by Paulina Bandy, Esq.
When I was a bar exam candidate, I hired a tutor specializing in the Performance Exam section of the CA Bar Exam. Much to my surprise, the tutor had never taken, nor passed, the Performance Exam at the CA Bar Exam. Looking at the exam format history, and comparing it with when the tutor passed the bar exam, makes you privy to information which may make a difference in your decision-making.
The California Bar Exam is different today, in subject matter, scope, scoring and timing, than it was when many bar exam instructors passed the exam. This historical perspective provides understanding of why some tutors are outdated and cannot relate to Repeaters' needs.California Bar Exam Format History:
Prior to 1972- Essay Only, able to throw a question out
1972- Multi-States Added
1975- First state to Add Professional Responsibility Exam
1980- MPRE Instituted
1983- First Performance Exam Added to Measure Practical Skills
1987- New Grading Procedure "Scaling"
2007- Business Associations, CA Code of Civ Pro, CA Evidence Code Added to Essays
2015- Civil Procedure Federal Rules Added to Multi-State Section
2017- Reduced to two day exam
The addition of Multi-States, and Performance Exams, caused new challenges for bar candidates including three areas to prepare for and new exam timing constraints. The Performance Exam tested Practical Skills for the first time on a bar exam. Prior to 1983, the test only focused on memorized law and its analysis.
If it matters to you whether the tutor you are considering passed the Multi-States and/or the CA Bar Exam Performance Exam, ask the tutor, or conduct a search on The State Bar of California website, to find out when they were admitted to the California Bar. If a bar exam tutor was admitted before 1983, they did not pass the Performance Exam at the CA Bar Exam and the materials they used to pass are now outdated.
The addition of Professional Responsibility in 1975 and the official addition of the CA Code of Civil Procedure, CA Evidence Code, and the expansion of Corporations to Business Associations in 2007, should also be considered when searching for a relevant tutor. Having your tutor comfortable in these areas reflects on their ability to teach you.
The grading method of "Scaling" was instituted in 1987. Your scaled score today does not directly compare with what a tutor scored in 1986.
As a CA Bar Candidate in 2020, your exam instruction should be relevant to the demands of today's California Bar Exam.
Paulina Bandy, Esq.
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History provided by The State Bar of California, Office of Media and Information Services.