Bad Math Bar Sauce and the ABA as a Shill for the NCBE

49 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2023 Last revised: 6 Oct 2023

See all articles by Rory D. Bahadur

Rory D. Bahadur

Washburn University - School of Law

Dr. Kevin Ruth


Date Written: January 24, 2023


Recent scholarship purporting to employ sophisticated mathematics to decipher the pedagogies which improve institutional bar examination performance and to identify which schools over and underperform on the bar examination has been widely accepted. Despite this wide acceptance the scholarship is largely erroneous. Law reviews are incapable of discerning the errors in the scholarship when authors do not comport with scientific publication norms which require publishers to “show their work,” and produce supporting data so that the study may be replicated and peer reviewed. Additionally, the authors of these studies make fundamental mathematical errors impeaching the validity of their conclusions. For example, the authors confuse odds ratios with probability and use linear regression for data that is unsuitable for linear regression. Despite these fundamental errors and the impossibility of accurately measuring institutional bar performance and over and underperformance on the bar examination, the legal academy relies on these studies to alter their pedagogy and the ABA continues to rely on these studies and the NCBE’s bar examination for accreditation decisions and to measure institutional bar performance. Systemic racism creates a false normativity for the legal academy and ABA’s reliance on studies and assumptions about bar performance that are inaccurate and unsupported. If we are to truly reform legal education and facilitate law’s transition from the least diverse profession in the United States to a more inclusive and less racist field, then we must reexamine the incorrect but comfortable, established, exclusionary, yet wholly erroneous and unsupportable assumptions about the continued role of the NCBE and the bar examination in legal education.

Suggested Citation

Bahadur, Rory D. and Ruth, Kevin, Bad Math Bar Sauce and the ABA as a Shill for the NCBE (January 24, 2023). Howard Law Journal, Vol. 66, No. 2, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Rory D. Bahadur (Contact Author)

Washburn University - School of Law ( email )

1700 College Avenue
Topeka, KS 66621
United States

Kevin Ruth

Independent ( email )

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics