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California Bar Exam and MPRE: About the Bar Exam

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

How the California Bar Exam is Administered

The California Bar Exam is administered in February and July* of each year, typically during the last week of the month that includes a Wednesday.  The exam is administered over two days and has three parts: 

  1. Five essay questions (Day 1);
  2. One performance test (Day 1); and
  3. Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) (Day 2).

*Due to COVID-19, the July 2020 exam has been rescheduled to October, being administered online Oct. 5-6 (Monday and Tuesday).

The written tests together account for 50% of your score, and the MBE accounts for the other 50% of your score.  On Tuesday of the exam period, you will have three hours to answer three essay questions in the morning session, and you will have three hours and 30 minutes to answer two essay questions and one performance test in the afternoon session.  On Wednesday, you will have (2) three-hour sessions for the MBE.  The individual parts of the exam may not be taken separately.

Each component of the California State Bar Exam is described on pages that may be found under the About the Bar Exam tab above. Information regarding the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) may be found under the third tab of this Guide.

It is very important that you review the exam rules.  These rules set out what can and cannot be brought into the testing center on each day.  You are encouraged to arrive early on each testing day.

For dates of upcoming bar exams, visit the Dates & Deadlines webpage

For an introduction to the MBE, the Law Library offers Strategies & Tactics for the MBE: Multistate Bar Exam (KF306 .E46 2018, Law Library Reserves).