Hardest Bar Exams in the United States (Pass rate, FAQs)

Preparing for one of the hardest bar exams is a lengthy and difficult process that can cause anxiety and stress.

Moreover, it is important to consider the difficulty level of each state’s bar exam, not to mention which state is best to practice law in.

There is no greater joy than passing the Bar exam, although it is one of the most difficult exams candidates will face. 

What is a Bar Exam?

A bar exam is an exam that a lawyer must pass before being admitted to a bar in a particular country.

It is normally administered by the bar of that jurisdiction. In countries such as the United States of America, bar exams are held by agencies of states and territories independently.

Roughly all US states and territories require the bar exam to call a lawyer to bar.

The examination in most jurisdictions lasts two days and is composed of multiple-choice questions, essay questions, and “proficiency tests”, which depict particular types of legal writing.

Usually, a law school degree (or less often a law firm training) is enough for the bar exam. 

Which State has the Hardest Bar Exams?

According to most experts, California has the hardest bar exam in the country. If you pass the exam, you can work as a licensed attorney in the state.

Why is California the state with the Hardest Bar Exams?

The California bar test is difficult because it can be stressful to take.

Generally, the bar exam is a multi-day event consisting of hundreds of multiple-choice questions and other parts that request open-ended answers.

Previously, the California bar exam consisted of three busy days of morning and afternoon sittings; it is now reduced to a two-day event, comprising of:

  • Five 1 hour essay questions.
  • A 90-minute proficiency test.
  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, takes six hours.

Notwithstanding all the changes, this hardest bar exam still has the lowest pass rate of any exam conducted in the United States.

The main reason is that candidates can take the bar exam in California even if they didn’t graduate from an ABA-accredited law school.

Anyone can take the bar exam without graduating from law school.

The reason is that California is one of many states that do not restrict applicants from receiving legal education from a law firm.

On the other hand, obtaining a legal education from a non-accredited school equates to a lower success rate.

Therefore, graduates from a renowned law school have better chances of passing the California bar exam with a higher-than-average score.

Read this: DC Bar Exam (Meaning, Application, Study tips, Benefits, DC Exam tips)

Other Difficult Bar Exams apart from the California Bar Exam:

1. Louisiana Bar Exam:

The Louisiana bar exam possibly differs from most other bar exams in the country.

It does not include any normal testing options like MBE, MEE, or MPT.

Yet, candidates must know the Common and Civil Law or Traditional law in France and other parts of Europe because Louisiana Law schools teach these aspects.

Hence, lawyers that wish to practice in Louisiana must attend school in Louisiana. There is no transferability of scores to Louisiana.

The test lasts 21 hours and includes an essay, a short answer, and multiple-choice questions.

Presently, the pass rate for the Louisiana bar exam was around 65% in 2016.

Hence it is not thought of as one of the hardest bar exams because of its statistics. It is considered the hardest because of its material’s ingenuity and the format’s rigors.

2. Delaware Bar Exam:

Delaware is listed as another hard bar exam because of the score needed to ace it. Students have to score at least 145 points to pass. This is the highest in the country.

Delaware also holds the exam once per year. This means that students who fail have to wait a long time before they can retake it.

It tests very limited subjects that few schools in the country teach. Apart from the bar exam, Delaware is very selective about who can practice law.

Moreover, there are many obstacles to overcome. It was recorded in 2016 that Delaware had a 66% pass rate, and only 69% of first-timers aced the bar exam, considered one of the poorest in the nation.

3. Nevada Bar Exam:

The Nevada bar exam expects candidates to know various unique laws. Nevada also expects a high score of 140 to pass, which is the fourth-highest in the country.

Its pass rate was just 52%, while its first-timer’s pass rate was 60%, alongside California’s, the lowest in the country.

Though it has embraced the MBE and MPT nationally, it has a hard state essay section.

Nevada’s bar exam is well-known for having very long sample parts for the essays, making it one of the hardest bar exams. This means that candidates will have a lot to identify and discuss.

4. Virginia bar exam:

Due to its wide range of subjects, the Virginia bar test is among the most difficult.

It is another state exam that incorporates the MBE. It evaluates candidates in 24 distinct areas of the law.

This is far higher than in most other states. Students are compelled to learn a lot more material due to this.

The majority of what they read will not be published.

Although Virginia’s pass percentage is reasonable, only candidates willing to put up a good effort have a fair chance of succeeding. The Virginia bar test requires candidates to sit in a suit.

5. Arkansas Bar Exam:

The Arkansas bar exam is conducted in two days. Candidates must be familiar with various state, local, and federal legislation.

Even though it comprises MBE, MEE, and MPT, which are commonly utilized by various countries, grades are assigned differently.

As a result, candidates will require a slightly higher score to pass the Arkansas bar exam.

Read this: Kentucky (KY) Bar Exam (Format, Grading, Study tips) 

What to expect on the Hardest Bar Exams?

The California Bar Exam comprises these main areas:

1. Performance test:

This part of the exam checks the candidate’s ability to control legal challenges faced as they work with a client; 

2. Essay questions:

Candidates are expected to tackle five essay questions, each taking an hour. These questions are supposed to evaluate their knowledge of the law and how to apply them.

3. Multistate Bar Examination:

This section is a regularized exam involving 200 multiple-choice questions.

Its questions are derived from civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, evidence, real property, and torts.

Hardest Bar Exams: What is the bar exam pass rate?

A bar exam pass rate is the number of students who pass the bar exam on their first attempt based on a percentage.

From the state perspective, a bar exam pass rate shows the percentage of successful students in a particular state.

According to schools, the bar-exam pass rate shows the percentage of students from a particular law school that passed.

How Do You Study For a Bar Exam?

Getting set for a bar exam depends on the candidate’s learning style, available time, etc. Candidates can use these tips:

The first is to know their learning style, like listening to audio records of their lectures.

They can also interact with their materials to encourage active learning, like summarizing their bulky notes to flashcards and asking themselves questions.

The second tip is to pay attention to highly examinable topics and use valid practice questions from the NCBE.

Lastly, candidates should take good care of their health and reduce stress.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Hardest Bar Exams

Did Kim Kardashian pass the bar?

Yes, she did, but she is not yet a lawyer.

Why is it called the bar?

The “bar” is the railing or screen that divides the courtroom professionals from the spectators.

What is a bar exam question like?

The questions on the MBE are formatted like a multiple-choice test, with a short fact pattern, a question, and four possible responses. The MBE exam lasts six hours and consists of 200 questions. Two exam sessions, each consisting of 100 questions, will be administered on separate days. We only keep track of your best 175 MBE scores.

Why do people not pass the bar?

One of the most common causes of poor performance on the bar exam is students’ reliance on passive study methods. The issue is that people spend too much time-consuming media and not enough engaging in productive activities. The best bar review services will provide you with many videos to watch and pages of outlines to study.


The bar exam is challenging regardless of the state it is written in.

As a result, students who intend to take the test in many districts must be well-versed in the bar exam pass rates to determine which exam to take.

Candidates should also choose the appropriate study resources for the state in which they plan to take the bar exam.

Nonetheless, the bar test is challenging due to the difficulty of the law. Surely, passing the bar test is just the beginning of an exciting career with endless potential.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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ST Admin
ST Admin

Hello, I am ST Admin! For five years, I began actively assisting students in Europe, the United States, and Canada in their pursuit of college advice and scholarship prospects. I am the Administrator of www.schoolandtravel.com at present.

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