The California Bar Exam does not test THAT much California Law
The California Bar Exam is notoriously difficult. It has one of the highest passing scores in the United States and it has one of the lowest pass rates. It may surprise you to know that the California Bar Exam itself does not actually test that much California law. The California bar exam is broken down as follows:
- The Multistate Bar Exam (worth 50%)
- The written portion (worth 50%)
- Five 60-minute essay questions (worth 100 points each and about 35% of one’s total score)
- One Performance Test (worth 200 points and about 15% of one’s total score)
The Multistate Bar Exam is a national test and California law is not tested at all.
The Performance Test also does not tend to test California law but instead is a test of one’s lawyerly skills.
The essay portion is, therefore, the only portion of the California Bar Exam that tests California law. And not all of the essays test California law.
In fact, of these subjects, below you can see when California law is typically tested:
- Agency and Partnership- NOT tested
- Civil Procedure – NOT tested (California law was tested twice total in the recent past!)
- Community Property – TESTED
- Constitutional Law – NOT tested
- Contracts – NOT tested
- Corporations – NOT tested
- Criminal Law & Procedure – NOT tested
- Evidence – TESTED (about 50% of the time)
- Professional Responsibility – TESTED (always)
- Real Property – NOT tested
- Remedies – NOT tested
- Torts – NOT tested
- Trusts – TESTED (California law is tested about 50% of the time)
- Wills – TESTED (California law is almost always tested)
So of the 14 essay subjects we’ve listed here, California law is only tested exclusively in three of the subjects (Community Property, Professional Responsibility, Wills) and it is tested about half the time in two of the subjects (Evidence, Trusts). In the nine remaining subjects, it is not tested at all. So, it is tested in about only 35% of the essay subjects (depending on how you divide up the subjects). And the essay portion is worth 35% of one’s total score. So, California specific law really could make up about 10-15% of your score if the subjects are tested about evenly.
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Of course, this does not mean you should ignore California law when you study for the California bar exam! It is very important to prepare fully for this difficult exam! It is just worth it to know how much California law is actually tested!
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