Please carefully read this bulletin prior to the first day of the examination as it contains important information that you will need to know. Download this bulletin as a PDF.
The General Bar Examination will be administered on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 25 and 26, 2020. The Attorneys' Examination will be administered on Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Each day, there will be a morning and an afternoon session. Applicants using laptop computers must be seated no later than 8:20 a.m. All applicants must be seated no later than 8:30 a.m. The examination will begin immediately following the instructions. You should plan to arrive at least twenty minutes early to locate your assigned section or room. The afternoon sessions generally begin at 1:30 p.m.; instructions will begin promptly 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. An announcement will be made at the end of the morning session advising you when you are expected to report for the afternoon session. The examination is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday at approximately 5:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at approximately 5:00 p.m. Applicants granted extended time may have different schedules, which are communicated to them individually in advance of the examination.
The California Bar Examination consists 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 examination may not be taken separately, and California does not accept the transfer of MBE scores from other jurisdictions. The examination is administered in February and July each year during the last week of the month that includes a Wednesday. On Tuesday, applicants will have three hours during the morning session to answer three essay questions; during the afternoon session, applicants will have three hours and 30 minutes to answer two essay questions and one PT. Each essay question is designed to be answered in one hour and the PT is designed to be completed in 90 minutes. The MBE will be administered on Wednesday. Applicants with disabilities granted extended time accommodations will have slightly different schedules.
On the written section of the examination, applicants are initially graded on a 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. The scores obtained on the written portion of the examination are then translated to the 2000-point MBE scale. An applicant's total score is the scale MBE score multiplied by .50 plus the converted score on the written section multiplied by .50. Scaling ensures the two portions of the examination carry the relative weights assigned to them: written (50 percent) and MBE (50 percent). The passing score on the examination is 1440.
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. Written scores are scaled to the MBE.The passing score is 1440.
If an applicant is absent for any portion of the examination, the applicant will be considered as having not taken the examination; the applicant’s written answers will not be graded; and, if the applicant intends to take a future administration of the examination, 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 (Committee) is the judge of the validity of the examination 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 who has been approved to take the Attorneys’ Examination (1-day examination), the words “1-Day Exam” should be printed on your admittance ticket. If those words are not printed on your admittance ticket, you are scheduled to take the 2-day General Bar Examination. Requests to change from the 1-day Attorneys’ Examination to the 2-day General Bar Examination, or vice versa, cannot be honored after the final filing deadline for applications. 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 oral and written instructions 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 examination, which includes, but is not limited to, bringing unauthorized items into the examination room (such as cell phones, notes, etc.), writing or typing after time has been called, looking at another applicant’s papers, talking while the examination is in session, being abusive to other applicants, staff, proctors and/or other examination personnel, will result in notice to the State Bar of a violation of examination rules or, in some cases, dismissal from the examination test center. Applicants are expected at all times to maintain a professional attitude toward other applicants, staff, proctors and other examination personnel. Behavior that is disruptive will be reported to the State Bar for whatever action it deems appropriate.
Applicants cannot wear hats, caps, hoods or any other type of headwear during the examination. The State Bar, however, will consider petitions filed by applicants seeking exemptions from the policy that would permit them to wear headwear due to their religious beliefs while in a secure examination test center. Such requests must be submitted on the Committee’s form, which is available online under “Forms” of the State Bar’s website, and filed no later than the final deadline for filing testing accommodations petitions. Upon arrival at the test center, applicants must be prepared to show a letter from the State Bar that permits them to bring the headwear into the examination room and the headwear may be subject to inspection. Applicants attempting to enter the test center wearing headwear who do not have a letter from the State Bar authorizing them to do so will be issued a Chapter 6 Notice and asked to remove the headwear.
Only the following items are allowed in the examination room without prior approval (all items are subject to inspection): the admittance ticket with no writing on it; non-digital pens (if you are handwriting the examination, you must bring your own standard blue or black ink ballpoint pens); silent analog watches, non-digital timers and clocks measuring 4" x 4" or smaller; rulers; paper clips; pen-style highlighters (must not be used on answers); inhalers; eyeglasses (no cases or sunglasses); foam ear plugs (must not be connected to any mechanism or device); feminine hygiene items; prescription medication; diabetes-related equipment (does not include food or drinks); eye drops in single-use vials; government-issued ID; cash (must not have writing on it), credit/debit cards that might be needed for the lunch break; keys and disability-related items that have been approved through the testing accommodation petition process. You may also bring: a back support; an orthopedic cushion; a standard-size pillow without a case; one bookstand; one foot rest; splints and braces; crutches; wheelchairs; casts; hearing aids; TENS units; and, the following laptop accessories: separate keyboard, mouse (wired or wireless), laptop riser/stand no higher than 4”, and a solid color mouse pad with no writing on it.
During the MBE sessions, the items listed above are allowed in the examination room, except for pens, rulers, paper clips, highlighters, back supports, orthopedic cushions, pillows, bookstands or foot rests, and any laptop and laptop accessories.
Applicants who will be handwriting their examination answers, or who are required to handwrite in the event of a laptop/software malfunction, 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 MBE portion of the examination. Mechanical pencils are not permitted. Pencil sharpeners and separate erasers will not be allowed into the examination room.
In addition to other items you must not bring into the examination room, please note that, applicants cannot bring wallets, lip balm, tissues, cough drops/throat lozenges, gum, candy, or other food or drinks into the examination room. Water and tissues will be available nearby.
If you wish to bring items into an examination test center that are not listed above for either the essay and performance test or MBE sessions, you must file a petition for testing accommodations using the Committee’s forms in conformance with the Committee’s policies and deadlines. (This includes pens, back supports, orthopedic cushions, pillows and foot rests during the MBE sessions.) Permission to use specific items will not be granted as a matter of convenience or preference.
If unauthorized items are brought into the examination room either intentionally or inadvertently, they will be confiscated, you will receive a Chapter 6 Notice and, possibly, additional sanctions imposed by the State Bar. In accordance with the Committee’s policies, you will receive a score of zero for any session during which you are found to have brought an unauthorized electronic device, such as a cell phone, digital watch or activity tracker device (e.g., Fitbit), into the examination room, as well as any additional sanctions the State Bar may impose.
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 examination, proctors carrying out their duties, people entering/exiting the examination 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.
After you have been notified your admittance ticket is available for printing, you are eligible to have your laptop computer certified for use during the examination. The required security software (Examplify) must be downloaded onto your computer and the certification process must be completed by Friday, February 21, 2020. The Laptop Computer Program Bulletin for each examination, which is found on the State Bar’s website, contains the details and requirements for participation in the program. Technical assistance will not be available at the test center. You must be prepared to handwrite your examination answers if the software or your computer is not working properly, if electricity is not available, or if some other mishap or problem occurs.
If you are using a laptop computer to take the examination, it is your responsibility to timely upload your exam files containing your answers to the five (5) essay questions and one (1) performance test (1 exam file for each written session for a total of 2 exam files). If you fail to do so by the published deadline, a deduction of ten (10) scaled points will be taken from your total written scaled score. If you fail to upload your answer files within two (2) weeks of the published deadline, you will be given a grade of zero (0) 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 files.
Smoking is prohibited at the test centers that do not allow smoking in accordance with city ordinance. Regardless of whether smoking is prohibited, any applicant who exits the secure examination area in order to smoke while the examination is in progress will not be allowed to re-enter to complete the examination.
If you do not attend a required, scheduled examination session, you will not be permitted to attend the remaining examination session(s). For instance, if you are absent for the Tuesday morning session, you will not be allowed to take any remaining sessions of the examination. If you are absent for any portion of the examination, you will be considered as having not taken the examination and your written answers will not be graded. Applicants must make a good faith attempt to complete each session of the examination 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 examination session(s).
If you arrive at the test center after one (1) hour of testing time has elapsed, you will not be permitted to enter the test center.
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 the filing of the 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 are able to log into the Admissions Portal (Applicant Portal) through the Admissions Information Management System.
Your admittance ticket will be emailed to you. You will be able to re-print a duplicate admittance ticket from your email. You also may change your assigned test center from your applicant portal, although space may not be available at your preferred test center. The last day to change your test center is February 3, 2020.
For particular questions regarding your status or the other requirements for admission, you should contact the State Bar's Office of Admissions in writing. Email communications are not permitted and a response will not be forthcoming if you send an email to the Office of Admissions concerning your file. If you need to contact the office, however, the following telephone numbers are provided:
Results from the February 2020 administration of the California Bar Examination are scheduled to be mailed to applicants on May 8, 2020. The contact information on file will be used to communicate your examination results. Please note that applicants will not be able to change their contact information after May 1, 2020.
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) May 8, 2020. You will need your File Number and Applicant Number, which are listed on the admittance tickets and ID badges, to access the pass list.