Florida Bar Exam

Written by: Will Bond

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Florida Bar Exam

Passing the Florida bar exam is an essential part of being admitted into the state’s bar and beginning a successful career practicing law.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to get started, including:

  • The bar exam’s eligibility criteria, content, and structure
  • The steps you can take in order to give yourself the best chance of passing on your first attempt
  • The additional requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to become admitted into the state’s bar

We’ll also briefly look at the process of getting admitted without going to law school.

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Florida Bar Exam Overview

The bar examination in the state of Florida is regulated by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. This is an administrative agency that was created by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1955 to handle the admission of applicants to the Bar.

In Florida, the bar exam takes place twice a year: once in February and again in July. Applications for the bar exam should be submitted by May 1 for the July examination, or November 15 for the February examination.

If you miss these dates, you’ll still be able to apply up until June 15 for the July exam or January 15 for the February exam, but will have to pay late fees of up to $625 — any applications received after these dates will not be accepted.

This late fee is reduced to $325 if your application is submitted on or before December 15 for the February exam or June 1 for the July exam.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the Florida General Bar Examination, you will need to satisfy one the following educational qualifications under Rule 4-13.1:

  1. Graduate with either a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) from an accredited law school, or one that will be within the next year; or,
  2. Satisfy one of the following alternative educational qualification requirements outlined in rule 4-13.4:
    • Applicants without an LL.M.: Must provide evidence of at least five years of legal practice within a US jurisdiction alongside a selection of their legal work, such as pleadings, briefs, legal memoranda, or other documents, showcasing their expertise and legal training. Good standing must have been maintained in the five years prior to application to the Bar.
    • Applicants with an LL.M.: Must have a degree from an accredited law school (or one that will be within 12 months), on a program that meets the Board’s criteria. You should also be able to demonstrate at least two years of legal practice in a U.S. jurisdiction by submitting documents you’ve worked on, such as briefs, contracts, and legal memorando to. Good standing must have been maintained in the two years before applying to The Florida Bar.

Note: You can read about these requirements in greater detail under Rule 4 of the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to The Bar.

Florida Exam Structure

Unlike the majority of other states, Florida has opted to forgo the Universal Bar Exam (UBE) in favor of their own proprietary assessment called the General Bar Examination.

This exam adheres to the following structure:

Part A:

  • Three essay questions (3 hours)
  • 100 multiple-choice questions (3 hours)

Part B:

  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE): 200-question multiple-choice exam (6 hours)

In addition to the Florida bar examination, all candidates will also be required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in order to be eligible for the Florida bar.

Below, we’ve broken down the content and structure of each exam-related requirement in more detail.

Part A

Part A of the General Bar Examination is made up of two three-hour parts; one containing essay questions and the other containing 100 multiple-choice questions.

These questions are spread across six segments, one of which will assess your knowledge of the Florida Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure and the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. The remaining five segments will each involve no more than three of the following subjects:

  • Florida Constitutional Law
  • Federal Constitutional Law
  • Trusts
  • Business Entities
  • Real Property
  • Evidence
  • Torts
  • Wills & Administration of Estates
  • Criminal Law and Constitutional Criminal Procedure Florida Rules
  • Contracts
  • Articles 3 and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code
  • Family Law
  • Chapters 4 & 5 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar
  • Professionalism

The questions in Part A are designed to test your understanding of both general and Florida law. However, where these two sets of laws differ, you’ll be required to use Florida law in order to answer the question.

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Part B

Part B of the General Bar Exam is the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions, which are broken down into 175 scored questions and 25 unscored questions.

The exam is broken down into two three-hour sections, with one administered in the morning and one in the afternoon, both of which contain 100 questions each.

Keep in mind that there are no scheduled breaks during either one of the sections.

All 175 scored questions on the exam are distributed evenly, with 25 questions being attributed to each of the following seven topics:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Procedure Florida Rules
  • Contract Law
  • Real Property
  • Tort Law
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Law and Procedure

Each question on the MBE exam will have four potential answers. You should choose what you believe is the best answer — keep in mind that scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, and points are not subtracted for answering incorrectly.

If you want to have a look at the exact format, you can have a look at the NCBE’s official MBE Sample Test Questions document.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions (50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions) and is administered via Pearson VUE.

Like the MBE exam, each question offers four possible answers, one of which is correct.

The exam’s content is based on law that relates to the conduct and discipline of attorneys and judges and includes the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as important constitutional common law and generally accepted principles.

In relation to questions of professional responsibility in the context of evidentiary issues (e.g., litigation sanctions, attorney-client evidentiary privilege, etc.), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply unless otherwise stated.

Note: You will have two hours to complete the MPRE exam in its entirety.

For more information, we recommend having a look at the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE) Official Sample Test Questions document. A holistic Subject Matter Outline is also offered.

How to Pass the Florida Bar Exam

In order to give yourself the best chance of passing the Florida bar exam on your first attempt, it’s important to take enough time to make sure that you are adequately prepared.

Florida Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Florida’s bar exam, passing it on your first attempt is definitely possible with the right tools and preparation techniques.

Below, we’ve broken down a few key tips that should aid you in your licensing journey:

  • Start Strong in Your First Year: This is important due to the fundamental areas of law practice that the first year of law school generally covers, such as Contracts, Tort, and Constitutional Law
  • Leverage Academic Support: If your law school offers additional support services that are aimed at improving your preparation, we recommend utilizing these as much as possible. This can involve one-on-one tutoring, academic counseling, and mock exam programs
  • Obtain Practical Legal Experience: If possible, we recommend gaining as much practical experience as you can during law school (i.e., through summer internships, mock trials, etc.). This is because this can go a long way in cementing your legal knowledge
  • Adopt a Broad Study Approach: When studying for the bar, you should aim for a wide-ranging understanding of various subjects rather than an in-depth study of a few. This is important due to the huge amount of content that you will need to learn and/or will be tested on

Most importantly, make sure you remain consistent so that you do not have to resort to last-minute cramming.

Research has shown that we are able to retain a higher degree of information – and more easily – when revisiting old content in comparison to when learning it for the first time. This is known as Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve.

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Other Florida Bar Requirements

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Florida bar exam, there are several other requirements you will need to meet for The State Bar of Florida to sign off on your application, including:

  • Producing satisfactory evidence of good moral character
  • Satisfying the Basic Skills Course Requirement
  • Completing the required Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

Proof of Character and Fitness

Under Rule 3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to The Bar, you’ll be required to provide sufficient evidence of your good moral character and prove that you’re otherwise fit to meet the obligations of an attorney and take your oath.

After you submit your Bar Application with the Board and pay the appropriate fee, a background check on you will be initiated in order to determine your character and fitness for this profession. The Board is looking for a “record of conduct” that demonstrates the attributes required to act as an attorney.

If your record instead lacks trustworthiness, honesty, or reliability, this can be used as a basis for denying your admission to the bar. The board may need to investigate further before deciding you can practice law if any of the following is discovered on your record:

  • Unlawful conduct
  • Academic misconduct
  • Making a false/misleading statement or omission of relevant information (including on your Bar Application)
  • Misconduct in the workplace
  • Abuse of the legal process
  • Financial irresponsibility
  • Neglect of professional obligations

In order to ascertain the truth of any of this questionable past conduct, you may be requested to attend an investigative hearing, which will take place before a minimum of three board members. If you need to attend one of these hearings, you will also need to pay a $250 administrative fee.

Basic Skills Course Requirement

If your application to the bar is successful, there are certain requirements you may need to meet in order to continue practicing law.

One of these is the Basic Skills Course Requirement (BSCR), which was established in Rule 6-12.3 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar in order to ensure all attorneys start their career with a comprehensive understanding of the law.

Unless otherwise exempt, this requirement applies to all members of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD), which includes any Florida Bar members under 36 years old that are in good standing and were admitted to practice law less than five years ago.

The BSCR is divided into two main phases:

  • Phase I: Completing the Practicing with Professionalism (PWP) course within your first year of being admitted to The Florida Bar; and
  • Phase II: Completing 21 credit hours of basic level courses within the first three years of admission to The Florida Bar. Applicable courses will be sponsored by the YLD of The Florida Bar and include the word “Basic” in their name (e.g., Basic Trial Practice or Basic Criminal Law)

We recommend getting started on the BSCR early in order to spread the cost of these required programs over the entire three-year reporting period and avoid the need to instead pay a large lump sum at the end.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirement

Since its introduction by the Florida Supreme Court in 1988, all members of The Florida Bar are required to complete at least 30 credit hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in order to stay in good standing with the state.

As part of CLE requirement, you’ll need to complete at least:

  • Three credit hours in approved technology programs; and
  • Five credit hours in approved legal ethics, substance abuse, professionalism, or mental health and wellness

It’s important to adhere to this requirement, as failing to complete CLE hours can result in you being treated as a delinquent member of The Florida Bar — which prevents you from being able to practice law within this state.

Note: You can find a list of the official CLE programs approved by The Florida Bar on their website.

Florida Bar Exam FAQ

How hard is the bar exam in Florida?

Many consider the Florida Bar Exam to be one of the more challenging state bar exams in the US as it doesn’t follow the UBE structure present in many other states. Ultimately, however, the biggest factor influencing this exam’s difficulty is how well you prepare. To make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for this exam, see our What is the Bar Exam article.

What is the pass rate for the Florida bar exam?

The Florida bar exam results are quite positive, with 71.6% of the first-time test takers from accredited schools within Florida achieving a passing grade. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking this exam is easy to pass — it’s monumentally difficult and requires hundreds of hours of preparation in order to succeed.

Can I take the Florida bar exam without going to law school?

Yes, while many applicants will be graduates from an accredited law school, you can still take the Florida bar exam if you satisfy the alternative educational requirement found under Rule 4-13.1. This involves providing evidence of at least five years of legal practice in a US jurisdiction and that you’ve maintained good standing for the five years prior to your application.

What score do you need to pass the FL bar?

In order to pass the Florida bar exam, you’ll need to obtain an average scaled score of 136 across Parts A and B of the General Bar Exam, as well as a scaled score of 80 or higher on the MPRE. To read more about the structure of this exam, we recommend checking out our Florida Bar Exam article.