Iowa Bar Exam Information

Oversight of admission to the Iowa State Bar is handled by the Iowa Board of Law Examiners. Part of this oversight includes administering the bar exam to all law school graduates wishing to practice law in the state of Iowa. Although Iowa has adopted all three portions of the Universal Bar Exam, Iowa does not accept transferred scores from any part of the exam taken in other jurisdictions.

Exam Dates:July 27th, 28th & 29th, 2020*
Exam Type:Universal Bar Exam
Location:Airport Holiday Inn and Conference Center, Des Moines, IA
Application Fee:$550
On-Motion Application Fee:$900
Filing Deadline:January 15th, 2020
Late Filing Deadline:April 1st, 2020
Late Fee:$150-$250

When is the 2020 Iowa Bar Exam?

The Iowa Bar Exam is scheduled for July 27th through July 29th. The session on Monday, July 27th is a mandatory orientation session with full days of testing on the 28th and 29th. These dates are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Regularly updated information on schedule changes can be found on the website for the Iowa Judicial Branch.

The two full days of testing follow the Universal Bar Exam (UBE) format. The exam is coordinated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NBCE) and includes a multiple-choice examination called the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), as well as portions requiring essays and two practical performance test questions.

Where is the Iowa Bar Exam located?

The Iowa Bar exam will take place at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center near the Des Moines Airport at 6111 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, IA 50231.

How much does the Iowa Bar Exam cost?

The fee for recently graduated law students to sit for the Iowa Bar Exam is $550. For applicants already licensed to practice law in another state, the fee rises to $800. There is a late fee up to $250 assessed for registrations received after the January 15th filing deadline. There is a $900 fee for applying for admission on motion.

What subjects are tested on the Iowa Bar Exam?

The subjects included on the Universal Bar Exam administered by the Iowa Judicial Branch include trusts and estates, constitutional law and evidence, civil procedure, criminal procedure, criminal law, family law, contract law, conflict of laws, business associations, torts, and real property.

What is the format of the Iowa Bar Exam?

After the mandatory registration and orientation session on the first day, the second and third day follow the UBE format coordinated by the NCBE.

What is the minimum MPRE score needed to take the Iowa Bar Exam?

Iowa requires applicants to score 80 or above on the Multistate Professional Readiness Exam (MPRE) before applying to sit for the exam.

How is the Iowa Bar Exam graded?

The three sections of the Universal Bar Exam are each weighted differently in the final result. The multiple-choice MBE is the most important portion of the exam, accounting for half of the overall score. The essay section provides 30% of the final result, and the practical performance test questions make up the final 20%.

When are the Iowa Bar scores released?

Scores on the Iowa Bar Exam are released within 6 weeks of your exam date. Individual results are sent by mail and a list of passing applicants will be posted on the Iowa Board of Law Examiners website.

Can I transfer my MBE scores from another jurisdiction?

The Iowa Bar does not accept transferred scores for any part of the Universal Bar Exam, Including the MBE.

What is the Iowa Reciprocity Agreement like?

The Iowa Bar Association offers reciprocal membership to attorneys who have actively practiced law in any state for at least five of the past seven years. The fee for applying for admission without examination is $900.

How can I contact the Iowa State Bar?

The Iowa State Board of Bar Examiners can be contacted via telephone at (515) 243-3179, via email to isba@iowabar.org, or mail addressed to:
Iowa State Bar Association
625 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309

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