California Supreme Court Cuts State Bar Exam to Two Days

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 18, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lawyer-hopefuls can now rejoice: California's Supreme Court has conferred its approval for the State Bar of California's shortening of the bar exam from three days to two. Lucky examiners will get to try out the new test in July of 2017.

We lawyers here at FindLaw would probably be lying if we didn't admit some envy for law students who will dodge California's storied 3-day bar exam. For as long as anyone can remember, the three day exam has been prompting divorce, causing heart attacks, and more. Thankfully, that's almost all in the past now.

Back in the Old Days

Lawyer have to go through a series of trials (get it?) before they get to call themselves lawyers. After getting out of college, they have to spend months preparing for the dreaded LSAT. After fretting this way and that over which schools rejected or accepted them, they must trudge through school. Finally, they spend yet another half-year to a year studying for some bar exam. And if its the California bar exam, that preparation can turn into a nightmarish, almost dreamlike theatre.

The California bar exam has word-of-mouth status of being the hardest bar exam in the country, though reasonable minds disagree. The bar exam format that exists currently (for a limited time, it seems) takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Day one consists of three essay questions and a Performance Test (PT). Day two consists of 200 questions from the dreaded MBE. Day three's format mirrors day one.

Newer and Shorter

The shortening of the bar exam has actually been in the works for some time now. It had previously been approved by the State Bar of California's examiners and Board of Trustees, but ultimate say rested with the California Supreme Court. Now that approval is official, California can no longer claim to have the nation's longest bar exam.

The new two-day format features five essays and one PT on the first day. On the Second day, the candidates can look forward to 200 MBE questions.

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