that again: SNOOKI COULDN’T DO A WORSE JOB THAN THE NEW JERSEY BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS RIGHT NOW!

They don’t respond to emails. They don’t meet deadlines. They told people that they failed the bar when they did not. Jon Corzine didn’t mess up MF Global as much as New Jersey has botched the administration of this freaking test.

The incompetence is so intense that it’s hard to believe it’s an accident. It seems like the NJ BOLE should have to try to be this bad. Well, maybe they are. Last night, a tipster offered up a possible economic motive for all of the “issues” that have come up with the last administration of the New Jersey bar.

It’s petty and short-sighted, but I’m not sure there’s any level of corruption that you can confidently say is too low for the Garden State….

Last night, a tipster emailed in to say that she finally received her results from the February bar exam. Her correct results. Not the false results that she received a month ago, telling her that she failed:

Exactly a month after I received my letter telling me I FAILED the NJ Bar Exam, today I receive a second letter from NJ Board of Bar Examiners saying:

“I am please to inform you that you passed the February 2012 bar examination. I am also extremely sorry that you were erroneously sent a failing notice. An error was found in our scale data which caused a miscalculation.”


Let’s be very clear: telling a person they failed the bar when they did not is a little like Balthasar telling Romeo that Juliet is dead. Maybe Romeo overreacted, and maybe Marsellus shouldn’t have pushed Tony Rocky Horror out of a window and messed up the way that brother talked, but the NJ BOLE has GOT to expect a reaction when they are wrong about who passed the bar. When you mess with people like that, there are always consequences.

And one of those consequences is that people start to doubt the legitimacy of your entire process. If New Jersey is capable of screwing up like this, what else are they capable of? Our tipster points out this… coincidence:

Also, NJ’s deadline to re-register for the July 2012 Bar was 2 days ago. So, great timing, sending out these notices AFTER all the people that fake-failed had sent in another $500 to register.

Well, now that is curious, isn’t it? Assuming nobody who passed in February would have paid to take it again in July, I wonder how much money New Jersey made from giving people the wrong impression about their bar exam success until after the deadline passed? I emailed the NJ BOLE to ask if students who registered for the July administration before they were told they passed the February exam would get their money back. You’re not going to believe this, but I haven’t received a response.

A different tipster who had been told he failed when he did not did get a better explanation from the NJ BOLE when they called him to apologize. Here’s his report from the phone call:

[T]hey realized they had messed up the scaling of the exam scores, across the board. This caused a bunch of people to be notified that they had failed the bar, when they didn’t ACTUALLY fail the bar, and as a result, the February pass rate was an abysmal 48.23%. They then went through the scores, re-scaled all of them, and as a result, a few dozen students who had already been informed that they failed (by my calculations, around 66 test takers) … actually passed. They had to go re-grade these students’ exams to confirm that this was correct before notifying them about the mistake. The pass rate for the exam has been corrected to be 55.07% as of June 1st.

Even if NJ does refund the money for people who were told they failed, and therefore signed up to take the bar again (not that I expect them to), there are other sunk costs associated with this mistake. If you decided to take a bar prep course to study for July, you can’t get your money back by the time New Jersey gets around to telling you that you actually passed in February. And for some students, they’ve lost at least of month of trying to find a job with employers who only hire people who have passed the bar exam.

In short (and this should really go without saying), telling people they failed the bar when they did not fail the bar is a massive failure by the New Jersey bar. It’s unacceptable. People should be held accountable. There should be a big, blaring apology on the website explaining the situation, and remedial measures should be taken to prevent it from happening again.

Instead, all I can say is:

O true New Jersey! Thy drugs are quick. Thus, with a kiss, I mock.

Earlier: Could New Jersey Get Its Act Together For The Bar Exam?

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