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California Bar Exam and MPRE: 3. The Performance Tests

This California Bar Exam guide provides an overview of steps law students can take to prepare for the California Bar Exam and the MPRE. Information regarding deadlines, topics covered on the California Bar Exam, and other helpful resources are provided.

Helpful Information

The Performance Test Component of the Bar Exam

The Performance Test is designed to test your ability to understand and apply a select number of legal authorities in the context of a given factual problem involving a client.  Each performance test question consists of a "file" and a "library," with instructions indicating which tasks should be performed.  Graders are assessing your ability to:

  • sift through detailed factual material and separate material from immaterial facts;
  • assess the consistency and reliability of facts;
  • determine the need for and source of additional facts;
  • analyze the legal rules and principles applicable to the problem presented;
  • formulate legal theories from facts that may be only partly known;
  • recognize and resolve ethical issues arising in practical situations;
  • apply problem-solving skills to diagnose a problem, generate alternative solutions, and develop a plan of action; and
  • communicate effectively, whether advocating for or advising a client, eliciting information, or facilitating a legal transaction.

Bar exam instructions advise that cases that appear in a performance test "library" may be real, modified, or written solely for the purpose of the performance test.  As a result, you should read each case in the "library" as if it were new to you.  To the extent that a case resembles a case that you have read before, do not assume that it is precisely the same case that you have read before.  You will have 90 minutes to read all of the materials and write your answer.

Your answer will be graded on the responsiveness to the instructions provided, as well as the content, thoroughness, and organization.

The State Bar provides online access to performance tests and selected answers from past examinations.  For your convenience, links to PDF files for the performance tests and selected answers for recent years are provided below.

February 2018 July 2018
February 2017 July 2017
February 2016 July 2016
February 2015 July 2015
February 2014 July 2014