FYLSE guide jd advising, what is the baby bar exam, what is the FYLSE, what score to pass the baby bar exam

Topic 3: What score do I need to pass the baby bar exam?

Here, we give you a brief overview of what the baby bar exam is, how it is graded, and what overall score you need to pass the baby bar exam.

What is the baby bar exam?

The baby bar exam (or First-Year Law Students’ Examination [FYLSE]) is a one-day exam consisting of two parts:

  • Essay portion: examinees must complete four essays in four hours
  • Multiple-choice portion: examinees must complete 100 multiple-choice questions in three hours

The subjects covered on the baby bar exam are Torts, Criminal Law, and Contracts. Examinees do not need to know California law. Rather, a general understanding of legal theories and principles is sufficient. You can read more details about what the baby bar exam is here.

How is the baby bar exam graded?

The essay portion and the multiple-choice portion of the baby bar exam are equated so that they end up each being worth 50% of an examinee’s score.

(Note that the equating process also adjusts for possible differences between forms, the difficulty of the exam, etc. You can read more about this here.)

Essay portion

Each essay is given a score between 40 and 100. So an examinee will receive a score between 160 and 400 points on the essay portion. Note that The State Bar of California does not give too much guidance in terms of exactly how the essay portion is graded. But assume that your knowledge of the rules of law, application of the law to the facts, and organization/general ability to communicate are all important aspects.

Multiple-choice portion

The multiple-choice score is also equated so that it is out of 400 points. The State Bar of California does not state whether any of the 100 multiple-choice questions are test questions, so assume that all 100 multiple-choice questions are scored and weighted equally on the baby bar exam.

What score do I need to pass the baby bar exam?

A score of 560 out of 800 is needed to pass the baby bar exam. Note that there is not a minimum score required on the essay or multiple-choice portion. An examinee just needs to get 560 points in total. (Note: if you took the baby bar exam and would like additional information on how to dissect your score report, please see this post!)

A 560/800 works out to 70%. This may seem low, but it is difficult to achieve this score! Only 22.1% of baby bar takers passed the October 2019 exam (29.5% of first-time takers passed and 14.9% of repeat takers passed) and 23.5% of baby bar takers passed the June 2019 exam (24.7% of first-time takers passed and 22.7% of repeat takers passed.) You can read more about baby bar exam statistics here. Don’t be too scared by statistics though—you are not a statistic! What matters a lot more than the statistical pass rate is how much work you put into learning the law and practicing questions so that you can pass the exam!

Go to the next topic, Topic 4: Where to find free past baby bar exam essays and sample answers.

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