california bar exam essaysWhat is Tested on California Bar Exam Essays?

Overview of the California Bar Exam essays

The essay portion of the California Bar Exam is broken down into two parts:

  • In the morning of the essay day, you will have three hours to answer three California Bar Exam essay questions.
  • In the afternoon of the essay day, you will have 3.5 hours to answer two California Bar Exam essay questions and a California Performance Test (CPT).

You should plan on allocating about one hour per essay question so that you can finish the exam on time. (Note: This changed in July 2017. Prior to July 2017, examinees had six essay questions to answer.)

The written portion of the California Bar Exam is worth 50% of your score in California. So it is important to take it very seriously!

Overview of the California Bar Exam essays

The following subjects are fair game for the essay portion of the California Bar Exam:

  • Agency and Partnership (now called “Business Associations” and can include Corporations)
  • Civil Procedure
  • Community Property
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Corporations (now called “Business Associations”)
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real Property
  • Remedies
  • Torts
  • Trusts
  • Wills and Succession

You should apply general law unless the question tells you to apply California law.

When is California law tested on California Bar Exam essays?

California law tends NOT to be tested (so apply general law):

  • Agency and Partnership
  • Civil Procedure (***California distinctions have really been heavily tested on one essay exam. So, 95% of the time, you are expected to apply the general law. There is talk that California distinctions will be tested more now that federal Civil Procedure has been added to the MBE, so it is still good to be aware of the distinctions.)
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional Law
  • Corporations
  • Criminal Law
  • Real Property
  • Remedies
  • Torts

California distinctions are tested (so make sure to know California law!):

  • Community Property
  • Evidence (***This is the one MBE topic where California distinctions are heavily tested! Make sure you know all about Prop. 8, hearsay exceptions, and California nuances.)
  • Professional Responsibility (***You are virtually always asked to apply both the ABA rules and California law [and when the question is silent, you should do this anyway!])
  • Trusts (***You are often asked to apply California law)
  • Wills

Next, we give you some California Bar Exam essay tips as well as a California Bar Exam frequency chart to help guide you when you study.

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