This section contains general bar exam information, identifies the jurisdictions that test state law on the bar exam, and describes the three multistate tests that could appear on a state’s bar exam. This section also contains information regarding MBE score transfers.
Passing the bar exam is a condition for bar admission in almost every jurisdiction. Generally, the bar exam consists of state questions and uniform multistate questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”). Each jurisdiction is different and uses its own bar exam format, scoring, passing scores, etc. It is important to check your particular jurisdiction’s bar exam rules and regulations. Please click on the map below for information specific to each state’s bar exam.
Although the multistate tests are becoming more popular, many states write their own essays, performance tests, short answer questions, and multiple-choice questions. Some states use the multistate tests but require test takers to answer the questions using state specific laws. The map below identifies states testing state specific law. Click on the specific state for more information about that state’s bar exam.
|States testing State Specific Law on the Bar Exam|
|States that do NOT test State Specific Law on the Bar Exam|
The multistate tests include the NCBE prepared Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”), Multistate Essay Exam (“MEE”), and Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”). The MPT and MEE are usually administered on the same day. The MBE is administered on a separate day on the last Wednesday of February and July. In addition, most states require passage of the NCBE prepared Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”). The MPRE is an ethics test administered separate from the bar exam. For MPRE information, please visit the Ethics Exam/MPRE page.
The MPT is part of the written component of a bar exam. The MPT tests basic attorney skills through a 90-minute problem solving task with a written product. Jurisdictions may use one or two MPTs. Test takers receive a packet of information containing a File and a Library. The File instructs the test taker to complete a specific task. The task is generally in the form of a letter from a senior attorney. The most tested tasks are objective memorandums and persuasive briefs. Tasks may also include: opinion letters, demand letters, opening and closing arguments, wills, trial briefs, contract provisions, counseling plans, etc.
In addition to the task, the file also contains the source documents in the form of letters, client documents, interview transcripts, contracts, pleadings, records, notes, correspondence, etc. These documents can be ambiguous, incomplete, or conflicting. The Library contains the sources of law in the form of ordinances, regulations, statutes, and cases. Both the file and the library may contain relevant and irrelevant facts. Applicants must extract the relevant information, apply the applicable law, and produce a written product that addresses and answers the requested task. The MPT is does not test substantive law. Everything an applicant needs to complete an MPT is included in the problem. Each jurisdiction determines the scoring procedure and the scoring weight of the MPT in relation to the overall bar exam score. The map below identifies states that administer the MPT as part of the bar exam:
|States testing the MPT on the Bar Exam|
|States that do NOT test the MPT on the Bar Exam|
The MEE is the multistate essay portion of a bar exam. The NCBE provides each jurisdiction nine essay questions. These nine essay questions act as a “grab bag.” The jurisdiction chooses the number and type of essays to administer for its bar exam and can combine the multistate essays with state specific essays. MEE essay questions are designed to take 30 minutes each, but the total number of essays and total time allotted varies. Once again, it is important to check your particular state’s bar exam essay format. MEE essays can cover multiple issues from more than one subject. The MEE includes all MBE subjects and several subjects that will only be tested on the MEE. All of the possible MEE subjects include:
Each jurisdiction determines the scoring procedures and the weight of MEE in relation to the overall bar exam score. The NCBE does not grade the MEE. The map below identifies states that administer the MEE as part of the bar exam:
|States testing the MEE on the Bar Exam|
|States that do NOT test the MEE on the Bar Exam|
The MBE is the multiple-choice portion of a bar exam. The MBE is a 6-hour exam testing 200 multiple-choice questions. The MBE is split into a 3 hour morning session (100 multiple choice questions) and a 3 hour afternoon session (100 multiple choice questions). Ten of the multiple choice questions are unscored “pretest” questions for future MBE exams. These “pretest” questions are scattered through the MBE. Test takers do not know which questions are the “pretest” questions. The MBE tests the following subjects (with approximate number of questions per topic):
The NCBE’s MBE Page provides an authoritative outline for each subject. There is no penalty for guessing or answering questions incorrectly. The raw score is the number of questions answered correctly. The raw score is then transformed to a scaled score to account for varying degrees of difficulty between tests. Individual jurisdictions set their own passing scores. Passing scores are usually combined with the written portions of the bar exam. Once again, it is important to check your particular jurisdiction’s bar exam rules and regulations. The map below identifies states administering the MBE as part of the bar exam:
|States administering the MBE as part of the Bar Exam|
|States that do NOT administer the MBE as part of the Bar Exam|
The future of the bar exam is the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”). The UBE allows applicants who pass the bar exam more flexibility in transferring their scores to other UBE jurisdictions. The UBE is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. For the UBE, states may elect to use the three multistate tests for the state bar exam. The UBE takes two days and consists of two (2) MPTs, six (6) MEE Essays, and the MBE. The MPT and MEE sections are tested on Tuesday and the MBE is tested on Wednesday.
Applicants answer the bar exam using general principles of law. State specific law is not tested. The individual states grade the MPT and MEE. The NCBE grades the MBE. The MPT and MEE scores are then scaled to the 200-point MBE. The MBE is scaled to account for difficulty between separate administrations. The two scaled scores are then combined to generate the total UBE score. The UBE is weighted 20% to the MPT, 30% to the MEE, and 50% to the MBE. The UBE scores obtained in one state may be transferred to another state that also administers the UBE. Each state sets the score and time-period requirements for the score transfers. The map below identifies states that administer the UBE or will administer the UBE in the future:
|States testing the UBE for the Bar Exam|
|States that do NOT test the UBE for the Bar Exam|