California recently announced that it was changing its bar exam from three days to two days. The “old” (current) scoring structure of the California bar exam is detailed here. The California bar exam is currently kind of brutal – with the grading as follows:
- 200 multiple choice questions (MBE) worth 35% of your overall score (maximum number of points you can receive is 700)
- Two three-hour performance tests (MPTs) worth 200 points each or 26% of your overall score (maximum number of points you can receive is 520)
- Six one-hour essays worth 39% of your overall score (maximum number of points you can receive is 780)
The July 2017 California Bar Exam Structure:
The structure of the “new” July 2017 California Bar exam is as follows:
- The first day will have three hour-long essay questions in the morning, two hour-long essay questions in the afternoon as well as an hour and a half multistate performance test.
- The second day will be the “multistate bar exam” which consists of two three-hour sessions of multiple choice questions (100 questions per section)
Both the essay and multiple choice portion of the bar exam will be weighted equally.
This new California bar exam will certainly help students with the physical discomfort of having to take an 18-hour exam over a period of three days! (This grueling exam includes 6 hours of multiple choice, 6 hours of performance tests, and 6 hours of essays!….Cutting down to the MBE, 1.5 hours of a performance test and 5 hour long essays sounds much better!) For that reason, some students inquire as to whether they should wait to take the bar exam.
Important considerations to keep in mind are as follows:
Just because the California bar exam will be shorter does not mean that it will be easier. The grading will likely remain the same. Thus while it might be more comfortable to take a two-day test rather than a three-day test, we do not see the passage rate going up any time soon.
Further, one thing to note is that under the new California bar grading system, both the essay portion and multiple choice portion will be weighted equally. The bar exam is currently graded so that the multiple choice portion is only worth 35% of the overall score — come 2017, it will be weighted “equally” as the written portion — or, presumably, 50% of your score. If you struggle with multiple choice, then the new shorter bar exam may not be as welcoming to you!
Thus, the bar exam will certainly be shorter but not necessarily easier – just different. So while it may sound tempting to delay taking the California bar exam, we do not recommend that anyone purposely delay taking the bar exam for the short exam.
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