20 Things To Know About The UBE
The Uniform Bar Exam, or as it is commonly referred to, the “UBE,” is a standardized bar exam that applicants must pass in the majority of United States jurisdictions. Many law school hopefuls and even law school students get confused about the way the test is administered, how it is set up, what to expect on the UBE, and where the UBE is accepted. For example, you might hear about the “MBE,” and not know what that is. Or perhaps you want to move to another state after graduation and are not sure if your score will be accepted there. Never fear – this post will dispel the mystery and answer many frequently asked questions!
20 Things To Know About The UBE
1. Who Creates And Scores The UBE?
National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), a national organization, creates the UBE. While the NCBE grades the MBE portion of the UBE, attorneys and judges from the applicant’s state grade the written portion of the exam. Keep that audience in mind when you are finishing up those practice questions!
2. What Is The Structure Of The UBE?
The UBE is a two-day exam that consists of three separate parts. Day One is comprised of two written parts: the Multistate Essay Examination, or “MEE”, and the Multistate Performance Test, or “MPT”. The MEE has six 30-minute essays, and the MPT contains two 90-minute written tasks. Day Two is comprised of the multiple choice part of the test, called the Multistate Bar Exam, or “MBE.” The MBE includes 200 multiple-choice questions.
3. What Exactly Is The MBE?
The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is a 200 multiple-choice question exam that makes up the entire second day of the bar exam. The MBE is split into two three-hour sections with 100 multiple-choice questions appearing in each section. As you prepare for the MBE, keep in mind that not all of the questions receive a score. Twenty-five questions are “test questions,” which are questions the NCBE are testing to possibly use in future administrations. How do you know which questions are “test questions?” You won’t, so you’ll have to prepare to answer all 200 questions!
The MBE is not just a test of the law, but a test of endurance! For test-taking tips, check out how to boost your score with this powerful method.
4. What Subjects Will I See On The MBE?
The MBE currently tests seven subjects: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts & Sales, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. For more information, you can download this Free MBE Guide: How to pass the MBE.
5. What Exactly Is The MEE?
The Multistate Essay Exam, or MEE, will be part of your first day of the exam. This part of the test contains six essay questions. You will have 30 minutes to write each essay. Each essay question on the MEE contains a fact pattern (usually about a page in length, sometimes a little more and sometimes less) where you will have to spot legal issues, state applicable rule(s), apply the law to the facts, and then arrive at a conclusion for each issue. Click Here for more information on the MEE!
6. What Subjects Can I Expect To See On The MEE?
The MEE tests a wider range of subject matter than the MBE. An essay could be on any MBE topic listed above. Additionally, the MEE frequently tests Agency and Partnership, Corporations, Conflicts of Law, Family Law, Secured Transactions, and Wills/Trusts/Estates. Sometimes one question covers multiple topics! For more information, check out our a fantastic and highly regarded PDF and video on how to pass the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) with excellent essay charts as well as an overview of the highly tested MEE topics and areas of law for each subject.
7. What Exactly Is The MPT?
The MPT (Multistate Performance Test) is offered in several jurisdictions, including Uniform Bar Exam jurisdictions. The MPT requires applicants to complete a lawyerly task, such as a persuasive brief or objective memorandum, in 90 minutes. Since all of the information that you are required to know for the MPT is provided to you, many students wonder whether it’s worth preparing for the MPT. The MPT is worth 20% of your overall score on the UBE, so it is definitely worth spending some time practicing MPT questions in anticipation of exam day!
8. What Topics Appear On The MPT?
Since the MPT tests practical lawyering skills, you do not need to worry about memorizing law or rules for this section of the test. However, you will need to memorize the difference between a brief, a memorandum, and other tasks. The MPT tests your ability to write both, as well as client letters, opening and closing statements, and many other forms of legal writing. The MPT also tests you on your ability to quickly read, analyze, and synthesize a legal question, and write about it, within 90 minutes. Read more information and helpful tips on How to Pass the MPT.
9. What is the MPT “Library,” the “File,” and the “Task”?
On each MPT, a fictitious law firm partner or judge will assign a task for you to complete. You will act as the associate at the law firm or the judicial law clerk and will read a host of documents included as part of the exam. A “task memo” will tell you exactly what to do. This is your roadmap. The “file” contains various documents that reveal the facts of the case. Files typically contain items such as letters, deposition transcripts, client interviews, etc. Finally, the “library” contains cases, statutes, or both with the relevant law that you need to answer the question. Make sure you rely on the materials in the library and not your own recollection of the law! Sometimes the examiners include exceptions to rules they want you to analyze that might be slightly different than the common understanding of a particular concept.
10. How Much Does Each Part Of The UBE Count Towards The Final Score?
The MEE is worth 30% of your score on the UBE. As we mentioned above, the MPT is worth 20% of your overall bar exam score. The MBE is the second half of your score, accounting for the remaining 50%. Your overall raw score is scaled in comparison with how other examinees performed in your jurisdiction.
11. Do I Need To Be An Expert On Every Subject To Pass The UBE?
You do not need to be a complete expert on every legal subject to pass the UBE! In fact, the UBE is a test of minimum competency. That means you need to know a lot of the law, enough to be a competent attorney if you were to pass. But the NCBE doesn’t expect you to write a legal treatise on every subject the day you take the UBE. If you are in your third year of law school, check out our FREE 3L UBE primer course to get started!
12. How Should I Prioritize My Time When Preparing for the UBE?
With so much information to learn, it can be difficult to figure out how to prioritize your time. Our recommendation? Plan ahead as much as possible! By spending some time figuring out when you plan to student, building in time to memorize material, and accounting for time spent on outside activities such as exercising or your cousin’s wedding, you’ll know you have the time set aside to focus on studying (and passing!) the UBE!
13. What is the best thing I can do to pass the MEE?
In addition to having a good grasp of the substantive law, the MEE rewards essays that are thoughtfully written and well-organized. The best thing you can do in law school and for the exam is learn to how to write using the IRAC format. That means organize your essay into an Issue statement, a Rule section, a strong Analysis, and a Conclusion. It can also helpful if you write more in the Analysis section and argue your way to a higher score. Read more tips here from a 99th percentile MEE scorer.
14. What is something I can do in law school that will help be on the MBE?
The MBE rewards students who have memorized the law. While you are in law school, use the opportunity to memorize the rules for your final exams. If your law school offers open-book exams, study as if it was closed book. While preparing for the bar exam, make sure to use practice MBE questions previously used by the NCBE. We have some tips on how to memorize your bar exam outlines here.
15. How Many Hours Should I Study For The UBE?
Generally, it is recommended that students put in approximately 400 hours of study time during bar prep to pass the UBE. Some students will require more study time while others won’t need as much time to study. It really depends on the individual! The better you are at IRAC and the more law you have memorized, the better chance you have to pass. We suggest you treat bar prep like a job and do 40 hours a week of quality studying. Read here for more study tips!
16. What States Accept The UBE?
According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the following are jurisdictions that currently accept the UBE, and the dates that the jurisdiction started accepting UBE scores (note – this is always subject to change and you should check the NCBE website frequently!): Alabama (July 2011), Alaska (July 2014), Arizona (July 2012), Arkansas (February 2020), Colorado (February 2012), Connecticut (February 2017), District of Columbia (July 2016), Idaho (February 2012), Illinois (July 2019), Indiana (July 2021), Iowa (February 2016), Kansas (February 2016), Kentucky (February 2021), Maine (July 2017), Maryland (July 2019), Massachusetts (July 2018), Michigan (February 2023), Minnesota (February 2014), Missouri (February 2011), Montana (July 2013), Nebraska (February 2013), New Hampshire (February 2014), New Jersey (February 2017), New Mexico (February 2016), New York (July 2016), North Carolina (February 2019), North Dakota (February 2011), Ohio (February 2021), Oklahoma (July 2021), Oregon (July 2017), Pennsylvania (July 2022), Rhode Island (February 2019), South Carolina (February 2017), Tennessee (February 2019), Texas (February 2021), Utah (February 2013), Vermont (July 2016), Washington (July 2013), West Virginia (July 2017), Wyoming (July 2013), Virgin Islands (July 2017).
NOTE: some states (such as Virgina and Florida) that do not accept an entire UBE score will sometimes accept the MBE portion of the exam. These jurisdictions only require candidates to pass the state-specific essay portion of the bar exam. Other states (such as California) do not accept the transfer of MBE scores from other jurisdictions.
17. How Do I Transfer My UBE Score?
Some students take the UBE in one state, such as New Jersey, and then take a job in a neighboring state, like New York. In that case, you might need to transfer your UBE score. Doing so requires that you pass the UBE with a score considered passing in both jurisdictions. Next, check the NCBE website to see if your score is transferable to other states. Check out the UBE Score Services page to get your transfer started. There is a $25 fee for each score transfer. Bear in mind that each jurisdiction has different rules for transferring your score. Make sure you check to see the requirements of your state before assuming that you can transfer your score!
18. How Do I Get Accommodations For The UBE?
Getting accommodations for taking the UBE will depend on the state where you will be taking the exam. Any student who has a disability at the time of the bar exam is eligible for ADA test-taking accommodations. According to the ADA, an individual with a disability is any person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (such as seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, or thinking) or; has a major bodily function impairment (such as and impairment with the neurological, endocrine, or digestive system). In order to receive accommodations, it is a good idea to start looking into how your state operates well in advance. You will likely need documentation from doctors or experts in advance of applying.
19. I Passed the UBE – Now What?
Once you pass the UBE you should immediately finalize and send in your application to the state or states where you need want to practice (if you have not already done so!). This is an exciting time! Applications can be cumbersome, and the review process can be lengthy, so make sure you start the process early. View a directory of Bar Admission Agencies by Jurisdiction here! Otherwise, if you were just waiting on your bar exam score to practice law, you can see what steps you need to take in order to be sworn in as an attorney.
20. What Else Do I Need To Know?
Know that the UBE is a very hard exam, but it is not impossible. Usually, over 60% of first-time test-takers pass. Many people take it two times or even more, and they still go on to become excellent attorneys. Success on the UBE means preparing in advance – studying for this test is a marathon, not a sprint!
Taking the test soon? Visit this article on 22 quick and easy tips for the day of the test!
Looking to Pass the Bar Exam?
Free or discounted resources
- A five-star UBE course (for as low as $1249.99!) that provides you with the best instruction, outlines, and questions. Preview our course for free here!
- Our new Free Bar Exam Resource Center, which includes our most popular free guides, posts, webinars, and more!
- Free popular bar exam guides (on the MBE, MEE, how to pass the bar exam, and what to do if you failed the bar exam) written by bar exam experts!
- A free Early Bar Prep Course for law students
- Free bar exam webinars taught by top bar exam experts
Our most POPULAR and highly rated bar exam resources are:
- Our On Demand and Premium Bar Exam Courses
- Bar Exam Private Tutoring by bar exam experts
- MBE One-Sheets and MEE One-Sheets, CA One-Sheets—rated five stars! Our customers love these supplements!
- Real MBE questions—the best practice questions available!
- NEW! Mastery Classes for the MBE, MEE, and CA bar exams (these are effective and engaging classes to review the highly tested areas of law!)