Bar exams are intended to protect the public by insuring that only competent persons are licensed to practice law. What comprises competency, however, is a difficult question to answer; and how competency is to be determined is even more difficult. As with most difficult questions, the usual approach has been simply to ignore them and "play it by ear." The result has been bar exams in many states which are of marginal value to the public and which have at the same time been extremely unfair to the applicants.
Old and New Type Bar Exams,
20 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol20/iss3/12