The Certified Paralegal (or Certified Legal Assistant) exam is an important step in your career as a paralegal. With this certification, you can make yourself a more competitive candidate for job openings and position yourself to potentially earn a higher salary. With that said, it is a rigorous and highly demanding exam that will require extensive preparation. So make sure you have a game plan ready to ensure that you’ll succeed on this exam and in your career.
What Is the Registration Process Like?
Registration for the first section, the knowledge exam, is open year round and the test can be taken whenever is most convenient for you. The skills exam, on the other hand, is only administered during specific testing windows and you can only register for it once you have successfully passed the knowledge exam. Once you have passed the Knowledge Exam, you’ll receive your notice of eligibility for the Skills Exam within two weeks. At that point, you’ll be able to register for one of the available testing windows. The testing windows for the Skills Exam occur in February, April, July, and October of each year.
How Long Does the Exam Last?
You will have three hours to complete the 120 question knowledge exam. That gives you approximately 90 seconds per question. However, a more efficient way to use that time is to answer the ones that come easily to you as quickly as possible so that you can have more than 90 seconds for each of the questions that are a little more difficult.
What Will I Be Tested On?
The exam is broken down into sections, both of which you will need to pass in order to receive certification. Moreover, you need to pass them in order. That is, you won’t be able to move on to the second section until you have achieved a passing score on the first. The first section is the knowledge exam and the second section is the skills exam.
The Knowledge Exam is made up of 120 multiple choice questions (only 100 of which actually count toward your score). Those questions will cover the following range of legal knowledge:
- United States Legal System
- Civil Litigation
- Corporate and Commercial Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Estate Planning and Probate
- Real Estate and Property
- Professional and Ethical Responsibility
The Skills Exam will be in the form of a written assignment and points will be based on your demonstration of the following skills:
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation
- Clarity of expression
- Critical thinking
- Reading Comprehension
- Information analysis
- Decision making
How is the CLA/CP Exam Scored?
The knowledge exam is given a raw score ranging from 0 to 100, meaning you get one point per correct answer given. The skills exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 30 with points given based on the criteria described above. For the Knowledge Exam, you’ll be given a preliminary score immediately after finishing the test. This will allow you to reschedule another attempt immediately if you did not achieve a passing score. However, you need to wait about two weeks for the official test results that will allow you to move on to the next section.
For the Skills exam, you won’t receive any preliminary results since your written response needs to be graded by the certifying board. However, results will be sent out about a month after your testing window closes. The exact score needed to pass each section will vary slightly from year to year. However, it’s usually set somewhere between 68-70 for the Knowledge exam and 19-21 for the Skills Exam.
What Should I Do to Prepare for This Exam?
In order to be fully prepared for this exam, you should give yourself about 6-8 weeks (or longer) to review the material as well as hone your writing and critical thinking skills. A great way to make sure you’re strengthening all of these diverse skills and areas of expertise is to use study tools designed with this exact test in mind. The Mometrix Study Guide and Mometrix Flashcards are a great example of just that. Compiled by a team of experts, these tools will provide you with everything you need to strengthen your knowledge and practice your skills using exercises and methods geared specifically to the CLA/CP exam.
The study guide will provide a comprehensive overview of everything you’ll find on the knowledge exam along with practice questions as well as practice writing prompts to help you prepare for the skills exam. The flashcards will provide an additional chance to review the material but this time in a more engaging and interactive way since you can use the cards to play creative study games or ask your friends to help you review the material.