Are The Multistate and California Performance Tests Different? - JD Advising
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Are The Multistate and California Performance Tests Different?

The first question you may have had after reading the title of this blog post is “why on earth would I want to know whether the Multistate and California Performance Tests are different?” To be honest, many people take one state bar exam and simply move on with their lives. However, there are also a good number of people who want to know this information, and they include:

  1. people who do not know what jurisdiction they will ultimately practice law in;
  2. people who plan on practicing in multiple jurisdictions; and
  3. people who have to relocate and end up practicing in a jurisdiction they have not previously been licensed.

For these applicants, it is possible that they will take the California bar exam along with the UBE, or vice-versa. Now that we have explained who would want to know the answer to the blog title, we answer the question with a resounding YES! Yes, there are differences between the California performance test and the UBE performance tests. And, these differences are both procedural and structural.

Are The Multistate and California Performance Tests Different?

1. The California Bar Exam has a single performance test while the Uniform Bar Exam has two performance tests.

One important difference between the California bar exam performance test and the UBE performance tests is the total number and the amount of time for each test. The California bar exam has a single performance test which is tested with the 4th and 5th essays of the California bar exam. This California Bar Exam allocates a total of three and a half hours to complete the two essays and the California performance test. The bar examinee should spend an hour and a half on the performance test and an hour each on the two essays.

The UBE, on the other hand, has two performance tests tested together in the same segment. The UBE allocates three hours to complete these two separate performance tests. Therefore, a bar examinee should spend approximately one and a half hours for each performance test. The big takeaway here is that California has only one performance test which appears along with two essays.  The UBE, on the other hand, has two performance tests appearing together.

2. The California Bar Exam tests the performance test in the afternoon while the Uniform Bar Exam tests the performance tests in the morning.

Another important distinction between the California performance test and the MPT is the time for which students can complete the performance test(s). The California Committee of Bar Examiners administers the performance test in the afternoon of the first exam day. Contrarily, the UBE administers the performance tests on the morning of the first day. For UBE bar examinees, this can be a strategic benefit because the closed-world problem of the performance tests can help the student work out their nerves before diving into the essay portion of the exam in the afternoon. Check out how the UBE performance test is scored.

3. The California bar exam performance test is worth about 14% of the total score, while the UBE performance tests are worth about 20% of the total score.

The California Bar Exam performance test is worth only 14% of the bar exam’s total points. The remaining points are allocated at approximately 36% for the 5 essays and 50% for the multistate bar exam (MBE). Conversely, each performance test on the UBE is worth 10% of the total points on the exam. Therefore, the UBE allocates a combined 20% of the total score of the bar exam to the two performance tests. The remaining points are allocated 30% to the essays and 50% to the MBE.

Based on this breakdown, the UBE gives bar examinees two opportunities to show that they can sufficiently complete a closed-world legal task. Therefore, even if an examinee does poorly on one performance test, they can make up for this by doing extremely well on the other performance test. This would likely lead to a passing average score on the performance test portion of the UBE. To the contrary, the California examinees only get one chance to do well on the performance test. If they do not do well, they do not have a second chance at a performance test to offset their poor performance.  Check out how the California bar exam is scored.

Conclusion

While both the California Bar Exam and the Uniform Bar Exam both include performance tests, they appear in a slightly different fashion.  Our best advice is to make sure that you are adequately practicing performance tests no matter what exam you take!  A performance test score can often be the difference in terms of whether you pass either the California Bar Exam of the Uniform Bar Exam!

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