South Dakota Bar Exam

South Dakota Bar Exam Format

The South Dakota bar exam takes two days and consists of the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”), one essay on Indian Law, the Multistate Essay Exam (“MEE”), and the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”). South Dakota law is not generally tested on the South Dakota bar exam but it may appear in an MPT.

South Dakota Indian Law Essay
South Dakota tests one (1) essay question on Indian Law. The essay question is 30-minutes. Indian law includes basic principles of federal Indian Law, the Indian Civil Rights Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It does not include tribal laws or customary laws.

MPT (Performance Test)
South Dakota tests two (2) performance tests. The MPTs test both general and South Dakota principles of law.

MEE (Essays)
South Dakota tests five (5) essays. Subjects include:

  • Business Associations (Agency, Partnership, Corporations, LLCs)
  • Civil Procedure (Federal)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts (Common Law, Sales/UCC Art. 2)
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Negotiable Instruments/Commercial Paper (UCC Art. 3)
  • Real Property
  • Secured Transactions (UCC Art. 9)
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates (Decedents’ Estates, Trusts, Future Interests)

MBE (Multiple Choice)
South Dakota uses the standard MBE. Subjects include:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts (Common Law, Sales/UCC Art. 2)
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

MBE Score Transfer
South Dakota accepts MBE scaled scores of 130 or greater at the Board’s discretion. The score must be achieved within the past 25 months (4 exams) of the current exam and the applicant must have passed the entire previous bar exam.

South Dakota Bar Exam Testing Schedule

Day 1
2 MPTs, 5 MEE Essays, and 1 Indian Law Essay

Day 2
Morning – MBE Part I (100 questions; 3 hours)
Afternoon – MBE Part II (100 questions; 3 hours)

South Dakota Bar Exam Dates

The South Dakota bar exam is held twice each year on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July in Pierre, South Dakota. Bar exam applications can be found here.

Exam Date Application Deadline

Exam Date Application Deadline
February 21-22, 2017 Nov. 1
July 25-26, 2017 April 1


South Dakota Bar Exam Weight

MPT 25%
MEE/Indian Law Essay 25%
MBE 50%

Grading Procedure
The combined scores on the MPT, MEE, and Indian Law Essay are given equal weight as the MBE score. The scores are scaled using the standard deviation method to determine the score on the particular portion of the bar exam.

Passing Score
The South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners sets the passing score.

Pass Rates
Not currently available.

Review and Appeal for Applicants Failing the South Dakota Bar Exam
The applicable rules do not provide provisions for reviewing bar exam papers or appealing bar exam results.

Retaking the South Dakota Bar Exam

Applicants who fail to achieve a passing score on the combined MPT, MEE, Indian Law Essay, and MBE, and who reapply for a subsequent bar exam, are required to take the MPT, MEE, Indian Law, and MBE portions of the subsequent exam.

Applicants failing the bar exam three times are not permitted to take another bar exam, except by permission of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Applicants must show that the reasons for the previous failures no longer exist and there is a reasonable likelihood that the applicant will pass the bar exam if allowed to take the exam.