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Bar Exam and MPRE: Bar Exam

Quick Links for the California Bar Exam

Basics of the California Bar Exam

Bar Exam Requirement

All students must pass a final 2 or 3 day bar exam.

When to Take the Bar Exam

  • The bar exam is taken after graduating from law school and is offered twice a year, in July and February. 
  • Students should register for the July bar by April and the February bar by November.
  • Later deadlines are available for retakers or with a late fee.

Cost of the Bar Exam

  • As of March 2019, the California bar exam fee is $677, plus an additional $153 laptop fee.
  • Late registration incurs up to $265 in additional fees.
  • Most students also choose to pay for a hotel near the bar.

Structure of the California Bar Exam

The California bar exam is 2 days long, as shown in the following schedule from the bar's website:

Like most state bar exams, the California bar exam is partially based on the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE),  written and administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), a not-for-profit corporation that develops standardized tests for state bars. The UBE consists of:

  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), two 3 hour, 100 question multiple choice exams, offered nationwide on Wednesday morning and afternoon. 
  • The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), a 3 hour performance test. Test-takers receive a library of laws and a client file and must draft a document, such as a memo, client letter, or contract.
  • The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), a 3 hour essay exam. 

The California bar has adopted the MBE but writes its own California specific performance tests and essay exams.

Subjects Tested on the California Bar Exam

  • The MBE tests civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. See:
  • The MBE is evenly split between each topic, with 28 questions on contracts and 27 questions on each other subject.
  • Essays may test any subject on the MBE and may also test business associations, community (marital) property, professional responsibility, remedies, trusts and wills, and California specific rules of civil procedure and evidence. See:
  • Essays are not evenly split between topics and may test some topics twice and other topics not at all.
  • The performance test usually provides all relevant laws in its library of laws or client file. However, the bar examiners do expect test-takers to identify any ethical issues.