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What is The Baby Bar Exam?

June 10, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 6/10/24

If you’ve already joined a California law school or are interested in joining one, you may have come across the baby bar exam. Read on to find out more about this exam and what’s on it!

‍Certain aspiring Californian lawyers must write the baby bar exam in order to successfully practice law. If you’re wondering what the baby bar exam is and if you have to write it, this guide will tell you everything you need to know!

What is the Baby Bar Exam?

The baby bar exam is a half-day test administered twice a year. Its official name is the First-Year Law Student’s Examination (FYLSX). The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions covering areas of law, including contracts, criminal, and tort.

But what is the baby bar exam? The FYLSX is an exam students attending unaccredited law schools in California must complete after their first year of law school.

It’s nicknamed the baby bar because it’s taken before the actual bar exam, which is a much more extensive exam.

What Does the Baby Bar Exam Test?

Don’t let the innocuous name of this exam fool you! While it’s called the baby bar, it’s actually quite difficult! In fact, it’s often considered to be harder than the bar exam and has a relatively low pass rate of 21%.

The baby bar is a single-day, seven-hour test that consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and four essays. Four hours are allocated to complete the essays, giving students about an hour per essay. The remaining three hours are allocated to the multiple-choice questions.

To understand how to study for the baby bar exam, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific content and format of these subjects and utilize reputable study materials and resources tailored to the baby bar exam's requirements. So, let’s get into the three major legal subjects on the baby bar.

Criminal Law

The exam tests on criminal law relating to assault, battery, theft, embezzlement, kidnapping, homicide and several other crimes.


The baby bar will test students' understanding of the oral and written bindings of contracts, breaches of contracts, and defenses parties may propose when contracts are broken.


Torts are civil lawsuits where one party attempts to sue another for various reasons. Students should be familiar with the wide range of torts that are seen within courts and how these are handled.

The State Bar of California states detailed knowledge of California law is not required to pass the exam. Answers to all questions should be based on legal theories and principles of general law that are applicable to specific cases.

Task Time Duration Break Time
(After Exam)
Essay 60 minutes 10-minute
Essay 60 minutes 10-minute
Essay 60 minutes 10-minute
Essay 60 minutes 45-minute lunch
50 Multiple Choice 90 minutes 10-minute
50 Multiple Choice 90 minutes End of Exam

Requirements for Baby Bar Exam

Here are the key requirements and details regarding the baby bar:

Who Must Take the Baby Bar

Law students completing their first year of law study in a juris doctor degree program at a State Bar-unaccredited registered law school or through the Law Office Study Program are required to take the FYLSX. 

Additionally, students without two years of college work attending a California-accredited or an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school must also take the exam.


Law students who have advanced to their second year of law study at an ABA or California-accredited law school and have completed a minimum of 60-semester units or 90 quarter units of undergraduate work are generally exempt from the FYLSX.

It's essential for law students in California to be aware of these requirements and policies when considering whether to take the First-Year Law Students' Examination.

How to Prepare for the Baby Bar Essays

Unsurprisingly, most students worry the most about the essays on the baby bar exam. Their biggest concern is that they have to come up with coherent and persuasive arguments in a limited amount of time without any direction on the type of essay question they’ll receive.

To give you a better understanding of the types of essay questions you’ll see on the baby bar, you can go through past baby bar essay questions and answers on The State Bar of California’s website. Their website includes essays from the most recent exams, allowing you to review up-to-date essays.

An excellent way to prepare for the baby bar is to review some of these past essays, simulate the test conditions by giving yourself an hour per essay, and attempt to answer the questions. While the provided answers will vary from yours, you can compare the theories, structure, and arguments used in your essays to the samples.

What is the Purpose of the Baby Bar Exam?

The purpose of the baby bar exam is to confirm that law is the right path for students who have chosen to pursue it through an unaccredited law school. It also helps assess if these students are fit to sit at the bar and potentially practice law.

This exam is often also used to test these unaccredited schools’ legal education to see if it provides students with the correct knowledge to adequately practice law.

Baby Bar Exam Dates 2024: Schedule and Deadlines

If you’re considering taking the baby bar exam, here are some important dates and deadlines you should follow. 

Exam Exam Date Application Availability Timely Filing Deadline Final Filing Deadline
June 2024 FYLSX June 25, 2024 March 1, 2024 April 2, 2024 May 15, 2024
July 2024 CBX July 30–31, 2024 March 1, 2024 April 2, 2024 June 3, 2024
Oct 2024 FYLSX October 22, 2024 July 1, 2024 August 1, 2024 September 16, 2024

Source: The State Bar of California

Baby Bar Exam Cost

Taking the baby bar exam in California involves several costs:

  • Registration with the California Bar: $119
  • MPRE Registration: $150
  • Moral Character Application: $551
  • Fingerprinting: Cost varies
  • Bar Exam Application: $667
  • Laptop Fee: $153
  • Bar Review Course: Varies by company
  • Additional Expenses: Varies based on location and circumstances, including living expenses and potential hotel costs during the exam.

Late fees may apply in some cases, so careful planning is essential to manage these expenses effectively.

FAQs: Baby Bar Exam

For any remaining questions about what the Baby Bar exam is, read on to find your answers!

1. Does Passing the Baby Bar Make You a Lawyer?

No, it doesn’t. Passing the baby bar allows first-year law students to receive credit for the education they have completed and allows them to continue completing their JD.

2. What’s the Differences Between the Baby Bar and the Bar Exam?

The biggest difference is the baby bar is only administered in California and is required to be taken by first-year law students in unaccredited law programs.

The bar exam is required in each state and must be completed by every law student in order for them to practice law. The majority of students must complete their JD before writing the bar exam.

3. What Happens When You Pass the Baby Bar?

You will receive credit for your first year of law school and each year you complete after.

4. What Score Do I Need on the Baby Bar?

You need to achieve a minimum of 560 out of 800.

5. Where Is the Baby Bar Required?

California is the only state that requires the baby bar.

6. How Many Times Can I Take the Baby Bar?

You must pass the baby bar within three tries. Otherwise, you will not receive credit for the legal studies you complete beyond your first year.

7. Did Kim Kardashian Pass the Baby Bar?

Yes! She passed on her fourth try.

Final Thoughts

Along with the LSAT, MPRE, and bar exam, the baby bar is yet another check to add to the list of requirements aspiring lawyers must complete to begin practicing law.

However, if you have to write the baby bar, you don’t have to face this hurdle alone. As an exam with such a low passing rate, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of 99th percentile Juris bar tutors! These experienced experts can increase your chances of passing by three times!

Good luck!

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