Bring To The California Bar Exam

What To Bring To The California Bar Exam

California’s bar exam is stressful enough without worrying about what items you can bring with you.  After reviewing California’s list of permitted and prohibited items in the test center, you may be wondering what you should actually bring with you.  In this post, we discuss the items that are most helpful to bring to the California Bar Exam!

What To Bring To The California Bar Exam

Note That There Is A Different List For Each Day

California has an exhaustive list of the specific items that are permitted in the test room during the exam.  The entire list can be viewed here. 

It is important to notice that you are permitted to bring more items with you on essay day (day one) than on the MBE day (day two).  The reason for some of these things is not clear (for instance, why pillows are allowed on essay day but not MBE day), but it is important that you take note of what is allowed each day!

For each day, you can bring the specific items in a clear bag.  California does not place restrictions on the size of the bag.  Some students bring a quart size. Others bring a gallon size (and some just carry their supplies and don’t have a bag).

What to Bring on Essay Day

For the written portion of the exam, California allows examinees to bring pens, pencils, rulers, paper clips, highlighters, a bookstand, a pillow, a back support, a foot rest and a laptop stand and accessories (mouse and mouse pad).  You may be wondering if you actually need all of these supplies!

Even if you are planning on typing your exam, it is still a good idea to bring pens as a backup, just in case your computer dies.  Some students find the highlighters, paperclips, and rulers helpful for the PT (performance test) portion of the exam.  You can use the paperclips to mark certain things that you may need to come back to within the library or file.  You can use the ruler to make a table to organize your PT on a piece of scrap paper before you start typing.  If you did not use these tools as you were practicing the PT, there is no need to bring them with you the day of the exam.  Don’t stress yourself out by obtaining and remembering to bring things “just in case.”  Complete the essays and the PT the same way you did them in practice.

Most students do not bring back support, pillows, foot rests, or bookstands with them.  However, if you notice as you are practicing that you have difficulty sitting comfortably for an extended period of time, you may want to consider bringing one or more of these items with you.  At the exam, in addition to the three hours you take the test (three-and-a-half for the afternoon of the essay day), you might also sit in your seat for a long time as proctors read instructions, materials are passed out and collected.  You could be in your seat for 4-5 hours at a time for some of the sessions!

If you are using your laptop to type the exam, notice that you are NOT allowed to bring any type of laptop case into the exam room with you.  Students who bring a laptop case are often instructed to leave it in the hallway during the exam.  You can, however, bring a riser, separate keyboard, and mouse/mouse pad.   The vast majority of students who type their exam do not bring these supplemental materials and simply use the keyboards/trackpads on their laptops.

What to Bring on MBE Day

On the second day of the exam (the MBE day), you are NOT permitted to bring many of the things that are allowed on the first day, including pens, highlighters, paperclips, rulers, pillows, back support, bookstands, etc.  Many students don’t realize this and bring the same bag of items to day two of the exam that they used on day one (in particular, most students don’t realize that they cannot have pens with them on day two).

One item that you are permitted to bring on both days is an analog clock.  California permits examinees to bring a 4 inch by 4 inch (or smaller) silent, analog clock.  There are no clocks in the exam rooms. You will only be given minimal warnings regarding how much time is remaining.  Many students utilize the timer available on the laptop exam software during the written portion of the exam. However, there is no way to know how much time has elapsed during the MBE portion if you don’t have a clock with you!  If you don’t already have (or don’t want to buy) an analog clock, you can always glance around at other examinees’ clocks. They are usually visible at a distance if they have the maximum 4 inch by 4 inch clock with them.  However, to be on the safe side, you should bring a small clock (or watch) with you!

Prohibited Items

California’s list of what is permitted in the exam room is exhaustive. Any item not specifically on this list is prohibited.  Notably, tissues and water are not on the list.  California indicates that these items will be provided at the test center.

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