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 The upcoming February 2017 California bar exam will be the last 3-day test given in the state. In July 2017, the bar will become a 2-day test. In combination with this article, please see the earlier article at this website regarding the pros and cons of the test with its new changes. 

For February, the writing sections of the exam will still carry a weight of 67% of your total scaled score. In July and thereafter this will drop to 50%. 

For those of you who write at a bar-passing standard (different than most law schools), the February bar offers you a strategic opportunity to pass the test give the weighted value of the combined essay and performance test components. 

For those of you who have the option of taking the February bar – versus all exams thereafter – you must decide if the opportunity presented by the higher weighted value of the writing component (essay/performance test) is enough reason to take the February exam. In my view, it can definitely be a reason to do so. There are two primary reasons: First, as a “scaled exam”, you will be competing mostly with candidates repeating the bar – which means you can fare better – versus more first-time candidates on the (usual) July exam(s) whom are also as a group better writers. Second, and especially if you begin your preparation sooner than later, you have more time for the February exam to hone your writing skills at a bar-passing standard. 

If you are locked in to the July 2017 or a later exam, and you feel your writing skills need improvement, then my suggestion is that you begin much sooner than the usual two+ months before the test given the more urgent need to maximize your writing scores. At 50% of your total scaled score, writing looms large – and even larger – if you also have difficulty with the MBE. Here, remember that the MBE will count 50% - which means the only way you can offset a less-than-passing scaled score on the MBE is to do better on the essay and performance test sections. 

At any rate, I hope this adds to your strategic perspective in either determining whether to take the February or July bar should you have that option – or – whether to start earlier if you are locked in to the July or a later exam. 

Either way, we would be delighted to help you succeed – and especially in teaching you the writing methodologies adaptable to the current or newer exam. Or, in getting your preparation started much earlier.


All success on your exam!

Paul Pfau © 2016 All Rights Reserved

Paul Pfau is a retired Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and the owner of Cal Bar Tutorial Review, which has been customizing bar review programs for 40 years. For more information about Cal Bar Tutorial Review, call (800) 348-2401 or (800) 783-6168. Web site:




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CA Bar Exam Facts

Statewide Test Results

First Time Takers
about 57.2% Fail 

Repeat Takers
about 77.1% Fail

All Takers
about 70.9% Fail

about 80.7% Fail

Still not sure you need help? View the full report.

Avoid a nightmare of bar exam failures. Call 1-800-783-6168 today!

CA Bar Exam Schedule

First Year Law Students

  • June 25, 2019
    Register by 5/15/2019

California Bar Exam

  • Feb 26, 27, 2019
    Register by 1/15/2019

Course Discounts

Note : This is our
40th Anniversary Year 
Also, there are accompanying discount opportunities because of this.

 Cal Bar’s “Pay It Forward” discount policy enables you to discount the cost of your individualized program if you have charitable experience in your background.

If you have no charitable experience, you may still qualify for a $1,000 discount from your totally personalized program – which includes old-fashioned one-on-one, materials, classes. Just ask.

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More Success For Ali

Cal Bar is pleased to announce that Ali Hinsche continued her remarkable run of success in having just passed the Florida bar exam.

This was her 4th (count 'em: 1, 2, 3, 4) successful bar - on her 1st attempt-following California, New York and Illinois.

While Ali worked with Cal Bar for each state, she also owes her success to persistence, hard work, and in learning how to adapt and apply the Cal Bar test-taking systems to the requirements of each bar exam.

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Thank You For Your TestimonialI am writing to thank you for all the help you gave me while I was preparing for this past February's bar examination. I know I couldn't have done it without you.
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