Applicants taking the California Bar Examination should carefully read this bulletin prior to the first day of the exam, as it contains important information that you will need to know.
Download a PDF version of the Admittance Ticket Bulletin
This year’s July California Bar Examination has been postponed to October and will be offered online and remotely proctored to all applicants. In-person exam administration will be provided to those for whom online remote proctoring is not available and to those with approved testing accommodations that cannot be effectively provided and securely administered in a remote environment. The exam is scheduled to be administered on Monday and Tuesday, October 5 and 6, 2020.
Because of reformatting for online administration, the Attorneys' Examination will be administered over two days instead of the usual one day: The essay questions will be administered on the first day and the Performance Test will be administered on the afternoon of the second day.
Applicants must use laptop computers and must be logged into the system no later than 8:20 a.m. The exam will begin immediately following establishment of the applicant’s identity and delivery of instructions. You must be logged into the system no later than 1:50 p.m. for the afternoon session, with re-establishment of your identity and delivery of instructions to begin promptly thereafter. The exam session will commence at 2:00 p.m.
All in-person applicants must be seated no later than 8:30 a.m. The exam will begin immediately following the instructions. You should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early for temperature screening and to locate your assigned room. You must be seated no later than 1:50 p.m. for the afternoon session and instructions will begin promptly thereafter. The exam session will commence at 2:00 p.m. Arriving late to the test center will not alter the start time of your examination.
The examination is scheduled to conclude on Monday at 4:25 p.m. and on Tuesday at approximately 3:10 p.m. Applicants granted extended time may have different schedules, which are communicated to them individually in advance of the exam.
The California Bar Examination is comprised of the General Bar Examination and the Attorneys’ Examination. The General Bar Examination consists of three parts: five essay questions, the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), and one Performance Test (PT). The parts of the exam may not be taken separately, and California does not accept the transfer of MBE scores from other jurisdictions.
There will be five essay questions administered during a morning and an afternoon session on the first day of the exam. The morning exam session is three hours, with a 15-minute break between each of the session’s three essay questions. There will also be a scheduled one-hour lunch break. The afternoon exam session is two hours, with a 15-minute break between each of the session’s two essay questions.
There will be a morning and an afternoon session on the second day of the exam. The morning exam session will be comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions (split into two 50-question sessions tested over 90 minutes each). There will be a scheduled one-hour lunch break. The afternoon exam session is a 90-minute Performance Test.
Applicants with disabilities granted extended time accommodations will have slightly different schedules, which will be communicated to them in advance of the exam.
On the written portion of the exam, applicants are initially graded on the basis of 700 maximum possible raw points. An applicant can earn up to 100 raw points on each of the five essay questions and up to 200 raw points on the PT. For the October 2020 administration of the exam, a 100-question MBE-like multiple-choice exam will be administered. The MBE is used to scale the bar exam, as the sum of all scores assigned by the Graders on the written portion of the exam are converted to the same units of measurement as that used for the 2000-point MBE scale. The State Bar is working with its psychometrician on a plan that strives to sustain high exam reliability while maintaining a standard that is reflective of past exams. The methodology centers on converting scores on the 100-item multiple-choice exam to an MBE-like score, by employing a raw-to-scale conversion plan that utilizes the NCBE’s historic MBE raw-to-equated scale score transformations.
General Bar Examination applicants will have their pass/fail status based on an equal weighting of the written portion (50 percent) and the MBE portion (50 percent). The passing score on the examination is 1390.
The Attorneys' Examination consists of the five essay questions and one PT from the General Bar Examination. An applicant can earn up to 100 raw points on each essay question and up to 200 raw points on the PT. The same methodology as described above will be used to convert the written scores to a 2000-point scale. The score for the Attorneys’ Exam is based 100 percent on the written portion. The passing score is 1390.
If an applicant is absent for any portion of the exam, the applicant will be considered as having not taken the exam; the applicant’s written answers will not be graded; and, if the applicant intends to take a future administration of the exam, they will be subject to the same application filing deadlines applicable to first-time applicants rather than the deadlines applicable to immediate repeaters.
The Committee of Bar Examiners judges the validity of the exam and, at its discretion, may determine that the result of any test or any part of any test or any individual's score is not valid. Should the Committee invalidate any part of the test, or if any individual's test is declared invalid or for any reason any part of the test cannot be graded, the Committee may, at its discretion, decide to make a pass/fail decision on the basis of the valid portion of the applicant's test product available to the Committee.
If you are an attorney applicant and have been approved to take the Attorneys’ Examination, you are not permitted to take the Multistate Bar Examination. Written notification of an attorney’s decision to take the General Bar Examination instead of the Attorneys’ Examination or to take the Attorneys’ Examination instead of the General Bar Examination must be received in the Office of Admissions by the final filing deadline for applications. Requests for changes received after that date will not be processed; applicants must pass the exam selected and approved by the Office of Admissions.
For attorney applicants with disabilities who have been granted accommodations that include an extended day schedule, the number of testing days will be specified in your Testing Accommodations Notice..
Failure to follow exam rules while the examination is in session will result in notice to the State Bar of California of a violation of examination rules in accordance with the provisions of Title 4, Division 1, Chapter 6 of the Rules of the State Bar of California (Admissions Rules). Conduct that results in a violation of security or disrupts the administration of the exam, which includes, but is not limited to, having unauthorized items with you during the examination (such as cell phones, digital watches and timing devices, notes, etc.), writing or typing after time has been called, attempting to cheat or avoid/override the remote proctoring system, or leaving the view of the camera while the exam is in session, will result in notice to the State Bar of a violation of exam rules or, in some cases, can lead to a negative referral to the Moral Character Determination unit. In addition, applicants who are testing in person are expected at all times to maintain a professional attitude toward other applicants, staff, proctors, and other exam personnel. Behavior that is abusive or disruptive may result in dismissal from the exam test center and will be reported to the State Bar or the Committee for appropriate action. It is expected that all applicants will demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during this exam, and all exams administered by the State Bar of California.
The remote-proctored exam will be continuously monitored by artificial intelligence and human proctors, and any and all anomalies or suspicious behavior will be flagged accordingly. Flagged video files will be reviewed by the State Bar and conduct violations determined to be serious will result in strict sanctions. Sanctions may include but are not limited to a zero for the flagged exam session, a zero for the entire exam, and a negative impact on your moral character determination. For less serious conduct and rule violations, the State Bar or the Committee may take whatever action it deems appropriate.
Applicants may not wear hats, caps, hoods, or any other type of headwear during the exam. The Committee, however, will consider petitions filed by applicants seeking exemptions from that policy, which would permit them to wear headwear due to their religious beliefs while in a secure exam test center or while testing remotely. Such petitions must be submitted online through the Applicant Portal no later than the final deadline for filing testing accommodations petitions. Upon arrival at an in-person test center, applicants must be prepared to show a letter from the Committee that permits them to wear the headwear in the exam room. The headwear may be subject to inspection. Applicants attempting to enter the test center wearing headwear who do not have a letter from the Committee authorizing them to do so will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice and will be asked to remove the headwear. Letters allowing headwear for applicants testing remotely will be kept on file with the State Bar and compared against the applicant’s uploaded video file to determine whether a violation has occurred.
Only the following items are allowed in the exam areas without prior approval. All items are subject to inspection at the in-person test centers:
The following laptop accessories are allowed:
Applicants who will be testing in person are allowed to have the following items in addition to those listed above:
Applicants who will be handwriting their examination answers must bring their own standard blue or black ink ballpoint pens. Applicants must also bring their own pencils (several sharpened pencils are recommended) for the multiple-choice portion of the examination. Mechanical pencils are not permitted. Pencil sharpeners and separate erasers will not be allowed into the examination room.
Please note that applicants, whether testing remotely or in person, cannot have wallets, tissues, lip balm, cough drops/throat lozenges, gum, candy, or other food or drinks in the examination room. Water and tissues will be available nearby at the in-person test centers. Applicants testing in-person with an online format will not have access during testing, only during breaks.
During the MBE sessions, the items listed above are allowed in the exam room, except for pens, highlighters, back supports, orthopedic cushions, pillows, bookstands or footrests, and any laptop and laptop accessories.
If unauthorized items are brought into the exam room either intentionally or inadvertently, they will be confiscated or noted, the applicant will receive a Chapter 6 Notice and, possibly, additional sanctions imposed by the State Bar or by the Committee. In accordance with the Committee’s policies, applicants will receive a score of zero for any session during which they are found to have brought an unauthorized electronic device, such as a cell phone, digital watch or timer, or activity tracker device (e.g., Fitbit), into the exam room, as well as any additional sanctions the State Bar or the Committee may impose.
You will be required to establish your identity at the beginning of each session (at the start and after each break). If the system cannot confirm your identity, you will not be able to proceed with the exam.
The following conduct will be prohibited:
If items other than those allowed are detected during the exam, you will be flagged by the system and a corresponding sanction may be issued, after review by State Bar staff.
You are not allowed to make notes from memory prior to the start of the exam session. Laptop users may not access any notes or other documents at any point during the exam. Digital scratch paper will be available in the Examplify program.
The exam is electronically timed and applicants can set a timer in the system. Applicants are encouraged to keep track of their own time.
Please note that extra time is not granted to any individual applicant for any reason. If you attempt to continue completing the exam after the session has ended, you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice.
You should use the restroom before starting each session of the exam. You will not be permitted to use the restroom or leave the view of the web camera during the exam session.
If you leave the exam area during the exam session, you will be issued a Chapter 6 notice, and you will receive a score of zero for the entire exam session.
Smoking is not allowed during any exam session, both in-person and remote. Smoking is prohibited at test centers located in buildings that do not allow smoking in accordance with city ordinance. Regardless of whether smoking is prohibited, any applicant who exits the secure exam area in order to smoke while the exam is in progress will not be allowed to re-enter to complete the examination.
After you have been notified your admittance ticket is available, you may complete the steps to make sure your laptop is ready for exam day. You must:
Confirmation: After you have downloaded the eight exam files, you will be advised via email by ExamSoft that you have done so. Those confirmation emails are the only certification that your laptop is ready for the exam. You may check your status and view your download/upload history online by launching Examplify from your laptop and confirming you have the eight downloads. Log in using the Exam Takers box, click the Exam History button to review your record and confirm that you have downloaded the exam and mock exam files and have uploaded the mock exam answer files. You should have a total of eight answer files for the October 2020 California Bar Exam.
It is the responsibility of applicants using laptop computers to timely upload their exam files containing their answers to the five essay questions, one Performance Test, and two parts of the multiple-choice exam. Applicants must also timely upload their video files for each exam session, for a total of eight video files. Applicants who fail to upload their answer and/or video files by the published deadline will have a deduction of 10 scaled points taken from their scaled score. Applicants who fail to upload their answer and/or video files within two weeks of the published deadline will be given a grade of zero for each answer that is not received by the State Bar’s Office of Admissions by the published deadline. Applicants are expected to comply with the published deadlines; there are no waivers of the deadlines or the sanctions that will be imposed as a result of applicants’ failure to upload their exam and video files.
While every effort will be made to keep the environment of the test center comfortable and quiet, there are times when events, conditions, or actions of third parties occur that are beyond the control of the State Bar or the Committee. For instance, the temperature of the test center may fluctuate due to the weather or the test center’s cooling/heating equipment; applicants should be prepared for either warm or cold temperatures. Efforts will be made to keep the test center quiet, but there may be forces outside the control of the State Bar or the Committee so that such an environment cannot be guaranteed. You should come prepared to accommodate noises, such as those made by other applicants taking the exam, proctors carrying out their duties, people entering/exiting the exam room, equipment inside or outside the test center that may make sounds while operating, other meetings or conventions in the same facility, etc. Ear plugs, of the type specified earlier, are strongly recommended.
If you do not attend a required, scheduled exam session, you will not be permitted to attend the remaining exam session(s). For instance, if you are absent for the Monday morning session, you will not be allowed to take any remaining sessions of the exam. If you are absent for any portion of the exam, you will be considered as having not taken the exam and your written answers will not be graded. If you intend to take a future administration of the exam, you will be subject to the same application filing deadlines applicable to first-time applicants rather than the deadlines applicable to immediate repeaters, if any. Applicants must make a good faith attempt to complete each session of the exam for which they are present. Failure to do so may lead to receipt of a Chapter 6 Notice and being prohibited from attending any remaining exam session(s).
Applicants testing in-person and arriving at the test center after one hour of testing time has elapsed will not be permitted to enter the test center for any portion of the exam.
Applicants testing remotely and logging in after 10 minutes of testing time have elapsed will not be permitted to begin the exam session that has started and will be locked out of the question in progress. Any answers to questions in subsequent exam sessions will not be graded or scored.
Applicants are encouraged to notify the Office of Admissions of a change of address as soon as possible. Applicants are able to update their admissions file with the new address by accessing their account through the Applicant Portal.
The Admissions Rules require a positive moral character determination before the Committee may recommend that an applicant be admitted to practice law. The process is initiated by filing an Application for Determination of Moral Character. The processing of these applications generally takes a minimum of 180 days and sometimes longer to complete. If you have not already filed a moral character application, you should do so now to avoid delays in your admission to practice law if you are successful on the California Bar Examination. The application must be filed online through your Applicant Portal.
Applicants will receive an email alerting them when admittance tickets are ready to be printed. The admittance can be located in the exam case record through the Applicant Portal.
For particular questions regarding your status or the other requirements for admission, you should contact the State Bar's Office of Admissions by sending an email directly from your Applicant Portal. If you need to contact the office by telephone, the following telephone numbers are provided:
The State Bar of California–Los Angeles
845 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
The State Bar of California–San Francisco
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Results from the October 2020 administration of the California Bar Examination will be available to applicants on a date to be determined in January 2021. The contact information on file will be used to communicate your exam results. Please note that applicants will not be able to change their contact information the week before the exam results are released.
You will be able to determine whether your name appears on the pass list through the State Bar’s website at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) on a date to be determined in January 2021. You will need your File Number and Applicant Number, which are listed on the admittance tickets and ID badges, to access the pass list.