This is a question virtually every law student asks him or herself, but there are surprisingly few answers available.
On the one hand, most students know they can look to the bar passage rate of their own law schools, taking into account their class rank, to have some sense of how likely they are to pass the bar in the law school's home state. If the law school has a 70% passage rate, then it's likely you will have at least an 70% chance of passing if you're in the top half of the class. However, even that's not mathematically certain; it all depends on how closely law school grades correlate with bar passage at each individual school, which is not information that most schools make public.
Moreover, suppose you are trying to decide where to take the bar and you would like to know where you would have a decent chance of passing the first time. In that case, you will not even have your own school's bar passage rate to refer to. It turns out that state bar exams vary wildly in their difficulty, although few people talk openly about the differences. I suppose it's considered bad manners to point out that the same student who would have a 30% chance of passing the California bar exam might have an 70% chance of passing the bar examination in another state. But given the delay, disappointment, and cost that failing the bar imposes on recent graduates, I think it's important information students need to know.
This is why I developed my experimental bar passage calculator. It was clear from my prior posts on bar exam dificulty here and here that there is a need for more information on this topic. This bar examination calculator designed to predict the probability of passing a particular state bar examination based on LSAT, law school class rank, law school ranking, and bar examination state. This is an EXPERIMENTAL version of the calculator because it has not been validated against enough reliable, recent data. As a result, it may not give accurate predictions unless and until law schools provide me with data to calibrate and validate its predictions. I will revise this calculator as more information becomes available to me, but for now this should be considered provisional.
I am making the calculator public to solicit help from those who have reliable data, such as law school administrators (if you are an academic support professional or other administrator in a law school, please see note below). Please report any bugs you encounter using the calculator by email or in the comments. Note that Louisiana, Washington (state), and Michigan have been removed because significant recent changes to their bar exams make older data obsolete.
NOTE: This calculator has serious limitations, primarily based on the lack of good, recent data on bar examination candidates. As a result, the underlying data is cobbled together from aggregate data on bar examinations and the most recent individual data available. That individual data, however, dates back to 1994, and did not even include the bar examination state. Accordingly, this calculator should be used for experimental purposes only, and not to plan your life.
It would be very easy to create an accurate calculator if high-quality, recent data were available, and such a calculator could be very useful to law school students and graduates. Unfortunately, state bars and law schools are not very forthcoming with this type of data, making it difficult for students to make good decisions.
I therefore hope that Academic Support professionals at law schools will report to me (by email) how well this calculator corresponds to bar passage statistics within their own schools. If you are a law school administrator, please consider sending me feedback (by email) about how this calculator corresponds with your own bar passage statistics. I will use the information to update the parameters of the calculator and make it more accurate. This will help students who may be at risk of failing the bar to more accurately assess their prospects. If I receive enough feedback, I will be able to calibrate the calculator to provide more accurate predictions.