NSW Bar Examination


The distinctive feature of practice at the bar is advocacy before the courts and other tribunals. Accordingly, the Bar Council sets an examination of a practical orientation in subjects related specifically to advocacy; legal ethics for barristers, aspects of evidence, and practice and procedure for barristers. 

As of 2016, these subjects are examined in one integrated NSW Bar Examination. It is necessary to pass this examination before commencing the Bar Practice Course.

  • The NSW Bar Exam is offered twice a year.
  • Candidates are required to register for the examination.A fee of $795.00 is payable on completion of an application for registration. 
  • The exam is comprised of two 2-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. 
  • The pass mark is 75 per cent.
  • 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.
  • Admission to the Supreme Court is not a pre-requisite for sitting the bar examination. Admission is a pre-requisite for commencing practice. Overseas or interstate sittings may be arranged through the Professional Development Department: exams@nswbar.asn.au. Candidates sitting as 'distance candidates' will be required to sit their examination prior to the Sydney candidates. Sitting dates will be provided on application.

View the Bar Council's resolutions with respect to the Bar Association Examination Policy and other Professional Development related policies

Preparing for the NSW Bar Examination

Upon registering for the Bar Examination candidates are provided with examination material, including a reading list. Examination tutorials are offered by the Bar Association in the weeks prior to the examination.The Bar Association does not endorse courses provided by bodies other than the Bar Association.

Examination Dates 2020

February 2020 Registrations open: Thursday, 31 October 2019
Registrations close: Friday, 17 January 2020
NSW Bar Examination  Distance Overseas Candidates sit: 
Thursday, 13 February 2020 
Distance Interstate Candidates sit: 
Monday, 17 February 2020
Sydney Candidates sit:
Monday, 24 February 2020
June 2020

Registrations open: Friday, 20 March 2020

Registrations close: Friday, 22 May 2020

NSW Bar Examination         

Distance Overseas Candidates:

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Distance Interstate Candidates:

Monday, 15 June 2020

Sydney Candidates:

Monday, 22 June 2020       

 Examination format

The Examination format has been updated and will now be 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 two books (one question book and one answer book).  

The sitting schedule is: 

Paper 1 (comprising of Examination Book 1 and Answer Book 1) - 9.30am to 12.00pm (includes 30 min reading time)

Paper 2 (comprising of Examination Book 2 and Answer Book 2) -  1.30pm to 4.00pm (includes 30 min reading time)


Sitting Period Results Available
June 2019 Thursday, 25 July 2019
February 2020 Thursday, 19 March 2020
June 2020 Thursday, 23 July 2020

Passing the NSW Bar Examination

Passing the NSW Bar Examination does not entitle you to a NSW barristers' pracitising certificate.  In addition to passing the NSW Bar Examination, 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 Examination 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


Registrations for the June 2019 Bar Examination are now closed. Candidates should familiarise themselves with the NSW Bar Examination and Bar Practice Course Policies before registering.