Pennsylvania Bar Exam

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Format

The Pennsylvania bar exam takes two days and consists of the Pennsylvania Essays, the Pennsylvania Performance Test, and the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”). Pennsylvania law is tested on the Pennsylvania bar exam.

Pennsylvania Essays
Pennsylvania tests six (6) essays. Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge of Pennsylvania law where applicable. Sample essay questions can be found here. Subjects may include:

  • Business Organizations (Corporations, Partnerships, LLCs, Professional Corporations)
  • Civil Procedure (Pennsylvania and Federal)
  • Criminal Law (Pennsylvania and Federal Constitutional Issues, and DUI)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Contracts (Common Law and UCC Art. 2 Sales)
  • Employment Discrimination (limited to Title VII, ADA, and ADEA)
  • Evidence (Pennsylvania and Federal)
  • Family Law
  • Federal Constitutional Law
  • Federal Income Taxes (Personal only and limited to taxable and non-taxable income, deductions, proprietorships, and capital transactions)
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Wills, Trusts, and Decedents’ Estates (including related fiduciary responsibilities)

MPT (Performance Test)
Pennsylvania tests one (1) Pennsylvania Performance Test. The test is simialar to the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”).

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

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Testing Schedule

Day 1 (Tuesday)
Morning – 1 PT and 2 Pennsylvania Essays (3 hours)
Afternoon – 4 Pennsylvania Essays (3 hours)

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

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Dates and Application

The Pennsylvania bar exam is held twice each year on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. Applications can be found on the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners’ Website.

Exam Date Application Deadline First Late Second Late Final Deadline
Feb. 21-22, 2017 Oct. 30 Nov. 15 Nov. 30 Dec. 15
July 25-26, 2017 April 15 April 30 May 15 May 30


Pennsylvania Bar Exam Weight

PA Essays 44%
MPT 11%
MBE 45%

Grading Procedure
After the bar exam, the executive director sends a copy of the actual bar exam essays and the proposed analyses and grading guidelines to representatives from the seven Pennsylvania law schools. The representatives distribute these materials to the law professors who may provide comments and suggestions. The examiners use the feedback to revise their analysis and grading guidelines.

The PT is worth 1.5 times a Pennsylvania essay. The written portion of the exam is scaled to the MBE. The written scaled score and the MBE scaled scores are then added together to generate the total bar exam score.

Passing Score
Applicants must achieve a scaled score of at least 272. Results are generally released in early April for the February exam and in October for the July exam.

Pass Rates
Bar exam statistics can be found here.

Review and Appeal for Applicants Failing the Pennsylvania Bar Exam
Unsuccessful applicants may obtain copies of their own answers to the essay questions. Applicants must make the requests within three months of the release of the bar exam results. The essay questions, grading outlines, and model sample answer can be found on the Pennsylvania Bar Examiners’ Website.

Applicants who receive a combined scaled score of 263-271 will automatically have their MPT and Pennsylvania essays reread and re-graded by a different grader. The re-grader does not know the scores originally given. Once the results are released, the results are final and not subject to review.

Retaking the Pennsylvania Bar Exam

Applicants may reapply for the Pennsylvania bar exam according to the applicable fee schedule and deadlines.