Uniform Bar Examination
The Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is a standardized bar examination in the United States, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). It consists solely of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and offers portability of scores across state lines. As of February 2019, the Uniform Bar Exam has been adopted in 35 jurisdictions: 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands. Other US jurisdictions considering the UBE include Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. The American Bar Association also endorsed the UBE at its 2016 mid-year meeting.
Starting in 2011, the first states to administer the UBE were Missouri and North Dakota. In 2016, New York and the District of Columbia began using the UBE. South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey began using the UBE in February 2017. Maine, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands started using the UBE in July 2017. Massachusetts started using the UBE in July 2018. North Carolina began using it in February 2019, Arkansas will begin in February 2020, Ohio will begin in July 2020, and Texas will introduce the UBE beginning in February 2021, bringing the total number of jurisdictions using the UBE to 36 (34 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
However, some of the largest legal markets—including California and Florida—have not adopted the UBE. Concerns (that a majority of US jurisdictions have addressed and overcome) include the lack of questions on state law, and that the test provides NCBE with control over the bar credentialing process.
Educator, litigator and legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School, thinks it is time for California to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam.
In December 2018, the Indiana Supreme Court created a commission to review the future of the state bar examination. A previous Indiana task force rejected adoption of the UBE in a report issued in January 2017.
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created and sold to participating state bar examiners.
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 slightly 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 seven 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 seven topics are distributed more or less evenly throughout the course of the exam. Exam-takers 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.
Of the 200 MBE questions, 175 are graded. The remaining 25 are pretest questions that are "indistinguishable" from the real questions. Test takers receive a scaled score ranging between 0 and 200.
In February 2015, the NCBE added the seventh topic, civil procedure, to the examination.
Transfer of scores
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.
Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)
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 33 jurisdictions of the United States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland (beginning 2018), Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina (beginning 2019), North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Palau, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
- Business associations – Agency and partnership, corporations, limited liability companies
- Conflict of laws
- Constitutional law
- Criminal law and procedure
- Family law
- Federal civil procedure
- Real property
- Trusts and estates – decedents' estates; trusts and future interests
- Uniform Commercial Code – Article 9, Secured Transactions
MEE questions are 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.
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 MEE 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.
Multistate Performance Test (MPT)
Jurisdictions as of May 2019
|State or territory||In-state score||Transfer score||First UBE administration||Additional exam or course||UBE transfer eligibility|
|Alabama||260||260||2011 July||Yes||25 months|
|Alaska||280||280||2014 July||No||60 months|
|Arizona||273||273||2012 July||Yes||60 months|
|Arkansas||270||270||2020 February||No||36 months|
|Colorado||276||276||2012 February||No||36 months[a]|
|Connecticut||266||266||2017 February||No||36 months|
|District of Columbia||266||266||2016 July||No||60 months|
|Idaho||272||280||2012 February||No||37 months|
|Illinois||266||266||2019 July||No||48 months|
|Iowa||266||266||2016 February||No||60 months[b]|
|Kansas||266||266||2016 February||No||36 months|
|Maine||276||276||2017 July||No||36 months|
|Maryland||266||266||2019 July||Yes||36 months|
|Massachusetts||270||270||2018 July||Yes||36 months|
|Minnesota||260||260||2014 February||No||36 months|
|Missouri||260||260||2011 February||Yes||24 months|
|Montana||266||266||2013 July||Yes||36 months|
|Nebraska||270||270||2012 February||No||36 months|
|New Hampshire||270||270||2014 February||No||36 months[c]|
|New Jersey||266||266||2017 February||No||36 months|
|New Mexico||260||260||2016 February||Yes||36 months|
|New York||266||266||2016 July||Yes||36 months|
|North Carolina||270||270||2019 February||Yes||36 months|
|North Dakota||260||260||2011 February||No||24 months|
|Ohio||270||270||2020 July||No||60 months|
|Oregon||274||274||2017 July||No||36 months|
|Rhode Island||276||276||2019 February||Yes||24 months|
|South Carolina||266||266||2017 February||Yes||36 months|
|Tennessee||270||270||2019 February||No||36 months|
|Utah||270||270||2013 February||No||24/60[d] months|
|Vermont||270||270||2016 July||No||36 months[e]|
|Washington||270||270||2013 July||Yes||40 months|
|West Virginia||270||270||2017 July||No||36 months|
|Wyoming||270||270||2013 July||No||36 months|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||266||266||2017 July||Yes||36 months|
- 3 years + 2 years active practice immediately preceding
- with proof upon filing of regular practice 2 of 3 years immediately preceding
- if older than 3 years, applicant must show practice for prior 2 years and was in good standing for the whole duration
- for attorneys of other jurisdictions with proof of full-time law practice for at least half of the time since passing the exam
- if engaged in the practice of law for 2 years and in good standing
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- Bar Admissions background, PDF Archived 2008-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
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- , University of Montana School of Law Bar Exam Information
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- "UBE FAQ". www.supremecourt.ohio.gov. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
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- "In Re: Amendment of Rule 7, Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court" (PDF).
- "NCBE Jurisdiction Information: Tennessee".
- McCarthy, Osler. "COURT APPROVES UNIFORM BAR EXAMINATION FOR TEXAS". www.txcourts.gov/. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
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- "Admission Rules". Utah State Bar. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
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