Bar exams

The distinctive feature of practice at the bar is advocacy before the courts and tribunals. Accordingly, the Bar Council sets an exam in subjects related specifically to advocacy: legal ethics for barristers; aspects of evidence; and practice and procedure for barristers.  Admission to the Supreme Court is not a pre-requisite for sitting the Bar Exam, but it is necessary to pass this exam before commencing the Bar Practice Course. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the Bar Association Examination Policy and other professional development-related policies before registering.



In February 2020, the NSW Bar Association will introduce on-line computer- based exams to the NSW Bar examinations. Candidates will complete the examination by typing their answers on a laptop computer and will need to download proprietary security software in order to sit the examinations. This program is required to be downloaded after the exam registration closing to ensure candidates’ laptops meet the minimum system requirements. On the day of examination, 2 question papers (1 for each sitting) will be provided to each candidate and they will be required to type all answers into the software. At the end of each examination session, candidates will be required to submit their answers before exiting the exam room. Interstate and overseas candidates will sit under the same examination conditions and will be required to follow the same process in Sydney. Further information, including instructions to download the necessary software, will be provided to candidates after registration.



The NSW Bar Exam is offered twice a year. Candidates are required to register. A fee of $795.00 is payable on completion of an application for registration. The registration fee is non-refundable. Please ensure you have read the Bar Association Examination Policy and all relevant material before registering.

Overseas or interstate sittings may be arranged through the Professional Development Department:  

Preparing for the Bar Exam

Upon registration, exam candidates are provided with a reading list and relevant materials. Tutorials are offered by the Bar Association in the weeks prior to the exam. We do not endorse courses provided by other organisations.

The Bar Exam is comprised of 2x2-hour papers with an additional 30 minutes of reading time allowed for each paper. There is a break between the two papers. Each paper is divided into two equally weighted question books including both short and long answer questions. 

Passing the Bar Exam

The pass mark is 75 per cent.

Passing the NSW Bar Exam does not entitle you to a NSW barrister's practising certificate.  The Bar Practice Course must be undertaken within 15 months of passing the examination. Applicants are advised not to give notice of termination to employers until examination results and an offer of a place confirms entry to the full-time course. In addition to passing the Bar Exam, you must satisfactorily complete the NSW Bar Practice Course and Bar Council must approve your application for a practising certificate before a practising certificate will be issued. 


Applications for exemption from the Bar Exam should be directed to the Executive Director, in writing, detailing grounds for exemption supported by a curriculum vitae. Specific guidelines for application are not provided. All applications are judged on their merits.

Examination format

The Examination is comprised of 2 x two-hour exam papers and 30 minutes of reading time with a break between each paper.  Each sitting will comprise of one question book.

Paper 1 (Book 1)                    9.30am to 12.00pm (includes 30 minutes reading time)

Paper 2 (Book 2)                  2.00pm to 4.30pm (includes 30 minutes reading time)

Examination Dates 2020


Registration Open:                                     Thursday, 31 October 2019

Registration Close:                                     Friday, 17 January 2020


Sydney Candidates:                                  Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Interstate/Overseas Candidates:             Tuesday, 25 February 2020



Registration Open:                                     Friday, 20 March 2020

Registration Close:                                     Friday, 22 May 2020


Sydney Candidates:                                  Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Interstate/Overseas Candidates:             Tuesday, 23 June 2020



Sitting period                                              Available 

February 2020:                                          Thursday, 19 March 2020 

June 2020:                                                 Thursday, 23 July2020 

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