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About the Bar Exam

  • Overview
  • New York Bar
  • California Bar
  • FAQs


If you wish to practice law in any US state, you must pass the Bar Exam.

Each state has its own specific Bar Exam, and passing that state's exam is a key step toward being licensed to practice law within the state.

The Bar is a rigorous exam held over two or three days. In most states, the bar exam consists of:

  • The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions testing both general legal principles and that state's particular laws.

  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) which is currently given in 48 states and tests your knowledge of common law principles in seven areas.

  • The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, or MPRE, which is an ethics exam required in most jurisdictions and can be taken in March, August or November.

Individual states decide when and how to administer their Bar Exams and what subjects will be included on the state specific portions. Individual states also decide how to grade their Bar Exams and what level constitutes a passing score.

We offer complete online preparation for both the New York and California Bar Examinations.

View Bar Review Prep Options

Free Guide to the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

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New York Bar

New York Bar Exam (UBE): 

Day 1: 

  • Morning: 2 Multistate Performance Test (MPT) items (3 hours)

  • Afternoon: 6 Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions (3 hours)

Day 2: 

  • Morning: 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) multiple choice questions (3 hours)

  • Afternoon: 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) multiple choice questions (3 hours)

Passing Score: The passing score for the UBE in New York is 266 on a 400 point scale.

Topics tested on the New York portion of the exam: Business Relationships, Conflicts of Law, New York Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Remedies, New York & Federal Civil Jurisdiction & Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills & Estates, UCC Articles 2, 3 & 9

Topics tested on the MBE: Contracts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts

For more information on the exam visit the New York State Board of Examiners: http://www.nybarexam.org/

Registration Dates

Dates of Examination Application Filing Period
September 9-10, 2020 (Rescheduled July Exam) May 5-30, 2020
February 23-24, 2021 November 1- 30, 2020
July 27-28, 2021 April 1 - 30, 2021
February 22-23, 2022 November 1 - 30, 2021
July 26-27, 2022 April 1 - 30, 2022
February 21-22, 2023 November 1 - 30, 2022
July 25-26, 2023 April 1 - 30, 2023

California Bar

California Bar Exam:

Day 1: 

  • Morning: 3 essays (3 hours)

  • Afternoon: 2 essays (2 hours) and one 90-minute performance test

Day 2:

  • Morning: 100 MBE multiple choice questions (3 hours)

  • Afternoon: 100 MBE multiple choice questions (3 hours)

Topics tested on the Essay portion of the exam: Business Associations, Civil Procedure (Federal & California), Community Property, Contract/Sales, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence (Federal & California), Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Remedies, Torts, Wills & Trusts

Performance Test: Examinees are asked to draft either memos, discovery documents or arguements using a "closed universe of facts", case laws, statutes etc.

Topics tested on the MBE: Contracts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts

For more informaton on the exam visit the State Bar of California: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/

Registration Dates for the California Bar

Date of Examination Application Availability Timely Filing Final Filing Deadline
July 28 & 29, 2020 March 1, 2020 April 1, 2020 June 1, 2020

Registration Dates for the First-Year Law Students' Examination.

(Also known as the California Baby Bar Exam & only to be taken if your Law school is not accredited by the ABA or approved by the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners).

Date of Examination Application Availability Timely Filing Final Filing Deadline
June 23, 2020 March 1, 2020 April 1, 2020 May 15, 2020
October 27, 2020 July 1, 2020 August 3, 2020 September 15, 2020


Can I only work in California or New York as a Foreign Admitted Attorney?

Yes - you cannot practice in any other state. Admission as an Attorney is on a state-by-state basis in the US. Some states have a “reciprocity” arrangement which allows attorneys to waive in without examination, but this is often restricted to ABA law school graduates.

Do I have to go to the US to take the Bar?

Yes. You can prepare anywhere in the world with Kaplan, and then you fly to the US to sit the Bar exam. For the California Bar, exam centre locations include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. For the New York Bar, centres are typically in Albany or Buffalo.

When do the exams take place?

The exams are held twice a year - on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July for both California and New York.

When are the results published?

Results from the February exam are available in May, and from the July exam in November. Result notices are available online and are also sent by post.

What do I need to score to pass?

A total weighted score of 1,440 out of 2,000 is required to pass the California Bar Exam. As for the New York Uniform Bar Exam, you need a passing score of 266 out of 400. If you fail to attain this score you must retake the entire exam again. There is no appeal from the final total weighted scaled score.

What is the MPRE Examination?

You must sit and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility (MPRE) ethics exam before you can be admitted to the NY or CA Bar. The MPRE is held three to four times a year and you can sit the exam in any state. You can take the MPRE before or after the state exam however you must do so within 3 years from the date of notification confirming you passed the Bar. The MPRE tests the ethics and professional responsibility of practicing lawyers and standard scaled scores range from 50 (low) to 150 (high). For New York, the passing score is 85 and for California it is 86.

How much is the application fee for the MPRE?

The fee is $80 if you apply before the regular receipt deadline and $160 if you apply after but still before the 'late registration receipt deadline'.

What is the new 'Pro Bono' requirement?

Applicants who successfully pass the bar examination in New York State must demonstrate that they have performed 50 hours of qualifying voluntary work also known as 'pro bono service' before applying for admission to practice. This compulsory requirement does not apply to those wishing to practice in the state of California. For more information and advise, please click here.