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California Bar Exam: Performance Test

Performance Test

August 2016 Update:

The July 2017 California Bar Exam Performance Test will be a 90 minute test, similar to the MPT administered in a number of other states.  The Georgia State Bar has  MPT questions and sample answers for 2000-2016 that can be helpful to prepare for the new California format.

 

Performance test questions are designed to test an applicant's ability to understand and apply a select number of legal authorities in the context of a factual problem. Performance test answers are graded on the applicant's responsiveness to instructions and on the content, thoroughness, organization and persuasiveness of written tasks.

In addition to measuring an applicant's ability to analyze legal issues, performance test questions require applicants to:

  1. Sift through detailed factual material and separate relevant from irrelevant facts, assess the consistency and reliability of facts, and determine the need for and source of additional facts;
  2. Analyze the legal rules and principles applicable to a problem and formulate legal theories from facts that may be only partly known and are being developed;
  3. Recognize and resolve ethical issues arising in practical situations;
  4. Apply problem solving skills to diagnose a problem, generate alternative solutions, and develop a plan of action; and,
  5. Communicate effectively, whether advocating, advising a client, eliciting information, or effectuating a legal transaction.

Each performance test consists of two packets. The first packet is the "Instruction and File" and the second is the "Library."

Instruction and File Packet

  1.  File table of contents: This is the first page of the packet. It will have a listing of which documents are included in the client file and the page number where each document can be found.
  2. Instructions: This document is always the first page of the file. It summarizes the instructions to the applicant from the bar examiners.
  3. The task memo: This document immediately follows the instructions. It is addressed to the applicant and assigns the specifics of the performance test task. Any other documents referred to in the task memo are of particular importance.
  4. The format memo: Not every performance test has a format memo, but if it does it is usually the document immediately after the task memo. This is the document that explains how the assigned document should be written and what the format of the finished product should look like. Often a sample will be provided.
  5. Client file: The client file can consist of a variety of documents and the length can vary from 8 pages to over 20 pages. The client file provides the facts that will be used to solve the problem.

Library Packet

  1. Library table of contents: This is the first page of the "Library" packet. It will list all the statutes and/or cases that are included in the packet and the page number where each document can be found.
  2. Library: The library includes statutes and/or cases. The length can vary from 8 pages to over 20 pages. The library provides the law that will be used to solve the problem.

Performance Test Prep Resources