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.
Exam Dates and Administration
Due to the global pandemic, for the first time in its history, the Florida Bar Exam was administered in a remote format in 2020 instead of in-person. This new format also reduced the traditionally two-day exam to just a single day and did not feature the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Exam® (MBE®) component. However, even though the exam moved from a traditional in-person format to remote in 2020, its difficulty remained on par with previous years. According to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, the pass rate for Florida’s first-ever remote bar exam among first-time test-takers fell slightly from 73.9% to 71.7%.
While the 2021 Florida bar exams continued their remote format, the MBE component was reinstated, signaling a bit of a return to normalcy. With the 2022 exams, there is a high probability the Florida bar exam will return entirely to its standard two-day, in-person format.
As with previous iterations, the 2022 exam will likely consist of Part A - Florida Day (Florida-specific exam) and Part B- the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). Please take note of the following:
2022 Bar Exam Dates
|Examination Dates||February 22-23, 2022
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
|July 26-27, 2022
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
|Examination Location||Tampa Convention Center
333 South Franklin St.
|Application Deadline||Postmarked on or before
November 15, 2021
|Postmarked on or before
May 3, 2022
|$325 Late Fee Deadline||Postmarked on or before
December 15, 2022
|Postmarked on or before
June 1, 2022
|$625 Late Fee Deadline||Received by January 18, 2022||Received by June 15, 2022|
Florida Exam Dates and Locations Reference: Florida Board of Examiners
Structure & Subjects
The 2022 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 runtime total of six hours. Day 2 is Part B of the exam and consists of the 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.
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 following:
- Florida Constitutional Law
- Federal Constitutional Law
- Business Entities
- Real Property
- Wills & Administration of Estates
- Criminal Law and Constitutional Criminal Procedure
- Articles 3 and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code
- Family Law
- Chapters 4 & 5 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar
Note: Before you can practice law in Florida, you must also pass the MPRE. You may sit for the MPRE in law school or when you take the bar exam. Whatever you decide, you must pass the exam within 25 months of passing the bar. The MPRE features 60 multiple-choice questions administered over two hours.
It’s not watching a video lecture or reading a textbook. It’s practicing with real MBE questions!
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 into the Sunshine State to take the exam. Also, be sure to 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 makes 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.
According to Themis, a leading bar review provider, Florida Professional Conduct has been tested over 90% of the time (as a component to an essay), while Florida Evidence has been tested over 60% of the time on the Florida multiple-choice and, 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 in the Florida Bar Exam remains one of the highest in the country.
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||$1,000|
|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 not 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.”
Because life happens, 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%!
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 to scholarships dedicated to helping bar exam candidates with related costs.
For example, the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers (CRAWL) 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 to 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.
Florida Bar Exam FAQs
If you fail the exam on your first try, you may retake it. However, you will need to register and pay a $450 reapplication fee.
Most jurisdictions don’t limit how many times you may sit for the bar exam, including Florida. This means you can take the Florida Bar Exam however many times you need to pass, but there are different ways to retake the exam.
You can transfer your Florida MBE score to another jurisdiction. To do so, you would have to electronically submit a request for MBE score services through your NCBE Account.
You can transfer your MBE score from another jurisdiction to Florida. However, there are multiple paths you can take based on your circumstances (see below).
Florida doesn’t offer reciprocity with any other jurisdiction. All applicants are required to submit to the Florida Bar Examination and complete a character and fitness investigation.
However, if you previously sat for and received an MBE scaled score of 136 or greater within the last 25 months from another jurisdiction, you can transfer that score to Florida for a passing status on Part B of the exam. The numerical score becomes a PASS for Part B. Technically, a candidate would only need to sit for Part A of the Florida exam and receive a 136 scaled or greater on Part A to pass. This is known as the Individual Scoring Method.
Even if a candidate transfers the MBE status and banks that Part B PASS status for 25 months from when they sat, they may still elect to sit for the MBE concurrently with Part A. This is known as the Overall Method. Here, a candidate can essentially receive carryover points if they can earn a high MBE scaled score. For instance, if a candidate gets a scaled score of 133 on Part A and a scaled score of 150 on Part B, they would technically fail Part A. However, because they sat for the MBE (Part B) concurrently with the Florida day (Part A) (overall method), their average only has to be 136 or greater.
A different example is when a candidate transfers the MBE status, sits for both concurrently (overall method), and receives a 140 on the Florida day and a 100 on MBE. They also pass because they technically only needed to obtain the 136 or greater on Part A in this scenario. Moreover, a passing status is never replaced with a failing status within the 25-month period.
Because each individual’s situation is unique and the rules are complex, we highly encourage a free consultation with our trusted partners at Themis Bar Review.
The overwhelming majority of law school graduates taking the Florida bar exam sit for both parts the first time. However, you can still split the Florida exam as a first-time taker. A candidate may sit for the MBE first in Florida but would then need to take Part A during the next administration. The same 136 scoring methods mentioned above remain valid.
The results will be released annually in April for the February exam and September for the July exam. According to the Supreme Court of Florida, PASS/FAIL results are published on the morning of the release and remain available online for thirty days after the Court officially orders their release.
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 the high-stakes exam to help you know what to expect to prepare confidently. However you choose to study for it, we wish you the best of luck with the Florida Bar Exam!
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