Virginia Bar Exam

Virginia Bar Exam Format

The Virginia bar exam takes two days and consists of the Virginia Essays, Virginia Short Answer Questions, and the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”). Virginia law is tested on the Virginia bar exam.

Virginia Essays and Short Answers
Virginia tests nine (9) essays and 10 short answer questions. Subjects include:

  • Agency
  • Business Organizations
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Creditor’s Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Domestic Relations
  • Equity
  • Evidence
  • Federal Practice and Procedure
  • Local Government Law
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real and Personal Property
  • Sales
  • Taxation
  • Torts
  • Trusts
  • Uniform Commercial Code
  • Virginia Civil and Criminal Procedure (including appellate practice)
  • Wills and Estate Administration

MBE (Multiple Choice)
Virginia 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
Virginia does not accept MBE scores from other jurisdictions.

Virginia Bar Exam Testing Schedule

Day 1 (Tuesday)
9 Virginia Essays and 10 Virginia Short Answer Questions

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

Virginia Bar Exam Dates and Application

The Virginia bar exam is held on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. In ridiculous fashion, Virginia mandates a formal Dress Code while taking the bar exam. Men are required to wear a suit and tie. Women are required to wear “traditional business attire,” which is not defined. The Virginia Board states, “Recognizing the high calibre of professionalism that has traditionally characterized the bar, the Board is confident that no further discussion of this topic will be necessary.” Applications can be found on the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners’ Website. There is no late filing deadline.

Exam Date Application Deadline
February 21-22, 2017 Dec. 15
July 25-26, 2017 May 10


Virginia Bar Exam Weight

VA Essays and Short Answers 60%
MBE 40%

Grading Procedure
Essays are graded on a scale of 0-10. Short answers are graded as either right or wrong and are worth one point. The maximum essay score is 100 points.

The essays are also preliminary graded immediately following the bar exam. Examiners then meet with professors from approved Virginia law schools to discuss the essay questions and the proposed answers. Examiners may adopt the law professors’ suggestions. The examiners then assign raw scores to the exam answers. The raw scores are then scaled to the MBE. The essay scaled score and the MBE scaled score are combined to generate the total bar exam score.

Passing Score
The minimum passing score is a total scaled score of 140.

Pass Rates
Virginia bar exam pass rates can be found here.

Review and Appeal for Applicants Failing the Virginia Bar Exam
After the initial grading and combining of the essay and MBE score, the Board re-grades the essay and short answers for applicants with initial total scaled scores near but below the minimum passing score. The Board generally re-grades papers of approximately 10 percent of the exams with initial scores below the minimum passing score. Grades may be adjusted up or down. All scores are final after the re-grading, and the results are not appealable.

Retaking the Virginia Bar Exam

Unsuccessful applicants cannot take the bar exam more than four times unless the applicant proves to the Board that he or she has diligently pursued the study of law since the former exam and remains otherwise qualified. The Board may allow applicants who have taken the exam five times to take additional exams when, in the discretion of the Board, the applicant has shown mitigating circumstances that constitute good and sufficient cause for the applicant’s failing the prior exam. The Board rarely grants a sixth bar exam.