California Bar Exam Requirements

Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by

Ever wondered what is like to bag a degree in law from an accredited school? Are you seeking for California bar requirements? Are you a student trying to know about California bar exam application? Are you interested in finding out more about California bar exam for foreign lawyers? Have you checked the California bar exam eligibility without getting anywhere? Have you foraged the internet for California bar exam requirements for foreign lawyers and you still have no absolute answers? Worry not, the site will provide answers for you.

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Take the California State Bar Exam

Once you have completed your pre-legal and legal education and met the state bar’s requirements, and if you are at least 18 years old, you may apply to take the California bar exam.  It is given in February and July over two days in various locations throughout the state.


Free and low-cost study aids for the California bar exam are provided at the State Bar of California website. They include study outlines and sample questions, as well as questions and answers from past exams
The National Conference of Bar Examiners website provides free study resources for the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) portion of the California bar exam.  
Should you wish to take a bar exam preparation course or workshop, many are available throughout California. They include:

Admission Requirements

Exam content

During the first day of the exam, you will have three essay questions in the morning and one performance test in the afternoon. Subjects that you can expect to encounter include Succession, Trusts and Wills, Torts, Remedies, Real Property, and Professional Responsibility.

On the second day of the exam, you will take the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This is a six-hour long exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions. You will be tested on your knowledge of Constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and torts.

Application Process

You must first register as a law student with the State Bar of California Office of Admissions. You may register online to do this, as well as register online to take the California Bar Exam. Your registration with the bar must be approved within 10 days of submitting your bar exam application. You must provide your social security number before you will be allowed to register. Do not use a Tax Identification Number. Once your online application has been successfully submitted, you will receive a confirmation email from the state bar. The bar will then send forms to all schools you attended asking them to certify that you have met the pre-legal and legal education requirements. Schools must also submit official transcripts to the bar’s Office of Admissions.
Testing centers for the February 2019 administration of the California Bar Exam are listed here.


At the time of your online application, you will be instructed to pay exam fees.  In 2018, the general exam fee is $650. If you plan to use your own laptop to take the exam, an extra fee of $150 is charged.

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Pass Rates

Your exam results will be mailed to you no later than four months after you take the exam. You may also access them online on a date that will be issued to you post-exam. The pass rate for first-time takers of the February 2018 administration of the California Bar Exam was 42.8%. For the July 2017 exam, 61.4% of first-time test takers passed.

California Bar Requirements

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 who are eligible for a U.S. Social Security number need to provide a Social Security number under Business and Professions Code sections 30 (California’s tax enforcement provisions) and 6060.6 and Family Code section 17520 (Child Support Enforcement Program). Applicants who do not have a Social Security Number are required to submit a request for an exemption during the online registration application process by clicking here

Registration applications and Social Security number exemption forms can also be obtained by contacting the Los Angeles Office of Admissions at 213-765-1500 or by sending an email to [email protected].

California Bar Examination

Legal education

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.

Moral Character

All applicants must go through a background check and receive a positive moral character determination.


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