Victorian Bar Entrance Exam

To become members of the Victorian Bar, applicants must first complete a readers' course and a period of readership under a mentor. Candidates for the readers' course must first pass an entrance examination before being offered a place.


About The Exam

In order to gain admission to the Victorian Bar readers' course applicants must first sit and pass an entrance exam. The minimum pass mark is 75%. 

The Exam in 2020

The Readers’ Entrance Exam ensures that Readers commencing the Readers’ Course are equipped with core knowledge so that they can commence the practical training exercises involved in the Course.

Following an extensive review of the exam, a number of improvements are being made to benefit of the Bar’s current and future members.

All individuals who wish to begin their career as a barrister must sit the Readers’ Exam and participate in the Readers’ Course and complete a reading period with a suitable mentor.

The exam typically attracts a high number of applicants.  Successful candidates are offered a place in the next available course, as set out in regulation 6(7) of the Bar’s Application and Reading Regulations.

The 2020 exam is confirmed for Sunday 25 October 2020.

What can you expect?

The exam will be conducted electronically using ExamSoft software.

  • Candidates will use their own devices in their own location. Security and identification screening will be in place. If you don’t have a suitable device, you may opt to hire one.
  • The exam will be open book. This means that candidates will be allowed to use any non-electronic materials, e.g. notes, textbooks, printed materials.  Please note, once the exam commences, the software will block access to all other features and files on your device. Other than the device used for the exam itself, no electronic devices will be permitted. 
  • An electronic practice exam will be made available to registered candidates.

Registration will open on 25 August 2020 and will close 5:00pm on 25 September 2020.

If you would like to receive updates about the 2020 exam, please click here to register your interest.  Note that this is not a registration for the examination itself.

General Information for Entrance Exam held on 31 October 2019


Exam Information Session

The Bar conducted a general information session about the exam on 22 August 2019. At this session the chief examiner gave an overview of the structure of the exam including making available the updated reading guide. A recording of this session is available below.

Exam Preparation Seminar

The aim of this seminar was to assist candidates with their preparation for the exam. The last exam preparation seminar was held on Thursday 3 October 2019

A video recording of the last exam preparation seminar is available below.

October 2019 Exam Materials 

Please see the below sample instructions similar to those which may be provided on the day of the exam. The final version will be communicated a week prior to all candidates.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Below you will find the reading guide and excerpts of examinable legislative provisions for the 31 October 2019 exam.  

These excerpts of examinable provisions reflect the law as it stands on 02 October 2019. There may be some discrepancies in the examinable provisions listed in the Reading Guide as compared to the below listed provisions.  For the avoidance of doubt, only the following provisions were examinable.

PDF icon Index
PDF icon Reading Guide
PDF icon Supreme Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2015 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Civil Procedure Act 2010 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Bail Act 1977 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019 )
PDF icon Jury Directions Act 2015 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Sentencing Act 1991 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Evidence Act 2008 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)
PDF icon Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015
PDF icon Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 (Examinable Excerpts as at 2 October 2019)

Additional Materials

Samples of past exam papers and model answers can be downloaded via the links below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to apply?

Candidates must pay a non-refundable application fee prior to sitting the exam.  The fee for 2020 is yet to be confirmed.

What happens after I sit the exam?

Approximately 6-8 weeks after the exam, you will be notified of your result and may receive an offer to commence the readers' course.

The number of participants in each readers’ course is limited.  Please refer to s.6(7) of the Application and Reading Regulations regarding allocation of places.

If you succeed in getting an offer you will be expected to participate in the readers' course offered. A deferral to the next reading period may be granted only in exceptional circumstances. An exceptional circumstance includes where your current employment contract requires more than two months' notice of resignation. You cannot defer beyond the next reading period.

If you are unsuccessful in obtaining an offer you are welcome to sit the exam for future intakes, provided you pay the non-refundable application fee.

Can I sit the exam if I am overseas or interstate?

Yes, but you must give notice to the Victorian Bar office at the time of registering for the exam. You will be expected to organise to sit the exam with your local Australian embassy, who will supervise the exam and send it back to us. If this is not viable, candidates will need to submit a proposed alternative exam process to the Victorian Bar office for consideration. All associated costs in sitting the exam offsite will be charged to the candidate. These costs will be confirmed at the time of registration.

Is it possible to apply for special consideration?

An applicant who registers to sit the Exam and who considers that his or her result in the Exam may be affected, or has been affected, by illness, injury, bereavement or other hardship, may make an application for special consideration. A request for special consideration must be made in writing no more than 5 business days after the date of the exam. Special consideration will only be considered if the candidate would not otherwise receive an offer.