The Illinois Bar Exam
Applicants seeking admission to the bar are eligible to take the exam based on two (2) educational requirements:
- Applicants must have graduated from a four-year high school or other preparatory school whose graduates are admitted on diploma to the freshman class of any college or university having admission requirements equivalent to those of the University of Illinois, or shall have become otherwise eligible for admission to such freshman class; and shall have satisfactorily completed at least 90 semester hours of acceptable college work, while in actual attendance at one or more colleges or universities approved by the Board of Admissions to the Bar.
- After the completion of both the preliminary and college work, each applicant shall have pursued a course of law studies and fulfilled the requirements for and received a first degree in law from a law school approved by the American Bar Association.
The IL bar exam application will be available online.
- For the February exam, the application will typically open in Early August and have application deadlines mid-September through mid-December. The deadlines correspond to increasing fees, so be sure to apply early to save money.
- For the July exam, the application will typically open in January and have application deadlines mid-February through mid-May. The deadlines correspond to increasing fees, so be sure to apply early to save money.
Character and Fitness
The Character and Fitness questionnaire will be included in your Bar Exam application. Your certificate of Juris Doctorate will also include some Character and Fitness questions that the Registrar ‘s Office will complete. Unless there is an update to your character and fitness questionnaire you will likely not have any additional forms to complete. IL may request additional documentation directly from the Law School.
Illinois requires applicants seeking accommodations to request the accommodation at the same time as completing the exam application. Illinois has 2 different accommodation request forms depending on the accommodation. Some broad categories are listed below, but please check the state website to ensure you are completing the appropriate documentation.
- Nonstandard Testing Accommodations – use this for requests based on Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Cognitive Disorders, Physical, Vision, or hearing Disabilities, Psychiatric Disabilities/Disorders.
- Administrative Accommodations – use this request for permission to bring medical devices, special seating, medication, breast pumping.
Illinois requires certification of an applicant’s JD degree from the Law School. This will be completed be Registrar’s Office. This form can only be completed after degree conferral (graduation). As long as you complete the Bar Authorization form, the Registrar’s Office will automatically complete and submit your form to the IL Board of Admissions to the Bar after graduation.
Illinois requires a score of 80 or more in order to be admitted to the bar. Applicants do not have to pass the MPRE before taking the bar exam, but will not be admitted to the bar until a passing score is obtained. Consider taking the MPRE well in advance of the bar exam to prevent delays in admission.
In order to use a laptop for your exam you must register for the Laptop program. Registration for the Laptop Program opens about a month before the exam. You will receive an email with instructions. Failure to register for the Laptop Program will result in handwriting the exam. There is a mock exam you will be required to complete with the software prior to the exam or your account will be deactivated.