A law student studies a law book in preparation for the examination.

What Is the California First-Year Law Students’ Examination (Baby Bar)?

October 27, 2022 | Purdue Global Law School

You likely know that becoming a lawyer requires passing the bar exam—but in California, some law students also need to pass a test known as the “baby bar.” This exam is officially called the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSE or FYLSX). As the name implies, it is completed after the student’s first year of law school.

The baby bar garnered national attention when Kim Kardashian passed the exam in late 2021. Learn more about what the baby bar is and whether you need to pass the exam to become a lawyer in California.

Who Needs to Take the California FYLSE?

Not all California law students need to take the baby bar. According to the State Bar of California, it is only required if one of the following applies to you:

  • You’re pursuing your degree at an unaccredited registered law school in California.

  • You’re completing a law office study program instead of attending law school.

  • You’re attending a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) or Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California (CBE), but you have fewer than two years of undergraduate experience.

Law schools in California have different accrediting bodies, including the ABA and CBE. In general, you are only required to take and pass the FYLSE if you are attending an unaccredited registered law school.

Are you unsure about your school’s accreditation? This resource from the State Bar of California provides a complete list of law schools in the state, categorized by accreditation status. Since Purdue Global Law School is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners, our students do not need to complete the FYLSE.

What Is the Format of the FYLSE?

The First-Year Law Students’ Examination is offered twice a year, in June and October. Currently, it is being administered remotely.

The exam takes place over a single day and includes an essay portion and a multiple-choice portion. You will have four hours to complete four essay questions and three hours to complete 100 multiple-choice questions.

Subjects covered in the exam include contracts, criminal law, and torts. The exam focuses on general law and not California-specific laws. You can review past FYLSE questions on the State Bar of California website.

Each essay is scored between 40 and 100, meaning that 400 possible points can be earned from the essay portion. The multiple-choice portion of the exam is worth 400 points as well. A score of 560 out of 800 is needed to pass the baby bar exam, which equates to 70%.

How Difficult Is the FYLSE?

The FYLSE is considered a challenging exam. In June 2022, only 19.6% of all applicants passed the exam, according to data released by the State Bar of California. First-time applicants had a pass rate of 23.8%, while repeat applicants had a pass rate of 15.7%.

If you fail the FYLSE, you can still attend law school, but you will not receive credit for your courses until you retake and pass the exam. To claim credit for all of your completed law school courses to date, you need to pass the FYLSE within your first three eligible testing dates. If you pass the FYLSE after this time period, you’ll only receive credit for your first year of study.

Earn Your Law Degree with Purdue Global Law School

If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer in California, Purdue Global Law School’s online Juris Doctor program may be right for you. The program takes four years to complete and is offered 100% online, so you can balance school with other responsibilities. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the California Bar Exam.

Purdue Global Law School’s JD program is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Since our institution is state-accredited, students are not required to take the FYLSE.

For more information, reach out to Purdue Global Law School today.

See Notes and Conditions below for important information.

About The Author

Purdue Global Law School

Established in 1998, Purdue Global Law School (formerly Concord Law School) is Purdue University's fully online law school for working adults.

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