Colorado Supreme Court reduces minimum passing score for bar exam
The Colorado Supreme Court announced earlier this month that starting in 2023, the minimum passing score, or cut score, on the Uniform Bar Examination required for admission to practice law in Colorado will be lowered from 276 to 270.
The change is prospective, and applicable to candidates for admission beginning with the February 2023 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination as well as to candidates who seek to transfer their scores to Colorado from the February 2023 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination in other jurisdictions.
The court consulted with the Law Committee of the Colorado State Board of Law Examiners before making the decision. Justice Maria E. Berkenkotter did not participate in the decision.
Colorado’s cut score of 276 was instituted in 1985, before Colorado joined the Uniform Bar Examination, and it is now the second-highest cut score among the 41 states that use the Uniform Bar Examination. Only Alaska uses a higher cut score (280), and only three other Uniform Bar Examination jurisdictions use cut scores above 270: Arizona (273), Idaho (272), and Pennsylvania (272).
When Colorado joined the Uniform Bar Examination and began administering the Uniform Bar Examination in February 2012, it retained its cut score of 276 on the premise that Uniform Bar Examination scores would correspond to scores under the prior exam. Numerous Uniform Bar Examination jurisdictions have lowered their cut scores after initial adoption, including Oregon, which lowered its score twice. In 2018, Oregon lowered its cut score from 284 to 274, and then last year, following a study, it lowered its score to 270. The 41 UBE jurisdictions have cut scores ranging from 260 to 280, but the largest cluster, 16 jurisdictions, have settled at 270.