Bar Exam

California bar exam to be one day shorter, but could be just as difficult

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California bar officials have voted to cut the length of the state’s bar exam from three days to two.

The change, approved unanimously Monday by the State Bar of California’s board of trustees, will take effect in July 2017, Above the Law reports.

The two-day exam will include one day of five one-hour essays and a 90-minute performance test, and one day spent on the 200-question multiple-choice Multistate Bar Exam. Each day will weigh equally in a test-taker’s final score.

As a practical matter, the most significant impact of the change will be on the performance test, according to Pepperdine University School of Law professor Derek Muller, who reported on the proposal (PDF) on his blog Excess of Democracy in March. California bar officials told the ABA Journal that currently, three-hour performance tests are given on two of the three days.

The change won’t necessarily make the state’s exam–considered by some to be the nation’s toughest–any easier, according to Muller. He said scores will presumably be recalibrated to reflect a comparable difficulty.

But it will make the test less grueling and less expensive to take. And it could speed up the state bar’s notoriously slow grading process, he said.

Updated with clarification from California bar officials on the current length of the performance tests.

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