U.S. Bar Preparation

The LL.M. degree program in American Law provides advising and support throughout the academic year for students who plan to take a bar exam in the United States. Historically, our LL.M. students have been interested in the California and New York bar exams. General information on California and New York state licensure appears below. 

Qualifications for Admission to the Bar

Please note that earning an LL.M. does not guarantee eligibility to sit for a U.S. bar exam. Furthermore, in addition to the bar exam, there are character, fitness, and other qualifications for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction. 

Students are therefore encouraged to determine the requirements for any jurisdiction in which they intend to seek admission by contacting the jurisdiction. Addresses for all relevant agencies are available through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. (Statement required by ABA Standard 504)

Planning for the California State Bar Examination

Registration with the State Bar

  • The State Bar of California suggests that students who intend to sit for the California bar examination register with the Bar early in the academic year. Registration with the Bar is not the same as the application to take the California bar exam.
  • The State Bar also requires registration before students file their Application for Determination of Moral Character.
  • More information about fees related to the California bar exam >
  • Once you register, make sure you make a note of your registration number: you will use it on all subsequent applications and correspondence with the State Bar.
  • Registration Information for F-1 Visa Holders: Students with an F-1 Visa should carefully read the State Bar’s Foreign Education applicants page. Students who do not have and cannot obtain a Social Security number (SSN) must file a request for an exemption to submit an SSN. To qualify for an exemption, applicants must state the reason they are unable to qualify for a Social Security number, provide an alternate identification number and attest to not being in arrears with any court-ordered child or family support obligations. Applicants may request exemptions from the SSN requirement by completing and submitting the “Request for Social Security Number Exemption Required for Admission to Practice Law in California” form and the General Applicant/Attorney Applicant registration form. Both forms must be submitted at the same time; otherwise, the process will be delayed. Please contact the State Bar Office of Admissions at (213) 765-1500 to request a Social Security number exemption packet.

Subjects Tested

Applicants taking the California bar exam may be required to answer questions involving issues from all of the subjects listed below: 

If you are planning to take a bar exam in another state, please check to see what subjects are tested in that jurisdiction.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is required by all states that require a bar examination. This standardized exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam is 2 hours and 5 minutes long and is administered three times a year, in March, August, and November. LL.M. students are advised to take this exam at any of these times after successfully completing the LL.M. course, “Professional Responsibility, Globalization, and the Legal Profession in the United States” and MPRE exam preparation. 

Moral Character Application

NOTE: Preferably in the fall but no later than February of the academic year, plan to submit your Moral Character Application. Your application must be filed within 90 days of your live-scan fingerprinting or you will have to re-do the prints.

The review process takes approximately 8-10 months for the Bar to verify all information provided, and you will not be admitted to the Bar until it has approved your Moral Character Application.

Your Moral Character Application will require information to be provided dating as far back as high school. Some of the information that will be asked of you includes:

  • List of former names, associated dates and reasons for name change;
  • Residences for the past 8 years with associated dates, including college residences;
  • All colleges and postgraduate schools attended, with associated dates, student ID numbers and degrees earned;
  • Current and previous employment since age 18 that were law-related, and current and previous employment, not law-related, that lasted longer than six months, with the name of the business, position, associated dates, supervisor, telephone number and reason for leaving;
  • Personal references to include five reputable and responsible people who know you well, with their address and telephone information (including at least one member of the Bar);
  • Details of any professional or scholastic discipline, arrests or convictions; and,
  • Military service with associated dates, serial numbers, separation status and copy of Form DD214.


An additional requirement for California bar exam applicants is the submittal of their fingerprints through Live Scan. Your Moral Character Application will not be considered complete without the appropriately processed fingerprints.

California Bar Examination Application Form

NOTE: Make sure you submit your application to take the bar exam as soon as possible after the application becomes available. Doing so will help ensure that you get the testing site of your choice.

The deadline for filing your application to take the July bar exam is typically in early April.

Using Your Laptop During the Exam

If you plan to take the exam on your laptop computer, payment of an additional fee is required. More information is available on the State Bar's web page on using laptops.

Petition for Testing Accommodations

If you are a student in need of testing accommodations for the bar exam, plan to make arrangements for testing accommodations well in advance of the examination date.

You should plan on filing a petition for accommodations no later than the time you file your application to take an examination. Additional information on testing accommodations may be found on the State Bar of California website.

Sample Exam Questions

The State Bar of California makes available free past Essay Questions and Selected Answers and Performance Test Questions and Selected Answers. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) also makes available some free examples of questions on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)—which is the multiple-choice component of the California bar exam

Planning for the New York State Bar Examination

There are a number of requirements that a candidate must meet before being admitted to the New York State Bar. Some of the requirements apply to every applicant, and others apply only to some applicants. Please read the following carefully.

Requirements For All Candidates

Applicants must comply with all of the following requirements before they can be admitted to practice:

Eligibility Requirements for the New York Bar Examination

Foreign-educated applicants must establish their eligibility to take the New York bar examination. All first-time applicants under Rule 520.6 must complete the online Foreign Evaluation Form and submit other required documentation such as transcripts.  In some instances, a transcript alone will not be enough to determine eligibility for the examination. Carefully review the eligibility requirements for a complete list of all the supporting documentation that must be submitted.

Bar Exams in Other States

For answers to questions regarding bar admissions in other jurisdictions and contact information for each state's board of bar examiners, the National Conference of Bar Examiners provides a comprehensive guide to bar admission requirements. Find the guide on the Bar Admissions Services page of the web site.

Character and Fitness timing and procedures may vary depending on the jurisdiction; please check with each state bar directly. Please read the Moral Character and Fitness section of the Code of Recommended Standards for Bar Examiners, which is included in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.