The California Bar Exam is infamously known by those who have suffered through it as a three-day-long marathon that most recently in February 2016 saw a passage rate of just 45% for first-time takers. A common consensus throughout the legal community is that the California Bar Exam is one of the most, if not the most, difficult bar exam in the country. However, big changes are looming on the horizon - as of July 2017, the exam will be cut down to two days.
Currently, the California Bar is structured into three parts and distributed across the three days of the exam. There are six essay questions, the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), and performance tests. Day One consists of three essay questions in the morning, with a performance test in the afternoon, and Day Two includes the 200 multiple choice questions of the MBE. Day Three is a repeat of the first day, with three more essay questions in the morning and a performance test in the afternoon.
According to the California State Bar, the essay questions are "designed to measure an applicant's ability to analyze legal issues arising from fact situations." The MBE tests six subjects: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. Performance tests allow the applicant to show his or her ability to analyze and apply provided legal authorities to a fact pattern.
The new two-day exam structure will include one morning session with three essay questions and an afternoon session with two essay questions and one performance test, and one day for the MBE. The subjects tested on all portions will remain unchanged.
Scaling back the exam is unlikely to make it any easier - the State Bar will likely adjust the scoring to continue current high standards. However, sitting for the exam will certainly be less strenuous. The upcoming July 2016 and February 2017 tests will be administered under the three-day format, so applicants planning to take those can prepare their badge of honor to show that they took (and hopefully passed) the three-day exam.