Uniform Bar Examination

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The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is a standardized bar examination, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). It consists solely of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and offers portability of scores across state lines. As of June 2015, the Uniform Bar Exam has been adopted in 16 states.[1]


Missouri became the first state to adopt the UBE;[2] both that state and North Dakota were the first to administer the UBE, doing so in February 2011. Following Missouri's lead, several other jurisdictions, all of which were among the 22 that already were using all three components of the UBE, are expected to adopt that examination. However, many of the largest legal markets – California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, and Texas – have so far chosen not to adopt the UBE. New York will begin using the UBE in the summer of 2016.[3] Among the concerns cited with the adoption of the UBE were its absence of questions on state law and the fact that it would give the NCBE much greater power in the bar credentialing process.[4]

Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)[edit]

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created and sold to participating state bar examiners.[5]


It is administered on a single day of the bar examination in 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The only state that does not administer the MBE is Louisiana, which follows a civil law system very different from the law in other states. The MBE is given twice a year: on the last Wednesday of July in all jurisdictions that require that examination, and on the last Wednesday of February in the same jurisdictions, except for Delaware and North Dakota.

The 200 MBE questions test six subjects based upon principles of common law and Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (covering sales of goods) that apply throughout the United States. The questions are not broken down into sections and the six topics are distributed more or less evenly throughout the course of the exam. Exam-takers generally receive three hours during the morning session to complete the first 100 questions, and another three hours during the afternoon session to complete the second 100 questions.

In January 2009, NCBE indicated that it was considering adding a seventh topic, civil procedure, to the examination.[6]

Transfer of MBE scores[edit]

Taking the MBE in one jurisdiction may allow an applicant to use their MBE score to waive into another jurisdiction or to use their MBE score with another state's bar examination.[7]

Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)[edit]

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is a collection of essay questions largely concerning the common law administered as a part of the bar examination in 26 jurisdictions of the United States: Alabama, Alaska (eff. July 2014), Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Palau, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.[8]

The MEE can cover any of the following areas:[9][10]

MEE questions are actually drafted by the NCBE Drafting Committee, with the assistance of outside academics and practitioners who are experts in the fields being tested. After initial drafting, the questions are pretested, analyzed by outside experts and a separate NCBE committee, reviewed by boards of bar examiners in the jurisdictions that use the test, and then revised by the Drafting Committee in accordance with the results of this process. Each MEE question is accompanied by a grading guide, and the NCBE sponsors a grading workshop on the weekend following the bar exam whose results are provided to bar examiners.[11]

The examination is always administered on a single day of the bar examination, specifically the day before the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). Through February 2007, the NCBE consisted of seven questions, with most jurisdictions selecting six of the seven questions to administer. Unlike the MBE, which is graded and scored by the NCBE, the MEE is graded exclusively by the jurisdiction that administers the bar examination. Each jurisdiction has the choice of grading MEE questions according to general U.S. common law or the jurisdiction's own law.[9]

Multistate Performance Test[edit]

The MEE is partnered with the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), a written performance test developed by the NCBE and used in 33 U.S. jurisdictions.[12]


State Passing Score First UBE Administration
Alabama 260 July 2011
Alaska 280 July 2014
Arizona 273 July 2012
Colorado 276 February 2012
Idaho 280 February 2012
Kansas 266 February 2016
Minnesota 260 February 2014
Missouri 260 February 2011
Montana 270 July 2013[13]
Nebraska 270 February 2012
New York 266 July 2016[14]
New Hampshire 270 February 2014
North Dakota 260 February 2011
Utah 270 February 2013
Vermont (proposed) 270 February 2016
Washington 270 July 2013[15]
Wyoming 270 July 2013

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Casey C. (June 29, 2015). "Deans and Scholars Pressure California to Adopt Uniform Bar Exam". Findlaw. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ "With Missouri Move, Idea of Uniform Bar Exam Finally Gets Legs". ABA Journal. 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  3. ^ "New York State to Adopt Uniform Bar Exam". The New York Times. 2015-05-05. 
  4. ^ Jones, Leigh (2009-10-12). "Uniform Bar Exam Drawing Closer to Reality". The National Law Journal. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  5. ^ Bar Admissions background, PDF
  6. ^ Jones, Leigh (2009-01-15). "Potential Major Changes to Bar Exams Considered". The National Law Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  7. ^ Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2012 (accessed October 28, 2012)
  8. ^ "MEE FAQs0". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  9. ^ a b "Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Archived from the original on 30 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  10. ^ "Description of the MEE". Retrieved 2009-06-13.  "The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)...inaugurated in July 1988"
  11. ^ "Why Jurisdictions May Want to Implement the MEE". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  12. ^ "Jurisdictions Using the MPT in 2007". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  13. ^ [1], University of Montana School of Law Bar Exam Information
  14. ^ New York State to Adopt Uniform Bar Exam - The New York Times, May 6, 2015
  15. ^ [2], Washington Bar UBE information