Of the 1,277 law graduates aspiring to become lawyers who took the bar exam to be enrolled in the Colegio de Abogados (Bar Association) in November, 1,154 or 90% failed.

The graduates were from 22 universities, both public and private. Most had already taken the exam at least once.

The Colegio said the overall approval results for 2018 declined with respect to other years in which the percentage of success was also low.

In 2017, only 25% (261 or the 1,048) graduates passed the exam. In 2016, the pass was 14% 0(112 of 809).

The bar exam consists of 75 questions that assess knowledge about constitutional, labor, criminal, civil, family, commercial and administrative law.

Why so few manage to pass?

“We think that maybe people do not prepare very well.  For November and December, people go into a lethargy. We believe that if the graduate has been four or five years in the university he/she has knowledge (to perform the exam),” said Gerardo Solís, academic director of incorporations of the Colegio de Abogados.

For him, the reasons (for the fail) is due to psychological aspects such as stress or level of anxiety, or mistakes because they did not read well the question or did not stop to review their answers.

“We are basically managing the seven areas of knowledge in law that are similarly taught in all universities,” Solís added.

According to the Bar Association records, only four of the 216 graduates of the Universidad Latina, the law school with the largest number of graduates, passed the 2018 exam. The Universidad de San José was the law school with second largest number of passing, 14 of the 159 students.

The law school with the highest percentage of passing the exam was the Escuela Libre de Derecho, almost half (14 or 47%) of the 30 graduates passing.

The Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) had 17 graduates (45%) of the 38 who took the exam passing.

Rosa Monge, rector of the Universidad Latina, said the approval results at the country level are very “worrying”. She considers that there is a problem with the Bar Association exam.

“The Universidad Latina is very sure of the quality of our graduates and we have been working hard to improve the academic quality even more. We continue updating content, incorporating innovative teaching methodologies and improving our faculty,” she told La Nacion.

Medalina Wabe, academic director of the University of San José, expressed a similar view. She considers that the exam is rote and not practical, which does not evaluate the skills of the professional.

“What they need to know with the test is if it is a good professional who is going to go out in practice, not if it is a person who memorizes things. The form of evaluation methodology is not correct because it is only a mark with x. The career does not deserve memorizing, it does not do me any good to know something from memory today because the Law evolves.

“A + B is not always C, in jurisprudence, we have to see each case. We are still asked about the things that we saw 20 or 30 years ago. One thing is the basis of the Law, that I understand, but what do they pretend, that we do not evolve and continue teaching us with books from 30 years ago,” said Wabe.

Infograph from data of the Colegio de Abogados, prepared by La Nacion