The Florida Bar Exam
It’s no secret that the bar exam is difficult. Perhaps it’s the only thing more challenging than three years of law school, which can feel like an eternity. The Florida Bar Exam is no exception; it is considered one of the most challenging bar exams in the United States. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. While it may be daunting, you can pass the exam. This article will serve to give you some pertinent information about the Florida Bar Exam, so you know what to expect before and on exam day.
Florida Bar Exam Structure
The Florida Bar Exam will be administered over two days as follows:
Day 1 is Part A of the exam, consisting of a morning session featuring three essay questions and an afternoon session featuring 100 Florida-specific multiple-choice questions. Each session lasts three hours (one hour per essay and three hours for the multiple-choice questions) for an exam total runtime of six hours.
Day 2 is Part B of the exam and consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE®) component, which features 200 multiple-choice questions, with 100 offered in the morning and 100 in the evening. Like Part A, each session lasts three hours, for a total of six hours of test time.
Part A of the Florida Bar Exam covers Florida state-specific material. Florida is unique in the sheer number of subjects for which an examinee must be prepared. Consequently, you may be double-tested on some subjects between part B (MBE) and part A, so remember to answer questions on part A in accordance with Florida state law. Since 2013, Florida Professional Conduct and Florida Evidence have been tested more than 90% and 60% of the time, respectively, on essay questions. To learn about the many testable subjects on the exam, navigate to the Florida Bar Exam Topics and Subjects section of this page.
Part A of the Florida Bar Exam covers MBE material. MBE subjects include Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, and Torts. As stated above, you may be double-tested on some subjects between Part A and Part B, so be careful to distinguish between Florida-specific laws and general law.
Florida Bar Exam Requirements, Dates, and Scheduling
Of all the deadlines associated with the Florida Bar Exam, the most important to mark on your calendar is the final submission date for timely filing of the Supplement to Bar Application and the Re-Examination/Conversion Application. You must postmark your applications on or before November 15, 2022, for the February exam and by May 1, 2023 for the July exam. Applications received after these deadlines will result in hefty fees (see table), and applications submitted after January 15, 2023 (February Bar) or June 15, 2023 (July Bar) will not be accepted.
Educational requirements for the General Bar Exam (Parts A and B) differ from those required for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE®) exam. You may take the MPRE before you graduate from law school or after the bar exam. However, you must pass both exams within 25 months of each other.
To sit for the bar exam, candidates must have graduated or meet graduation requirements from an ABA-accredited law school in the United States. If you do not meet this requirement, you can still take the exam if you meet either of the following criteria:
- Have an LL.M. degree from a program that meets The Florida Bar Board's Curricular Criteria and have been practicing law in the US for at least two years.
- Have been practicing law in the US for at least five years (no qualifying LL.M. degree).
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners had been administering one-day, remote exams during the pandemic but has since returned to its standard two-day, in-person format. The July 2022 Florida Bar exam was the first in-person July exam since 2019 and had the lowest pass rate in a decade.
|2023 Florida Bar Exam Dates and Filing Deadlines|
|Examination Dates||February 22-23, 2023 (Tuesday & Wednesday)||July 25-26, 2023
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
|Examination Location||Tampa Convention Center
333 South Franklin St.
|Tampa Convention Center
333 South Franklin St.
|Timely Filing Deadline||Postmarked on or before November 15, 2022||Postmarked on or before May 1, 2023|
|$325 Late Fee Deadline||Postmarked on or before December 15, 2022||Postmarked on or before June 1, 2023|
|$625 Late Fee Deadline||Received by January 16, 2023||Received by June 15, 2023|
Scheduling your Florida Bar Exam is done through your online exam application. To apply for the Florida State Bar Exam, you must create an account on their website, log in, navigate to "Applicant Portal," and continue through the registration process. You can start and stop the application process as needed, but you must complete it within 6 months of creating your account.
Florida Bar Exam Costs and Fees
Registering for the Florida Bar Exam costs $600 for law graduates who have previously filed a bar application in Florida as a law student registrant ($100 registrant fee) and $1,000 for candidates filing a bar application in Florida for the first time.
|Previously filed a bar application in Florida
(as a law student registrant)
|Filing a bar application in Florida
(for the first time)
|Late Filing fee||$325|
|Final Filing fee||$625|
*For a full breakdown of all applicable fees, check out the Florida Board of Bar Examiners Application Fee Worksheet.
The $325 late registration fee applies for the July exam if candidates fail to register on or before June 1st and the $625 late fee applies if candidates fail to register on or before June 15th. According to the Florida Bar of Examiners, “All examination applications must be postmarked or received in the board's office no later than the timely filing deadline to avoid a late filing fee. All required applications, supporting forms, proof of fingerprinting, fees, and late fees (if applicable) must be received by the final cut-off date for the examination.”
You may choose to postpone your exam, in which case you will be subject to the following fees:
- If the board receives the applicant’s written notice of postponement under Rule 4-45 at least seven days before the commencement of the administration of the postponed examination, the fee is $100.
- If the board receives the applicant’s written notice of postponement under rule 4-45 prior to but less than seven days before the commencement of the administration of the postponed examination, the fee is $200.
- If you decide to reapply for the exam (instead of postponing), the reapplication fee is $450.
As a bar exam candidate, you’ll want to pay close attention to the above rules and filing deadlines to avoid late fees at all costs. For example, if you aren’t vigilant and don’t register for the July exam by June 15th, your exam fees could go up by a whopping 55%!
You cannot pay your registration fees by credit card. Instead, you must send a check payable to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Applications are not considered complete without payment, and there are no refunds.
These bar exam-related costs can add up and become quite expensive. The good news is that you have options that could waive some of the fees or help you pay for them altogether. One such option is applying for scholarships dedicated to helping bar exam candidates with related costs.
For example, the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers (CFAWL) offers an annual Bar Study Scholarship to help candidates study for the Florida Bar Exam. All full- or part-time law students taking the Florida Bar Exam for the first time are eligible, even if they aren’t enrolled in one of the two Central Florida Law Schools, as long as they establish or maintain ties with the Central Florida legal community. For more information, visit https://cfawl.org/scholarships/.
The Stetson University College of Law also provides a comprehensive Scholarships - Outside Resources page, including online scholarship and writing contest resources, and a host of other resources listed in alphabetical order. These scholarships are not limited to law students attending Stetson University, so all bar exam candidates are eligible to apply as long as they meet the eligibility requirements of the specific scholarship for which they are applying.
Pass the MBE Your First Time.
Florida Bar Exam Subjects and Topics
Testable Subjects on Part A
By rule, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the rules of Judicial Administration must be tested on the exam. Historically, these essential subjects have been tested on the Florida multiple-choice instead of the essays. It’s important to note that any testable subject on Part A can appear in any format. The other testable subjects on Part A are as follows:
- Rules of evidence
- Election laws
- Punishment for crimes
- Divorce and adoption laws
- Assessment or collection of taxes for state or county purposes
- Laws regarding hunting or fresh-water fishing
All Florida laws must be clear, concise, and promote the general welfare, and each law can cover only a single, briefly expressed subject.
Federal Constitutional Law makes up 25 of the 175 scored multiple-choice questions on the MBE and may be tested on the Florida-specific section of the Florida Bar Exam. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) has divided this subject into the nature of judicial review, separation of powers, the relation of nations and states, and individual rights.
Since you will likely be tested on Florida Constitutional Law and perhaps double-tested on Federal Constitutional Law, it’s essential to spend time understanding the distinctions between Federal and State authority. Additionally, charts visualizing the many expectations of particular rules will help fortify your understanding of them.
When analyzing essay questions about Trusts, it’s crucial to ask yourself the following questions: Was a valid trust created? Were other types of trusts created? What are the Trustee’s fiduciary duties? Can a beneficiary access the income of their interest? Can creditors reach the trust? (why or why not?), and What ethical considerations might there be regarding the trust instrument? Additionally, review types of trusts and the duties of a trustee: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty to allocate property to principal and income. Finally, make sure you understand any distinctions between revocability and other issues in Florida law and general law.
The standard forms of Business Entities are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and S corporations. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are allowed by state statute. Each state has unique laws regulating Business Entities. For example, Florida has no state income tax for LLCs, but you cannot form a series LLC in Florida.
Visualizing the multiple contingencies, remainders, or grantees of conveyances with diagrams will make understanding their relationships easier. The old legalese might be intimidating for some, but the more time you spend sifting through it, the more familiar and easy to analyze it will become. Topics within Real Property include titles, mortgages/security devices, real estate contracts, real property, and right in real property.
Improve your understanding of the Federal Record Code and how it relates to and differs from Florida’s, especially when the Florida rules do not precisely match the federal rules.
States determine who receives your property if you die without a will (intestate), and these laws vary from state to state. The same variance is true for the Administration of Estates. For example, Florida has no estate tax, but individuals are still subject to the federal estate tax.
Criminal Law is an arm of constitutional law and governing policies by which authorities investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes. Remember that violating the US Constitution is a federal crime and overrules Florida state laws. However, state laws involve traffic violations, contract breaches, robbery, burglary, theft, arson, etc.
Contracts are filled with the complex legalese for which the profession is notorious. This language may be frustrating, but it is essential to creating binding agreements that protect all interested parties. Important subjects for review include forming contracts, performance, breach and discharge, defenses to enforceability, contract and content meaning, remedies, and third-party rights.
The Florida Supreme Court has stated that Florida family courts should be able to resolve family disputes in the most effective and efficient way possible. Family court jurisdiction in Florida involves child support, dissolution of marriage, annulment, juvenile delinquency, and many case types. Be sure to review the Florida Supreme Court decisions that have been instrumental in shaping family courts in the state.
Testable Subjects on Part B
Part B is the MBE section of the Florida Bar Exam. MBE subjects and topics include Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. For a deeper dive into MBE Subjects
Florida Bar Exam Scoring/Grading
The Florida Bar exam requires an average scaled score of 136 to pass. The final average scaled score is the sum of 50% of the MBE and 50% of the Florida essay/multiple choice exam. Therefore, a high score on one section of the exam can compensate for an unsavory score on the other.
Scaled scores are not to be confused with raw scores. For example, the essay portion of the exam is worth 300 points (100 points per essay), and the 100-question multiple choice section is worth 90 (10 questions are not graded). So, the highest raw score a person can get on the Florida Bar exam is 390 points.
So why scaled scores? You'll notice a difference if you have to retake the exam in February because you failed in July. It would be pretty easy to cheat if exam versions were identical. However, this creates an issue of fairness. What if February's exam is slightly more challenging than July's? Thus, exam administrators employ a statistical method called equating to remedy such disparities. Equating transforms raw scores into scaled scores by awarding bonuses to tougher exams and penalizing those that are easier.
Scaled scoring makes it difficult to predict exactly how many points you need to pass an exam, and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners doesn’t release its calculations. However, from past exams we estimate the examinees will need a raw score in the range of 260-280 to achieve an average scaled score of 136. Because there is no way of knowing the difficulty level of your exam, it’s best to aim for a minimum raw score of 280 on the Florida Bar Exam.
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Florida MPRE Minimum Passing Score
The Florida MPRE exam's minimum score is 80 on a scale from 50 to 150. Nationwide, MPRE minimum scores range from 75-86, putting Florida neatly in the middle. Eligibility for taking the MPRE is relatively flexible in Florida. For example, you can take the MPRE before you graduate from law school and before or after you pass the bar exam. However, you must pass the MPRE within 25 months of passing the Florida Bar Exam.
Like the bar exam, performance on the MPRE is measured on a scaled score. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NBCE®) does not publicize the calculations it uses to convert raw scores into scaled scores. However, we estimate that passing the Florida Bar Exam with a scaled score of 80 equates to a raw score of approximately 58%, or about 29 correct answers of the 50 that are graded.
Florida Bar Exam Pass Rates
According to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, the pass rate for Florida Bar examinees in February 2022 and July 2022 was 44% and 51%, respectively. Among first-time takers for July, the Florida Bar Exam pass rate was 64.4% and 61.6% in February. 2022's July first-time pass rate was the lowest in a decade. Note that in Florida, some examinees take only part A or part B. The data on total applicants below represents examinees who took both.
|Year||No Of Candidates||Pass Rate||No Of Candidates||Pass Rate||No Of Candidates||Pass Rate|
Florida Bar Exam Results
Florida Bar Exam Results are released in mid-April for the February exam and mid-September for the July exam. The Supreme Court of Florida posts pass/fail results to the Supreme Court of Florida website for 30 days, starting at noon after the morning they are released. For anonymity, results are attached to an examinee's applicant file number.
Once the Supreme Court has released the results, examinees can view them on their online portal page. Applicants without a portal account will receive pass/fail results by mail. You cannot request results over the phone, and the Florida Supreme Court does not release individual score rankings.
Florida Bar Exam for Foreigners
Non-US citizens can become licensed attorneys in Florida. Foreigners who have practiced law in a US jurisdiction and are in good standing can take the Florida Bar exam without additional legal education if they can demonstrate that they are “educationally qualified”. To be considered educationally qualified, you must:
- Demonstrate that you have been practicing law for at least five years in a US jurisdiction and are in good standing in that jurisdiction.
- Provide evidence in the form of work-product samples that illustrate legal training and academic expertise.
- Have a “reputation for professional competence” that is “above reproach”.
However, foreign law students must meet specific educational requirements before they are eligible to sit for the Florida Bar Exam.
- Foreign Law Students with a First Degree in Law may sit for the Florida Bar Exam provided that they received a Juris Doctorate (JD) or a Bachelor of Laws (LL.M.) degree from an ABA-accredited law school.
- Foreign Law Students without a first degree in Law cannot sit for the Florida Bar Exam.
What Makes the Florida Bar Exam Unique?
Florida only offers in-person testing at one location statewide, in Tampa. The exam will take place in the Tampa Convention Center, so it is wise to book your hotel early when traveling to the Sunshine State. Also, arrive at least one day before the exam to map out the area and familiarize yourself with your exam day logistics.
One of the aspects that make the Florida bar exam difficult is the number of testable subjects. Florida double-tests virtually all of the MBE subjects, whether through distinctions or the entire subject, plus Florida-specific subjects. For example, Torts is tested on the MBE and may show up on Part A. When answering a question on Part A, if Florida law varies from general law (MBE Torts), you should answer the question according to Florida law. This means that a student must know the MBE law and any relevant Florida distinctions when answering a Florida multiple-choice or essay question.
Nothing prohibits the examiners from testing any subject in any format. However, only a handful of subjects appear in the multiple-choice section, with the Florida Procedure subjects comprising one segment. For the essays, it’s important to note that the examiners can test up to three subjects per essay, including their equitable aspects. This significantly increases the number of subjects that may be tested on Florida day. Along with Procedure, it’s critical to pay particular attention to Florida Professional Conduct and Florida Evidence.
Note: According to Themis, a leading bar review provider, Florida Professional Conduct has been tested over 90% of the time (as a component of an essay), while Florida Evidence has been tested over 60% of the time on the Florida multiple-choice and, more recently, on the Florida essays since 2013. That’s why students should know the MBE law and any relevant Florida distinctions.
For some historical context, the Florida Supreme Court expanded the number of testable subjects in 2013. While most of the expanded testable subjects remain today, in 2020, the Court removed two subjects: Delinquency and Dependency. The Court reasoned that these subjects test specialized knowledge outside the general competency that the exam is intended to test. Nevertheless, even with these subjects removed, the volume of testable subjects on the Florida Bar Exam remains one of the highest in the country.
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Final Takeaways about Florida Bar Exam
It’s no secret that the Florida multiple-choice and Florida essays are notoriously challenging. We hope that this thorough article has enlightened you further about the intricacies of this high-stakes exam to help you know what to expect to prepare confidently. However you choose to study, we wish you the best of luck with the Florida Bar Exam!
Contact Details of Florida State Bar
The Florida State Bar is open from 8 am - 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. See the table below for useful contact information.
|Contact the Florida Bar|
US Postal Service
1891 Eider Court
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1750
Fedex, Priority USPS, and other
1891 Eider Court
Tallahassee, FL 32308-4537
|Fax Number||(850) 414-6822|
|Telephone Number||(850) 487-1292|
Florida Bar Exam FAQs
What if you are not transferring an MBE score but want to take the Florida Bar Exam for the first time?
Individuals filing a bar exam application in Florida for the first time must pay a fee of $1,000, and those who have previously filed a Bar Application in Florida as a Law student registrant must pay $600.
The deadlines for timely filing are November 15, 2022, and May 1, 2022, for the February 2023 and July 2023 exams, respectively. You will incur additional fees for filing past the timely filing deadline.
To request special accommodations for the Florida Bar Exam you must submit a test accommodations petition. You can find detailed instructions on the Florida Board of Bar Examiners website.
Florida Bar of Examiners. Florida Board of Bar Examiners, https://www.floridabarexam.org/
The Supreme Court of Florida. Florida Bar Exam Results Comparisons, https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Bar-Scores/Florida-Bar-Exam-Results-Comparisons/.
Florida Exam Dates and Locations Reference: Florida Board of Examiners