The First-Year Law Students' Exam is typically given in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas in June and October each year. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exam is being administered online in June and November.
The exam includes both essay and multiple-choice questions and is administered in one day. Four hours are allocated for completing the four-essay question portion of the exam, and three hours for one hundred multiple-choice questions.
The subjects covered in this exam are: Contracts, Criminal Law and Torts. An answer based upon legal theories and principles of general applicability is sufficient; detailed knowledge of California law is not required. The following provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code should be used where pertinent:
All law students who have successfully completed one year of law study are eligible to apply for the First-Year Law Students' Exam.
An applicant’s raw multiple-choice score will equal the number of items answered correctly. Through a process known as “equating,” the multiple-choice raw scores will be converted to a scale with a theoretical maximum of 400 points. Because there are multiple forms of the exam, this process adjusts for the possible differences between forms and administrations of the exam in the average difficulty of the particular version of the exam that the applicant takes.
An applicant’s assigned grade on an essay question can range between 40 and 100. Total raw essay scores can therefore range between 160 and 400 points. The raw essay scores will be converted, or “scaled” to a distribution that has the same mean and standard deviation of multiple-choice scale scores. Scaling is performed to adjust for the possible differences between the difficulty of the essay questions and/or grading standards from one administration to the next. As a result, an applicant’s scaled essay score will not be affected by the differences between administrations in the difficulty of the essay questions or fluctuations in grading standards.
An applicant’s total score on the exam is the sum of the applicant’s scaled scores on the multiple-choice and essay sections. Thus, equivalent weight is given to each of the two sections in arriving at the total scale score. Applicants need a total scaled score of 560 or higher to pass the exam.
Results from the June administration of the First-Year Law Students’ Exam are released in mid-August and from the October administration in mid-December.
Credit for law study completed after passing the First-Year Law Students’ Exam is governed by the Business and Professions Code and Rule 4.31 of the Admissions Rules as follows:
An applicant who is required to pass the First-Year Law Students’ Exam will not receive credit for any law study until the applicant passes the exam. An applicant who passes the exam within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take the exam will receive credit for all law study completed to the date of the administration of the exam passed, subject to any restrictions otherwise covered by these rules. An applicant who does not pass the exam within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take the exam but who subsequently passes the exam will receive credit for his or her first year of law study only.