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10 Hardest Bar Exams by State Ranked (2022)

After graduating from law school, prospective lawyers must take the bar exam in the state where they intend to practice what they’ve learned. However, there are other factors to think about before applying to take the exam in any state.

Those factors include the difficulty of the exam, the success rate, the format of the exam, and the time duration. The level of difficulty of any bar exam depends on the state. Some states have more difficult exams with lower pass rates than others.

In addition, whether or not you finished law school in any particular state, before signing up to take the state’s bar exam you must consider the difficulty. As you read through, you will find the states that are generally considered to have the hardest bar exams.

States with the hardest bar exams

Each state has its legal education system and while some of these systems are flexible, some others are rigid. It makes it difficult for most students to easily scale through as you have to be remarkably sound to pass the bar exam with flying colors.

The states with a rigid system of education that makes it difficult for students to pass their bar exams include;

1. California

The state bar of California

California is generally considered the state with the hardest bar exam. The California bar is one of the largest bar associations with over 250,000 members and this reason has contributed to making it hard for just anyone to become a member of the association.

Typically, one of the factors behind the difficulty of the California bar exam is the grueling time it takes to complete the exam.

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The bar exam is written twice a year and the event consists of multiple-choice sessions and questions that require open-response answers. Furthermore, due to the pass rate being lower than 40%, California has been considered the state with the hardest bar exam.

2. Arkansas

Arkansas is considered the state with the second most difficult hardest bar exam. Just like California, it is also a multi-day event that requires students to go through a series of harrowing hoops and needles to pass the exams with flying colors.

It has quite some extensive laws that candidates are usually taught and examined in and the technicality of these processes makes passing the bar exam difficult in the state of Arkansas.

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3. Washington

There are three law schools in the state of Washington and each of these schools produces a high number of students who sit for the bar exam annually.

The bar exam in each school is extremely difficult and challenging as the success rate recorded over the last years has been less than 60%, so, therefore, making it invariably one of the most difficult bar exams.

4. Louisiana

Louisiana has been recorded and ranked as fourth on the list of the states with the hardest bar exam.

It follows a unique system that mandates prospective students who choose to take part in the bar exam to study at one of the law schools in the state to learn the state’s unique legal system. After which they’ll be expected to take a bar exam that is completely different from any other state.

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5. Delaware

Delaware makes the list as one of the States with the hardest bar exam because of the score required to pass. Furthermore, you are expected to obtain a unique school score of at least 145 to pass, considered the highest in the state.

Unlike other schools’ bar exams, Delaware only offers the bar exam once per year. Students have to pass through so many hoops to succeed as Delaware is very picky on whom it allows becoming one of the lawyers in the state making it one of the States with the hardest bar exams.

6. Nevada

The Nevada state bar exam is a two and half days exam that records one of the lowest pass rates. This is because the exam is extremely difficult and it combines the unique law in the state and a higher required score to pass.

It adopted the MBE and MPT bar exam system, including a state essay portion and its high passing standards. It has a reputation for expecting exceptionally lengthy model answers for an essay.

7. Virginia

Some consider the bar examination in Virginia to be among the most challenging as more than twenty-four subfields of law are tested using a system developed by the state specifically.

It’s possible to pass with a fair amount of effort, but only if you’re prepared to put in more than the minimum.

8. Oregon

Oregon bar exam is relatively difficult as students are expected to take and pass the exam with a score of at least 270.

Just like every other state, the bar exam in Oregon is also a 2-day exam that utilizes the MBE and MRE system. It has a very low pass rate which reflects on the level of difficulty of the bar exam.

9. West Virginia

Two days are allotted for the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) that makes up the West Virginia bar exam. The exam consists of six UBE questions with a time limit of 30 minutes each and two multistate performance test questions that each last 90 minutes.

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A high score on the MBE’s 200-point scale is roughly equivalent to passing the West Virginia bar exam, which is notoriously challenging. The Multi-Modal Bar Examination (MBE) and Multi-Modal Bar Examination (MPT) are used. As a result, its bar exam is renowned for being particularly challenging even among other states.

10. Vermont

Vermont state bar exam is written twice a year and it is reviewed by the Vermont state board of law examiners.

The uniform bar examination in Vermont is considered one of the most difficult exams to pass as you need to attain a very high score. So, therefore, this has made it one of the states with the most difficult bar exam.


The bar exam has never proven to be easy anywhere. Still, these state mentioned above’s bar exams have ranked tall as the most difficult bar exams based on their structure, pass rate, failure rate, and examination technicality.

Now that you know this, you can quickly decide on the state you intend to take your bar exam. Good luck!

About Martin Vernon

A lifelong learner, educator, and advocate for education as a means for individual and social change. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!

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