Some helpful information for California Bar Exam Applicants:


Cal Court FAQ

Cal Bar FAQ

Info on our California bar prep courses

California Bar Admission Requirements

To be admitted to practice law in California you must complete the necessary education, register with the Committee of Bar Examiners, and pass the First-year Law Students’ Examination (unless exempt).  You must also pass the California Bar Examination, which is administered during the last week of February and July, the Moral Character Determination and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which is administered in March, August and November.  See below for more detail on California admission.


Applications for the First-year Law Students’ Examination, General Bar Examination, Attorney’s Examination and Determination of Moral Character may be picked up at the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State of California or downloaded at  State Bar offices are located in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Application packets are also available at most law schools.  For application fees and timely filing deadlines, please contact the State Bar.  Applications for the MPRE are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  For more information, visit them at

Exam Format

The bar exam consists of three sections: the essay, the performance test and the multistate bar examination.

  • The Essay Section

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, applicants are given three essays, which must be completed within three hours.  Applicants can be tested on the following subjects: Torts, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Civil Procedure, Community Property, Corporations, Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts and Wills.  Beginning with the July 2007 administration of the exam, candidates will also be responsible for California Evidence, California Civil Procedure, Agency and Partnership.

  • The Performance Test

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, applicants will take the Performance Test.  Each performance test consists of a three-hour writing project.  Applicants are given a file and library from a hypothetical law firm and are asked to prepare one or more written documents.  These may include any of the following: Client Letter, Closing Argument, Discovery Plan and Interrogatories, Memorandum of Points & Authorities, Memorandum to a Senior Partner or Trial Brief.

  • The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

On Wednesday, applicants take a 200-question multiple-choice exam given in 2 three-hour sessions.  Applicants are tested on six subjects: Torts, 34 questions; Contracts, 34 questions; Constitutional Law, 33 questions; Criminal Law & Procedure, 33 questions; Evidence, 33 questions; and Real Property, 33 questions.

Effective with the February 2015 administration of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a seventh content area – Civil Procedure – will be covered for the first time.

The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, of which 190 are scored items and 10 are unscored pretest items. The current list of topics include Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. The addition of Civil Procedure will mean that the number of questions per topic will decrease. Starting in 2015, there will be 28 questions covering Contracts, and 27
questions covering each of the six remaining topics, for a total of 190.

With the addition of Washington to the list of MBE jurisdictions in July of this year, every U.S. jurisdiction but Louisiana will use the MBE.

Test specifications for the MBE Civil Procedure items will be announced no later than June 30 of this year. In the meantime, the specifications for Civil Procedure, already a topic on the Multistate Essay Examination, are available on the NCBE website, The website is the best source for obtaining information about all NCBE exams.

Exam Grading

  • Relative Weights
    Written Portion – 65% (Essay 39% o Performance Test 26%); Multistate Bar Exam – 35%
  • Scaling
    In order to compensate for the differences in degree of difficulty from on exam to the next, the California Bar Exam is scaled.  There are a total of 2000 scaled points that can be earned on the exam and only those students scoring 1440 (72%) or above will pass.On the MBE, applicants earn a raw score ranging from 0 to 200.  This score is then adjusted and reported on a scale of 0 to 2000.  Similarly, there are initially 1000 points possible on the written portion of the exam, including up to 100 points per essay and up to 200 points for each performance test.  These scores are then converted to a 2000 point scaled score.  Finally, the examiners scale the written section to the MBE.  The net result is to make the written section of more importance in determining whether a student passes or fails the examination.
  • Phased Grading The examination is graded using a 3-phase procedure.Phase One – Applicants with total scaled scores of 1440 or above pass the examination.  Applicants with total scaled scores below 1390 fail the examination.

Phase Two – Applicants with total scaled scores of 1390 – 1439.9999 will have the written portion of their examination read and scored by a second set of graders.  These scores are then averaged with the applicant’s original scores.

Phase Three – Following second scoring, all answers with score discrepancies of more than ten (10) points between the first and second read grades will be referred to the appropriate supervisory graders (“Reappraisers”) for resolution.  The Reappraiser will review the applicant’s written answers and resolve the score discrepancies by assigning “resolution grades” which will be used to calculate the applicant’s total scaled score.  Applicants with total scaled scores of 1440 or above pass the examination.  Applicants with total scaled scores below 1440 fail the examination.

Bar Exam Results

Results for the February administration of the exam are released during the month of May.  The results for the July administration are released in November.

Attorneys’ Examination

The Attorneys’ Examination consists of only of the essay and performance test sections of the California Bar Exam.  Attorneys admitted in other states or jurisdictions of the United States who have been admitted in active status in good standing four years immediately preceding the bar exam may be eligible to take the attorney examination.  For more information, contact the Committee of Bar Examiners.


The MPRE is a 60 question multiple-choice examination administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  It is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge and understanding of established ethical standards as set forth in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules.  Applicants may take the MPRE in March, August or November.

Summary of Requirements for Admission to Practice Law in California

To be admitted to practice law in California, an applicant must:

• Complete the necessary general education

• Register with the Committee of Bar Examiners as a law student or

attorney applicant.

• Complete the requisite legal education.

• File an application to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination

and pass, or establish exemption from the examination.

• File an application to take the bar examination and after eligibility

has been confirmed, take and pass the examination;

• File an application for a moral character determination and receive a positive moral character

determination from the Committee of Bar Examiners.

• File an application, take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination with

a scaled score of 79.00 or greater, which examination is administered and graded by the

National Conference of Bar Examiners.

• Be in compliance with California court ordered child or family support obligations.

The foregoing is a summary of the requirements for admission to practice law in California.  The full text of all requirements for admission are set forth in the Rules Regulating Admission to Practice Law in California.

Separate and distinct applications are required for registration, a moral character determination and the bar examination.  Applications for registration and moral character determination are available anytime.  Applications for the February Bar Examination are available October 1 and applications for the July Bar Examination are available March 1.  Applicants may Apply Online (Credit Card only).



A person who is not a member of the State Bar of California but who is eligible to practice law in another state may act as counsel pro hac vice, provided certain conditions are met.

In addition to the requirement that an active member of the State Bar of California is associated as attorney of record, an attorney is not eligible to appear as counsel pro hac vice if he or she is:

•            A resident of the State of California

•            Regularly employed in the State of California

•            Regularly engaged in substantial business, professional, or other activities in the State of California

For details about eligibility, see Rule 9.40 of the California Rules of Court.

FAQ August 16, 2010