About the California Bar Exam
For a complete list of subjects tested on the California Bar Exam and more information about the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), please visit the bar exam section of the State Bar of California website.
Applicants taking the California Bar Examination may be required to answer questions involving issues from all of the subjects listed below:
- Business Associations
- Civil Procedure
- Community Property
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Professional Responsibility
- Real Property
- Wills and Succession
Uniform Commercial Code
The following provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code should be used where pertinent in answering the essay questions:
- All of Article 1
- All of Article 2
- Those provisions of Article 9 concerning Fixtures
Applicants should be prepared to answer questions that have issues concerning a variety of Business Associations, including, but not limited to Corporations, Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships (General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships), Joint Ventures, Limited Liability Companies, and the principles of Agency inherent in business relationships.
Applicants should be prepared to answer questions that have issues concerning the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the California Code of Civil Procedure. Applicants should be prepared to discuss the differences between the Federal Rules and the California Rules, especially those California procedures of pleading and practice that have no specific counterparts in the Federal Rules.
Applicants should be prepared to answer questions that have issues concerning the Federal Rules of Evidence and the California Evidence Code. Applicants should be prepared to compare and contrast the differences between the Federal Rules and the California Evidence Code, especially where the California rules of evidence have no specific counterparts in the Federal Rules.
Applicants should be prepared to answer questions that test knowledge of the California Rules of Professional Conduct, relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code, and leading federal and state case law on the subject in addition to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility. Professional responsibility issues may be included in conjunction with any subject tested on the examination.
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a separate requirement for admission to practice law in California. More information concerning the MPRE can be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ website.
Wills and Succession
Applicants should be familiar with the following provisions of the California Probate Code and understand California law in the specific areas noted:
Division 2. General Provisions
Part 1. Effect of Death of Married Person on Community and Quasi-Community Property, Sections 100-103
Part 3. Contractual Arrangements Relating to Rights at Death, Sections 140-147
Part 5. Simultaneous Death, Sections 220, 222-224
Part 6. Distribution Among Heirs or Beneficiaries, Section 240
Division 6 Wills and Intestate Succession
Part 1. Wills
Chapter 1. General Provisions, Sections 6100, 6101, 6104, 6105
Chapter 2. Execution of Wills, Sections 6110-6113
Chapter 3. Revocation and Revival, Sections 6120, 6121, 6123
Part 2. Intestate Succession, Sections 6400-6402
Division 11. Construction of Wills, Trusts and Other Instruments
Part 1. Rules of Interpretation of Instruments, Sections 21105, 21109, 21110
Part 6. Family Protection: Omitted Spouses and Children [for decedents dying on or after January 1, 1998]
Chapter 2. Omitted Spouses, Sections 21610-21612
Chapter 3. Omitted Children, Sections 21620-21623
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is developed and graded by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). This portion of the General Bar Examination is an objective six-hour examination containing 200 questions, which is divided into two three-hour sessions during which 100 questions are administered. The MBE tests seven subjects: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.
Information regarding the MBE and an online practice examination are available through the NCBE’s website.
Practicing lawyers in California must be licensed by the State Bar. The State Bar’s admission requirements are set by the California Business and Professions Code.
Register as a law student or attorney applicant
- Begin the admissions process by registering as a law student or attorney applicant as soon as possible. Use the online application.
- Track the status of an application and eligibility with an Admissions account or Status Screen.
Social Security number
When registering with the State Bar, applicants need to provide a Social Security number. Applicants who do not have a Social Security Number are required to submit a form requesting an exemption.
- Find out what form to file.
California lawyers can meet the legal education requirement in different ways. Most receive a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from law schools registered by the State Bar (California-accredited) or approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). But there are other ways to get a legal education.
- Find out more about what education is required when applying to the State Bar
California Bar Examination
About 16,000 take the California Bar Examination, one of the State Bar's primary requirements to become a licensed attorney. Beginning in July 2017, the exam will be given over two days.
First Year Law Students' Examination
First-year law students completing their first year of study in a juris doctor degree program at a State Bar-unaccredited registered law school, through the Law Office Study Program and those without two years of college work attending a Committee of Bar Examiners- or an American Bar Association-accredited law school must take the First-Year Law Students Examination after completing their first year of law study.
Law students who have been advanced to their second year of law study at an ABA or California-accredited law school and completed a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter units of undergraduate work are generally exempt from the examination.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
All applicants for admission to practice law in California must receive a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination and pass the California Bar Examination.
- Find out more about the tests required for admission
All applicants must go through a background check and receive a positive moral character determination.
- Find out more about what goes into a moral character determination
Finally, applicants need to prove that they have complied with any court order for child or family support.
Applicants with mental or physical disabilities can file a petition for reasonable testing accommodations that are needed to take an exam. Applicants with temporary medical conditions, such as a pregnancy or broken leg, and mothers who are nursing, etc. may also file requests for accommodations. For more information, please visit the Testing Accommodations section of the State Bar of California website.