Bar Exam and MPRE Information & Requirements
Every law student is responsible for understanding and fulfilling the bar exam and admission requirements for their chosen jurisdiction(s). Jurisdictions’ requirements can vary significantly; and the admission requirements of some states may influence your 2L and 3L course selections. The information below provides helpful guidance, but it cannot serve as a substitute for an applicant’s review of a jurisdiction’s statutes, regulations and rules to determine eligibility and admission requirements. Please review your jurisdiction’s rules directly.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website lists contact information for the agencies responsible for offering the bar examination in all fifty states, as well as other U.S. jurisdictions. The NCBE also offers a useful bar admission resource guide. Please note that the NCBE guide does not reflect individual state or territory rule changes that occur after the guide’s annual publication date.
Bar Exam Overview
State bar examinations are offered twice a year, at the end of February and at the end of July. The format varies by jurisdiction, but may include:
MBE: The Multistate Bar Examination is a six-hour, 200-question multiple choice examination that covers Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Evidence, Criminal Law and Procedure, and Federal Civil Procedure.
MEE: The Multistate Essay Examination is a three-hour, six-question essay examination that covers the following subjects – Business Associations, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates, and Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code.
MPT: The Multistate Performance Test consists of two 90-minute skills questions. Applicants receive a case file and library and must complete a written assignment. The MPT is designed to test applicants on their ability to provide legal and factual analyses, engage in problem solving, resolve ethical dilemmas, communicate effectively, and complete a lawyering task within the time constraints.
State-specific Essays: Subjects tested on the essay portion of bar exams vary by jurisdiction. Jurisdictions may use the MEE for the essay portion of the exam or the jurisdiction may draft its own essays.
The majority of BU Law graduates go into jurisdictions where the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) is administered. The UBE is composed of three sections: the MBE, MEE, and MPT.
The Application Process
- First, choose the jurisdiction(s) where you will take the bar exam.
- Go to the jurisdiction(s) bar admission website to understand its admission requirements, rules and deadlines. To find these requirements, visit the NCBE webpageand select your jurisdiction under the “Jurisdiction Information” section at the bottom of the page.
- Register with the NCBE and sit for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), if the MPRE is required by your intended jurisdiction.
- Review your jurisdiction’s admission application materials, especially as related to Character and Fitness requirements, and begin gathering documents for the application by the start of your third year of law school.
- Finally, submit your application(s) to take your bar exam(s). If applicable, file for disability accommodations. Disability accommodations typically require an earlier and separate application filing.
Deciding Where to Take the Bar Exam
Deciding where to take the bar exam is generally determined by an applicant’s intended location of practice. Where a bar applicant may be considering multiple possible sites for practice, the applicant would be advised to consider taking a Uniform Bar Exam, which will facilitate practice in at least 39 states, or taking more than one bar exam in succession; first in July, followed by another in February. For those who are unsure of where they may practice, we encourage you to make an appointment with Associate Dean Gerry Muir to discuss the factors you should consider when selecting a jurisdiction to sit for the bar exam. Keep in mind that regardless of the status of your job search, it is important to take the bar exam to maximize opportunities.
New York State Applicants
Boston University School of Law provides an exemplary education and has the highest level of confidence in the competence of our graduates for legal work. In compliance with Section 520.18 of the Rules of the New York Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law, review the School of Law’s educational plan.
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
The MPRE is a two-hour, 60-question multiple choice exam designed to measure the examinee’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct. The MPRE charges $150 to take the exam. Some jurisdictions (including Massachusetts) require a certain passing score on the MPRE in order to be eligible to apply to the bar exam. Some jurisdictions allow applicants to pass the MPRE after taking their bar exam, but before applying for admission to the state bar (for example, New York). Students should check with the jurisdiction in which they plan to take the bar exam and practice, for specific MPRE score requirements, as the requirements vary by jurisdiction. Online registration for the MPRE requires an account with the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Students may take the MPRE in any jurisdiction where it is offered. Students should retain copies of their official score in order to provide it with their bar application materials. Click here for information on MPRE registration.
The MPRE is offered nationwide each spring, summer and fall; typically, March, August, and November. BU Law recommends taking the MPRE in the spring semester of 2L year or fall semester of 3L year in order to receive the score required to be eligible to sit for the bar exam in your chosen jurisdiction. Students who wait to complete the MPRE in their last semester risk not receiving their scores in time to apply for the bar exam, or admission, in their chosen jurisdiction. Students are encouraged to register early for the MPRE to get their preferred test locations.
The MPRE is administered as a computer-based test at Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the United States. Applicants will not be guaranteed placement at a center that is closest to their residence, and as such, all students are strongly encouraged to register as early as possible for the MPRE administration for which they plan to attend. Students seeking testing accommodations are especially encouraged to apply early. The MPRE typically requires students to apply for accommodations a minimum of three months before the test date. To manage the volume of students taking the exam, six exam dates are provided, versus the previous three primary exam dates.
It is not necessary to have taken the Law School’s Professional Responsibility course before taking the MPRE. Bar review companies offer MPRE review courses at no charge. The BU Law Pappas & Fineman Libraries also have MPRE-preparation materials available for our students’ use.
Character & Fitness
Character and fitness refers to an applicant’s past conduct and ability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of a lawyer. State bar examiners will ask about an applicant’s character and fitness as a prerequisite to licensure. Applicants are required to provide detailed information about their background. Examples of topics a state may ask about include educational history and disciplinary actions, employment history, criminal history, financial history, litigation history, mental health and substance abuse, and driving history. Please review your state’s Character & Fitness requirements as early as possible and begin gathering supporting documentation as this process is time-consuming. Some jurisdictions require copies of transcripts, which may take weeks to obtain. Increasingly, state bar examiners ask for a copy of an applicant’s law school application to review for consistency with the applicant’s application for bar admission. BU Law graduates’ application materials are available at the Law Registrar’s Office.
Do not omit information because you fear that the information will result in denial of your admission application. A failure to truthfully answer the questions posed is often considered a character and fitness violation, and is likely to cause more difficulty in admission than the incident itself. The bar examiners are looking to understand your experience, and how it may affect your future practice; either as an example of personal growth and learning, or as a consideration for admission.
Please contact Associate Dean Gerry Muir for any questions or concerns regarding character and fitness for bar admission. For Massachusetts bar admission issues related to character and fitness, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is an additional helpful resource. Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers provides confidential assistance to attorneys, law students and judges. Every state has a similar program. Feel free to contact the program in the state where you will be applying for bar admission. The complete list of programs by state can be found here.
Requesting Test Accommodations
Students who will be applying for disability accommodations for the MPRE must request and receive approval for their accommodations prior to registering and scheduling a test appointment with Pearson VUE. The test fee does not need to be paid until the test appointment is scheduled. Anyone who seeks accommodations for the MPRE is encouraged to apply well in advance of their preferred MPRE test administration date(s) to ensure completion of the interactive review process with NCBEX. Please note, if a request for accommodations is not approved, or is only partially approved, the applicant can engage the NCBEX appeal process, which may take an extra 25 business days, or more. More information about requesting accommodations for the MPRE can be found here.
Every jurisdiction has its own policies regarding accommodations for the bar exam. Please go to the website of the state where you plan to sit for the exam and familiarize yourself with application requirements and deadlines. Information regarding individual state bar exam requirements can be found here.
Requests for accommodations should be made well in advance of the deadline to allow time for review. If you are requesting accommodations for the bar exam and if the bar authority or the National Conference of Bar Examiners requires the Law School to complete a form or submit a letter indicating whether you received accommodations while in law school, please contact BU Law Student Affairs. Note that even if you received accommodations while in law school, the bar authority or the National Conference of Bar Examiners may not necessarily grant accommodations or, if they do, the accommodations may not be what you received in law school. Additionally, bar exam processes may require both BU Disability & Access Services and Dean Muir to verify information regarding the nature of your disability and University accommodations.
Early Bar Examination Options
Several states allow bar applicants to take the bar exam prior to graduating from an ABA-accredited, JD program if the applicants meet certain prerequisites. For example, Vermont provides an early examination option for students who have completed the equivalent of five (5) semesters of full-time study and who will graduate from an approved law school within seven (7) months of sitting for the bar examination. Maryland allows for a student’s actual graduation date to post-date the bar exam “as long as the applicant is ‘unqualifiedly eligible’ for graduation prior to the first day of the bar exam.” New York has the Pro Bono Scholars Program. Through this program, students spend their last semester of 3L year working full-time on behalf of indigent clients through an externship and have the opportunity to take the February New York bar exam. For a list of the states that provide an option for early examination, please see Chart #1 of the National Conference of Bar Examiners Bar Admission Guide.
Bar Review Courses
BU Law strongly urges students to fully complete a commercial bar review course after graduation to prepare for the bar exam. While the bar review courses are costly, they provide detailed reviews of subject areas tested on the bar exam and enable students to take practice tests. Completion of a commercial bar review course is not required but tends to significantly increase a student’s chances of success on the bar exam. During the year, student representatives from bar review companies will periodically set up informational tables in the Law School. Some bar companies provide significant bar course discounts to student representatives at the law school. BU Law strongly encourages students to research the many different bar review courses by speaking with recent graduates, bar review course representatives and employers. For a list of bar review course options, please visit FindLaw’s website. BU Law does not endorse any particular bar review course.
Financing Bar Costs
It may cost thousands of dollars to apply, study and sit for a state bar exam. All states charge a fee to apply for admission and to take the bar exam. There may be additional fees required to fulfill prerequisites for the exam, including the fee to sit for the MPRE. Bar review companies also charge a fee that range from several hundred to several thousand dollars to enroll in their course.
Some private employers will provide reimbursement for bar-related expenses. If you have found employment, reach out to your employer and ask what costs (if any) they will cover. For students who will not be reimbursed by an employer, private bar loans are available. Please check with the Law Financial Aid Office for advice on planning for bar costs and information on private bar loan options.
Multiple law school scholarships are listed on the AccessLex Law School Scholarship Databank. A number of these scholarships are geared specifically towards financing bar study. Note the eligibility requirements of each scholarship listed to ensure your eligibility.
Financial resources are also available at BU Smart Money. The website includes scholarship searches, workshops on money management, budgeting templates, and other resources that may assist in financial preparation for the bar exam.
After the Bar
Continuing Legal Education
Most state bars require licensed attorneys to complete annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits to remain in good standing with the state bar association. CLE requirements vary by state, so please contact your state bar association to ensure successful completion of CLE credits.
Resources for Repeat Test Takers
Many successful attorneys did not pass the bar exam on their first try. If you did not pass the exam, do not give up. We strongly urge you to schedule an appointment with Associate Dean Gerry Muir or Academic Enrichment Director Lisa Freudenheim to determine what affected your bar exam attempt, what options you have to request additional information about the score received, and how you can prepare differently for a successful result. If you have accepted a job offer, you will need to notify your employer. Please schedule an appointment with the Career Development Office and they will provide advice on how best to handle the situation. Feel free to reach out to the Career Development Office to discuss next steps in your job search.
Lastly, some bar review courses have policies allowing students who do not succeed on their first attempt to take the course again free of charge or at a reduced rate. Contact the bar review company you used to find out their policy for multiple test takers.
States that Accept UBE
Retrieved from NCBE.