State-by-State Bar Exam Information: California

Bar Information


Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Tue, Wed and Thu of February and July

By when is the application for the July exam due?: 

Timely filing deadline is April 1. The fee is $1,114. Latest filing deadline, with highest late fee, is June 15. In addition, applicants must register with the California Bar within 10 days after submission of the application.

Exam Details

What tests and types of questions are on the bar exam?: 

Written: Two three-hour performance tests and six one-hour state-law essay questions

Multiple-choice: The Multistate Bar Examination

Is it possible to take the written portions of the exam on a laptop computer?: 

Yes, for a fee of $139 and a $15 late fee. All applicants who request to take the exam on a laptop will be able to do so.

Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 

Yes. Questions and sample answers can be downloaded from the CA Bar website here.

How is the exam scored?: 

The MBE is weighted at 35% of the overall score, and the written portions (essays, 39%, and performance tests, 26%, combined) are weighted at 65%.


What was the first-time taker pass rate for the most recent July bar exam? : 

2012: 68%; 2011: 69.4%

What was the overall pass rate for all takers of the most recent July bar exam?: 

2012: 55%; 2011: 54.8%


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 


Can applicants already admitted in another state gain admission without taking the bar exam?: 


The information for California comes from the California Bar website as well as from the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and annual statistical report.