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What Is the Baby Bar Exam?

If you’re just starting to explore the path to becoming a lawyer, you might have come across the term “baby bar exam” and wondered what on earth it is. No, it’s not an exam for tiny attorneys. It’s a unique stepping stone in the legal journey for some law students. Let’s dive in and break down what the baby bar exam is, who takes it, and why it matters.

What is the Baby Bar Exam?

The baby bar exam, officially known as the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSE), is an exam administered by the State Bar of California. It’s a mandatory test for certain non-traditional law students in California. 

The exam is called the “baby bar” because it’s a preliminary exam and not the full-fledged bar exam that lawyers must pass to practice law after graduating from law school.

Who Takes the Baby Bar Exam?

The exam got its own 15 minutes of fame after Kim Kardashian announced she passed the baby bar in December 2021. However, the baby bar isn’t something that every law student needs to worry about. It’s specifically required for:

  • Students at unaccredited law schools
  • Students studying law under a lawyer or judge through the Law Office Study Program (LOSP)
  • Students without two years of college work attending a California-accredited or an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school

The baby bar exam is administered twice a year (June and October). Students take the exam after their first year of study. 

You don’t have to take the baby bar exam if you’re a 2L at an ABA or California-accredited law school and have completed a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter units of undergraduate work are generally exempt from the exam.

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Do Pre-law Students Take the Baby Bar?

If you’re a prelaw undergraduate student or non-traditional law school applicant and you’ve stumbled upon this post, we have good news. You very likely will not have to take the baby bar exam if you continue on the traditional path to law school

This means that if you take the LSAT, apply and get accepted to an ABA-accredited law school, and graduate, the only exam you’ll need to worry about is the bar exam(s). 

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What’s on the Baby Bar Exam?

The baby bar exam is administered in person at Prometric test centers. However, students can request to test remotely in “extenuating circumstances.”

The baby bar covers three main subjects:

  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts

You don’t need to have detailed knowledge of California law. An answer based on legal theories and principles of how to generally apply them is enough.

Beginning with the June 2024 administration, the essay portion of the FYLSX will be removed. The format of the exam will now be 100 multiple-choice questions administered in two 90-minute sessions. There will be a 20-minute break between each session. The total exam time will now be 200 minutes.

How is the Baby Bar Scored?

All 100 questions on the baby bar are scored. Thus, the perfect raw score is 100. Scores are scaled with a max of 800 points. To pass the baby bar, you need a scaled score of at least 560. 

Why Does It Matter?

The baby bar serves as a checkpoint to ensure that students studying law through alternative methods or in unaccredited schools are on the right track. It assesses whether they have a sufficient understanding of the foundational subjects of law. 

If you don’t pass the baby bar after three attempts, you can’t earn credit for your law studies until you do.

Final Thoughts

There’s admittedly more than one path to becoming a lawyer. If you’re considering a non-traditional path to becoming a lawyer in California, understanding the baby bar is essential. 

If you’re following the traditional law school path, you can rest easy. Your priority as a future law student should be maintaining your GPA and getting a competitive LSAT score. And that’s where Blueprint LSAT comes in! 

Whether you have the discipline to study on your own with a Self-Paced Course, want to navigate the LSAT with instructors in a Live Course, or prefer one-on-one attention through tutoring, we have the study method that fits your learning style. 

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