Victorian Bar Entrance Exam

To become members of the Victorian Bar, applicants must successfully complete a Bar Entrance Exam and meet the eligibility requirements in order to undertake the Bar Readers' Course and a period of readership under a mentor.

Page updated on 5 April 2024

The purpose of the Victorian Bar Readers’ Entrance Exam is to ensure every Bar Reader has a base level of core knowledge common to key areas of practice as a barrister.

At a Special Purpose meeting on 26 March 2024, the Victorian Bar Council resolved to make substantial changes to the entrance Exam, which will from October 2024, be conducted twice annually with each ‘sitting’ to be held approximately every 6 months and comprise three separate papers designed to ensure that candidates have a base level of core knowledge of ethics, evidence, and procedure.

Candidates will be required to pass all three papers to gain admission to the Readers’ Course but will elect to sit either a civil or criminal procedure paper and will have the option of sitting the papers on different exam sittings. Candidates will be given a credit for any paper that they pass and will have the opportunity to sit papers at a scheduled Exam on topics that they fail within a 'permitted exam period' that commences on the first occasion that they undertake to sit any one of the three papers, and expires on the third occasion thereafter that an Exam is conducted.

The Bar Council has also resolved to shorten the duration of the Readers’ Course and to  increase its capacity to 60 Readers per Course in March and September each year, with the possibility that a third course will be offered from time to time. The Bar Council is confident that a course of shortened duration focusing on advocacy will serve Readers well. The Bar Council hopes to soon be able to announce whether the Readers’ Course will be of five or six weeks’ duration.  The changes to the Readers’ Course will come into effect in 2025.  The September 2024 Readers’ course will remain unchanged.

In conjunction with the changes that have already been announced, the Bar Council is currently consulting with Members and other relevant stakeholders about suggestions that the reading period should be increased from 9 months to 12 months, that the reading requirements should be bolstered in various ways, including by requiring Readers to undertake a number of compulsory CPD sessions during the reading period. These might replace some of the sessions that will not be able to be taught in the five or six week Readers’ Course.

2024 Bar Entrance Exam

The 2024 Bar Entrance Exam will be the first to be conducted in the new way. To gain admission to the Victorian Bar Readers' Course, applicants must first sit and pass the Exam and meet suitability requirements. The minimum pass mark is 75%. 

The key areas to be examined are Ethics, Evidence, and Civil or Criminal Procedure. Candidates will be required to pass all three papers to gain admission to the Readers’ Course.

The Exam typically attracts a high number of applicants.  Successful candidates are offered places as per regulation 6(7) of the Bar’s Application and Reading Regulations (Regulations).  

Please note that the Application and Reading Regulations are currently under review and are subject to change.

The date for the Victorian Bar 2024 Entrance Exam is yet to be determined. However, it is anticipated to be held in October 2024.

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About the Exam


To be eligible to undertake the Entrance Exam a candidate must:

  • be admitted as an Australian Lawyer, or expect on reasonable grounds to become an Australian Lawyer by the time he or she signs the Bar Roll;
  • be of fit and proper standing, (refer to Victorian Legal Services Board’s Fit and Proper Person Policy);
  • be available and willing to undertake either of the next two Victorian Bar Readers’ Courses immediately following successfully passing all three component parts of the Exam;     
  • be prepared to read with an eligible mentor for up to 12 months (TBC) commencing on Day 1 of the Readers’ Course;
  • agree to the Exam Rules and Conditions; and
  • register and pay the Exam registration fee (non-refundable). The Exam registration fee is yet to be confirmed. 
  • Candidates should consult the Victorian Bar Exam Candidate Information Guide and the Victorian Bar Application and Reading Regulations (Regulations) for further information about eligibility to undertake the Exam and to apply to become a member of the Victorian Bar. Please note that the Exam Information Guide and Application and Reading Regulations are currently under review and subject to change.
Important Dates


2024 March Readers’ Course

4 March - 2 May 2024

2024 September Readers’ Course       

22 August - 17 October 2024  

Exam Registration

The date for the Victorian Bar 2024 Entrance Exam is yet to be determined. However, it is expected to be held in October 2024.

Exam Information Seminar

The date for the Victorian Bar 2024 Entrance Exam Information seminar is yet to be determined.

Preparing for the Exam

Electronic Exam

The 2024 Entrance Exam will be delivered in-person, electronically using ExamSoft software.

To undertake the Entrance Exam, candidates must use their own laptop or other device that has a camera and meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for devices as determined by ExamSoft.  Candidates will sit the exam at a designated venue to be determined by the Victorian Bar.  The Victorian Bar Entrance Exam will require the use of three software programs provided by ExamSoft:  Examplify, ExamID and ExamMonitor.

The minimum system requirements differ according to the operating system for the chosen device, and are as described in the ExamSoft Minimum System Requirements webpage i.e. a candidate's devices must meet the minimum system requirements that apply for exams with ExamID and ExamMonitor enabled.  NB: Virtual cameras, audio software and iPad are not supported for use with ExamMonitor and cannot be used for the Exam.

How does it work?

Candidates undertake the Exam at a designated venue using the ExamSoft software. This will be supplied to them after registration and must be downloaded onto their own device and tested well prior to the Exam.  Candidates will not be permitted to use an additional screen(s).

Shortly prior to the Exam, candidates will download an encrypted copy of the Exam onto their device, which can only be accessed (via password) and completed on the day of the Exam.

On the day of the Exam, candidates must attend the designated venue and undertake the Exam within the Permitted time and this includes time to both read and complete the Exam

During the Exam, candidates must type their answers directly into the software on their device. There is no mechanism for candidates to handwrite their answers. 

The Exam is an open book exam, but candidates may only refer to non-electronic materials (i.e. printed or hand-written notes and other hard copy texts and materials). While undertaking the Exam, candidates must not access or consult any electronic materials or other devices (including phone, tablet, smart watch), and they must not communicate with any person.  

As the ExamSoft software and the Exam and video are stored locally on the candidate’s device, there is no need for access to the internet or Wi-Fi during the Exam, and the ExamSoft software will prevent that access. 

During the Exam, internet access and other features of a candidate’s device will be disabled by the ExamSoft software.

Exam Materials and Resources

Exam materials including the Exam Reading and Legislation Guide, will be provided to candidates following the conclusion of the registration period.

Alternative Sitting Arrangements

In extenuating circumstances, candidates may apply for Alternative Sitting Arrangements. This is for special requests that apply during the exam.

Information on Alternative Sitting arrangement applications will be available following the review of the Application and Reading Regulations.

Special Consideration Applications

An applicant who registers to sit the Exam and who considers that their 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.

Information on Special Consideration applications will be available following the review of the Application and Reading Regulations.

What happens after I sit the Exam?

Approximately 8 weeks after the Exam, you will be notified of your result by email.

The number of participants in each Readers’ Course is limited to 60 people. Successful candidates may receive an offer to commence the next Readers' Course or may be required to submit a preference of course intake.  The Bar’s Application and Reading Regulations (Regulations) are currently under review.

General feedback regarding the Exam is provided to all unsuccessful candidates in the form of selected model answers.  These will be made available after results are finalised.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sit the exam if I am overseas or interstate?
Information on Overseas or Interstate applications will be available following the completion of the Application and Reading Regulations review.

I would prefer to sit exam papers on different dates - how far apart are they [the Exam] spaced?
There will be one Exam in 2024 (October) and thereafter two Exams each year around April and October.  Candidates need to pass all three papers in the 'permitted exam period' to gain admission to the Readers' Course. 

What time commitment is required to study for the exam?
This will vary between individual candidates and is dependent on the individual’s study habits and techniques. It is anticipated that the new Entrance Exam standard and format will mean that less study is required.

Can I use a secondary electronic device such as a timer during the exam?
No. Only the electronic device you use for the exam is permitted. Any additional electronic devices are strictly prohibited.

Can I use ear buds or head phones?
No.  Ear buds, head phones or ear phones or anything that covers your ears is strictly prohibited.

Do I need to have stable internet connection throughout the exam?
There is no need to access the internet during the exam. The Examplify program will block internet access on the examinee's device once the exam begins until completion. Internet connection is required only prior to the Permitted Time Window to download the exam file and again after the exam is completed for uploading the completed exam. 

Can I print the Exam Reading Guide materials?
Prior to the exam, candidates may choose to print any of the Reading Guide materials to bring into the exam. You may print and prepare any hard copy materials you wish to bring into the exam room with you. This includes any notes, textbooks, printouts etc.  You cannot print during the exam.

How is cheating detected?
ExamSoft offers military-grade exam proctoring and security services. Examinees will log in through ExamID and verify their identity. During the exam, the Examplify software locks the candidate’s device so the exam can be completed while all other software, files and features are disabled.  ExamMonitor captures a continuous audio and video recording of the examinee using both webcam and screen capture (no WiFi connection is required).

All suspicious behaviour will be reviewed and dealt with by the Victorian Bar. The Victorian Bar has a zero-tolerance policy for cheating, and candidates who engage in cheating will be disqualified from the Exam and may face additional consequences including possible reporting to relevant bodies for professional misconduct.

How much does the Readers Course cost?
The Readers' Course fee in 2024 is $7,000 including GST. The Course fee may be subject to change for 2025. 

What financial factors should I consider before coming to the Bar?
Being a barrister can be an incredibly rewarding career, commencing your own practice as a sole trader. Successful candidates are required to surrender their current practising certificate (if they have one) prior to commencing the Readers' Course. 

When are exams set for the following year?
Exams for each year will be confirmed late in the preceding year.