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California Bar Exam Information

Get Detailed Information About The California Bar Exam Including Schedules, Grading, Reciprocity, Fees, Common Questions & More.

California Bar Exam Essay Questions
California Performance Test
Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

California Bar Exam Essay Questions

The CA Essay portion of the exam consists of five essay questions. This part is designed to measure an applicant's ability to analyze legal issues arising from fact situations.

Answers are expected to demonstrate the applicant's ability to analyze the facts of the question, to tell the difference between material facts and immaterial facts, and to discern the points of law and fact upon which the question turns. The answer must show knowledge and understanding of the pertinent principles and theories of law, their qualifications and limitations, and their relationships to each other.

The answer should evidence the applicant's ability to apply the law to the given facts and to reason in a logical, lawyer-like manner from the premises adopted to a sound conclusion.

An applicant should not merely show that they remember the legal principles, but should demonstrate their proficiency in using and applying them.

California Performance Test

California does not use the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), but rather drafts its own 90-minute performance test section.

California's performance test question is designed to test an applicant's ability to understand and apply a select number of legal authorities in the context of a factual problem.

The question consists of a file and library with instructions advising the applicant what tasks should be performed.

In addition to measuring an applicant's ability to analyze legal issues, the performance test question requires applicants to:

  1. Sift through detailed factual material and separate relevant from irrelevant facts, assess the consistency and reliability of facts, and determine the need for and source of additional facts;
  2. Analyze the legal rules and principles applicable to a problem and formulate legal theories from facts that may be only partly known and are being developed;
  3. Recognize and resolve ethical issues arising in practical situations;
  4. Apply problem-solving skills to diagnose a problem, generate alternative solutions, and develop a plan of action;
  5. Communicate effectively, whether advocating, advising a client, eliciting information, or effectuating a legal transaction.

The performance test answer is graded on the applicant's responsiveness to instructions and on the content, thoroughness, organization and persuasiveness of written tasks.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE, which is administered on Wednesday, is developed and graded by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

This portion of the examination is an objective 6-hour examination containing 200 multiple-choice questions, which is divided into two 3-hour sessions during which 100 questions are administered.

The MBE tests 7 subjects: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law & procedure, evidence, real property, and torts.

See our MBE Prep Course and our MBE Practice Questions for addtional MBE resources (included in all of our comprehensive bar exam review courses).

2021 Filing Deadlines & Fees

When is the California Bar Exam in 2021?

February 22-23, 2022 July 27-28, 2021
Timely Filing: November 1, 2021 April 1, 2021
Final Filing: January 2, 2022 June 1, 2021

How Much Does the California Bar Exam Cost?

Exam Fee: $677
Attorney Exam Fee: $983
Laptop Computer Fee: $153
Late Filing Fee: $727
Final Filing Fee: $927

What is the California Bar Exam Schedule Like?

The California bar exam is a two-day exam administered twice a year, with the MBE given on the last Tuesday/Wednesday of February and July.

Tue 3 essays (3 hours) 2 essays & 1 performance Test (3.5 hours)
Wed 100 MBE questions (3 hours) 100 MBE questions (3 hours)

What Subjects Are Tested On The California Bar Exam?

MBE Subjects

  • Civil procedure
  • Constitutional law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal law & procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real property
  • Torts

Essay Subjects

  • Business associations
  • Civil procedure
  • Criminal law & procedure
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional law
  • Community property
  • Evidence
  • Professional responsibility (California and ABA)
  • Real property
  • Remedies
  • Torts
  • Trusts
  • Wills

CA Bar Exam Grading & Scoring Process

A minimum scaled score of 1390 out of 2000 is required to pass.

  • MBE: 50%
  • Written: 50%

Required MPRE Score: 86


Results for the February exam are released in May.

Results for the July exam are released in November.

How many times can you take the California Bar Exam?

There is no limit to the number of times you can take the California bar exam other than the fact that there are only two administrations per year, one in February and one in July.

Test takers may take the California bar exam as many times as they choose.

California Bar Exam Reciprocity

If you took the bar exam in another state, there are only a few ways to practice in California without taking its bar exam.

MBE Transfer

California does not accept MBE scores from a bar exam taken in another jurisdiction.

Admission on Motion

California does not allow for admission on motion, which means every attorney wishing to enter the bar must pass some type of examination, either the state bar, or, for practicing attorneys, the "Attorney's Examination."

The "Attorneys' Examination" is the California Bar Examination for which attorney applicants may apply, provided they have been admitted to the active practice of law in a United States jurisdiction at least four years immediately prior to the first day of administration of the examination and have been in good standing during that period.

The Attorneys' Examination includes essay questions and performance tests of the General Bar Examination but not its multiple-choice questions (i.e. MBE).

How do I Contact the California Bar?

The State Bar of California

Office of Admissions

180 Howard St.

San Francisco, CA 94105

Phone: 415-538-2300

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BarMax CA Course Structure & Features

The California bar exam is known to be one of the most difficult exams in the nation and is administered over a 2-day period in February and July. Despite this fact, our California students consistently tell us how prepared they felt on exam day and our pass rates support it.

BarMax California provides you with a comprehensive and manageable course that teaches every aspect of the state exam, including MBE topics and state-specific material.

Our course is unique in that it streamlines the material you need to pass the exam, instead of providing an intimidating amount of unnecessary content. It also provides you with real MBE questions, not questions that are "test-like" and written in-house.

When you enroll in BarMax California, your study materials are available instantly, so you can start immediately and study at your pace. Plus, there are no additional fees to access the full course after the exam.

BarMax California includes the 14 major exam topics, corresponding to the topics tested on the exam. We then divide each topic into 7-8 subtopics, to make the study material easier to absorb.

Each of these subtopics include an in-depth outline, an audio lecture from a Harvard-educated law professor, and when appropriate, numerous flashcards and multiple-choice MBE questions from previous exams. You will also receive the outines in printed hardcopy format.

Upon enrollment, you'll receive a Welcome Packet that includes printable PDFs of performance tests and practice essays from previous exams, with 2 model answers for each essay.

You will also receive 10 free writing critiques (performance tests or essays). Additional critiques can be purchased a la carte. Our former bar graders ensure you receive accurate and effective criticism.

Questions? See our FAQ, chat with us, or call (855) 483-7862.

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Included with BarMax CA

MBE Questions iconBarMax MBE Questions
1,750+ real MBE questions
lecture icon 50+ Hours of Lectures
from Harvard Law School-educated law professors
flashcards icon 1,500+ Flashcards
categorized by subject
practice essays icon 180+ Real CA Practice Essays
each with two model answers
performance tests icon 75+ Real CA Perf Tests
each with two model answers
essay grading icon 10 Free Essay Critiques
welcome packet icon Digital Welcome Packet
• Manageable study calendar
• Past essays & MPTs
instant access icon Instant Access
lifetime access icon Lifetime Access
no fee to repeat the course
lifetime support icon Lifetime Support
phone, email, & course message boards

Civ Pro Lecture Sample

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BarMax CA Pass Rates / State Rates (%)

79/68 70/59 53/46
first time ABA first time overall

What are the Benefits of the BarMax CA Prep Course?

  • A Comprehensive Bar Review Course

    Everything you need to pass; nothing more, nothing less.

    Comprehensive Bar Review Course
Geoff Friedman

I passed the California bar on my first try. Using only BarMax, I felt as prepared as I could be come exam day.

Geoff Friedman

BarMax CA Prep Course Features.

Instant Access

Instant Access

Access our course instantly and keep it for life (even though we are confident you won’t need it that long).

Study Anywhere

Study Anywhere

The entire course fits inside our app and no Internet is required to access the materials.

Real Questions Only

Real Questions Only

Over 1,750 real MBE questions, plus real essays and real performance tests licensed directly from the NCBE.

High-Quality Content

High-Quality Content

BarMax’s founders and professors are Harvard Law School alumni.

Clear & Concise

Clear & Concise

Only one outline per subject plus mnemonics and flashcards to help you memorize.

Higher Pass Rates

Higher Pass Rates

We release our pass rates while other bar courses refuse to.

Writing Feedback

Writing Feedback

Personalized writing feedback by former bar exam graders is included with the course.

Flexible Pricing

Flexible Pricing

0% financing available with Affirm with payments as low as $39/month.

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