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The Sixth Man Award

Settling the squabbling of law students across the nation once and for all, a California law professor has released a definitive ranking of bar exam difficulty.

Robert Anderson, an associate professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, combined bar passage rates with the median undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores for each ABA-accredited school in a given state for the years 2010 and 2011, weighed by the number of test-takers.

The result?

California students face the most challenging exam in the nation, he concluded, while test takers in South Dakota can breathe easier at number 48 (three bars were excluded in the rankings for lack of enough data: Alaska, Delaware and the District of Columbia).

Virginia cracked the top ten, coming in at number six behind Arkansas, Washington, Louisiana and Nevada. Oregon, West Virginia, Vermont and Maryland rounded out the list of ten toughest exams.

Prof. Anderson noted that test takers in the Commonwealth have the highest LSAT scores in the nation but have a relatively low bar passage rate.

Another area of the bar where Virginia ranks high: the cost of taking the exam.

Test takers must pay up to $800 for the privilege of sweating through two days of multiple choice questions and essays, a little higher than top ten states like Arkansas ($400) and Washington ($585).

Then again, Californians are charged more than $1,300 for the country’s hardest bar exam (with an additional $139 for a request to use a laptop) so maybe Virginia lawyers are getting a deal.

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