On grading in exam preparation and the first exam. An empirical analysis

from Emanuel Towfigh, Christian Traxler and Andreas Glöckner

in: Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Rechtswissenschaft (ZDRW) 2014, Issue 1, pp. 8 – 27
[PDF, open access at Nomos] [PDF, local]

Follow-up Study: New study on gender and origin effects in law exams.

see also:


  • Harald Martenstein, About Women, Lawyers and Chihuahuas, ZEIT Magazin from Mai 8th 2014, P. 6
  • Constantin Baron van Lijnden, Grading of Mock-Exams and State Exams: Women and migrants at a disadvantage, free-scoring students ahead, Legal Tribune Online from April 16th 2014 (online, last reviewed April 16th 2014) [PDF]
  • Anja Wölker, Discrimination against female law students?, Campus Radio Q, “Coffeeshop”, April 16th 2014, 10.10 Uhr (available here)
  • Charlotte Haunhorst, Sexist jurisprudence?, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Magazin “Jetzt” from April 15th 2014 (online, last reviewed April 16th 2014) [PDF]
  • Frauke Lüpke-Narberhaus, Discrimination in law studies: When in doubt, give the man the benefit of the doubt, SPIEGEL ONLINE from April 14th 2014 (online, last reviewed April 14th 2014) [PDF] (see also)
  • dpa-Announcement from 14.4.2014: “Despite better Highschool Results Women often have worse results in the State Exams”
  • Ekrem ?enol, Exams in the state exam: “Here it is obvious to assume discrimination”, MiGazin from April 4th 2014 (online, last reviewed on April 7th 2014) [PDF] (see also)


To date, there is little reliable empirical evidence on the success factors of the state part of the first state bar examination. The only known information is the overview data on the general performance of candidates published annually by the state judicial examination office. This is particularly surprising in view of the fact that the state exams have been examined in a similar form in all German states for decades, that they are of great importance for the later professional development of legions of lawyers, that thousands of candidates take this exam every year, and that there is a whole industry of commercial exam preparers in the form of private revision centers. The lack of evidence is also unsatisfactory from a didactic perspective. Are there identifiable factors that play a role in exam success? For example, are “bright minds” with good high school diplomas also the more successful lawyers on the state exam? Is it worthwhile to write mock exams – and does one acquire subject-specific skills in the process, or does learning have a cross-disciplinary effect, what does the learning curve look like? Are there differences between faculties? Are there differences between men and women, Germans and foreigners?

After having investigated primarily the shape of the learning function of advanced lawyers based on their results in the exam course using a data set from the exam course of the University of Münster in a paper with a focus on learning psychology (, Instructional Science 41 [2013], 989), we were invited to publish a paper here to make our results available to the legal community. In addition to the data set analyzed in the aforementioned paper, we also examined exam results from exams taken at the Higher Regional Court of Hamm and attempted to provide empirically robust answers to some of the questions raised.