Uniform Bar Examination

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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.[1] The American Bar Association also endorsed the UBE at its 2016 mid-year meeting.[2]


Starting in 2011, the first states to administer the UBE were Missouri[3] and North Dakota. In 2016, New York and the District of Columbia began using the UBE.[4][5] South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey began using the UBE in February 2017.[6] 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,[7] Ohio will begin in July 2020,[8] 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.[9]


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.[10]

In December 2018, the Indiana Supreme Court created a commission to review the future of the state bar examination.[11] A previous Indiana task force rejected adoption of the UBE in a report issued in January 2017.[12]

The Kentucky Supreme Court Bar Admission Review Commission rejected adopting the UBE in 2015.[13][14]

The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners considered the UBE, but in 2016 stated “it is not in the best interests of the public of Virginia or the Virginia judicial system.”[15]

In Nevada, the UBE is supported by the dean of University of Nevada Law School[16] but opposed by the chair of the state Board of Bar Examiners.[17][18]

Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)[edit]

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created and sold to participating state bar examiners.[19]


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.[20] Test takers receive a scaled score ranging between 0 and 200.[21]

In February 2015, the NCBE added the seventh topic, civil procedure, to the examination.

Transfer of 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.[22]

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 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.[23]

The MEE can cover any of the following areas:[24][25]

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.[26]

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.[24]

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)[edit]

The MEE is partnered with the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), a written performance test developed by the NCBE and used in 48 U.S. jurisdictions.[27]

Jurisdictions as of May 2019[edit]

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[28] 270 270 2020 February No 36 months
Colorado[29] 276 276 2012 February No 36 months[a]
Connecticut[30] 266 266 2017 February No 36 months
District of Columbia[31] 266 266 2016 July No 60 months
Idaho[32] 272 280 2012 February No 37 months
Illinois[33] 266 266 2019 July No 48 months
Iowa 266 266 2016 February[34] No 60 months[b]
Kansas 266 266 2016 February No 36 months
Maine 276 276 2017 July No 36 months
Maryland[35] 266 266 2019 July Yes 36 months
Massachusetts[36] 270 270 2018 July[37] Yes 36 months
Minnesota 260 260 2014 February No 36 months
Missouri 260 260 2011 February Yes 24 months
Montana[38] 266 266 2013 July[39] 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[40] 266 266 2016 July[41] Yes 36 months
North Carolina[42] 270 270 2019 February Yes 36 months
North Dakota 260 260 2011 February No 24 months
Ohio[43] 270[44] 270 2020 July No 60 months
Oregon[45] 274 274 2017 July No 36 months
Rhode Island[46] 276 276 2019 February Yes 24 months
South Carolina 266 266 2017 February Yes 36 months
Tennessee[47] 270 270 2019 February[48] No 36 months
Texas[49] 270[50] 270 2021 February Yes TBD
Utah[51] 270 270 2013 February No 24/60[d] months
Vermont 270 270 2016 July No 36 months[e]
Washington[52] 270 270 2013 July Yes 40 months
West Virginia[53] 270 270 2017 July No 36 months
Wyoming 270 270 2013 July No 36 months
U.S. Virgin Islands[54] 266 266 2017 July Yes 36 months
  1. ^ 3 years + 2 years active practice immediately preceding
  2. ^ with proof upon filing of regular practice 2 of 3 years immediately preceding
  3. ^ if older than 3 years, applicant must show practice for prior 2 years and was in good standing for the whole duration
  4. ^ for attorneys of other jurisdictions with proof of full-time law practice for at least half of the time since passing the exam
  5. ^ if engaged in the practice of law for 2 years and in good standing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jurisdictions That Have Adopted the UBE". National Conference Of Bar Examiners. November 22, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  2. ^ "Midyear Meeting 2016: ABA adopts Resolution 109 on Uniform Bar Examination". ABA News. February 11, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "With Missouri Move, Idea of Uniform Bar Exam Finally Gets Legs". ABA Journal. April 29, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  4. ^ "New York State to Adopt Uniform Bar Exam". The New York Times. May 5, 2015.
  5. ^ McEntee, Kyle. "Washington D.C. Adopts Uniform Bar Exam". Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "Big Changes for Those Who Seek to Become an Attorney in South Carolina". George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers. July 1, 2015.
  7. ^ https://abaforlawstudents.com/2019/04/19/arkansas-adopts-uniform-bar-exam
  8. ^ "Ohio Supreme Court Adopts Uniform Bar Examination". www.courtnewsohio.gov. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Jones, Leigh (2009-10-12). "Uniform Bar Exam Drawing Closer to Reality". The National Law Journal. Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  10. ^ Chemerinsky, Erwin (2015-05-11). "It's time for California to accept the Uniform Bar Exam". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  11. ^ https://www.washtimesherald.com/news/supreme-court-panel-reviewing-bar-exam/article_46473016-806c-57d9-bcd2-c2c36b71ac6d.html
  12. ^ https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.inbar.org/resource/resmgr/docs/Report-January-2017.pdf
  13. ^ https://courts.ky.gov/resources/publicationsresources/Publications/ReportofBarAdmissions.pdf
  14. ^ https://louisville.edu/law/intranet/news/important-changes-to-the-kentucky-bar-exam
  15. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20161005071901/https://www.bna.com/jury-uniform-bar-n57982069005
  16. ^ https://www.nvbar.org/wp-content/uploads/NevadaLawyer_April2018_DeansColumn-UBE.pdf
  17. ^ https://www.nvbar.org/wp-content/uploads/NevadaLawyer_April2018_BarExam.pdf
  18. ^ https://www.nvbar.org/wp-content/uploads/NevadaLawyer_April2018_Reciprocity.pdf
  19. ^ Bar Admissions background, PDF Archived 2008-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Multistate Bar Examination". NCBE. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  21. ^ "Multistate Bar Examination Scores". NCBE. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  22. ^ "Bar Admission Guide". NCBE. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  23. ^ "MEE FAQs0". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  25. ^ "Description of the MEE". Archived from the original on July 4, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2009. "The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)...inaugurated in July 1988"
  26. ^ "Why Jurisdictions May Want to Implement the MEE". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  27. ^ "Jurisdictions Administering the MPT". National Conference of Bar Examiners. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  28. ^ https://opinions.arcourts.gov/ark/supremecourt/en/item/367891/index.do
  29. ^ "Eligibility Requirements for Application by Uniform Bar Exam Score Transfer". Colorado Supreme Court. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  30. ^ "FAQs - Admission by Examination". State of Connecticut - Judicial Branch. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  31. ^ "Jurisdiction Information". NCBE. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  32. ^ "UBE Score Transfer Information". Idaho State Bar. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  33. ^ "Illinois Supreme Court Adopts Uniform Bar Exam". Illinois State Bar Association.
  34. ^ "Iowa adopts the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)". National Conference of Bar Examiners.
  35. ^ "NCBE Jurisdiction Information: Maryland". Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  36. ^ "Board of Bar Examiners". Massachusetts Court System. 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  37. ^ "UBE hits 24th state with Massachusetts". ABA for Law Students. Archived from the original on 25 August 2016.
  38. ^ "Admissions Information - State Bar of Montana". www.montanabar.org. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  39. ^ [1], University of Montana School of Law Bar Exam Information
  40. ^ "Uniform Bar Examination, New York Law Course & New York Law Exam". New York State Bar. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  41. ^ Clifford, Stephanie; Jr, James C. McKinley (5 May 2015). "New York to Adopt a Uniform Bar Exam Used in 15 Other States". Retrieved April 15, 2019 – via NYTimes.com.
  42. ^ Kubik, Erika (December 4, 2017). "More Than Half of US Jurisdictions Have Adopted the UBE". 2Civility. Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  43. ^ Yeager, Anne. "Ohio Supreme Court Adopts Uniform Bar Examination". www.courtnewsohio.gov. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  44. ^ "UBE FAQ". www.supremecourt.ohio.gov. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  45. ^ "Jurisdiction Information". NCBE. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  46. ^ "RI to Adopt Uniform Bar Examination". Rhode Island Bar Association. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  47. ^ "In Re: Amendment of Rule 7, Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court" (PDF).
  48. ^ "NCBE Jurisdiction Information: Tennessee".
  49. ^ McCarthy, Osler. "COURT APPROVES UNIFORM BAR EXAMINATION FOR TEXAS". www.txcourts.gov/. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  50. ^ "Texas Board of Law Examiners - News". ble.texas.gov. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  51. ^ "Admission Rules". Utah State Bar. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  52. ^ "Uniform Bar Exam". Washington State Bar Association. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  53. ^ "WVSC adopts Uniform Bar Examination". The State Journal.
  54. ^ "PROMULGATION No. 2017-005" (PDF). Virgin Island Supreme Court. Retrieved July 12, 2017.