By Amy Ortiz
Updated: November 10, 2022
On November 4th, 2022, the Colorado Supreme Court announced that starting with the February 2023 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), Colorado’s minimum passing UBE score will be lowered from 276 to 270–a change impacting law school graduates looking to practice law in the state of Colorado.
A brief history
Beginning with its adoption of the Multistate Bar Exam in 1972, Colorado had a cut score of 258. However, after a restructuring of the exam, its grading process, and a psychometric analysis of the exam, the state of Colorado raised its cut score from 258 to 276 in 1985.
In 2012, Colorado was among the first jurisdictions to adopt the UBE after it was presented in 2011. This new exam posed significant changes to the way the written portion of the exam was graded, thus most jurisdictions who adopted the UBE around the same time modified their cut scores to be anywhere between 260 to 270. Nonetheless, Colorado retained its high cut score of 276 and over the years became the state with the second-highest cut score in the nation, with pass rates from most recent years averaging to be around 64%.
Why the Change?
Over 35 years have passed since Colorado first instituted its minimum passing score of 276. However, a recent psychometric study of the UBE conducted by the Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners in 2021 seems to have prompted the court to make an adjustment in their cut score.
According to Colorado’s Judicial Department, Oregon’s study focused on the written portion of the exam, which the Colorado Supreme Court considers useful in measuring the skills and abilities law graduates need as they enter the workforce. They stated, “although Colorado could engage in another psychometric analysis, such a process would be both time consuming and costly. Instead, the Court finds the Oregon study persuasive [and] therefore joins the sixteen other UBE jurisdictions that have adopted a cut score of 270.”
While time is still needed to see the full impact this change will have on Colorado’s average pass rates, it is almost certain this lowered cut score will give a greater opportunity for law graduates preparing to take the UBE in February 2023 and onward to pass and begin practicing law in the state of Colorado.
The Colorado Supreme Court also acknowledges that in coming years, further changes will need to be made when the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) concludes their development of the NextGen Bar Exam. The Colorado Supreme Court plans to invite public input once more information about the NextGen Bar Exam is released by the NCBE.
For more information on the Colorado Bar Exam, check out Crushendo’s ultimate guide on it.