California Board of Law Examiners

Office of Admissions

845 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515


The California Bar Exam takes place over over 2-days and covers 13 topics (note: California recently moved to a 2-day format. Check it out here). California is well known as having one of the toughest bar exams in the country. As a result, it has one of the lowest pass rates that requires a lot of study to pass.

California Bar Exam Segment Breakdown

The California Bar Exam is made up of the following exam segments (Harvard has put together a great overview):

  • 5 essays each lasting 1 hour
  • 1 performance test lasting 90 minutes
  • 200 multiple choice questions, taking place the Wednesday of the exam. Click here for a complete study guide.

When is the Exam Administered?

  • February 23 – 25, 2016
  • July 26 – 28, 2016


Topics Covered by the California Bar Exam

The California Bar Exam currently covers 13 topics. These topics are tested on the Essays and Performance Test portions of the exam.

  1. Business Associations
  2. Civil Procedure
  3. Community Property
  4. Constitutional Law
  5. Contracts
  6. Criminal Law and Procedure
  7. Evidence
  8. Professional Responsibility
  9. Real Property
  10. Remedies
  11. Torts
  12. Trusts
  13. Wills and Succession


California also has published outlines in the past of of the specific practice areas that are covered on the bar.


How often does California test a subject on the essay portion of the exam?

California makes it easy to download past exams to help students study for the Bar Exam. You can find it on their website here. They often leave up the last 5-6 years of exams and sample answers. Below is a breakdown by test session, with how often an essay subject is tested.

February Bar Exam:

February Bar Exam - California Topics

July Bar Exam:


Recent Bar Pass Rates and Content Trends

On average over 14,000 people take the California bar exam each year with a 39% average pass rate. The majority of people take the Bar exam in July, having just graduated from law school. Those that do not pass the July bar, will often retake in February.

The following charts show pass rates by year, and the number of students taking in both February and July. See towards the bottom for what the bar has tested on in the essay section over the last 5 years.

February Bar Exam Breakdown:

On average, the February bar has a lower number of students taking (as it is made up of primarily of people who graduated during December), or people who are retaking the bar.

July Bar Exam Breakdown


The California July bar exam is one of the highest populated exams across the country.

How have Schools performed on the California bar?

California allows students from unaccredited schools to take the California Bar exam (having publishes individual school results a few weeks after it releases the February Bar results. Part of this, is that California publishes the individual results from each school. The below list is how schools with first time students fared on the July 2015 bar exam.

July-2015 - Overall Rankings


To see how schools have performed in California, click here:

Site Resources If you are studying for the California Bar: