The following information is applicable to the June 2023 administration of the First-Year Law Students’ Examination.
The First-Year Law Students' Exam includes both essay and multiple-choice questions and is administered in one day. The four essay questions are administered separately in four one-hour sessions (four hours total). The 100 multiple-choice questions are administered in two separate 90-minute sessions of 50 questions each (three hours total).
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 (UCC) 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.
The 100 multiple-choice questions measure the content areas of Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts. Starting with the October 2022 exam, 25 of the 100 questions administered on the exam are new multiple-choice items being operationally pretested. The pretested items include items from each content area. With an operational pretest, all 100 items administered on the exam will be scored. Following administration, the new exam questions are analyzed to determine if they result in appropriate statistics to ensure fairness for applicants. Any new questions that do not meet evaluation criteria will be removed from scoring so that they do not harm an applicant’s score.
The remaining items will be equally weighted such that a perfect raw score will still be 100. Thus, an applicant’s raw multiple-choice score will equal the number of items answered correctly multiplied by their weighting. Through a process known as “equating,” the weighted 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. In order to earn a grade of 40, the applicant must at least identify the subject of the question and attempt to apply the law to the facts of the question. If these criteria are not met, the answer is assigned a zero. 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.
The Committee of Bar Examiners believes that its grading and administrative systems afford each applicant a full and fair opportunity to take the exam and fair and careful consideration of their answers on the exam and that no useful purpose would be served by further consideration by the Committee. All scores have been automatically checked for mathematical errors. All answers with scores within the reread range after one reading have been reviewed a second time and double-checked for any mathematical errors before grades were released. For these reasons, the Committee will consider requests for reconsideration only when an applicant establishes with documented evidence that a clerical error resulted in failure or prevented the exam from being properly graded.
The Committee will not extend reconsideration based on challenges to its grading system or the judgments of its professional graders. Requests for reconsideration submitted by or on behalf of an unsuccessful applicant must be in writing and meet the criteria specified above. Requests not meeting those criteria may be summarily denied on that basis, without further explanation. All requests for reconsideration of grades must be received by the Office of Admissions no later than two weeks after the release of results.