Category: Bar Exam Tips

Pretty woman reading a book with question marks coming out from

What Is the Bar Exam Like?

You’ve worked hard all through law school, hoping to finally reach the goal of a rewarding career in the field of law. But graduating with your J.D. isn’t technically the finish line.

First, you have to pass the bar exam.

If you’re planning on working as an attorney anywhere in the United States (with the exception of Wisconsin), you will have to pass the bar exam first. And if this is your first time, you might be asking yourself, “What is the bar exam?”


What Is the Bar Exam?

As a lawyer, you will have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Giving legal advice and representing clients in court is not a job that should be handled by just anyone. Jurisdictions need some way to prove that you have a certain level of competency needed to practice law.

Enter: the bar exam.

Rather, I should say, “Enter: the bar exams” because there is not just one type! The most common bar exam in the U.S. is the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), but it is currently adopted by only 36 states. Thirteen states (including California) have their own version of the bar exam.

I can hear you right now: “But Steven, that’s only 49 states!” You’re right. Wisconsin gives their law school graduates “diploma privilege.” They don’t have to take the bar exam in order to practice law!

California bar exam format


California Bar Exam Format

As a UC Hastings alumnae and law professor, I eat, drink, and breathe the California bar exam. And while it’s changed a time or two over the last few years, I’ve managed to keep up with it.

Recently, the State Bar of California announced that the bar exam will be returning to an in-person format for February 2022.

Much like the UBE, the California bar is split up over two full days.

Day One consists of five 1-hour essay questions and one 90-min performance test. You will be given a lunch break after the first three essay questions.

On Day Two, you will take the Multistate Bar Examination, which is made up of 200 multiple choice questions. You will also receive a break after the first 100 questions.

That’s three distinct and separate phases, all with their own “secret code” that you’ll have to decipher in order to pass.


How Do I Study For the Bar Exam?

All bar exams are designed to be difficult, but the California bar is notoriously hard.

The advice I give my students tends to follow the same three steps:

  1. prepare yourself as early as you can,
  2. as often as you can, and
  3. on all three phases of the bar exam.

It’s never too early to start preparing for the California bar! In fact, you should have that goal in mind on your very first day of law school.

Generally, it’s best to be a “jack-of-all-trades” in a variety of different subjects, rather than a master at one specific one. Patent lawyers and family law attorneys both have to pass the same bar exam!

If you go the “bar exam tutoring” route, choose your program wisely. Most of them will require a ton of your time and won’t focus on all three phases of the exam.


After the bar exam, you also have to pass a moral character review.

But Wait…There’s More!

There is one more step you must take before you can practice law: pass a moral character review.

According to the Rules of the State Bar of California, prospective lawyers must show that they have “good moral character.” Among the many things considered during the review are “honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process.”

This review can take a minimum of six months, so start the application process early, preferably in January of your last year of law school. Once you receive the good news that you passed the exam, you’ll want to hit the ground running.


Are You Prepared?

I’ve built my career on helping students prepare for (and pass) the California Bar—it’s a skill I’ve been honing over the last 20+ years. I’m one of only three bar exam tutors in the country that offers 1-on-1 tutoring on all three phases of the bar.

Don’t have time for private bar exam tutoring? No problem. My books WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List have everything you need to decipher the bar exam and finish in record time.

You won’t just feel better prepared, you’ll be better prepared!

Ready to get started? Contact me today!

Cal Bar Clarifies – paper materials for February 2022

The Cal Bar published FAQ’s today, 10/7.  The matter is settled:  paper materials for essays, PTs, and MBE for February 2022:


  1. Does returning to an in-person exam mean the administration of the exam will return to “normal” – paper exam materials (question booklets and scratch paper), multiple questions administered per session, access to water, and ability to use the restroom during exam sessions?

    Yes. The administration of the exam will be the same as it was prior to the remote exam administrations. Essays 1–3 will be administered together without breaks during the morning session of Day 1; then, after a lunch break, applicants will return for Essays 4, 5, and the Performance Test, which will be administered together without breaks during the afternoon session of Day 1. The morning session of Day 2 will be comprised of the first 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) questions, after which there will be a lunch break. The last 100 MBE questions will be given during the afternoon session of Day 2. Please see the full schedule here.

    Applicants will receive the questions in a paper booklet and will be given scratch paper to use if they need.

    Applicants will be allowed access to water during the exam.

    Applicants may leave to use the restroom, but the clock will run continuously.

February 2022 Cal Bar Exam Update – IN PERSON TESTING

Hello y’all!


Registration is OPEN for February 2022.  Timely filing occurs this month.  Don’t pay late fees, people!  Remember you can submit your Accommodations petitions at any time.  If you haven’t submitted your Moral Character Application, note that it takes 5-6 months to get cleared and that’s if you’re boring.  You want to be sworn in after you get the good news in May, right?  Make sure your admission isn’t delayed due to not filing your Moral Character application as early as you can.

But what is FAR more important for the applicant pool, my friends, is the fact that the Cal Bar is going to be held IN PERSON.  The February 2022 Cal Bar Exam Announcement was published today.  In relevant part, it states:


February 2022 California Bar Exam

Date: Tuesday and Wednesday, February 22–23, 2022

Please note that the February 2022 California Bar Examination will be held as an in-person examination. Applicants will be required to select atesting locationand test in-person.


So we’re going to party like it’s 2019, people!  Back to the Future, as it were.


The Announcement is located in full here:


The exam schedule is here:


No more remote video proctoring.  Show up on Tuesday, take the exam for 3 hrs., then leave.  Then come back, take the exam for 3-1/2 hrs, and then leave.  Rinse and repeat on Wednesday.  Your results will vary if you have accommodations.


And now you know!  If you want a certain location, I’d suggest registering over the next 7 days.


By the way, some notable dates for you:

10/1 – 11/1 Registration period for Feb. 2022

11/1  Timely filing deadline

11/1 – 11/30    $50 late fee registration period.

12/1 – 1/3/22  $250 late filing fee


2/22 – 2/23/2022   February 2022 Cal Bar Exam

2/24, noon    Laptop answer file upload deadline

2/25 OR 2/26, noon  Extended time students’ exam answer file upload deadline (deadline dependent on student’s accommodations).



May 6, 2022, 6 pm.









How to Prep For an Evidence Essay

“If you don’t practice the Evidence Boilerplate, you are EMBRACING FAILURE!”


Both law school and the California Bar Examination pose many challenges for students to overcome.

One is rarely disclosed: you’ll need to write 250-300% of the same number of issues in the same amount of time to succeed on your Evidence final or an Evidence essay on the California Bar Examination.

Say what?

Yup, you read that correctly. Most essays on law school finals or the California Bar Examination require you to write 7-9 issues in an hour.

Evidence, on the other hand…first one to 20 issues wins! (It’s both a marathon and a sprint!)

Now, this conundrum should be common knowledge. The problem is, no one talks about it. Well, no one except me.


Evidence Essays Are Different

One of the most important secrets behind your law school final in Evidence or your California Bar Examination if one of your essays is an Evidence essay. It is, by far, the most demanding essay in all of the California Bar.

No, this essay won’t be confused for a depth question in Civ Pro, Con Law, or Torts. And it’s not a typical exam question. This is the most extreme shotgun-type essay question. 20+ issues.

You can’t linger on an Evidence question. There’s no time to “settle in”. You have to bring it early and often. And especially in the COVID testing area, you best believe you need to finish that exam on time!

“But I can’t transfer the skills I used on my Torts final or my Con Law final or my Bus Ass final. What should I do?”


Here's how to crush that Evidence essay--on the final or on the California bar!

How to Prep For an Evidence Essay

I invented the Evidence Boilerplate on June 28, 2003, while grading several evidence essays for Barbri in my apartment in Oakland, CA.

I was struck by a realization that, in most subjects, there are several different types of questions. For example, in torts, there are five types of questions:

  1. Malicious prosecution/abuse of process,
  2. Products liability,
  3. Defamation,
  4. Negligence, and
  5. Intentional torts.

How you approach each of those question types is pretty important, since if you wrote a negligence response to a defamation question, you’d fail the question.

Same with Civ Pro: you wouldn’t dare write a res judicata/collateral estoppel response to a personal jurisdiction question, would you? Or a 10(b)(5)/16(b) response to a duty of care/business judgment rule/duty of loyalty question? Of course not.

You need an attack plan for each type of question, in each subject, because all the questions are different.

Except when it comes to Evidence.

Sure, there are two different types of evidence questions: narrative fact patterns (i.e. the regular fact patterns like you see in the other subjects), and transcripts (i.e. the question/answer) fact patterns.

In the narrative fact pattern, what do you write? Logical relevance, legal relevance rel, personal knowledge, hearsay, exceptions, right? Absolutely. And what of the transcript? Yup, you guessed it: Logical relevance, legal relevance, personal knowledge, hearsay, exceptions! The same thing!

So I wondered how to take advantage of this realization that evidence fact patterns are generally the same, no matter what. I reviewed several bar exam questions and whadda ya know…the issues were almost always the same!

As it turns out, you can predict evidence questions to a remarkable degree of accuracy!

But why are there so many more issues in evidence questions than in other subjects?

Well, I don’t know why, but you’ve noted a very serious consideration. The average evidence question has at least 20 issues. Most other exams have 5-7. So how can you “speed up” your exam time? Or to put it another way, even if you know all 20 issues, how can you increase your output of issues by 250-300% in the same amount of time?


My Evidence Boilerplate makes that Evidence Essay a snap!

The Answer: The Evidence Boilerplate

On June 28, 2003, I thought about both of these critical questions:

  1. To a degree of 80-90% accuracy, what are the issues on all evidence exams?
  2. Even if you know all 20 issues, how can you increase your output of issues by 250-300% in the same amount of time?

On that fateful day, I figured out the answers to both those questions in what has become known as the Evidence Boilerplate.

Does it work? Sure has. Undefeated in 18 years of testing at the law school and the Cal Bar Exam level.

Some students have even received awards for the top grade in their Evidence class. And one Evidence professor was so impressed with the Evidence Boilerplate that he told his students, “If you don’t practice the Evidence Boilerplate, you are EMBRACING FAILURE!


When Do I Start?

That’s the beauty of the Evidence Boilerplate.

You can start writing it on the first day of the semester. That’s right: you don’t have to know ANYTHING about Evidence law to start generating points on your final! In fact, you can start writing even before the first day of classes if you wanted to.

Draft the Evidence Boilerplate once a week, for 30 minutes a week, and you’re good to go. Be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay.

Click here to get the correct answer now.

What if I am reading this a month into the semester and I need to prepare for my midterms?

No problem.

Write the Evidence Boilerplate once a week until 10 days before your midterm. Then write the Evidence Boilerplate once a day until your midterm. Then write the Evidence Boilerplate once a week until the last day of classes, and be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay!

Click here to get the correct answer now.

And if you’re reading this at the end of classes? Again, no problem!

Get my books immediately. Write the Evidence Boilerplate once every day, and be sure to use The Trigger List to see how to implicate each issue on an Evidence Essay.

That will help you get your timing down on exam day AND ensure that you can spot every issue!

Click here to get the correct answer now and save your Evidence final.

Good luck to you in your Evidence class! Good luck to you on the California Bar Examination!

Online Essay Writing For the California Bar

Don’t get caught in “Scrolling Hell!”

Overcome the problems of digital online essay writing for the California Bar.


The California Bar exam isn’t your grandparent’s, parent’s, or even your older sibling’s California Bar exam.

This is not only due to the fact that laws are constantly changing, but because a global pandemic is shaping everything about our lives, including how exams are administered and proctored.

In the past, taking the California Bar used to mean paper and pencil in a room full of people. But rather than an in-person exam, it’s a digital experience (much like everything else nowadays!).

But even though “virtual living” has made some things easier, it can complicate your life in other ways…such as essay writing for the California Bar.


Problems With Online Essay Writing For the California Bar

If this is your first time taking the California Bar (or the first time in a while), you might be unaware of the unique issues associated with taking this test in a digital format.

The first thing you should know is that there is no single “start time.” You can log in and begin taking the test anytime between 8 – 8:30 am. Once you click that button and are verified, the test begins immediately.

When people tell you that you have one hour per essay, they are not lying. You will get exactly 60.000 minutes to finish each essay.

Since that time includes outlining as well as writing, every second counts on the Bar exam. You do not have time to hem and haw about your answer!

But even if you hit the ground running, there are two major issues with online essay writing for the California Bar.


A digital format is causing complications with the California Bar exam.

1. It’s All Digital

You already know the test is administered digitally, but have you given any thought to what this will actually look like?

That’s right: no scratch paper!

The only available option you’re told about is a digital scratch pad that you will have to click on to expand (so you can read it) or contract (to get it out of the way).

2. Scrolling Hell!

Because your entire exam is on a screen, it’s very easy to find yourself scrolling up and down (and back again), trying to read the fact pattern.

I call this “Scrolling Hell” for a very good reason: it does not make this test any easier for an applicant! In fact, this combination can make you feel like you’re playing 4D chess!


I Can Help!

If this is starting to seem like a nightmare, I can’t blame you. But I do have a solution that can help.

Yes, simply being prepared for what’s ahead can help a great deal in getting you across that finish line. By telling you what to expect on the digital bar exam, you might have a slightly, or far  better, outcome than someone going into the test totally unprepared.

But I can do you one better.

I came up with a solution to avoid Scrolling Hell, make outlining easier, and eliminate the digital scratch pad to keep you from getting distracted.

If you have the time, my 1-on-1 tutoring program is unmatched in the industry. I’ve taken the last 21 years of experience teaching law at UC Hastings and distilled it into a 2-, 3-, or 4-month customized program that meets you where you are.

In addition to lectures, a personalized calendar, and custom feedback, you’ll also receive my secrets to outlining, issue spotting, and crushing all three phases of the California Bar exam.

Even better: my program sifts out the nonsense, so you’re left with only the essentials.


Worried about the CA bar exam? I can help!

What If I Don’t Have Three Months?

I get it! Not everyone has the time or the means to focus on nothing but Bar prep for three months.

For you, I have my secret weapons.

WINNIN’ TIME! is my most popular book, helping students pass the Bar exam year after year. Just about everything you need to know about the exam is in here, from memorization to outlining.

Need help issue spotting? The Trigger List is the way to go! This book is the only place I know of where students can find a plan of attack to identify trigger words and phrases that will help spot issues 100% of the time.


The Future of the California Bar

It would not be unreasonable to expect the California Bar exam to continue digitally in 2022. We’ve seen the same trend in jurisdictions around the country. As more and more employers realize that their employees can work well from home, they’re allowing a much more virtual work space.

Perhaps the California Bar will continue in that direction, too.

However you end up taking the Bar exam, you should have a plan in place to pass in as few tries as possible. Luckily, I have a plan for that.

If you’re nervous about your upcoming exam (hey, who isn’t?), let’s talk about it! Spaces fill up quickly, so contact me as soon as possible to save your spot.

What To Do Before the California Bar Exam

This is the test that will make or break your career.

Here’s what to do before the California Bar exam.


It doesn’t matter whether you’re studying for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or the notoriously difficult California Bar exam, bar prep is never easy.

The lectures are long and boring. You’re getting no guidance on how to outline or spot issues. And you’re not even getting any feedback on the work you’re doing. It’s no wonder things are falling apart!

Luckily for you, I have a way to jumpstart your study sessions to get you ready to take (and pass!) the bar, no matter how much time you have left.

Whether you have two months left or two days, here’s what to do before the California Bar exam so you’re prepared.


Why Traditional Bar Prep Doesn’t Work

Bar prep courses have been around for decades. Yet despite their popularity, most people don’t pass the bar exam on their first try. What are these courses teaching again?

Every program (and every student) is different, but there are a few common reasons why your bar prep fell apart.

Not Enough Time

Most traditional bar prep courses are at least two months long. But how is this supposed to help if you only have a couple of weeks until exam day?

Maybe you thought you had everything under control, so you became your own tutor. Or your girlfriend dumped you. Or you caught the flu. Now, you only have three weeks until exam day and it’s painfully obvious how behind you are.

Sick of long, boring lectures in your bar prep course? I have a better way.Lectures Are Too Long

Even if you have all the time in the world, do you really want to sit through a 12-hour lecture?

After a few hours, you’ll either be bored out of your skull or so overwhelmed with information that you’ll never be able to sort through it all.

And what if you only have a couple of days until the exam? Having to lose an entire day to hear a lecture is hardly the “smart studying” process your professors keep talking about.

Outlining Nightmare

Outlining essays is one of the most daunting tasks you’ll come across in your bar prep. And so far, law students have had three (equally distasteful) options:

  1. Read a 300-page hornbook;
  2. Use a prior student’s outline; or
  3. Spend hours creating their own outlines.

The problem is that each of these methods involves reading hundreds of pages of incredibly dense information, analyzing it, and distilling it down to fit the three lines you’ll be given in the bar exam.

Luckily for you, I’ve found a better way.


What To Do Before the California Bar Exam

Why should you listen to me?

I’ve been in the business for the past 21 years, both as a law professor and a tutor for the California Bar.

I failed the bar exam (twice!), but I wasn’t content to simply keep studying. I meticulously analyzed that test and figured out exactly what I needed to do to pass.

Eventually, I passed the bar exam. Then—more importantly—I passed that information on to you.

1. Take My Lectures

You shouldn’t have to sit there for 8-12 hours to get the substantive law details you need. You have a life!

My MBE subject lectures are 3-5 hours instead of 8-12. My California subject lectures are 1-1.5 hours each, instead of 4. Think of it as condensed learning. All of the necessary information, none of the time wasting.

You may not need every lecture, but you probably need one. And if it’s the exact one you need, that one shorter lecture that can save your entire exam.

Not to mention each lecture has a corresponding PDF, in case you’re more of a “visual learner.”

California bar prep books2. Read My Books

The Holy Trinity of Essay Writing includes:

  • Triggers
  • Rules
  • Presentation

My books, WINNIN’ TIME! and The Trigger List, help with all of these.

Issue spotting is arguably the most important part of the California Bar exam. Now, you can either take your professor’s advice (“Just look at enough essays and you’ll be fine!”) or you can read The Trigger List and learn how to systematically use words and phrases to find the issues you need to pass.

WINNIN’ TIME!—my most popular book—is your go-to guide for outlining like a champ. But this isn’t your average study guide. This is bluebook-ready content here, designed to help you learn the rule, apply the facts, and move on.

Other programs will get you conversational in the language, but at some point, you need to be fluent. My lectures and books will get you there.


Jumpstart Your Bar Prep

Success isn’t just knowing what to do before the California Bar exam, it’s also about taking those steps and getting it done.

I’ve helped dozens of people from all walks of life prep for (and pass!) the California Bar exam and they’ve all told me how much of an impact I made on their passing grade.

Obviously, my lectures and books are great, but if you really want to maximize your bar prep, I also offer completely customized 1-on-1 tutoring sessions to help you overcome any limitation, obstacle, or setback.

With lectures for all 15 subjects, personalized calendar/coursework, comprehensive tutoring on all three phases of the bar exam, and feedback on areas of improvement, this is the single greatest step you can take to crush the bar.

How to Deal With the Psychology of Failure

Many students think that studying for the California Bar Exam or the Uniform Bar Exam is only about understanding the third element of a rule or figuring out why B is right and C is wrong on an MBE question.

But there is so much more than that. You also need to persevere against the Psychology of Failure.

The Psychology of Failure does not apply to first-time takers of a Bar Exam. (After all, you can’t fail what you haven’t attempted yet!) But it is something you’re likely to come up against at some point in your path to becoming a full-fledged attorney.


What Is the Psychology of Failure?

If you experience it, you’ll know it. That feeling that says “I’ve failed.”

It seeps into your bones. From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, you only have one thing on your mind: You failed the Bar Exam.

stressed man looking at laptopWorse yet, you feel a sense of shame. You don’t talk to your spouse or significant other about it. You don’t tell your parents, friends, or co-workers.

You don’t tell anyone, but that doesn’t stop you from thinking about it.

Every. Single. Day.

So, what can be done about this feeling?

I have a plan.


Get Over Yourself!

Here’s the thing about the Psychology of Failure: it’s useless.

Some people might argue that failure is merely the launchpad for success. But when you’re so steeped in it that it becomes part of your identity, that launch never gets off the ground.

In fact, when you’re that wrapped up in what you haven’t done, you can’t prepare yourself for future success.

I developed a plan to deal with the Psychology of Failure because I was there (twice). I know what it means to fail the Bar Exam, but I also know what it takes to pass. People call it my greatest strength.

You can defeat this monster.


Acknowledge It

It all starts with you confronting this feeling head-on.

Trust me, I know how you feel. But you know what? Your result is the same as yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. And months ago when you saw the results letter in the first place!

If unchecked, this reminder—haven’t passed yet—will control your day and debilitate you. It’s as if you’re writing down -10 in the Bluebook before the essay even begins!


The best way to attack failure is to confront it head on...and hit the books!Confront It

So what’s the answer? Attack it.

Confront that emotion that says you haven’t passed yet. But then go do something about it! Take that MBE question. Or outline an essay. Write a PT.

As Hastings Academic Dean Leo Martinez said at my law school orientation, “Chop the wood in front of you.” Or as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “When in doubt, do something.”

So confront the emotion. Do something about it by doing something tangible so you have a sense of control about that emotion.

The goal isn’t to blow smoke up your ass and convert that -10 in the Bluebook to +30! You won’t buy it and it’s disingenuous.

Nay, the best thing to do is to reduce that (digital) page in the Bluebook from -10 to what it actually shows: 0.

If you can return yourself to a place of zero every time you feel the Psychology of Failure taking over, you are in control of yourself and in control over your exam. Now you’re at a place where you can mark Answer D, or write your answer, and generate some points.


Does This Really Work?

I’m not going to bullshit you here: the first 25, 30, 35 times you try this, it’s not going to do a damned thing. Won’t help at all!

But eventually it will. You’ll return that digital page in the Bluebook to a place of zero, where you can now generate some points.

And THAT turns into a habit. You remove -10 to 0, and then you generate positive points. And then you develop a great, pithy way of confronting that synapse when it fires many times a day.

At first, you’ll argue, “How many points is that worth?” Later you’ll shorten it to: “How many points?” And then you’ll put yourself into the best possible mental place to pass.

The Psychology of Failure. Acknowledge. Confront. Minimize. Generate points!

July 2021 Cal Bar Exam Admittance Bulletin

Exam schedule

The July 2021 bar exam will be offered online and remotely proctored to all applicants. In-person exam administration will be provided to those for whom online remote proctoring is not available and to those with approved testing accommodations that cannot be effectively provided and securely administered in a remote environment. The exam is scheduled to be administered on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 27 and 28, 2021.

The July bar exam will have 200 Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) questions, with the essays and performance test on day 1 and the MBE on day 2. Applicants approved to take the Attorneys’ Exam will test on day 1 only.

Applicants must use a laptop and must be logged into the system no later than 8:30 a.m. The exam will begin immediately following establishment of the applicant’s identity and delivery of instructions. You must be logged into the system no later than 2:00 p.m. for the afternoon session on day 1, and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon session on day 2. Every session begins with reestablishment of your identity.

Review the schedule and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that each exam session will begin immediately after you enter the password for that session. You should enter the password when you’re ready to begin, and no later than the schedule allows. You will have 30-minute breaks between each session and one hour for lunch.

All in-person applicants should arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. The exam will begin immediately following the instructions. You should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early for temperature screening and to locate your assigned room. Arriving late to the test center will not alter the start time of your exam.

Applicants granted extended time may have different schedules, which are communicated to them individually in advance of the exam.

Exam description

The California Bar Exam is comprised of the General Bar Exam and the Attorneys’ Exam. The General Bar Exam consists of three parts: five essay questions, the MBE, and one Performance Test (PT). The parts of the exam may not be taken separately, and California does not accept the transfer of MBE scores from other jurisdictions.

On the first day of the exam, five essay questions and the 90-minute Performance Test is administered. A 90-minute break for lunch will occur between essays 3 and 4.

On the second day, the MBE will be administered in four 50-question sessions, 90 minutes each. There will be a 90-minute break for lunch between Part 2 and Part 3 of the MBE.

Applicants with disabilities who are granted extended time accommodations will have slightly different schedules, which will be communicated to them prior to the exam.

July’s exam will be scaled and graded as described here. The passing score on the exam is 1390.

The Attorneys’ Exam consists of the five essay questions and the PT from the General Bar Exam. An applicant can earn up to 100 raw points on each essay question and up to 200 raw points on the PT. The same methodology as described above will be used to convert the written scores to a 2000-point scale. The score for the Attorneys’ Exam is 100 percent based on the written portion. The passing score is 1390.

If an applicant is absent for any portion of the exam, the applicant will be considered as having not taken the exam and their written answers will not be graded, and if the applicant intends to take a future administration of the exam, they will be subject to the same application filing deadlines applicable to first-time applicants, rather than the deadlines applicable to immediate repeaters.

The Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) judges the validity of the exam, and at its discretion, may determine that the result of any test, any part of any test, or any individual’s score is not valid. Should the CBE invalidate any part of the test, or if any individual’s test is declared invalid, or for any reason, any part of the test cannot be graded, at its discretion, the CBE may decide to make a pass/fail decision on the basis of the valid portion of the applicant’s test product available to the CBE.

If you are an attorney applicant and have been approved to take the Attorneys’ Exam, you are not permitted to take the MBE. Written notification of an attorney’s decision to take the General Bar Exam instead of the Attorneys’ Exam, or to take the Attorneys’ Exam instead of the General Bar Exam, must be received in the Office of Admissions by the final filing deadline for applications. Requests for changes received after that date will not be processed; applicants must pass the exam selected and approved by the Office of Admissions.

For attorney applicants with disabilities who have been granted accommodations that include an extended day schedule, the number of testing days will be specified in their Testing Accommodations Notice.

Examination administration rules and policies

Failure to follow exam rules while the exam is in session will result in notice to the State Bar of California of a violation of exam rules in accordance with the provisions of Title 4, Division 1, Chapter 6 of the Rules of the State Bar of California (Admissions Rules). Conduct that results in a violation of security or disrupts the administration of the exam, which includes but is not limited to having unauthorized items with you during the exam (such as cell phones, digital watches, and timing devices, notes, etc.), writing or typing after time has been called, attempting to cheat or avoid/override the remote proctoring system, leaving the view of the camera while the exam is in session, or ignoring warnings about minimum system requirements that result in gaps in the audio/video recording will result in notice to the State Bar of a violation of exam rules, or in some cases, can lead to a negative referral to the Moral Character Determination unit.

In addition, applicants who are testing in person are expected to maintain a professional attitude toward other applicants, staff, proctors, and other exam personnel at all times. Behavior that is abusive or disruptive may result in dismissal from the test center and will be reported to the State Bar or the CBE for appropriate action. It is expected that all applicants will demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during all exams administered by the State Bar of California.

The remote-proctored exam will be continuously monitored by artificial intelligence and human proctors, and any and all anomalies or suspicious behavior will be flagged accordingly. Flagged video files will be reviewed by the State Bar, and conduct violations determined to be serious will result in strict sanctions. Sanctions may include but are not limited to a zero for the flagged exam session, a zero for the entire exam, and a negative impact on your Moral Character Determination. For less serious conduct and rule violations, the State Bar or the CBE may take whichever action it deems appropriate.

Applicants may not wear hats, caps, hoods, or any other type of headwear during the exam. The CBE, however, will consider petitions filed by applicants seeking exemptions from that policy, which would permit them to wear headwear due to religious beliefs while in a secure exam test center or while testing remotely. Such petitions must be submitted online through the Applicant Portal no later than the final deadline for filing testing accommodations petitions. Upon arrival at an in-person test center, applicants must be prepared to show a letter from the CBE that permits them to wear the headwear in the exam room. The headwear may be subject to inspection. Applicants attempting to enter the test center wearing headwear who do not have a letter from the CBE authorizing them to do so will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice and will be asked to remove the headwear. Letters allowing headwear for applicants testing remotely will be kept on file with the State Bar and compared against the applicant’s uploaded video file to determine whether a violation has occurred.

Only the following items are allowed in the exam areas without prior approval. All items are subject to inspection at the in-person test centers:

  1. Valid government-issued photo ID
  2. Eyeglasses (no cases or sunglasses)
  3. Foam earplugs (cannot be wireless and must not be connected to any mechanism or device)
  4. Menstrual products
  5. Inhalers
  6. Diabetes-related items and equipment (does not include food or drinks)
  7. Eyedrops in single-use vials
  8. One back support (without a cover)
  9. One orthopedic cushion (without a cover)
  10. One standard-size pillow (without a case)
  11. One footrest
  12. Splints, braces, casts, crutches, wheelchair
  13. Hearing aids
  14. TENS units
  15. Disability-related items that have been approved through the testing accommodations petition process

Online applicants will be allowed the following items during the PT session only:

  • Nondigital pens
  • Nonmechanical pencils (with eraser incorporated; no separate erasers)
  • Pen-style highlighters
  • Eight pages of physical scratch paper no larger than 8.5” x 11” (both sides must be blank); Applicants will be required to hold up to the camera the front and back of each piece of scratch paper (Failure to do so will result in the issuance of a Chapter 6 Notice of Violation)

The following laptop accessories are allowed:

  • Separate keyboard
  • Mouse (wired or wireless)
  • Laptop riser/stand no higher than 4”
  • Solid color mouse pad with no writing on it

Additional instructions for in-person test takers

Applicants who will be testing in person are allowed to have the following items in addition to those listed above:

  1. The admittance ticket with no writing on it (detach ticket from instructions above prior to arrival at the test center)
  2. Silent analog watches
  3. Prescription medications (does not include cough drops)
  4. Cash (must not have extraneous writing on it)
  5. Credit/debit cards that might be needed for the lunch breaks
  6. Keys
  7. Face masks (with no patterns or extraneous writing on them)
  8. Protective gloves
  9. Applicants who are handwriting or have certain testing accommodations may be allowed the following beyond the PT session: Nondigital pens (standard blue or black ink), Nonmechanical pencils (with eraser incorporated; no separate erasers), Pen-style highlighters (must not be used on answers), Nondigital timers and nondigital clocks measuring 4”x 4” or smaller.

Applicants who are handwriting or have certain testing accommodations may be allowed the following beyond the PT session: nondigital pens (standard blue or black ink), nonmechanical pencils (with eraser incorporated; no separate erasers), pen-style highlighters (must not be used on answers), nondigital timers and nondigital clocks measuring 4”x 4” or smaller.

Applicants who will be handwriting their exam answers must bring their own standard blue or black ink ballpoint pens. Applicants must also bring their own pencils for the multiple-choice portion of the exam (several sharpened pencils are recommended). Mechanical pencils are not permitted. Pencil sharpeners and separate erasers will not be allowed into the exam room.

Please note that, whether testing remotely or in person, applicants cannot have wallets, tissues, lip balm, cough drops/throat lozenges, gum, candy, or other food or drinks in the exam room. Water and tissues will be available nearby at the in-person test centers. Applicants testing in-person with an online format because of extenuating circumstances will not have access to these items during testing; only during breaks.

During the in-person MBE sessions, the items listed above are allowed in the exam room, except pens, highlighters, back supports, orthopedic cushions, pillows, bookstands or footrests, and laptops or laptop accessories. If you need any of these items due to a disability, you must request them through the timely filing of a Testing Accommodations Petition.

If unauthorized items are brought into the exam room, either intentionally or inadvertently, they will be confiscated or noted, and the applicant will receive a Chapter 6 Notice and possibly additional sanctions imposed by the State Bar or the CBE. In accordance with the CBE’s policies, applicants will receive a score of zero for any session during which they are found to have brought an unauthorized electronic device, such as a cell phone, digital watch or timer, or activity tracker device (e.g., Fitbit) into the exam room, as well as any additional sanctions the State Bar or the CBE, may impose.

General instructions: Remote-proctored administration

The system will prompt you to establish your identity at the beginning of each session (at the start and after each break). However, if the system cannot confirm your identity, you will be able to proceed with the exam, but your video will be reviewed later.

The following conduct will be prohibited:

  1. Leaving the view of the webcam outside of scheduled breaks.
  2. Any attempt to bypass or avoid the remote proctoring mechanisms and protocols, or to obtain or receive assistance on the exam.
  3. Individuals (other than the applicant) entering the exam room.
  4. Possession of cell phones or other electronic devices, including a tablet or additional computers in the exam room, or connected remotely to any other devices or equipment in the exam room.
  5. Possession of notes, study aids, or other papers or exam resources in the exam room, including scratch paper (digital scratch paper will be provided). An exception is made for scratch paper only for the PT session and only under the specified terms and conditions.
  6. Possession of any digital timers, watches, or clocks in the exam room (the exam software has a built-in timer that allows applicants to set timed reminders).
  7. Possession of books of any kind in the exam room within view or access during the exam session.
  8. Possession of food or beverages in the exam room, including but not limited to coffee and water (unless you have been granted a testing accommodation that allows for these items).
  9. Smoking in the exam room.
  10. Possession of any item(s) other than the allowed items listed in the Admittance Bulletin in the exam room (unless you have been granted a testing accommodation that allows for these items).
  11. Possession of any radios, stereos, or other devices/equipment (including smart home devices such as Google Home or Alexa) that can make audible sounds in the exam room. Any such items must be turned off at all times during the exam and scheduled breaks.

If items other than those allowed are detected during the exam, you will be flagged by the system and a corresponding sanction may be issued after review by State Bar staff.

You are not allowed to make notes from memory prior to the start of the exam session. Laptop users may not access any notes or other documents at any point during the exam. Digital scratch paper will be available in the Examplify program.

The exam is electronically timed, and applicants can set a timer in the system. Applicants are encouraged to keep track of their own time.

Please note that extra time is not granted to any individual applicant for any reason. If you attempt to continue completing the exam after the session has ended, you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice.

You should use the restroom before the start of each exam session. You will not be permitted to use the restroom or leave the view of the web camera during the exam session.

If you leave the exam area during the exam session, you will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice, and you will receive a score of zero for the entire exam session.

No smoking: In-person and remote exam instructions

Smoking is not allowed during any exam session, both in-person and remote. Smoking is prohibited at test centers located in buildings that do not allow smoking in accordance with city ordinance. Regardless of whether smoking is prohibited, any applicant who exits the secure exam area in order to smoke while the exam is in progress will not be allowed to re-enter to complete the examination.

Laptop computer users

After you have been notified that your admittance ticket is available, you are eligible to have your laptop registered for use during the exam. You must download and install the required security software onto your laptop (Examplify with ExamID and Exam Monitor), and you must complete the registration process by July 16, 2021, with the completion of both mock exams. Complete the following steps to make sure your laptop is ready for exam day:

  1. Download the required security software (Examplify) onto your computer and register with ExamSoft.
  2. Take the two required mock exams and upload the answer files by July 16, 2021.
  3. Download the 10 bar exam answer files between July 20 and July 23, 2021.

Confirmation: After you have downloaded the 10 exam files, you will be advised via email by ExamSoft that you have done so. Those 10 confirmation emails are the only certification that your laptop is ready for the exam. You may also check your status and view your download/upload history online by launching Examplify from your laptop and confirming you have the 10 downloads. Log in using the Exam Takers box, click the Exam History button to review your record, and confirm that you have downloaded the exam and mock exam files, and have uploaded the mock exam answer files. You should have a total of 10 answer files for the July 2021 California Bar Exam.

It is the responsibility of applicants using laptops to timely upload their exam files containing their answers to the five essay questions, one Performance Test, and four parts of the multiple-choice exam. Applicants must also timely upload their video files for each exam session, for a total of 10 video files. Applicants who fail to upload their answer and video files by the published deadline will have a deduction of 10 scaled points taken from their scaled score. Applicants who fail to upload their answer and video files within two weeks of the published deadline will be given a grade of zero for each answer that is not received by the State Bar Office of Admissions by the published deadline. Applicants are expected to comply with the published deadlines; there are no waivers of the deadlines or the sanctions that will be imposed as a result of applicants’ failure to upload their exam and video files.

General instructions: In-person administration

  1. Your admittance ticket contains your applicant number, your file number, and your NCBE number. Do not write anything on the ticket. You will be required to show your ticket to the proctor when you enter the test center. You must keep it in your possession throughout the exam.
  2. If items other than those allowed are brought to the test center, you will be required to leave them at your own risk outside of the exam area. The State Bar, CBE, Office of Admissions staff, and proctors assume no responsibility for the safekeeping of items that you bring to the test center. You are not permitted access to those items while the exam is in session.
  3. You should bring any small permitted personal items (e.g., prescription medication, foam earplugs, pens, etc.) into the exam area in a small, clear plastic bag. Larger items, such as pillows, do not need to fit into the clear plastic bag that holds your smaller items.
  4. Proctors will provide you with seating information upon your arrival at the test center.
  5. Upon arrival, you will be provided with a badge that will be your identification credential during exam administration, which you may be required to show at any time. The badge must be fastened so it can be easily seen by the proctors. You will be told to relocate the badge if it is not placed appropriately. The badge must be left at your seat during the lunch break.
  6. At some time during exam administration, you may be required to provide your fingerprints. If you refuse to provide the required fingerprints, you will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice.
  7. During the exam, you will be required to show a valid government-issued photo ID (e.g., Driver’s License, California Identification Card, or Passport) for the purpose of identity verification. You must carry this photo ID card at all times during the exam.
  8. Those applicants that are handwriting their answers will be instructed to write their applicant number, name, and signature in the upper right-hand section of each of their answer book covers at the beginning of each written exam session (essay and PT). Do not write notes, outlines, answers, time schedules, or make any marks on the inside or outside of your answer book covers. Prior to grading, your personal information will be removed after a code number has been assigned. Thereafter, answers are identified by a code number only; nothing about an individual applicant is known to the graders.
  9. You are not allowed to make notes from memory prior to the start of the exam session. If you are using your laptop, you may not access any notes or other documents on your computer after you have entered the secure examining area. Applicants using laptops will have access to virtual scratch paper. Physical scratch paper is not permitted during any of the Essay Question sessions or during the MBE sessions of the exam. An exception is made for physical scratch paper only for the PT session of the exam and only under the specified terms and conditions. Some applicants with documented disabilities requiring them to have physical scratch paper will be accommodated. Nothing written on scratch paper will be graded. You must not make notes or write anything on your admittance ticket. If writing is found on your admittance ticket, the ticket will be confiscated, and you will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice.
  10. If you are handwriting your answers, there is a separate answer book for each written question, and you must be certain that the answer to Question No. 1 is written in the book for Question No. 1, etc. Answers written in a wrong answer book or typed in the wrong answer window while using Examplify, or more than one answer typed in the text box screen while using Examplify, require special handling and could delay the grading of an applicant’s answer.
  11. If you handwrite your exam answers and need additional lined paper to write your answers during the exam, raise your hand and a proctor will provide you with what you need.
  12. If you are handwriting, you should do so as legibly as possible. A ballpoint pen with standard blue or black ink must be used to write your answers. Answers to the essay and PT questions written in pencil are not acceptable. Only nonmechanical pencils may be used for the MBE portion of the exam. Neither highlighters nor white-out may be used on your answers to the essay and PT questions.
  13. If you are testing with paper MBE exam materials, all answers to the MBE portion of the exam must be marked on the Scantron answer sheets provided. If you have circled or otherwise marked your answers in the question booklet, extra time to transfer answers to the answer sheet will not be granted. Only answers properly marked on the answer sheets will be scored.
  14. If you are testing with paper exam materials, exam questions, and used scratch paper may not be taken out of the exam room. After completing each session of the exam, the exam questions and used scratch paper must be placed in the envelope designated for that purpose.
  15. If you handwrite your exam answers, it is your responsibility to turn in your written exam answers to the proctors. If you leave the test center with your answers, the answers will not be graded.
  16. The exam is electronically timed, and you are encouraged to keep track of your own time since wall clocks are not provided. Laptop users will have the ability to set two timers while in the exam session.
  17. Timing devices (i.e., watches and clocks) that are allowed to be brought into the exam test centers are to be used solely for the determination of the passage of time. They cannot have a digital display, must be absolutely silent, and cannot be larger than 4″x4″. Timing devices that are digital, programmable, and/or make noise are not permitted. If found, they will be confiscated, and the applicant will receive a Chapter 6 Notice.
  18. Writing and typing of answers must be completed when time is called. Please note that extra time is not granted to any individual applicant for any reason. If you attempt to write anything after time has been called, you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice.
  19. Restrooms and water will be available at each test center. Applicable to applicants who are NOT required to use the online remote-proctored version of the exam: You should use the facilities before taking your seat so you have time to go over the instructions prior to the start of each session. Extra time to use the restroom will not be granted. You will not be permitted to use the restroom or leave your seat during the last several minutes of the exam session (5 to 15 minutes depending on the session). After time is called, you will not be permitted to use the restroom or leave your seat until all materials are collected and inventoried. If you fail to remain seated after being advised to do so, or while the exam materials are being collected and inventoried, you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice. Applicable to applicants who are required to use the online remote-proctored version of the exam: You should use the restroom before taking your seat at the start of the exam session. If you leave the view of the webcam at any time while the exam is in session, you will be flagged by the AI proctor and you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice, as well as a score of zero for the exam session.
  20. If you leave the secure exam area during the exam session, you will not be permitted to return for the purpose of completing your exam answers. For applicants who are required to use the online remote proctored version of the exam, any answer typed thereafter will not be graded if you leave the secure exam area during the exam session.
  21. The proctors’ chief function is to proctor the exam; however, if asked, the proctors will attempt to assist with any problems that may arise.
  22. If there is an emergency of any kind, you should remain seated and wait for instructions on how to proceed.

In-person test center environment

While every effort will be made to keep the environment of the test center comfortable and quiet, there are times when events, conditions, or actions of third parties occur that are beyond the control of the State Bar or the CBE. For instance, the temperature of the test center may fluctuate due to the weather or the test center’s cooling/heating equipment; applicants should be prepared for either warm or cold temperatures. Efforts will be made to keep the test center quiet, but there may be forces outside the control of the State Bar or the CBE that prevent such an environment from being guaranteed. You should come prepared to accommodate noises, such as those made by other applicants taking the exam, proctors carrying out their duties, people entering/exiting the exam room, equipment inside or outside the test center that may make sounds while operating, other meetings or conventions in the same facility, etc. Earplugs of the type specified earlier are strongly recommended.

Exam attendance policy

If you do not attend or are unable to complete a required, scheduled exam session, you will be considered a partial exam taker and your exam will not be graded. For instance, if you are taking the exam in person, if you are absent for the Tuesday morning session, you will not be allowed to take any remaining sessions of the exam. If you are absent for any portion of the exam, you will be considered as having not taken the exam and your written answers will not be graded. If you intend to take a future administration of the exam, you will be subject to the same application filing deadlines applicable to first-time applicants rather than the deadlines applicable to immediate repeaters, if any. Applicants must make a good faith attempt to complete each session of the exam for which they are present. Failure to do so may lead to receipt of a Chapter 6 Notice and being prohibited from attending any remaining exam sessions.

Late login to the system

Applicants testing in-person and arriving at the test center after one hour of testing time has elapsed will not be permitted to enter the test center for any portion of the exam.

Applicants testing remotely and logging in after 10 minutes of testing time have elapsed will not be permitted to begin the exam session that has started and will be locked out of the question in progress. Any answers to questions in subsequent exam sessions will not be graded or scored.

Address change

Applicants are encouraged to notify the Office of Admissions of a change of address as soon as possible. Applicants are able to update their admissions file with the new address by accessing their account through the Applicant Portal.

Moral Character

The Admissions Rules require a positive moral character determination before the CBE may recommend that an applicant be admitted to practice law. The process is initiated by filing an Application for Determination of Moral Character. The processing of these applications generally takes a minimum of 180 days and sometimes longer to complete. If you have not already filed a moral character application, you should do so now to avoid delays in your admission to practice law if you are successful on the California Bar Exam. The application must be filed online through your Applicant Portal.

Admittance ticket

Applicants will receive an email alerting them when admittance tickets are ready to be printed. The admittance ticket can be located in the exam case record through the Applicant Portal. Admittance tickets only need to be printed for applicants testing in person

Further communication

For particular questions regarding your status or the other requirements for admission, you should contact the State Bar’s Office of Admissions by sending an email directly from your Applicant Portal. If you need to contact the office by phone, please use one of the following numbers:

Los Angeles
845 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

San Francisco
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

California Bar Exam results

Results from the July 2021 administration of the California Bar Exam will be available to applicants through their Applicant Portal on November 12, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Communications regarding exam results will be sent to the applicant’s contact information on file. Please note that applicants will not be able to change their contact information the week before the exam results are released.

You will be able to determine whether your name appears on the pass list through the State Bar website at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) on November 12, 2021. You will need your file number and applicant number, which are listed on the admittance tickets and ID badges, to access the pass list.

NCBE wags the Bar Exam Dog… in-person bar exams for February 2022


The NCBE is only going to provide in-person materials for the February 2022 exam.  That means hardcopy materials.  This is a strong leverage play.  “OK, state bar licensing entities, you can do what you want, so long as you do what I say.”  You want Uniform Bar Exam materials?  Enjoy our hardcopy exams, people:  you really didn’t want to think about having another remote exam, did you.

What does this mean for California?  You want those MBE materials for 50% of your test, don’t you?  Welcome back to in-person testing, people.  California has about 60 days to decide right after the July 2021 Cal Bar Exam that, hey, it really was our idea, it really was!  But we’re doing in-person testing for February 2022… and now you know.

NCBE’s press release from June 1 appears below.


NCBE Anticipates Return to In-Person Testing for February 2022 Bar Exam

MADISON, WISCONSIN, June 1, 2021—The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced today that February 2022 bar exam materials will be made available to jurisdictions for in-person testing only, unless restrictions by a public health authority prohibit a jurisdiction from administering the February exam in person.

NCBE is the not-for-profit corporation that develops the licensing tests used by most US jurisdictions for attorney admissions. In the second half of 2020 and throughout 2021, NCBE made bar exam materials available to jurisdictions for both in-person and remote exam administrations. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar exam had been administered by each jurisdiction in person, in a secure, proctored testing environment. The July 2021 bar exam is expected to be the last that includes a remote testing option; 29 jurisdictions plan to administer that exam remotely, while 24 will administer it in person.

NCBE has advocated for in-person testing as the best mode of administration of the bar exam.  According to Beth Hill, NCBE Director of Test Development, Operations, and Security, “Remote exams have been a valuable stopgap for jurisdictions during this time, allowing examinees to take the test without having to gather in a larger group. However, remote exams create challenges for exam security and uniformity, and for this reason, we have consistently advocated for in-person testing as the best option whenever possible.”

Hill acknowledges, however, that both NCBE and jurisdictions must continue to monitor the public health landscape: “Throughout the pandemic, jurisdictions have worked closely with their state and local health authorities to ensure that examinees may take the bar exam consistent with each jurisdiction’s safety requirements. Although conditions appear to be improving, NCBE recognizes that any jurisdiction’s public health authority may establish that candidates cannot test in person. Should that occur, we are committed to working with that jurisdiction on a solution that will enable its candidates to take the bar exam.”

The National Conference of Bar Examiners serves bar admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. It promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at

Last day to register for the July 2021 California Bar Examination!

Hello y’all!

You might have found the key to a products liability essay.  Or the cluster to use in a negligence exam.  Or a multiple permutations issue that is the difference to passing or failing a Civ Pro essay.

But none of that is going to matter if you aren’t registered to take the next exam!

That’s right, sports fans.  The first ability is availability.  If you’re not registered, you ain’t available.  And as the ancient philosopher Harris once noted, “You can’t pass that which you don’t attempt.”

So, please, I beseech you, go to the applicant portal.  Check your account.  Make sure one last time that you’ve registered to take the exam AND that you’ve completed the Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Testing Conditions form.

And… if you’re thinking about applying for accommodations, today is the deadline as well.  Make sure to submit all relevant paperwork.

Once you’ve done that, then get back to work.  When in doubt, do another set of MBEs, or go write an essay.  Don’t memorize!  Too early!