South Dakota Bar Exam

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South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners

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



The South Dakota Bar Exam is a 2-day exam.

Day 1: two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test (MPT) questions, five Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions, and one Indian Law question.

Day 2: Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), a 200-question, multiple-choice 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.


The South Dakota Bar Exam is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July.

2014 Winter:  February 25 and 26

2014 Summer: July 29 and 30


The South Dakota bar application must be filed by November 1 for the February exam and by April 1 for the July exam.

Exam fee: $300


Take Appropriate Steps To Ensure Timely Delivery: Your application is one of thousands that will be sent to the same office address. Use Certified Mail with Return Receipt Requested or other appropriate verifiable means (e.g., FedEx, UPS) when sending all correspondence to the bar examiners so that you have proof regarding when your application was postmarked, when it arrived and who received it.  Check with the state bar examiner’s office before sending your application regarding what types of delivery they will accept.

Payment:  Application fees are generally non-refundable. Verify acceptable forms of payment with your state (i.e., no personal checks).  If you apply to take the bar exam, pay all fees and subsequently withdraw, you must contact the Bar Examiners. You may have to submit a new application, a new filing fee and new copies of related documents in order to sit for the exam at a future date.

Employment History:  Many states’ bar applications require information regarding your past employment since the age of 18 (i.e., name and address of employer, reason for leaving). Begin compiling a list of employers and their current addresses so that you have this information for your application.

Character References:  Many states’ bar applications require a list of persons who can attest to your good character. Begin compiling a list of non-relatives who have known you for at least two (2) years who can vouch for your integrity.

Driver Abstracts:  Some bar applications require you to produce a Driver’s Abstract from all states in which you were licenced to drive. Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles in each state and request the most complete abstract of your driving record that is available.

Fingerprints:  In some states you must submit your fingerprints on a special card with your exam application.   Have your fingerprints rolled by a professional law enforcement officer onto the forms provided by the bar examiners.


Day 1 and Day 2 are averaged. Results for the February and July exams are released 8-10 weeks after the exam.


Admission on Motion: An applicant may be eligible for admission on motion if (s)he is over the age of 18, has graduated from an ABA accredited school, has been in the active practice of law for the last five years, and meets additional requirement as enumerated in SDCL 16-16-12.1 and 12.2.

Acceptance of MBE Score: Acceptance of MBE Score: Board may in its discretion accept MBE scaled score of 130 or higher if MBE taken within 25 months prior to next scheduled exam and if applicant passed the other jurisdiction’s exam.

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