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Which States Have the Hardest Bar Exams in the U.S.A?

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Easiest Exams?

From criminal law to constitutional law, you have to know it all. When you graduate from school, you most likely already know where you would like to practice law. Because you’re going to be taking the bar test in that state, this is a critical decision. The bar exam varies by state; several jurisdictions’ tests are notably more challenging than others, with lower passage rates.

Which States Have the Most Difficult Bar Exam?

Without further ado, let’s jump straight into it:

California Bar Exam

The California Bar Exam is famously challenging, with one of the lowest pass percentages of any state bar exam. According to the State Bar of California, which devised and administers the test, the exam now takes two days and includes a performance test created to evaluate applicants’ abilities to manage various legal challenges affecting a client (addresses state and local laws).

This exam also contains five essay questions plus the Multistate Bar Exam, which a standardized bar test devised by the National Conference of Bar Examiners that is given to candidates taking the bar in practically every state across the country.

One thing to keep in mind about California is that it does not need its students to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, which could affect the pass rate. Pass rates for students who attend non-ABA-approved law schools are often lower than those who attend an accredited school. As a result, test-takers need to keep this in mind when examining the pass rate. 

The reality remains, however, that the California bar exam is extraordinarily difficult. Take your planning very seriously when it comes to this tough bar exam.


This state also makes the list of the most difficult bar exams. Arkansas has the second-most challenging bar test in the US, according to statistics. (Though Hillary Clinton claimed it was simpler than the bar test in Washington, DC) It is a two-day examination, just like in California. 

The exam’s complexity is because of the large amount of state and municipal regulations covered. If you want to practice in Arkansas, you need to take the bar exam preparation seriously, as this is one of the hardest bar exams out there. 


The Washington bar exam is also challenging. In Washington, there are three law schools that produce a great deal of candidates who appear for the two-day exam every year. Furthermore, Seattle is rapidly turning into one of the most popular relocation destinations in the US; thus, drawing in a large number of out-of-state bar exam test-takers. 

If you want to practice law in Washington, you need to be prepared for a difficult exam. Additionally, Oregon, a nearby state, has a challenging bar test that, based on the data used in the rankings, ranks within the top five most challenging.


Louisiana law students are educated in a way that no other region in the United States does. The state’s four law schools teach both the common law and civil law, making this one of the hardest bar exams.

If you want to practice law in Louisiana, you must first attend school there to study the state’s distinct legal system and then write the Louisiana bar exam that is different from any other state’s.


Although Nevada has only one law school (UNLV), the proximity of Las Vegas to the state makes it a preferred location for new (and experienced) lawyers. 

The Nevada bar exam is two and a half days and has one of the lowest bar passage rates in the United States, indicating relative bar difficulty. This is because of a mix of state-specific rules and a higher passing score requirement. While it doesn’t compare to California’s bar exam, the vast majority of test-takers still believe it’s a difficult test.


Delaware makes the list as one of the most difficult bar tests to pass, in part due to the passing score. Delaware also only offers the bar once a year, meaning that those who fail have to wait a long time to retake it. The Delaware bar assesses extremely specific subjects that are taught in only a fraction of the country’s schools. 

Aside from the bar test, Delaware is exceedingly selective in who it lets practice law in the state. There are a lot of hurdles to jump through.


Because of the wide range of topics covered, Virginia’s bar test is one of the most difficult. There are 24 different topics of law that can be assessed on this state-specific exam (which also requires the MBE). That is significantly greater than the majority of other states. This compels pupils to learn a lot more information, even though they won’t see a lot of it. 

However, the pass percentage in Virginia is extremely high, so you stand a decent chance of succeeding if you are prepared to put in the effort. One thing to keep in mind about Virginia is that the bar exams must be taken in a suit. When considering test day conditions, keep this in mind.

What Are the Easiest Bar Exams to Pass?

Stick to the central states if you want to know which regions have the easiest bar exams. The area with the simplest exam is South Dakota, followed by Wisconsin, Iowan, and Nebraska. 

Because these states have fewer law schools (South Dakota has one, while Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa each have two), there are fewer graduates who attempt the bar exam. Wisconsin has a better policy: only individuals who graduated from law school in another state have to write the bar exam. Due to a statute known as diploma privilege, if you are a law school graduate in Wisconsin, you are immediately admitted to the state bar.

Keep in mind that some states have a uniform bar exam, which also makes them simpler than the difficult bar exams.

The Final Verdict: The Most Difficult Bar Exams

Even though California has the hardest bar exam and the lowest bar passage rate, this is a challenging test irrespective of where you take it or where you attended law school. If you’re considering taking the test in a different region, make sure you research the pass rate and the contents of the test so that you can prepare adequately. 

We, at, wish you all the best on your state bar exams!