South Dakota Bar Exam Information

The South Dakota Bar Exam is currently scheduled to take place on July 28-29, 2020, although it may be postponed, amended, or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-day exam follows the UBE format and includes essays and multiple-choice questions. The exam is comprised of four components: a Multistate Performance Test (MPT), a Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), Indian Law (IL) essay questions, and a Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).

The filing deadline is May 1, 2020, and no late applications are permitted.

Exam Dates:July 28-29, 2020*
*May be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Exam Type:Two-day Universal Bar Exam (UBE) with multiple choice and long-form questions
Location:Pierre, SD
Application Fee:$450
On-Motion Application Fee:$650
Filing Deadline:May 1, 2020
Late Filing Deadline:No late filing is permitted
Late Fee:No late filing is permitted

When is the 2020 South Dakota Bar Exam?

The South Dakota Bar Exam usually takes place on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July, with the next exam scheduled for July 28-29, 2020.

However, the COVID-19 crisis threatens to postpone or cancel the exam.

The South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners is authorized to develop and administer an exam covering the MEE, MPT, and MBE components as well as Indian Law on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. If this option does not go ahead, the exam may be canceled, and applicants will be automatically enrolled in the February 2021 exam, or the exam may be rescheduled for a later date.

See the South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners website for the latest information.

Where is the South Dakota Bar Exam Located?

The South Dakota Bar Exam is held in Pierre, South Dakota.

The venue of the July 2020 South Dakota Bar Exam is yet to be announced. The South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners will post the details on its website and/or directly inform applicants via email.

How much does the South Dakota Bar Exam cost?

First-time and repeat applicants, both attorneys and non-attorneys, will pay a fee of $450 to sit the exam. On-motion applicants incur a fee of $650.

The filing deadline for the July 2020 exam is May 1, 2020, and no late filing is permitted.

Laptops may be used in the exam for a fee of $100 (optional).

An NCBE character report and other administrative fees may apply.

What subjects are tested on the South Dakota Bar Exam?

MBE Subjects:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts/Sales
  • Criminal Law/Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

MEE/South Dakota Essay Subjects:

  • Agency
  • Commercial Paper
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Corporations
  • Family Law
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Partnerships
  • Sales
  • Secured Transactions
  • Trusts & Future Interests
  • Wills & Estates
  • plus all MBE subjects

Indian Law:

Basic principles of federal Indian Law; including but not limited to civil law and criminal jurisdiction, the Indian Civil Rights Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Tribal laws or customary laws are not tested.

Multistate Performance Test:

“Closed universe” practical problem using instructions, factual data, cases, statutes and other reference material supplied by examiners.

What is the format of the South Dakota Bar Exam like?

The South Dakota Bar Exam follows a two-day UBE format:

Day 1:

  • Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) essay questions, Multistate Performance Test (MPT) essay questions, Indian Law (IL) essay questions

Day 2:

  • Multiple-choice Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) questions

What is the minimum MPRE score needed to take the South Dakota Bar exam?

South Dakota requires a minimum scaled MPRE score of 85 to be obtained within 25 months of admission.

How is the South Dakota Bar Exam Graded?

South Dakota will scale, combine, and average the multiple-choice and essay questions to determine whether a passing score has been achieved.

The applicant must achieve an average of 75% or more on the MEE/MPT/Indian Law section and a scaled score of at least 133 on the MBE to pass the exam.

When are the South Dakota Bar scores released?

Results of the South Dakota Bar Exam are usually released 8-10 weeks after the exam.

Can I transfer my MBE scores from another jurisdiction?

The South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners may, in its discretion, accept an MBE scaled score of 130 or higher if the MBE is taken within the 25 months prior to the next scheduled exam and if the applicant passed the other jurisdiction’s exam.

What is the South Dakota Reciprocity Agreement like?

An applicant may be eligible for admission on motion if they are over the age of 18, have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school, have been in the active practice of law for the last five years, and meet the additional requirement as enumerated in SDCL 16-16-12.1 and 12.2.

How can I contact the South Dakota State Bar?

South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners
State Capitol
500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501-5070
(605) 773-4898

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