05 Dec 2005

The Hardest Test

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The Wall Street Journal this morning published a sob story about the excessive difficulty of the California Bar Exam, which in 2004 was passed by only 44% of those taking the test. The WSJ does not tell its readers that the Japanese Bar Exam is passed by only 3% of aspiring attorneys. Lucky Japan! There must be considerably less unnecessary litigation in the Land of the Rising Sun.

But even the Japanese Bar Exam’s legendarily low pass rate looks like a piece of cake compared to the under 1% passing rate of the hardest test, the Japanese 8th dan Kendo examination (46:44 minute video).

There are more than two million practioners of the sport of Kendo, the art of Japanese fencing, in Japan. Since WWII, only 400 of these have successfully made it past the 8th dan examination. The Japanese Kendo Association actually distingushes ten levels (dan) of mastery of the sport, but the 8th dan, hachi dan, is the last level requiring a physical test, and the most difficult.

3 Feedbacks on "The Hardest Test"

John Doe

The gist of your blog is that the California exam is not all that bad, sarcastically calling it a “sob story,” because Japan administers harder tests. Okay, so what? That just means the California bar exam is bad and that the Japanese tests are *worse* . . . key point, neither one is good. That’s like saying “oh well this innocent man should stop whining about being falsely imprisoned for one year when another innocent man was wrongly sentenced to death.”


I’m not sure that very challenging bar exams are a bad idea. The brighter and fewer the lawyers, the better.

John Doe

Yeah, that’s the way to prove competence . . . no need to look at grades or anything, just the ability to cram everything over the course of 2 months.


OK John, Let’s just let everybody that made it through law school practice without any test at all. After all, I have the right to defend myself and I don’t have any law education at all. Just about anybody that has read the constitution should be fine to defend me. NOT!!! There are far too many lawers out there that don’t have a clue. I would much rather have a lawer that “KNOWS” what he/she is doing than one that just managed “good grades” in college. The test proves that you have learned enough about the law to “COMPETENTLY” practice it. You can’t trust advertising and there are 100s of lawers in the phone book, how do you know your lawer is worth a flip? Well if I know that the Bar Exame is tough and you have know what you are doing to pass it, then I know just about any lawyer that passes is good enough. It’s for everybody’s benefit that this test is tough. I think it should be just as tough as the Japanese test. You should have to prove that you “KNOW” what you are talking about not that you can “look it up” or “figure it out.” People don’t want to pay big money for a librarian or file clerk. They want somebody that can competently handle their legal problems in a complete and efficent manner. Good grades only prove you got your homework done on time or were able to cram for a short test over recent material. The bar tests wether you learned everything your were supposed to in law school.

I take it you did not pass?


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