Which States have Adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)?

*Updated June 16, 2020

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is an exam promulgated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). More and more states are adopting this uniform test, which, rather than testing any specific state law, tests the majority law. As of the initial writing of this post, March 7, 2016, 21 states had adopted the Uniform Bar Exam. As of this writing (in 2020), 36 states have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam. It is being quickly adopted across the nation! These states are listed below.

Please be sure to check the NCBE’s website as well for the latest information!

Which States have Adopted the UBE?

The 36 jurisdictions that have adopted, or soon will adopt, the UBE are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas (starting February 2021)
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Some predicted that after the state of New York announced its adoption of the UBE beginning for the July 2016 bar exam, that every state would eventually switch to a UBE state. There are differing theories on whether states will follow suit and adopt the UBE—as well as whether they should adopt the UBE.

Some people think a uniform test is needed as it provides uniformity in grading and allows lawyers to transfer to other states to practice. They say that testing power should be within the hands of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) which has more testing resources and experience.

Others think that the NCBE shouldn’t have so much power, that the bar exam is already “uniform” enough with the multistate bar exam, and that the idea that lawyers can easily transfer their scores to other jurisdictions is faulty (since most scores are only good for two to five years anyway, thus requiring a lawyer to sit for a bar exam and/or apply for character and fitness clearance after that time period anyway, regardless of which state bar exam they passed).

Regardless of whether the move toward the UBE is good or bad, the trend toward adopting the UBE continues, as more states move to adopt the test each year.

More information

To read more about what the Uniform Bar Exam is like, please see this post on the Uniform Bar Exam.

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