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SAN FRANCISCO ā€” Scores on last July’s California Bar exam showed their biggest one-year drop in 21 years, and the pass rate was the lowest in many decades, according to new figures from the State Bar.

The decline was especially severe among minorities, the figures show. Just 11.6% of the blacks who took the exam passed, compared to 48.3% of the whites, the report said. The passage rate was 18.1% for Latinos and 30% for Asians.

All ethnic groups declined from the July, 1983, exam, when the pass rate was 55.1% for whites, 15.8% for blacks, 24.8% for Latinos and 39.7% for Asians. Proportionately, the pass rate dropped by about one-fourth for minorities and one-eighth for whites.

Overall, of 7,352 students who took the three-day exam, 41.8% passed, compared to 49% in July, 1983.

The decline was even worse for the top-ranking group of students, who were taking the exam for the first time after graduating from major law schools accredited by both the state and the American Bar Assn.