What Is The Uniform Bar Exam?

Uniform Bar Exam

What Is The Uniform Bar Exam?

What is the Uniform Bar Exam? Are you getting ready to take the bar exam soon? If so, you may have heard about the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). The UBE is still relatively new, but it has been quickly increasing in popularity since its first administration in 2011. In fact, more than half of U.S. jurisdictions now administer the UBE.

What Is The Uniform Bar Exam?

Three sections make up the Uniform Bar Exam: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

We discuss each of these portions below. We also offer some of our best tips to succeed on each portion of the UBE.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions administered over a 6-hour period. The 6 hours are broken into two, 3-hour periods. You must answer 100 questions within each of those 3-hour blocks of time. The MBE counts as 50% of your total UBE score.

The purpose of the MBE is to assess your ability to apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to analyze specific fact patterns. The MBE questions cover the following seven subject areas:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

Each of the seven MBE subjects are tested equally with 25 questions per subject. However, the MBE topics within each subject are not tested equally. Check out this post on highly tested MBE topics if you are wondering why you should know negligence super well (and why it is okay if you do not love present and future interest!).

highly tested mbe topics, highly tested areas of law on the MBESo, in short, your job is to pick the best answer from four possible options for each question. Multiple answers for the same questions will be marked as incorrect. Your MBE score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. So, you will not lose additional points if you answer a question incorrectly.

Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE consists of 6, 30-minute essay questions and is worth 30% of your total UBE score. Broken down, this means each essay is worth 5% of your overall UBE score.

Unlike the MBE, the MEE requires the examinee to show they are able to communicate effectively in writing. The NCBE is very specific in what it’s trying to test on the MEE. According to the NCBE, the MEE tests your ability to:

  • Identify legal issues raised by a hypothetical factual situation;
  • Separate material which is relevant from that which is not;
  • Present a reasoned analysis of the relevant issues in a clear, concise, and well-organized composition; and
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental legal principles relevant to the probable solution of the issues raised by the factual situation.

The MEE tests a broad range of legal subjects, and some essay questions may even test multiple areas of law. The following subjects may appear on MEE questions:

  • Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies)
  • Civil Procedure
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts (including UCC Article 2 (Sales))
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates
  • UCC Article 9 (Secured Transactions)

Some MEE subjects are tested more than others. To see highly tested MEE subjects, please check out this post. If you are looking for an MEE chart to see how the subjects have been tested in recent years, please check out this post.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The third component of the UBE is the MPT. The MPT is comprised of two, 90-minute “real world” legal tasks that account for 20% of your overall UBE score.

The MPT is somewhat unique compared to the MBE and MEE in that it does not test any substantive legal knowledge. In other words, you don’t need to have any outside law or information memorized to be able to answer an MPT.  Rather, the MPT is designed to evaluate certain fundamental skills that new lawyers are expected to demonstrate regardless of the area of law in which the skills are applied. Examples of MPT tasks include drafting an objective memorandum, persuasive brief or demand letter.

The MPT requires you to do the following:

  • Sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts;
  • Analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law;
  • Apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem;
  • Identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present;
  • Communicate effectively in writing; and
  • Complete a lawyering task within time constraints.

MPT chart, multistate performance tests chartThe materials provided for each MPT include a File and also a Library. The File consists of documents that contain all the facts of the case. A memorandum from a supervising attorney describes your specific assignment. The File might also include transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings or trials, pleadings, correspondence, client documents, contracts, newspaper articles, medical records, police reports, or lawyer’s notes. The File includes both relevant and irrelevant information. The facts may be ambiguous, incomplete or even conflicting.

The Library may contain cases, statutes, regulations, rules, or some combination thereof. Again, some of the law may be relevant to your assigned task and some may not. Therefore, it’s your job to extract the legal principles necessary to analyze the problem and perform the task from the Library. As noted above, the MPT is not a test of substantive law. The Library contains all the substantive information you need to answer the MPT.

If you want to see an overview of MPT tasks, check out this post.  See our MPT chart here to see which tasks have been tested most recently on the MPT.


Additional Uniform Bar Exam Information

Today, a total of 28 jurisdictions (26 states and 2 U.S. territories) administer the UBE. These jurisdictions include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts (starting in July 2018), Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. You can also check the NCBE website for a current list of jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE.

A major benefit of the UBE is that it is uniformly administered. This means you can transfer your score on the exam easily among different UBE states. The UBE is also uniformly graded,. However, each jurisdiction sets its down passing score. Currently, a UBE passing score ranges between 260 and 280, depending on the jurisdiction. You can view an up-to-date list of UBE minimum passing scores by state here.

Some Of Our Top Uniform Bar Exam Tips

Now that you’ve got a feel for all three components of the UBE, you probably want some guidance on how to succeed on the UBE. Here are some of our top tips for mastering the UBE.

  • Memorize the highly tested black letter law. If you don’t know the law, you’re not going to be able to apply that law correctly. If you want some tips on how to memorize your bar exam outlines, check out this post.
  • Practice questions! This will help you make sure you know the law and that you can correctly apply it.
  • Review the explanations after you do the questions and write down why you answer a question incorrectly. Review all practice questions you complete so you know why an answer is correct (or incorrect). If you got something wrong, write down why you got it wrong. Did you forget a rule? Then write that rule down. This will help you recognize patterns in the laws and realize why you answered incorrectly.
  • Don’t blow off the MPT. So many students wait until the last minute to study for the MPT. They think it’s not that big of a deal because it’s only worth 20% and doesn’t require any outside knowledge.  But it is! Read this post if you want to know why to take the MPT seriously.

Finally, if you’d like more tips and UBE resources, make sure you check out our blog posts here and here.

Additional Uniform Bar Exam Resources:

If you are looking for additional help to prepare for the Uniform Bar Exam, we offer the following resources:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.

Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam.  Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.