The baby bar exam, officially known as the First Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX), is a regulatory exam in California required for all law students attending unaccredited law schools. A minimum passing score of 560 out of 900 possible points, or approximately 62%, is required to pass the baby bar exam.
A score of 474 on the baby bar exam, while not passing, is generally considered a decent score that is not too far off from the 560 passing threshold. With additional study and preparation, a 474 score indicates that passing the baby bar exam is achievable.
The baby bar exam consists of three sections:
- Contracts (100 points)
- Criminal Law (100 points)
- Torts (100 points)
Each section contains four essays worth 25 points each. Essays are designed to test an examinee’s ability to analyze legal issues and apply legal reasoning. The baby bar is administered twice per year in June and October over two days.
The baby bar is scored on a scale of 20 to 100 for each question, with a total possible score of 900 points. The average raw score on the baby bar exam is in the 500s. The minimum passing score is 560/900 points, or approximately 62% correct.
Here is how a 474 score breaks down:
- Contracts: About 83/100 points or 83% correct
- Criminal Law: About 83/100 points or 83% correct
- Torts: About 75/100 points or 75% correct
This equates to an overall percentage correct of approximately 53%, just shy of the 62% needed to pass.
Interpreting a 474 Score
While a 474 does not pass the baby bar exam, it is generally considered a decent score for a first attempt. Scoring over 450 demonstrates a solid foundation of legal knowledge and analytical skills.
Some key considerations for interpreting a 474 baby bar score:
- It is close to passing – Being less than 100 points away from passing means you have the ability to pass with some additional preparation.
- It shows competence in Contracts and Criminal Law – Scoring over 80% in two sections indicates you have strong knowledge in those subjects.
- It reveals an area for improvement – Scoring 75% in Torts suggests this section needs more focus during your studies.
Overall, while 474 is not a passing score, it is a score that demonstrates capability. With some tweaks to your study methods and test-taking strategies, passing the baby bar is an achievable goal.
Steps to Improve Your Score
If you received a 474 on the baby bar exam, here are some steps you can take to improve your score on your next attempt:
- Review your practice essays critically – Read through each practice essay again and compare to the grading rubric and sample answers. Identify where points were lost.
- Strengthen weak topic areas – For the Torts section in particular, spend more time studying challenging concepts and doing practice questions on those topics.
- Refine your essay writing skills – Outline essay responses under timed conditions and work on writing concise essay IRAC structures.
- Take simulated exams – Take full timed practice exams under exam-like conditions to improve endurance and time management.
- Get feedback from professors – Ask your professors to review your practice essay responses to get their input on areas to improve.
With some targeted review and adjustment of your study plan, you can overcome any weaknesses and gain the extra points needed to pass the baby bar on your next attempt.
What is a Passing Baby Bar Score?
The minimum passing score on the baby bar exam is 560 points out of 900 total possible points, which equals approximately 62% correct answers.
Here is how the baby bar passing score of 560 translates to each section:
- Contracts: About 62/100 points or 62% correct
- Criminal Law: About 62/100 points or 62% correct
- Torts: About 62/100 points or 62% correct
So in each section, you need to achieve about 62% correct answers on the four essay questions in order to reach the minimum passing score. Scoring at least 70% correct in each section is recommended to achieve a passing total score.
Baby Bar Pass Rates
The baby bar has a notoriously low pass rate compared to other bar exams. The average pass rate is around 20-25%. Reasons for the low pass rate include:
- No accredited law school training
- Less experienced examinees
- Time constraints on self-study
However, passing the baby bar is certainly achievable with thorough preparation. Scoring a 474 on your first attempt puts you in a good position to pass on your next try with some adjusted studying.
When to Retake the Baby Bar Exam
If you do not pass the baby bar exam on your first try, you must retake it within the next two administered exam cycles to demonstrate your progress. The baby bar is offered twice per year in June and October.
For example, if you took and failed the June 2023 exam, you would need to retake and pass the exam in either October 2023 or June 2024. Most students choose to retake at the next opportunity in October to get it passed as soon as possible.
There is no limit on the number of times you can attempt the baby bar exam, as long as you are able to pass within your law school program’s timeline. However, most schools require students to petition for an extension if they have not passed after a certain number of attempts, usually five or six.
Timing Your Retake
When planning your baby bar retake after scoring a 474, it is recommended to spend 2-3 months preparing before taking the next exam. Key steps include:
- Analyzing your score report and identifying areas for improvement
- Creating a study calendar to prepare for your retake date
- Allotting time each week for substantive review, practice questions, essays, and simulations
This gives you adequate time to work on your weaker areas and get comfortable with the material and exam format. With diligent preparation, you can pass on your next attempt.
How to Prepare to Retake the Baby Bar
Here are some tips to help you succeed when retaking the baby bar exam after scoring a 474:
Review Your Prior Attempt
- Analyze your score report and note sections where points were lost
- Read your previous essay responses and compare to grading rubrics
- Identify gaps in knowledge as well as test-taking errors
Adjust Your Study Plan
- Spend more time on weak areas; don’t neglect stronger sections
- Increase practice questions to improve issues-spotting skills
- Write essay responses regularly under timed conditions
- Focus on memorizing legal definitions and rules
Simulate Test Conditions
- Take weekly timed practice exams
- Hand write your essays within the allotted time
- Strengthen mental endurance for the two-day exam
- Have professors or tutors review your practice essays
- Identify patterns in your writing to improve
- Reflect on critique to refine your essay structure and analysis
A strategic study plan focused on your weak points and realistic practice will help you pass the baby bar on your next try after scoring a 474.
How Many Times Can You Take the Baby Bar Exam?
There is no limit set in California law on how many times you can take the baby bar exam. However, most law schools have policies requiring students to pass within a certain number of attempts.
Typical school policies allow:
- 5-6 total attempts
- 3 attempts within the first year
If you do not pass by the maximum number of attempts allowed by your school, you will need to petition for an extension to retake the exam. Schools will review your petition and prior attempts before deciding whether to grant a continuation.
While you can technically attempt the baby bar an unlimited number of times, most students are able to pass within 3-4 attempts. Thorough preparation is key to passing sooner rather than relying on multiple retakes.
Pass Rates by Attempt
Baby bar exam pass rates tend to increase with each successive attempt, as students become more familiar with the material and format. Here are approximate baby bar pass rates by attempt number:
As the table shows, pass rates increase dramatically from the 1st to 4th attempts. So retaking the exam after scoring a 474 on your first try can significantly improve your chances of passing.
How to Petition for More Attempts
If you have not passed after the maximum number of baby bar attempts allowed by your law school, you will need to petition the school for permission to retake the exam.
Here is the typical petition process:
- Submit a written petition letter to the law school administration explaining your situation and desire to retake.
- Highlight reasons for your past failed attempts and demonstrate your commitment to passing.
- Provide your full baby bar score history and your plan for success if granted another retake.
- Submit supporting documentation such as practice essays, professor recommendations, etc.
- Meet with the administration committee if required to present your petition.
- await the school’s written decision on whether your petition is approved or denied.
Law schools want to see a clear plan and commitment to finally passing the exam if they grant you additional attempts. The key is demonstrating why extra attempts are warranted in your case and how you will be successful.
Factors law schools may consider when deciding on baby bar extension petitions include:
- Amount of time remaining until program deadline
- Progress demonstrated on prior attempts
- Efforts made to improve baby bar scores
- Commitment to academics and the law school
- Personal or health issues affecting past performance
A well-prepared petition evidencing your dedication and capability to pass can help convince your law school to grant you extra baby bar exam attempts.
In summary, a 474 score on the baby bar exam, while not passing, is considered a decent first attempt that shows potential to pass the exam. By analyzing your performance, adjusting your study methods, and diligently preparing, you can work toward passing the baby bar on your next attempt.
While there is no official limit to retakes, most law schools allow 5-6 attempts before requiring students to petition for more tries. Pass rates tend to improve significantly from the 1st to 3rd attempts. So remain determined in your preparation, and your hard work can pay off with a passing baby bar score.