Category: Bar Exam Updates

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!

February 2021 Cal Bar Exam Results


As per the Cal Bar.  Press release below.




General Bar pass rate is 37.2%, highest for a February exam since February 2015.


Attorneys’ Exam pass rate is 57.2%, highest for a February exam since February 2003!


Today the State Bar released results of the February 2021 California Bar Exam and announced that 1,151 people (37.2 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. This pass rate represents an increase of 10.4 percentage points, or nearly 39 percent, from the February 2020 General Bar Exam pass rate of 26.8 percent. If those who passed the exam satisfy all other requirements for admission, they will be eligible to be licensed by the State Bar to practice law in California.

“We heartily congratulate the 1,151 applicants who passed the General Bar Exam and the 247 candidates who passed the Attorneys’ Exam, particularly after facing and overcoming the many challenges of 2020. We hope to welcome all those who passed to California’s legal profession very soon,” said Donna Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director of the State Bar.

This year’s February exam was the second administered remotely, after the near-record cohort who took the exam in October. It was also the second graded under the reduced cut score of 1390, directed by the California Supreme Court in July 2020. If the cut score remained at 1440, approximately 734 General Bar Exam takers (23.7 percent) would have passed this examination.

The February exam cohort was approximately 3,100 for the February exam (approximately 3,100 compared to 4,000–5,000 on average), likely attributable to the increased number of test takers for the October 2020 exam cohort, the availability of the new provisional licensure program, and the higher pass rate on the October exam. As is typical, a majority of the February exam cohort were repeat takers, although at a lower percentage than average (approximately 60 percent compared to the typical 70 percent).

February 2021 General Bar Exam preliminary statistics

  • Completed the exam: 3,098 applicants
  • First-time applicants: 1,227 (39.6 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for first-time applicants: 53.0 percent overall
  • Repeat applicants: 1,871 (60.4 percent of total)
  • Pass rate for repeat applicants: 27.0 percent overall

Pass rate for the General Bar Exam (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type:

School Type First-Timers Repeaters
California ABA



Out-of-State ABA



California Accredited (not ABA)



Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility



Unaccredited: Correspondence



Unaccredited: Distance-Learning



All Others



All Applicants




General information about the structure and content of the General Bar Exam.

The Attorneys’ Examination is open to those who have been admitted to the active practice of law and are in good standing for at least four years in another U.S. jurisdiction. Of the 432 attorneys who completed the Attorneys’ Examination, 247 (57.2 percent) passed.

A pass list from the exam will be published on the State Bar website on May 9, 2021, at 6:00 a.m. More detailed statistics about exam results will be available in four to six weeks on the State Bar website.

Successful applicants who satisfy all requirements for admission may take the Attorney’s Oath individually or participate in admissions ceremonies held by their law school or others. Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the State Bar’s Office of Admissions will not hold its admissions ceremonies and has posted instructions for individuals to be sworn in remotely.

If they have satisfied all other requirements, applicants are eligible to practice law in California after taking the Attorney’s Oath and submitting their oath card to the State Bar. Approximately two weeks after forwarding the oath card to the State Bar, their names will appear on the agency’s roll of licensed attorneys accessible on the State Bar website.

July 2021 Cal Bar Exam results release date – earlier than usual!

Hello everyone!

FYI – The Cal Bar released the July 2021 Bar Exam FAQs today.  On page 14, in the Scoring, Scaling and Grading section, Question 4:


“Results are scheduled to be released by November 12, 2021.” 


This is one week EARLIER than usual.  Typically the results publish the Friday before Thanksgiving.  But Thanksgiving is Thursday, November 25, which would make the traditional results day Friday, November 19 (which, not for nothing is the day before a certain Big Game!).   At any rate, if the November 12 date remains, that’s not a bad result for repeaters, who will have more time to get some work done before the holidays, which is always a tricky exercise.


July-2021-Bar-Exam-FAQs 32521

July 2021 Bar Exam Announcement

Hello everyone!

The July 2021 Cal Bar Exam announcement is provided here:


Note that the first version of the FAQ Document for the July exam is here!   I’ve attached it.  Note it will change over time, so make sure to check the document online periodically.  Pro-tip:  Look at the LAST page of the document first because that’s where the tips are!


July-2021-Bar-Exam-FAQs 32521


Finally, the July 2021 Bar Exam Schedule (under traditional time) is available as well.  It’s attached.



Registration and other important deadlines for July 2021 Cal Bar Exam

Important deadlines

Application filing

  • Exam application open: March 1, 2021
  • Timely filing deadline: April 1, 2021
  • $50.00 late filing fee: April 2, 2021–April 30, 2021
  • $250.00 late filing fee: May 1, 2021–June 1, 2021
  • Final filing deadline and final filing deadline for petitions for accommodations: June 1, 2021
  • Acknowledgment and Acceptance of Testing Conditions: June 1, 2021
  • Mock exam available: June 29, 2021
  • First date admit tickets available: June 29, 2021
  • Proof of law study (applicant for the General Bar Exam): July 13, 2021 (important for 1st time takers!)
  • Deadline for remote exam takers to complete two required mock exams: July 16, 2021
  • Exam files open for download: July 21, 2021
  • Deadline for remote exam takers to download exam files: July 23, 202


July 2021 Bar Exam in-person v. online update

Hello everyone!

Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski (Ret.) is the Director of Supply, Production & Distribution of Operation Warp Speed. He said in a TV interview today that vaccines will roll out over several months. He said that “100% of Americans that want the vaccine will have vaccine by that point in time [June 2021]. We will have 300 million doses will be available to the American public well before then.”

I’m a lawyer, not a medic, and not a public health expert. I know that there are anti-vaxxers out there. So the question is this: if Lt. Gen. Ostrowski is correct and millions of Americans (not all of course) are taking the available vaccines, will that persuade Governors to allow in-person bar exams for July 2021?

I’d still put the odds at 50/50, if not worse for the following reasons. If vaccines will be available in June 2021, people need to take them and that takes time. Then a Governor needs to see that all that vaccinating is going on. Then more time will go by and a Governor will need to make a decision. And if the logistics behind an in-person exam require that certain things must occur by April or May to make a July Bar Exam happen — not saying that’s true, I don’t know — then June vaccine availability will be too late to make an in-person exam happen.

As of November 30, 2020, it seems that a remote exam for July 2021 seems more likely.

One other thing to keep in mind. What is the prevailing sentiment from the Cal. Supreme Court about remote v. in-person exams? From the Cal Bar? Maybe the Cal Bar says we’ve saved tons of money from room rental fees (though I doubt it since applicant fees are presumably paying for all of that) or saved time/money for other logistics that they are happy with a remote testing environment and don’t want to change it?

Or what if students like the idea of not having to go outside of their house to take the exam? What if they like taking a rest between questions or not having to get a hotel or fly somewhere (especially for out of state or international students) to take the test? What’s the prevailing sentiment?

My guess is that the Cal SCT and the Cal Bar like the idea of the old status quo. Maybe some students with necessary accommodations might be able to take the exam from home? But otherwise, I’m confident that we’ll be back to an in-person exam environment for sure by February 2022. July 2021? Maybe. I would think it’s likely if vaccines were widely distributed by March 1 or so and that people took them and positivity rates dramatically declined by April 1. That might give enough incentive to a Governor to allow in-person testing and allow a Board of Bar Examiners enough time to logistically make it happen.

We shall see!

February 2021 Cal Bar update from the Cal. Supreme Court

Hello everyone!

Evidently the Cal. Supreme Court knew that today would have been results day if there had been a July Bar Exam! The Court announced the following today for the February 2021 California Bar Examination:

  • Online exam with limited exceptions: in-person for accommodated students who can’t take the exam in a remote environment and for those who cannot take the exam remotely.

  • Day 1: 5 essays and one PT (i.e., the Attorneys’ Exam will occur entirely on Day 1, or Tuesday, 2/23). I assume it’ll be 3 essays in the morning, 2 essays and PT in the afternoon. Cal Bar says exam will end at 5:30 pm, so maybe shorter lunch break and an earlier start time? We’ll see when the schedule comes out… in other words, look out for the same 25 minute breaks between questions as before. People gotta pee between questions, right?!

  • Day 2: back to 200 MBEs. Four sessions of 50 MBEs. So that’ll mean 50 questions, 90 minutes (traditional time), 25 minutes off, 50 questions, 90 minutes. Lunch, then 50 questions, 90 minutes, and 50 questions, 90 minutes.

  • 1390 remains the cut score.

  • Unanswered question: whither the 8 pieces of scratch paper on the PT? Does that continue? And if that continues, why can’t applicants flip one piece of scratch paper to the laptop camera and use that on the essays for each essay question since there are 25 minutes break between questions? If people can manage 8 pieces of scratch paper, surely they could manage 1?

NCBE says jurisdictions may choose in-person or online option for February 2021

Note the interesting stuff:

1) the NCBE will equate the MBE, so that means that states like California don’t need the psychometrician or whoever they used to help make the MBE a reality for October 2020, and

2) Do we have 100 questions again for Feb. 2021? Or 200? Nobody knows. We shall see!

3) 3 states have already signed up for the online option (NY, Connecticut, and one other).

From the NCBE’s site:

NCBE Announces Initial Plans for Remote Option for February 2021 Bar Exam

NCBE today announced initial plans that will allow jurisdictions the option to provide the bar exam remotely in February 2021, since challenges related to COVID-19 will likely still be present next year. More details will be provided in the coming weeks.

To provide flexibility to jurisdictions and candidates as we all continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, NCBE plans to make a full set of bar exam materials available for a remote administration in February 2021 to be held on the same dates as the in-person administration (February 23–24, 2021). Each jurisdiction will select which mode it will use for its administration.

NCBE plans to equate the MBE, calculate scaled scores for the written components, and provide UBE and MBE score transfer services for both the in-person and the remote administrations.

Additional details will be announced in the next few weeks as jurisdictions and NCBE complete their review of the October remote administration, which was the first time the bar exam has been given to candidates testing in their own environments using their own computers.

February 2021 Cal Bar Exam information – virtual exam once again!

From the Cal Bar:

Date: Tuesday and Wednesday, February 23–24, 2021

Time: Applicants will be ready to begin the exam no later than 8:20 a.m. All applicants must be online no later than 8:30 a.m. The exam will begin immediately following the instructions. Applicants should plan to log in at least 20 minutes early. Applicants must be online no later than 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon sessions; instructions will begin promptly at 1:45 p.m.

The exam is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday at approximately 5:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at approximately 5:00 p.m. The exam for those applicants who have applied for and are eligible to take the Attorneys’ Exam will be administered on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Applicants granted extended time may have different schedules, which are communicated to them individually in advance of the exam.

Additional information concerning the timing and other administrative rules and policies are contained in the admittance ticket bulletin that will be available for printing with your admittance ticket for the exam.

OK, OK, but what does it all mean?

Note the “applicants should plan to log in” and “applicants must be online” language. That means the February 2021 exam will be virtual.

Whither the MBEs? 100? 200?

Seemingly contradictory information here:

On one hand, the information about “The exam is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday at approximately 5:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at approximately 5:00 p.m.” harkens back to a pre-COVID 5 essays and PT on Day 1 and 200 MBEs on Day 2. Remember the pre-COVID schedule ended at 5:30 on Day 1 and 5:00 on Day 2.

BUT… the language that the Attorneys’ Exam will be administered on both days is similar to the October 2020 schedule since Attorneys’ Exams are normally ONE DAY.

I’m guessing this will be clarified in due time. Stay tuned!