Ca bar exam essay subjects

California Bar Exam Subjects

The bar exam given in California is considered the toughest in the country. It covers 14 subjects over three days and includes essay questions, multiple choice questions, and performance test assignments. Visit the State Bar of California’s website for detailed descriptions of the subjects tested on the exam.

Effective with the July 2017 administration, the California Bar Exam will move to a two-day format. For more information on this change, please review the Modification to Format and Grading Notice.

According to the California State Bar, the essay questions are «designed to measure an applicant’s ability to analyze legal issues arising from fact situations. Answers are expected to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to analyze the facts of the question, to tell the difference between material facts and immaterial facts, and to discern the points of law and fact upon which the question turns. The answer should evidence the applicant’s ability to apply the law to the given facts and to reason in a logical, lawyer-like manner from the premises adopted to a sound conclusion. An applicant should not merely show that he/she remembers the legal principles, but should demonstrate his/her proficiency in using and applying them.»

The following subjects may be tested on the California bar exam

  • Business Associations (including Agency, Partnership, LLCs and Corporations)
  • Civil Procedure (Federal* and California)
  • Community Property
  • Constitutional Law*
  • Contracts*
  • Criminal Law*
  • Criminal Procedure*
  • Evidence (Federal* and California)
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real Property*
  • Remedies
  • Torts*
  • Trusts
  • Wills

Subjects with an asterisk (*) are tested on both the essay and multiple choice portions of the California Bar Exam. All other subjects are tested only on the essay portion of the exam.

How Likely Is To Appear On YOUR Bar Exam Essays?

Download Our FREE Frequency Chart to Find Out How Often Each Subject and Rule Has Appeared on the California Essays Over the Last 17 Years!

Focus Your Limited Study Time

Your study time is limited. Understanding what topics and rules to focus on will help you study smarter and go into the bar exam better prepared.

Our FREE Frequency Chart includes:

  1. Breakdowns of how often each subject area has appeared on the California Bar Exam essays in the past 34 examinations.
  2. Frequency analysis of all 507 rules tested on California Essays in the last 34 examinations, covering 202 essay questions.
  3. Packaged in one convenient, 100% free download.

There is no catch. You have nothing to lose by downloading our frequency analysis chart and streamlining your bar exam study.

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Study Smarter. Pass The Bar.

By using the SmartBarPrep Essay Frequency Chart, you can prioritize and study the rules of law that matter most to the bar examiners, gaining a significant advantage over other bar exam takers.

The California Bar Exam is one of the hardest bar exams in the country. But, you can ace it by understanding that the bar examiners consistently test the same material over and over again. Here is a chart that shows just how often rules are repeated:

  • February 2018 96%
  • July 2017 90%
  • February 2017 92.0%
  • July 2016 92%
  • February 2016 90%
  • July 2015 85%
  • February 2015 93%
  • July 2014 85%
  • February 2014 84%
  • July 2013 69%
  • February 2013 75%
  • July 2012 83%
  • February 2012 74%
  • July 2011 74%
  • February 2011 81%

Because many topics are repeated from old exams, every person taking the bar exam would benefit from reading and analyzing all past exams as part of their study regimen. These past exams give you an unparalleled perspective of what types of rules the bar examiners test and how often they have shown up in the past.

As anyone who has taken the California Bar Exam knows, there is simply not enough time to review and analyze every past exam or every topic that you might be tested on, especially while also having time to study for the MBE and Performance Test sections.

You have a limited amount of study time, and we help you study smarter with our 100% free SmartBarPrep Essay Frequency Chart.

The California Bar Exam

California currently administers what is widely considered one of the nation’s most difficult bar examinations twice each year, in February and July. The California Bar Examination format will change with the July 2017 administration.

February 2017

The February 2017 California Bar Examination will consist of 18 hours of examination time, spread out over three days. California’s exam is administered in the following manner:

  • 1st day (Tuesday): 3 essay questions (9 am – 12 pm); 1 performance test (2 pm – 5 pm)
  • 2nd day (Wednesday): 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) questions (9 am – 12 pm); 100 MBE questions (2 pm – 5 pm)
  • 3rd day (Thursday): 3 essay questions (9 am – 12 pm); 1 performance test (2 pm – 5 pm)

The exam currently tests 17 different subject areas:

  • Constitutional Law (Federal)
  • Contracts (Common Law and Uniform Commercial Code)
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence (Federal Rules of Evidence and the California Evidence Code)
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Wills (California law)
  • Trusts
  • Civil Procedure (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the California Code of Civil Procedure)
  • Community Property (California law)
  • Professional Responsibility (California law and the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct)
  • Business Associations (Corporations, Agency, all forms of Partnerships, and Limited Liability Entities)
  • Remedies

The essay section of the exam accounts for 39 percent of the total score. Applicants sitting for the California Bar Examination do not know which of the 17 subjects will be tested on the essay portion of the examination. In recent years, it has become common for the exam to feature one or more «crossover» questions, which test applicants in multiple subjects. Examples of past-tested essays with sample answers are available on the California State Bar’s website at http://admissions. calbar. ca. gov/Examinations/PastExams. aspx.

California-specific legal knowledge is required only for Evidence, Civil Procedure, Wills, Community Property, and Professional Responsibility; for the other topics, either general common law («bar exam law») or the federal laws apply. Applicants may be tested on the California Evidence Code and the California Code of Civil Procedure in the essay portion of the exam in addition to the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Applicants have the option of using SofTest software to type on a laptop computers.

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) portion of the exam is a nationally-administered, 200-question multiple-choice exam. As of February 2017, only 175 questions will be scored, and the other 25 are unscored experimental questions used to gauge their appropriateness for future exams. The MBE covers only the topics of contracts (including sales of goods under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code), real property, torts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. While the essay section of the exam may test one or more of these areas as well, the MBE section is dedicated to these subjects. The MBE currently counts for 35 percent of the total score in California.

The performance test portion of the exam is designed to test practical lawyering skills by presenting applicants with simulations of actual legal tasks. This section counts for 26 percent of the total score. The performance exam is a «closed universe» setting, meaning that the only substantive information the applicant needs to know is provided during the exam. Even if cases and statutes are provided, they are often different from the real law in the area at issue, so that applicants who studied that area of law in law school will have no special advantage. Each performance test is worth as many points as two regular essays.

Changes in July 2017

Beginning in July 2017, the California Bar Examination will be administered over two days. The format is as follows:

  • 1st day (Tuesday): 3 essay questions (9 am – 12 pm); 2 essay questions and one 90-minute performance test (2 pm – 5:30 pm)
  • 2nd day (Wednesday): 100 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) questions (9 am – 12 pm); 100 MBE questions (2 pm – 5 pm)