Bar Exam Tips

Passing the Bar Exam

According to the American Bar Association, almost all law school graduates in the United States must apply for bar admission through a state board of bar examiners to practice law in that state.

Each state is allowed to set its own requirements, which means that the bar examination and admission to the bar can vary from state to state. While content can change depending on your locale, the following information is a general overview of what you can expect when studying for the bar exam.

What is the Bar Exam

The bar examination is the exam you have to pass in order to receive a state license to practice law. Because each state sets its own eligibility requirements regarding the exam and its content and requires knowledge of specific state and local law, you have to pass the bar exam in each state you intend to practice.

Bar Exam Requirements

Most states require you to pass educational and moral/ethical standards, which are also individually determined by each state. You should expect to provide references and undergo a background check. You should also expect the state to require verification of your degree or educational credits. See our Bar Requirements by State page and consult the website of the state bar to which you wish to be admitted for details.

Bar Exam Parts and Formats

Bar exams are typically divided into several sections, one of which is completely dependent on the state. These sections include 1) the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), 2) a state-specific portion on local state law, and 3) a Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Each portion of the test is held on a different day. Many states hold a two or three-day bar examination, and you may have to take additional smaller tests, such as the Multi State Essay Examination (MSEE) or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) to be admitted to that state’s bar. The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and has been adopted by 15 of the 50 United States as their official bar exam curriculum. This standardized bar exam includes an MBE, MPT, and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE).

MBE – The MBE is a full-day test that is conducted over six hours. It is divided into two three-hour sections of 100 questions each, for a total of 200 questions. The exam covers criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, contracts, evidence, real property, and torts.

State Portion – This part of the exam includes local law specific to that state and is often tested in the form of essay or short answer questions. It is commonly taken on the same day as the MPT.

MPT – This portion of the exam consists of one or two 90-minute sessions. Test takers are required to sort detailed and relevant facts, analyze statutes and cases for relevant legal principles, apply relevant laws to the relevant facts, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, and communicate such items effectively in writing to demonstrate the fundamental skills all lawyers are expected to have.

MPRE – This two-hour multiple-choice exam consists of 60 questions and tests established standards for professional conduct and responsibility.

MEE – This test consists of six 30-minute essay questions that ask test takers to consider a hypothetical situation and apply their understanding of relevant legal principles. Topics will vary.

Bar Exam Study Materials

Even if you attended a prestigious law school, it is important to prepare yourself adequately for the bar exam to ensure that you pass. Many state bar exams include local law that may not have been covered in your law school classes, and you may have to learn additional material in order to pass the bar. Choosing the best way to prepare for the bar exam depends on your learning style and habits, your ability to communicate your knowledge in writing in a test environment, and your financial situation.

Study Tips

Studying for the bar is an important step in your legal career. In order to become licensed to practice law in your state or jurisdiction, you must pass the bar exam in addition to earning your JD. First-time pass rates vary from 40% to over 80%, depending on the state and the school you attended. You should:

  • Familiarize yourself with all sections of the bar exam in your state
  • Study all subjects that the bar exam in your state is likely to cover
  • Use free materials that help you learn all the information you will need to know
  • Stick to a study schedule
  • Take a full-length practice bar exam
  • Train yourself to be able to write essays for a minimum of three hours
  • Practice sitting and answering questions for a minimum of three hours
  • Practice reducing stress. Many students fail the bar exam because they succumb to stress. Consider various stress-management techniques, such as exercise and meditation, to clear your mind while you study for and take the bar exam.

Study Options

Practice Bar Exam – Practice bar exams are readily available and are an excellent preparation for taking the actual exam.  Although you should also use additional study materials and books, video lectures and/or a commercial bar review course, a practice bar exam allows you to evaluate your level of preparedness.

Bar Review Course – A bar review course or prep course often includes online study options that offer a set study schedule and curriculum, review materials and practice tests, and tutors or advisers to help you learn everything you need to pass the exam. Many courses cover information specific to the state portion of the exam, which is helpful if you have to learn new legal material for a particular state. Most bar review courses include recorded or live video lectures and extensive online content and materials. Check out the best online prep courses here.

Bar Exam Books – Various bar exam study books are available online or in print for free or for a nominal fee. State bar organizations often publish books or online links to essay questions and material from previous exams to help you study. Studying on your own is a more affordable option than taking a bar review course, however, it requires more organization and motivation to study by yourself, and you won’t have the same level of support from instructors or test prep experts if you have questions.

Flash Cards – Flash cards are an effective way to remember the large body of facts covered on the bar exam. You can make your own, find them online, or purchase commercial bar exam flash cards. If making your own, you should consider using questions and answers from actual bar exam questions to ensure that you are memorizing relevant material.

Bar Exam Study Schedule

A study schedule is vital to your success in studying for the bar exam. Your bar exam study schedule should include time allotted for studying each section that will appear on the exam as well as a certain number of hours per day. Creating and sticking to a study schedule allows you to fit in all of the required information without missing an important area. A successful study plan integrates periods for study and rest with your daily responsibilities, allowing you to plan around working out, eating, your job (if you are working), taking care of family responsibilities, and leisure. You should dedicate a few hours of free time each day to refocus and keep yourself motivated.

Although the bar exam varies among states, you can prepare yourself to pass in any state on the first try by taking an organized and diligent approach to studying. You should identify the specific material that is covered on the exam, determine the best way for you to learn that material, and then commit to a regular study schedule on your own or with a bar review course. Identifying the right study method and materials for you can play a decisive role in your bar exam success.


Bar Exam Requirements

There are many differences in the format, content, and way in which each state administers its bar examination. It can be difficult and time-consuming to gain a good understanding of the application and filing requirements that lead up to each state’s bar exam.

For this reason, CRUSH the Bar Exam has compiled a main overview of some of the most popular state bar exams to make things easier for you. Please choose a state below.

CaliforniaNew YorkFloridaTexasNew Jersey
PennsylvaniaMarylandIllinoisVirginiaLouisiana


California Bar Exam

The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415)538-2300

www.calbar.ca.gov

CA Bar Exam Dates and Deadlines

  • July 28-30, 2015

CA Application Fees & Deadlines

Students may begin applying March 2, 2015, Timely Filing Deadline is April 1, 2015, Final Filing Deadline is June 15, 2015

  • General Applicants: $645
  • Attorney Applicants: $937
  • Laptop Fee: $146
  • Late Laptop Fee: $15 (requested post submission)
  • Late Filing Fee: $50 (April 2 – April 30, 2015 for the July 2015 Exam)
  • Late Filing Fee: $100 (May 1 – June 15, 2015 for the July 2015 Exam)

Exam Details

  • Day One – Tuesday: 3 Essays (1 hour each) and 1 Performance Test (3 hours)
  • Day Two – Wednesday: The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions divided into two 3-hour sessions of 100 questions each.
  • Day Three – Thursday: 3 Essays (1 hour each) and 1 Performance Test (3 hours)

Tested Subjects

MBE: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.

State Essays & PTs: Business Associations, Civil Procedure, community Property, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Remedies, Torts, Trusts, Wills and Succession, Uniform Commercial Code (Article 1, Article 2, and Article 9 concerning fixtures)

Grading of the Exam

The MBE portion of the exam is reported on a scale ranging from 0 to 2,000. The written portion of the exam is graded out of 1,000 possible points (100 points for each of the 6 essays + 200 points for each of the 2 performance tests), which is then converted to a 2,000-point scale comparable to the MBE portion. Each 2,000-point portion of the exam is weighted as follows: MBE (35%) Written (65%). A final score of 1440 or higher is a passing score. If an applicant’s score falls just short of a 1440, their exam will go through a second reading by different graders just to make sure they receive an accurate score.

Bar Exam Results

Results will be released and mailed to February exam takers in mid-May, and to July exam takers in November.

CA Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the California Bar Examination in February 2014 was 55%; for July 2014 it was 61%.

New York Bar Exam

The New York State Board of Law Examiners
Corporate Plaza, Building
254 Washington Avenue Extension
Albany, NY 12203
(518)453-5990

http://www.nybarexam.org/

NY Bar Exam Dates and Deadlines

  • July 28-29, 2015

Exam Fees

Students must Apply between April 1 and April 30, 2015 – NO LATE FILING

  • Application Fee: $250 (foreign students of law $750)
  • Laptop Program Fee: $100

Exam Details

The New York Bar Exam is a 2-day examination with both a morning and afternoon session each day.

Day One – Tuesday: The New York section of the exam consists of 5 essay questions and 50 multiple-choice questions prepared by the NY State Board, then 1 Multistate Performance Test (MPT) question prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

State Essay Portion: Administrative Law, Business Relationships, New York Civil Practice and Procedure, Conflict of Laws, New York and Federal Constitutional Law, Contracts and Contract Remedies, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial and Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts and Tort Damages, Trusts Wills and Estates, and UCC articles 2 and 9.

Multistate Performance Test Portion: This is a 90-minute skills question that requires test takers to use legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, and other lawyering skills to complete a given task within the given time frame.

MBE Portion: Constitutional Law (31 questions), Contracts (33 questions), Criminal Law and Procedure (31 questions), Evidence (31 questions), Real Property (31 questions), and Torts (33 questions). Ten of these questions will be indistinguishable from the rest and are not used for scoring.

Grading of the Exam

The raw scores from all portions of the exam are each converted and scaled on a common scale of 1000. Those scores are then appropriately weighted and combined into a final score out of 1000. A final passing score is 665. If an applicant’s score falls just short of 665, their exam will go through a second reading by different graders just to make sure they receive an accurate score. Each portion is weighted as follows: Essays (40%), New York Multiple-Choice Questions (10%), MPT (10%), MBE (40%).

NY Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the New York Bar Examination in February 2014 was 62%; for July 2014 it was 74%.

Florida Bar Exam

Florida Board of Bar Examiners
1891 Eider Court
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850)487-1292

www.floridabarexam.org

FL Bar Exam Dates

  • July 28-29, 2015
  • February 23-24, 2016

Registration and Application Fees

Deadlines for Early Registration filing depends on when law students started their first year of law school (see chart below).

Law School Start Date$100 Filing Deadline$350 Filing Deadline
August/Septemberthe following January 15the following March 15
January/Februarythe following June 15the following August 15
May/Junethe following October 15the following December 15

Timely Bar Application Filing Fees (Must apply by May 1 for the July 2015 Exam, and by November 15 for the February 2016 Exam):

  • $600 for law school students who filed an Early Registration and are ready to become an applicant to take the Bar Exam.
  • $1,000 for law school students who haven’t been admitted and did not file an early registration, or for those who have been admitted under one year.
  • $1,600 for attorneys who have been admitted for more than one year but less than five years
  • $2,000 for attorneys who have been admitted for more than five years but less than ten years
  • $2,400 for attorneys who have been admitted for more than ten years but less than fifteen years
  • $3,000 for attorneys who have been admitted for fifteen years or more

Late Bar Application Filing Fees:

  • $325 Late Fee: Must file by June 1 for the July 2015 exam, and by December 15 for the February 2016 exam
  • $625 Late Fee: Must file by June 15 for the July 2015 exam, and by January 15 for the February 2016 exam

 Exam Format

Day One (Part A) – Tuesday:  consists of three hours dedicated to answering essay questions and three hours toward 100 multiple-choice questions

Day Two (Part B) – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

State Essay & Multiple-Choice (Part A): Florida Rules of Judicial Administration (2.330, 2.420, 2.505, and 2.515), Florida Constitutional Law, Federal Constitutional Law, Trusts, Business Entities, Real Property, Evidence, Torts, Wills & Administration of Estates, Criminal Law/Constitutional Criminal Procedure/ and Juvenile Delinquency, Contracts, Articles 3 and 9 of the UCC, Family Law and Dependency, Chapters 4&5 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, and Professionalism.

MBE Topics (Part B): Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. There will also be 10 questions that are indistinguishable from the rest and are not used for scoring.

Grading of the Exam

An average scaled score of 136 or higher is considered a passing grade for Parts A and B of the Florida General Bar Examination. For those who take the February exam, results are typically reported in April. For applicants taking the exam in July, results are typically reported in September.

Florida Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Florida Bar Examination in July 2014 was 71.8%; for February 2015 it was 64.3%.


Texas Bar Exam

Texas Board of Law Examiners
PO Box 13486
Austin, TX 78711
(512)463-1621

http://www.ble.state.tx.us/

Exam Dates

  • July 28-30, 2015
  • February 23-25, 2016
  • July 26-28, 2016

Texas Bar Exam Fees & Deadlines

  • The timely filing deadline for February exam takers is on August 30th prior to the exam. The deadline for July exam takers is on January 30th prior to the exam.
  • In-State Students: $320
  • Out-of-State Students: $435
  • Attorneys Licensed in Another State: $1,040
  • Attorneys Qualified for Admission Without Examination: $890
  • Re-Application for Exam: $320
  • Late Filing Fee: $150
  • MBE Transfer Fee: $25

Exam Format

Day One – Tuesday: Consists of a 90-minute Multistate Performance Test and a 90-minute segment to answer 40 Procedure and Evidence Questions in writing. No breaks between segments.

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Day Three – Thursday: Two 3-hour sessions consisting of 6 essay questions each session (for a total of 12 essay questions)

Tested Subjects

Multistate Performance Test: Requires applicants to sort detailed relevant facts, analyze statutes and cases for relevant legal principals, apply relevant laws to the relevant facts, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, and communicate such items effectively in writing

Procedure and Evidence Questions: covers both criminal and civil procedure and evidence (20 criminal questions and 20 civil questions)

MBE: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts

State Essay Topics: Uniform Commercial Code (2 questions), Business Associations (2 questions), Family Law (2 questions), Wills and Administration (2 questions), Real Property (2 questions), Trust and Guardianship (1 question), and Consumer Law (1 question)

Grading of the Exam

Receiving a total scaled score of 675 or higher is required for passing. Each exam segment is weighted as follows: Multistate Performance Test (10%), Procedure & Evidence (10%), MBE (40%), State Essays (40%)

TX Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Texas Bar Examination in July 2014 was 77%; for February 2015 it was 69%.


NJ Bar Exam

New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners
P.O. Box 973
Trenton, NJ 08625
(609) 984-2111

https://www.njbarexams.org/home

Exam Dates

  • July 29 & 30, 2015
  • February 24 & 25, 2016
  • July 27 & 28, 2016
  • February 22 & 23, 2017
  • July 26 & 27, 2017

Application Fees and Deadlines

  • Timely Application: $575 (October 1 – October 31 for February exam takers, and March 1 – March 31 for July exam takers)
  • Late Application: $850 (November 1 – November 15 for February exam takers, and April 1 – April 15 for July exam takers)
  • Final Application Deadline: $1,100 (November 16 – November 30 for February exam takers, and April 16 – April 30 for July exam takers)
  • Laptop Registration Fee: $0 if timely (December 4 – January 5 for February exam takers, and May 2 – May 30 for July exam takers)

Exam Format

Day One – Wednesday – 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Day Two – Thursday – 7 essay questions based primarily on MBE subjects along with Civil Procedure

Tested Subjects

MBE: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.

Essay: MBE subjects in addition to New Jersey Civil Procedure

Grading of the Exam

Both the MBE and Essay portions of the exam are equally weighted at 50% each. Exam results are typically reported sometime in May for February exam takers and in November for July exam takers.

Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the New Jersey Bar Examination in February 2014 was 66%; for July 2014 it was 78%.


PA Bar Exam

Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
601 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 3600
P.O Box 62535
Harrisburg, PA 17106
(717) 231-3350

http://www.pabarexam.org

Exam Dates

  • July 28 & 29, 2015
  • February 23 & 24, 2016

Application Fees & Deadlines

  • Timely Filing: $575 (applicants must apply by October 30 for the February Exam, and by April 15 for the July Exam)
  • First Late Filing: $725 (applicants must apply by November 15 for the February Exam, and by April 30 for the July Exam)
  • Second Late Filing: $1,025 (applicants must apply by November 30 for the February Exam, and by May 15 for the July Exam)
  • Final Filing Deadline: $1,425 (applicants must apply by December 15 for the February Exam, and by May 30 for the July Exam)
  • MBE Score Transfer Fee: $30

Exam Format

Day One – Tuesday: consists of 1 Performance Test Question and 6 essay questions

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

State Essay Topics: Business Organizations, Civil Procedure (Pennsylvania and federal), Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination, Evidence, Family Law, Federal Constitutional Law, Federal Income Taxes, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts, Uniform Commercial Code (Article II – Sales), Wills/Trusts and Decedents’ Estates

Performance Test Question: This tests an applicant’s ability in using lawyering skills to analyze and sort through factual information, and then formulating an answer for an assigned task.

MBE: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts

Grading of the Exam

The essay portion is combined with the MPT score and then scaled to the MBE. Next, both scores are weighted and combined. They are weighted as follows: essays + MPT (55%), and MBE (45%). A final passing score for the Pennsylvania Bar Examination is 272 or higher.

Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Pennsylvania Bar Examination in February 2015 was 68%; for July 2014 it was 82%.


Maryland Bar Exam

State Board of Law Examiners
2011-F Commerce Park Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410)260-3640

http://www.mdcourts.gov/ble/

Exam Dates

  • July 28 & 29, 2015
  • February 23 & 24, 2016
  • July 26 & 27, 2016

Application Fees and Deadlines

  • Timely Filing: $225 (applications must be filed by January 16, 2015 for the July 2015 exam and by September 15, 2015 for the February 2016 exam)
  • Late Filing: $275 (applications must be filed by May 20, 2015 for the July 2015 exam and by December 21, 2015 for the February 2016 exam)
  • Laptop Fee: $125 (registration for laptop use opens 3 to 4 weeks prior to the exam and for just 2 weeks)

Exam Format

Day One – Tuesday: Consists of two 3-hour sessions. Test takers can decide how to divide their time among 10 essays and 1 Multistate Performance Test

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

State Essay Topics: Agency, Partnerships, Commercial Law, Family Law, Maryland Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility

Performance Test: Requires applicants to sort detailed relevant facts, analyze statutes and cases for relevant legal principals, apply relevant laws to the relevant facts, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, and communicate such items effectively in writing.

MBE: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts

Grading of the Exam

A total scaled score of 406 or higher is considered a passing score for the Maryland Bar Exam.

MD Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Maryland Bar Examination in February 2014 was 71%; for July 2014 it was 77%.

Illinois Bar Exam

Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar
625 South College Street
Springfield, Illinois 62704
(217)522-5917

https://www.ilbaradmissions.org

Exam Dates

  • July 29 & 30, 2015

Application Fees & Deadlines

For Students who filed the proper law student registration application separate from the exam in Illinois

  • Timely Filing: $500 (must file by February 15 for the July exam and by September 1 for the February exam)
  • Late Filing: $700 (must file by April 1 for the July exam and November 1 for the February exam)
  • Final Filing Deadline: $1,000 (must file by May 31 for the July exam and by December 31 for the February exam)

For individuals that have not previously filed an Illinois law student registration application

  • Timely Filing: $950 (must file by February 15 for the July exam and by September 1 for the February exam)
  • Late Filing: $1,150 (must file by April 1 for the July exam and November 1 for the February exam)
  • Final Filing Deadline: $1,450 (must file by May 31 for the July exam and by December 31 for the February exam)

IL Bar Exam Format

Day One – Tuesday:  A Multistate Performance Test (MPT) Question followed by the Illinois Essay Exam containing 6 essay questions

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

State Essay Topics: Administrative Law, Agency, Conflicts of Laws, Commercial Paper, Equity, Corporations, Federal Jurisdiction  & Procedure, Partnership, Family Law, Federal Taxation, Personal Property, Illinois Civil Procedure, Sales, Secured Transactions, Suretyship, Wills, Trusts & Future Interests, Criminal Law & Procedure

Performance Test: Requires applicants to sort detailed relevant facts, analyze statutes and cases for relevant legal principals, apply relevant laws to the relevant facts, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, and communicate such items effectively in writing.

MBE: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Contracts/Sales, and Torts

Grading of the Exam

A combined scaled score of 266 or higher is considered a passing score for the Illinois Bar Exam

Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Illinois Bar Examination in February 2014 was 84%; for July 2014 it was 85%.


Virginia Bar Exam

Virginia Board of Bar Examiners
2201 West Broad Street
Suite 101
Richmond, VA 23220
(804)367-0412

http://barexam.virginia.gov

VA Bar Exam Dates

  • July 28 & 29, 2015
  • February 23 & 24, 2016

Fees & Deadlines

All applications must be received by May 10 for the July Exam and by December 15 for the February exam.

  • Exam Fee: $375
  • Character & Fitness Questionnaire: $425
  • Laptop Fee: $125

Exam Format

Day One – Tuesday: 9 essay questions and 10 short answer questions

Day Two – Wednesday: 200-question Multistate Bar Examination divided into two 3-hour sessions

Tested Subjects

Essay & Short Answer: Agency, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Business Organizations, Creditor’s Rights, Criminal Law, Domestic Relations, Equity, Evidence, Federal Practice and Procedure, Local Government Law, Professional Responsibility, Real and Personal Property, Sales, Taxation, Torts, Trusts, Uniform Commercial Code, Virginia Civil and Criminal Procedure, Wills and Estate Administration

MBE: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts, Civil Procedure

Grading of the Exam

Both parts of the exam are weighted and combined to see if an applicant has achieved an overall passing score. The essay and short answer question portion of the exam is weighted at 60%, while the MBE portion is weighted at 40%. A total scaled score of 140 or higher is considered a passing score on the Virginia Bar Exam.

VA Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Virginia Bar Examination in July 2014 was 73%; for the February 2015 exam it was 67%.


Louisiana Bar Exam

Committee on Bar Admissions
2800 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Suite 310
Metairie, LA 70002
(504)836-2420

www.lascba.org

Exam Dates

  • July 20th, 22nd, & 24th, 2015

Fees & Deadlines

  • Timely Application Fee: $550 (Must apply by Nov 1 for the February Exam, and by Feb 1 for the July Exam)
  • Late Application Fee: An additional $750 (The final application deadline is December 15 for the February Exam, and May 15 for the July Exam)
  • Law Student Registration Fee: $25 (For students who attended an ABA accredited law school in Louisiana; must be done by October 1 prior to exam)
  • Late Law Student Application Fee: $200  (Students who attended an ABA accredited law school and didn’t participate in the Law Student Registration Program)
  • Laptop Fee: $125

Exam Format & Subjects

The Louisiana Bar consists of two parts: Part 1 is a nine-part written examination, and part 2 is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

Day One – Monday: Civil Code I, Civil Code II, and Civil Code III

Day Two – Wednesday: La. C.C.P., Torts, and Business Entities & Negotiable Instruments

Day Three – Friday: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Procedure & Evidence, and Federal Jurisdiction & Procedure

Grading of the Exam

The 9 subjects tested on the examination are each worth 100 raw points. Applicants who earn a 650 out of 900 possible points will pass.

LA Bar Exam Pass Rate

The pass rate for first-time takers of the Louisiana Bar Examination in February 2014 was 47%; for July 2014 it was 75%.

 

Now that you are familiar with the Bar Exam requirements for various states, click the button below to find the best online bar review courses.


How To Become A Lawyer

Lawyers serve as advisors, advocates, and representatives for their clients, which may include individuals, corporations, or government agencies. Their job often includes preparing and filing legal documents, interpreting laws and regulations, and researching and analyzing legal issues.

The most common path to becoming a lawyer in the United States is to graduate from law school and pass the bar exam in the state or states in which you intend to practice law. You must meet the following requirements:

1. Bachelor’s Degree

In order to apply to law school in the United States, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. Selecting an appropriate major is an important step in this process.

Which Major Should I Choose?

Although some colleges and universities offer a degree in Prelaw, many students major in a different field. Unlike for medical school, there are no prerequisites for law school. In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any one track or specific major to prepare students for law school. On its website, the ABA encourages undergraduates to take challenging courses that will hone their research and writing skills to prepare them for law school. Examples of popular majors for law students include Political Science, Philosophy, History, English, Business, and Economics. Interestingly, a 2012 article by U.S. News & World Report looked at data from about 78,000 law school applicants and found that those who majored in Prelaw and Criminal Justice were less likely to get into law school than students who majored in other subjects, such as Philosophy, Economics and Journalism.

GPA and LSAT Scores

In addition to choosing a major that will prepare you for law school, you should focus on getting excellent grades and high Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores. Law school admissions committees weigh both very heavily along with the reputation of your undergraduate university.

Your undergraduate GPA matters because admissions to top law schools are competitive, and because admissions committees want to know if you will be able to handle the academic rigors of law school. The best law schools are looking for at least a 3.5, however, the undergraduate GPAs of enrolled students at elite schools are often higher, typically 3.7 or above.

The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) site has a tool that allows you to enter your GPA and your LSAT scores (or other search terms) to find a law school that may be a good match for you. It then calculates how likely you are to be admitted to that school based on recent admissions trends.

Taking the LSAT

Taking the LSAT is an essential part of applying to law school. This standardized, half-day test is administered four times a year (June, September/October, December and February). Most law schools require the LSAT to be taken by December if you are applying to law school for the following fall. The basic LSAT costs $170.

The LSAC website defines the purpose of the LSAT as providing a standardized evaluation of reading and verbal reasoning skills for law schools to determine applicants’ abilities. More specifically, the test measures students’ ability to read and comprehend complicated texts, organize and manage information, draw reasonable conclusions, think critically, and analyze and appraise the reasoning process and arguments of other people.

The test is divided into five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Only four of these sections count towards your score. (One section is used to try out new test questions that may be included on future LSAT exams.) The multiple-choice sections are divided into reading comprehension questions, analytical reasoning questions, and logical reasoning questions. Finally, there is a 35-minute unscored writing sample that is submitted to law schools along with the rest of your application.

The LSAT is scored from 120-180 points. Although the average LSAT score is 151, the median score at the most selective law schools in the last two years has been 167 or higher, as you can see on the U.S. News & World Report site. Students who are not happy with their score can take the test again. Most law schools only look at the highest score; however, schools have access to all of your LSAT scores and may average them. You can register for the LSAT on the LSAC website.

2. Go to Law School

Choosing a School

Choosing a law school is an important decision that may determine if you get a job when you graduate. Finding a job has been very challenging for law school graduates in the past few years, even for those who attended a top law school. The ABA publishes job placement rates for accredited schools on an annual basis.

Your odds of landing a job will be better if you do your research in advance. The good news for students entering law school in the next few years is that the job market is beginning to show signs of improvement, not least because law school enrollment numbers have been dropping steadily.

You should probably attend a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Many states do not allow students to sit for the bar examination if they did not graduate from an ABA-approved law school. (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Alabama are among a handful of states that are exceptions to this rule, although students must meet other state requirements.)

Attending an ABA-accredited school is your best bet, especially if you decide to practice in a different state one day. Even if students from non-ABA-accredited schools are able to sit for the bar exam in their state, they are less likely to pass, and less likely to get hired.

U.S. News & World Report publishes annual law school rankings. Attending a top ten school (such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Chicago, NYU, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke, or the University of California, Berkeley) can be a good move if you can get in. Law school rankings matter more than any other graduate school ranking because the best professors want to teach at these schools and the most prestigious firms want to hire their students, even in a difficult job market. These schools have name-recognition and long-standing relationships with big law firms, which may set aside summer internships and often recruit students on campus.

On the other hand, students are often advised to go to law school in the city or state where they plan to practice. This facilitates taking the bar exam, and local businesses and firms may prefer students who are from the area and plan to stay there. For example, if you plan to practice law in North Carolina, it might make more sense to study law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or North Carolina Central University than at an out-of-state school. If your local school is also ranked highly, you will have the best of both worlds because you can stay in the area or practice law in another state if you get a great job offer.

Paying for Law School

Another significant factor in your decision should be the price. Going to a top 20 law school can cost between $45,000 and $55,000 per year in tuition and fees alone. When you add $15,000-$20,000 in rent, living expenses, books and insurance, you are looking at a total price tag of $60,000-$75,000 per year. Less expensive options, such as the University of Arkansas, the University of Montana, and The University of Akron will still set you back between $24,000 and $30,000 in tuition and fees per year (if you do not qualify for in-state tuition) in addition to living expenses and lost income for not working (or working part time) for three years. If you attend a state school, costs will be much lower, especially if you are a resident. Scholarships and grants can also defray some of those costs. Non-traditional students may make ends meet by working during the day and attending law school at night.

Legal Internships During Law School

Internships are a great opportunity to practice the skills you have learned in school and build your resume. Different types of firms specialize in different areas of the law. Internships will vary according to the size of the firm and its primary focus. The internship after your second year in law school (2L) is the most important. Often, a summer associate position during the summer before you graduate will lead to a job offer as a full-time associate with that firm after graduation.

Most law schools have career services departments that connect students with employers and help students navigate the interviewing and hiring process. Law schools typically host a number of job fairs during the year for students to meet law firm representatives and find out about various internships.

You should attempt to get legal experience after your first year of law school as well. Smaller firms are more likely to accept a 1L summer associate. Other options include becoming an intern for a judge, working for a public interest organization, or doing research for a law school professor.

Be aware that on-campus interviews for summer associate positions after your 2L year take place as early as the summer after your 1L year.

Bigger firms actively recruit a number of students for summer positions to identify the strongest candidates. They often hold information sessions and short interviews at law schools or hotels. Positions at the most prestigious corporate firms are very competitive. Students with the highest GPA and those at the most elite law schools will have the most options.

Working at a smaller law firm may not pay as well or be as prestigious, but it could give you more hands-on experience. Becoming a summer associate gives students the opportunity to check out the culture at a particular firm, find out if they like working in a particular law specialty, add experience to a resume, network, and earn a nice paycheck over the summer.

You should treat a summer associate position as a lengthy job interview. Law firms will expect you to do similar work to that of a full-time first year associate, with a number of added social and financial perks. They will try to convince you that their firm is a great place to work, but they will also be watching to see if you are a good fit and a hard worker to determine whether they should offer you a full-time position.

3. Pass the Bar Exam

Bar Exam Format

After you graduate with your JD you must still pass the bar exam in the state or states in which you intend to practice law. Each jurisdiction has its own bar exam requirements, although some states and jurisdictions have reciprocity.

In most states, the bar exam is held twice a year (July and February) in specific testing locations. Results are published three to four months later.

The bar exam is a rigorous two to three-day exam, and most law students spend many weeks or months studying for it. It is more challenging that the LSAT, and many students take bar review courses to prepare themselves. It varies from one state or jurisdiction to the next, but the first part is typically the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).

On the MBE, test takers have six hours to answer 200 multiple-choice questions (broken up into two three-hour sessions of 100 questions each). Questions cover the following categories: criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, contracts, evidence, real property, and torts. The MBE counts for as much as 50% of your overall bar exam score, depending on the jurisdiction.

The second part of the bar exam covers state-specific law, and takes place on a different day. In most states, this part of the exam takes the form of essay questions.

Some jurisdictions require the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) as the third part of the bar exam, which may or may not be administered at the same time as the other two sections of the exam. The MPT tests your ability to apply your knowledge of the law in realistic scenarios.

The UBE and the MPRE

A number of jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). This exam includes the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), in addition to the MBE and the MPT. The advantage of this two-day test is that it is uniformly administered, graded, and scored by all of these jurisdictions and is therefore portable and transferable among them. (Some UBE jurisdictions may have additional requirements that pertain to jurisdiction-specific law and/or specific educational components for that jurisdiction).

Most jurisdictions also require the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) for admission to the bar. This two-hour multiple-choice exam tests established standards for professional conduct.

Bar Exam Scoring and Pass Rates

Each jurisdiction uses its own bar exam format, scoring, and passing scores. A particular jurisdiction’s bar exam rules and regulations can usually be found on their website along with detailed statistics about pass rates for first-time and repeat test takers.

Overall passing rates for the California Bar Exam for all test takers (i.e. first-time and repeat takers) in 2014 were 45.3% (February) and 48.6% (July). (Pass rates are typically higher for first-time test takers).

Overall passing rates for the New York Bar Exam for all test takers in 2014 were 47% (February) and 65% (July). (Pass rates are typically higher for first-time test takers).

National data for the 2014 MBE and MPRE (broken down by jurisdiction) are available at the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website.

In summary, you must meet all the requirements listed above (and perhaps a few more) to be admitted to the bar and be eligible to practice law in your state. The road to becoming a lawyer is long and challenging, but it can lead to a rewarding profession.


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CPA Exam vs. Bar Exam: Which One is Harder?

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Comparing apples and oranges is the oft-used expression when two things of different qualities and characteristics are evaluated side by side. Sometimes, however, it’s necessary to make such comparisons, as life-altering decisions are made after these assessments. For professionals who are looking to take the next step in their careers, a big choice is often whether to take the CPA exam or the Bar exam.

The CPA Exam and the Bar Exam: Which is More Difficult?

While comparing the CPA to the Bar is akin to comparing apples and oranges, there are enough similarities to make this a difficult decision for those in the accounting, legal, and financial industries. Someone with a CPA can work in a law firm and an individual with a Juris Doctor could be employed at an accounting or financial entity.

Keep in mind, the Bar exam has much more difficult requirements to even sit for the exam—you need to go to law school, which is quite a commitment, both financially and in terms of time. While the CPA requires accounting experience and coursework, there’s a lower bar for entry for this test.

CPA Exam and Bar Exam Similarities

Alright, so why are these tests similar? Well, first and foremost, you need to study for both of these exams for a significant number of hours. The material on each is difficult, but if you prepare enough for an extended period of time, they are both passable.

Both tests have a writing component and multiple choice questions. The ratio of these is basically inverse, but there’s some overlap with regard to test structure. Each exam is also offered at certain points during the year, so you cannot just retake the test immediately if you do not pass.

That’s really it in terms of similarities—other than those basic overlaps, the tests are VERY DIFFERENT. Each is among the hardest of the standardized exams, but they are this way for very different reasons.

CPA and BAR Exam Structure

The CPA exam is four different sections (tests), all of which differ significantly, so it’s tough to figure out which exam to take first. One of the sections features a long writing portion, as well as multiple choice questions and task-based simulations, while the other sections just contain the latter-two components.

The multiple choice question testlets change based on how you do on the previous sections, and the task-based simulations will vary significantly. There’s a chance that a large portion of what you study won’t appear on the test, so be prepared to be caught off guard. Luckily, cpa prep courses have become increasingly sophisticated to help you study, based on your strengths and weaknesses.

The Bar exam is basically three different tests, but they are presented back-to-back-to-back for three consecutive days. There are six different versions of the exam, so you’re not going to get the same version as other students. This isn’t as rigid of a test, as there isn’t a “right” answer to many of the questions.

The multiple choice questions are presented one day, so you’re going to be able to knock these out during that testing session and be done with this part.

Two of the days will feature essays known as writing prompts—your hands are going to hurt after these days. Based on how you respond, using logic and your legal knowledge, you can be right or wrong, so memorizing answers isn’t going to help at all.

CPA and BAR Exam Content

So, in terms of the actual exam… there’s a big difference for each state in terms of the Bar. California and New York are famously difficult, with the former having 13 “topics” and the latter having 14. Although that’s a lot, you’re not going to need to know all of that, but you won’t know which of the topics are going to be on the exam!

While it’s extremely difficult to study and understand such a massive amount of information, there’s not too many surprises on the Bar exam.

The CPA exam is far different in terms of content. The four sections are drastically different, so you’re going to break the studying into specific topics for each test. Your exam may not cover everything and could actually include just a small portion of what you studied.

For the CPA it’s basically about trying to know a little bit about each of the topics. Since there’s four different tests, you need to know different information for each test. It’s kind of a pump and dump method—once you pass a given section, it’s best to clear your mind and start over for the next portion.

This test varies in difficulty for each section, too. The FAR section is way easier for some people—this depends on work experience, school, etc.—while the REG or AUD sections could be a cakewalk for other people, when compared to the other topics. So, just know that you’re going to do much better on certain sections than others.

Testing Schedules for the CPA Exam and BAR Exam

The CPA exam scheduling is difficult to keep up with, as it changes constantly and is confusing. Even applying for the test is difficult, as you can see here. But, once you’ve applied and you can sit for the test, there’s a specific window in which you can take your first section. Then, after you take, and hopefully pass that first section, you have 18 months to pass all four portions of the exam. If you fail to pass all four sections, then you’re going to watch sections EXPIRE, which is devastating.

There are certain time periods in which you can take the various sections: the first two months of each quarter and the next 10 days of the following month. So, basically, you cannot take the test for 20 or so days each quarter. Annoying, but not terrible.

The Bar, while not as complicated, is offered only twice a year, and you have to wait a full six months to take it again if you fail. If your job and future depends on passing the exam, then you’re not going to be happy with this lack of testing availability.

Which Test is More Difficult: BAR or CPA?

So, in the end, which is more difficult? Well, that’s really impossible to say. For a short period of your life, the Bar exam will be the WORST thing in the entire world. This is not a feeling that you’ll have with the CPA, as that test is more extended misery than short-term desperation.

If you’re more of a “by-the-book” person, I would say go for the CPA. The Bar exam is more based on inferences and applying knowledge, while the CPA is about being able to recount information, remember formulas and processes, and perform standard problem solving methods.

If you were a great studier in college, went to class every day, and did well on exams, I’d say the CPA exam is easier. If you were someone who crammed for tests, the Bar exam is probably going to be the easier option. Get started on prepping for the bar exam today!

 

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