At the establishment of the bar exam, the tests were purely state-specific. Each exam was centered around each state’s unique laws, terminology, and concepts. While this approach has worked for decades and is still true to some extent, there has been a shift towards one exam for every state.
This exam is called the Uniform Bar Exam, and it focuses on majority law instead of individual state law. While majority law covers a wide array of topics, there have been a handful of concerns. When you have an exam that focuses on majority law, it’s possible that lawyers can miss essential parts of state law.
These concerns have created substantial debates, but the results have been positive. The Uniform Bar Exam allows lawyers to practice law in any state, which has outweighed the negative impact of the exam. In fact, 35 jurisdictions, including 33 states have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam.
While many states are on board with the UBE, it doesn’t apply to every state. Staying up to date with your state is essential, so if you’re looking to see if the UBE is available in your state, read on.
What is the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)?
The Uniform Bar Examination was created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The conference exists to create educational resources for state testing and examinations. The purpose of the examination is to create a consistent testing experience. The results of the exam can transfer to any states that use the Uniform Bar Exam because it’s graded, administered, and scored uniformly.
The exam consists of a few different portions and looks similar to state-specific bar examinations. While the exam scores transfer, each state still has unique tweaks they can make to the exam. Understanding how your state administers the exam, and if it does at all, is becoming a crucial part of becoming a lawyer.
What is Tested on the Uniform Bar Exam?
The Uniform Bar Examination consists of three different sections. Each section is graded individually and contributes to your overall score. These sections include the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT).
Multistate Bar Examination
The Multistate Bar Examination is the most significant portion of the UBE and can count for up to 50% of a student’s overall score. This portion of the exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions. The questions are administered in two three-hour-long sessions. These questions have no state-specific law questions and focus on principles of law that apply throughout the country.
These multiple-choice questions cover a wide range of topics. On the exam, students can expect to see questions in subjects like business associations, contracts and scales, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, civil procedures, conflict of laws, evidence, family law, real property, torts, trust and estates, and uniform commercial code.
Students can expect the exam to involve all of these topics. While each topic is included, preparing for each topic is essential because the exam will have a random amount of questions about each subject. For example, one exam might have more commercial code questions than trusts and estates.
Multistate Essay Examination
The Multistate Essay Examination consists of essay questions that the student needs to answer thoroughly. The exam includes six essay questions, and students have thirty minutes to answer each one. This portion of the exam makes up 30% of a student’s overall Uniform Bar Exam score.
The questions cover a wide array of topics. Still, the goal of the exam is to have students identify legal issues based on hypothetical situations, separate relevant material from non-relevant material, present a well-rounded analysis of current problems, and demonstrate an understanding of fundamental legal principles.
Multistate Performance Test
The Multistate Performance Test is made up of two ninety-minute performance examinations. The exam consists of situations that test the skills of a lawyer’s decision making and approach in real-life applications.
The exam is scored differently based on your state, but it makes up 20% of a student’s UBE score. Also, administrators can choose which elements of the exam to focus on and score. This portion of the exam is situational, which makes it challenging to prepare for.
When is the Uniform Bar Exam Administered?
The Uniform Bar Examination is not administered on one day. There are too many portions of the exam for a student to get it all done in one session. So, the exam is broken up into specific days each year. Luckily, students can complete the Uniform Bar Exam in two short days because the test is back-to-back.
The MBE portion of the exam is administered on two days each year, the first Wednesday in February and July. The MEE and MPT are administered on the Tuesday before the MBE. Before taking the MBE, students should first consider taking the MEE and MPT.
States That Have Adopted the Uniform Bar Examination
While many states have taken steps to accommodate the Uniform Bar Exam, some states are still opposed to the examination. For example, states like California and Florida are still opposed to the exam. The opposition argues that the exam doesn’t place enough focus on state issues.
With that said, the Uniform Bar Exam has a promising future. There are a lot of states and US territories that have adopted it, and that number will continue to grow. To see if your state is included, check the list below.
States That Have Administered the Uniform Bar Exam
District of Columbia
Should I Take the Uniform Bar Exam?
The Uniform Bar Examination is becoming popular. In the past, the exam was only available in a handful of states. Now, students in many states have the opportunity to take this exam. Knowing which states use this exam is essential, and even if it’s not available in your state, it’s a good idea to sit for at least one Uniform Bar Exam.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you succeed. The Uniform Bar Examination is a difficult test, but it’s not impossible to pass. Students generally have between six and eight weeks to prepare, so it’s crucial to find a tutor or take practice exams. Doing so will help you understand the test and improve your chances of passing on the first try.