About the California Bar Exam
The California Bar Exam is a three day exam that tests applicants' knowledge of the law and legal skills in 13 different subject areas. The Disability Resource Program at Hastings works to ensure that students are fully informed about the exam process, including petitioning for accommodations. Before applying for accommodations, it is useful to familiarize yourself with the exam itself.
In California, the bar exam has three components:
- The Multistate Bar Exam. (MBE) This is a national multiple choice exam consisting of 200 questions in six core subjects: constitutional law, contracts, criminal law/procedure; evidence; real property and torts. The MBE is administered on the second day of the exam and counts for 35 percent of the applicant’s overall score. The written part of the exam accounts for the remaining 65 percent of the total score.
- Six essays: This can include the six subjects on the MBE as well as state-specific questions. Essays can include “crossover” questions that cover two or three areas of law (for example Wills and Trusts and Community Property). Essays can also require an applicant to address issues using both California law and Federal law (for example Evidence, Civil Procedure and Professional Responsibility).
- Two performance exams. This portion of the exam tests the applicant’s ability to apply legal principles to facts. Applicants are given a hypothetical scenario and a legal “library” and asked to complete a task within a specified time limit.
It is good practice to review previous bar exam questions and answers to get a feel for the types of questions asked and what the bar graders expect in an answer. The California Bar releases sample questions and answers from the essay exams on its website. To read sample questions, sample answers or other information about bar admission visit the California Bar Website.