California Bar Exam Essays By Subject

California Bar Exam Subjects

The bar exam given in California is considered the toughest in the country. It covers 14 subjects over three days and includes essay questions, multiple choice questions, and performance test assignments. Visit the State Bar of California's website for detailed descriptions of the subjects tested on the exam.

Effective with the July 2017 administration, the California Bar Exam will move to a two-day format. For more information on this change, please review the Modification to Format and Grading Notice.

According to the California State Bar, the essay questions are "designed to measure an applicant's ability to analyze legal issues arising from fact situations. Answers are expected to demonstrate the applicant's ability to analyze the facts of the question, to tell the difference between material facts and immaterial facts, and to discern the points of law and fact upon which the question turns... The answer should evidence the applicant's ability to apply the law to the given facts and to reason in a logical, lawyer-like manner from the premises adopted to a sound conclusion. An applicant should not merely show that he/she remembers the legal principles, but should demonstrate his/her proficiency in using and applying them."

The following subjects may be tested on the California bar exam

  • Business Associations (including Agency, Partnership, LLCs and Corporations)
  • Civil Procedure (Federal* and California)
  • Community Property
  • Constitutional Law*
  • Contracts*
  • Criminal Law*
  • Criminal Procedure*
  • Evidence (Federal* and California)
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real Property*
  • Remedies
  • Torts*
  • Trusts
  • Wills

Subjects with an asterisk (*) are tested on both the essay and multiple choice portions of the California Bar Exam. All other subjects are tested only on the essay portion of the exam.

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the Law School Admission Council. The MPRE is required for admission to the California Bar and the bars of all but three U.S. jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico). The purpose of the MPRE is to measure the examinee’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct. The MPRE consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. There are 50 scored questions and 10 nonscored pretest questions. Since the pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored, it is important that examinees answer all questions in the examination. Examinees will have two hours to answer all questions. 

MPRE Subject Matter Outline (via NCBEx)

MPRE Sample Test Questions (via NCBEx)

Kaplan offers a free MPRE Online Review Course (registration required)

Barbri offers a free MPRE Review Course (registration required)


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