McGeorge School of Law

California Bar Preparation Checklist & Fees

McGeorge Students — Bar Preparation

Current CA Bar Exam Dates and Deadlines

Steps to Register for California Bar Exam

A law student must take several steps in order to take the bar exam and practice law in California, including those listed below. Some of the associated fees also are noted below. For a list of all fees linked to the bar exam itself, see the Fees and Charges page (pdf) of the State Bar website (scroll down to "Title 4").

This information is subject to change without notice by the California State Bar, so always confirm with the current information posted at https://www.calbar.ca.gov or call the State Bar Main Office at 415.538.2000.

1. Apply for Registration as a Law Student with the Committee of Bar Examiners.

This is the ~$100 fee you probably paid during your first year. You do NOT have to re-register if you did so before. If you did not register during your first year, do so now. The deadline is rolling, but the amount increases each year. This is a separate step from applying to take the bar exam (see below).

2. Take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE).

Apply and find more information at https://www.ncbex.org.

The MPRE is administered in March, August, and November. As of 2018, it costs $125. A passing score in California currently is 86 or higher.

You do not have to pass the MPRE prior to sitting for the bar exam, but you must pass it before you can be admitted to practice. We do not recommend waiting until August after graduation to take the MPRE, because usually it is administered the weekend following the bar exam.

3. File your Moral Character Application and receive a positive determination.

This application is available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov and there is no deadline, but the fee increases each year. The application fee as of 2018 was $551.

The application is not difficult to complete, but it is time consuming. There are very detailed instructions that you must read carefully. You need multiple professional and personal references, including at least one member of a state bar, and the Committee WILL contact them. You must also list past residences and employment information reaching many years (sometimes decades) into the past, and you must arrange to provide live scan fingerprints. A list of fingerprinting companies is available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov, but one also comes to campus each year; contact the Office of Student Affairs for more information.

You may sit for the CA Bar Exam before receiving a positive Moral Character determination, but you may not be sworn in or practice law, even if you pass the bar and MPRE. Submit your application at least six months before your expected results date (results are released in May for the February bar and in November for the July bar). The winter holiday break is a great time to secure references and complete the application.

4. File an application, take, and pass the California Bar Exam.

Application materials are available at https://www.calbar.ca.gov on Oct. 1 for the February exam, and on March 1 for the July exam. As of 2018 the application fee was $677, plus $153 if you plan to use a laptop computer to take the exam.

Apply ASAP to avoid late fees and secure your spot at your preferred test center. Some locations, especially those in southern CA, fill up quickly.

Note: because McGeorge is an ABA-accredited law school, you do not need to worry about the First Year Law Students' Exam, a/k/a the "FYLSX" or the "Baby Bar."

About CA Bar Exam

California Board of Law Examiners
180 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
San Francisco Telephone: 415.538.2300
Los Angeles Telephone: 213.765.1500
Fax: 415.538.2304

Bar Exam Dates

The California Bar Exam typically is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July.

CA Bar Exam Format

The California Bar Exam is a two-day exam.

First Day
  • One morning session with three one-hour essay questions; and
  • One afternoon session with two one-hour essay questions and one 90-minute Performance Test
Second Day
  • One morning session of three hours and 100 multiple-choice questions (MBE) 
  • One afternoon session of three hours and 100 multiple-choice questions (MBE)

Subjects Tested

MBE Subjects
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts/Sales
  • Criminal Law/Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Real Property
  • Torts
California Essay Subjects
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
  • CA Civil Procedure
  • Business Associations (Corporations, Agency & Partnership, and LLC)
  • California Professional Responsibility
  • California Community Property
  • California Wills & Succession
  • California Evidence
  • Remedies
  • Trusts
  • plus all MBE subjects
Performance Test

"Closed universe" practical problem using instructions, factual data, cases, statutes and other reference material supplied by examiners.

Scope of the CA Bar Exam

See: https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Examinations/California-Bar-Examination

MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam)

A scaled score of 86 on the MPRE is required for admission.

Grading and Results

The written portion (Day 1) and MBE portion (Day 2) of the CA Bar Exam are equally weighted with each worth 50% of the final score. A passing score of 1,440 on a 2,000 point scale is required, based on the combined scaled scores of the California Performance Test, the essay questions and the MBE.

Results from the February exam are released in May. Results from the July exam are released in November.

Other State Bar Exams

Bar Study Loans

Bar Study Loans are available to graduating students to cover the cost of Bar Exam expenses, such as Bar application fees and living expenses incurred while studying for the Bar Exam. Bar Loans are private loans that require credit approval by independent lenders and eligibility depends on criteria established by the lender.

Not all lenders offer Bar Study Loans so you need to pursue many different lenders to find the right one for you. Since these loans are for study outside McGeorge, it is your responsibility to investigate and apply for the Bar loan amounts you need.

Websites for Bar Exam Loans 2019

Patent Bar Exam

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) — the federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks.

Information on requirements for admission to the patent bar, notice of examinations, exam questions and answers, and exam results.

Commercial Courses for the Patent Bar