Can I Transfer My Non-Passing UBE Score? - JD Advising
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Withdraw A Law School Application, Non-Passing UBE Score

Can I Transfer My Non-Passing UBE Score?

After months of studying, it can be heartbreaking to receive news that you did not pass the Uniform Bar Exam.  This may be especially true if you were only a few points away from passing.  However, if your score is high enough to be considered passing in another jurisdiction, you may want to consider transferring your score and becoming licensed in another jurisdiction before simply signing up to take the bar exam again.  In this post, we discuss some of the considerations around transferring your non-passing UBE score to another jurisdiction if you did not pass.

Can I Transfer My Non-Passing UBE Score?

The good news is that, if you took the exam in a jurisdiction with a relatively high passing score and you were only a couple of points away from passing, it may be possible to transfer your score to a different jurisdiction that has a lower passing score.  Then you can become licensed in that jurisdiction without having to sit for another bar exam!

What are the passing scores for the UBE by state?

To begin, here are the passing score of the UBE jurisdictions:

You can find a link to this map here.

As you can see, the passing scores range from 260 (Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota) to 280 (Alaska).

So, for example, if you took the UBE in New York, which has a passing score of 266, but only received a score of 263, your score is not high enough to pass in New York, but your score is high enough to pass in other jurisdictions.

Considerations regarding transferring your non-passing UBE score

Before quickly deciding that you will just transfer your score rather than re-take the Uniform Bar Exam, here are some things to consider:

  • Your job. Do you already have a job lined up?  Does that job require licensure in a particular state?  Or are you set on practicing law in a particular state?  If that is the case, transferring your score to another state might not be the best option.  On the other hand, there are lots of legal jobs that aren’t dependent upon licensure in a particular state (e.g., many types of federal practice, some in-house counsel positions).  Be sure to consider your current employment situation and long-term career goals before deciding to become licensed in another state.
  • State-specific requirements. Many Uniform Bar Exam states still have state law requirements that an applicant must complete prior to becoming licensed in the state.  Some of the state law requirements are discussed below.  Be sure to check with the jurisdiction where you are trying to transfer your score, and make sure you can satisfy their state-specific requirements.
  • Getting sworn in. If you are thinking about transferring to another jurisdiction, check with that jurisdiction’s requirements for getting sworn in as an attorney in that state.  Some states may require you to be sworn in by a judge physically located in that state, which would require you to travel to the state to be sworn in.  Other states may let you do a remote swearing-in, or may allow you to be sworn in by an officer in your own state.
  • Annual licensure requirements. Most states require lawyers to pay annual dues and complete continuing legal education (CLE).  Before you transfer your score to another state, check that state’s annual requirements (or, if you have several different options of states that you might want to transfer you score to, compare their annual dues and CLE requirements).
  • Long-term consequences. Are you just transferring your score to become licensed as quickly as possible, with the long-term goal of re-taking the UBE at some point to become licensed in your preferred state?  Before putting off re-taking the bar exam, consider how much you already know, and how close you were to passing!  It will likely be much easier to continue studying and to take the next administration of the bar exam than it will be to pick up your bar exam prep materials again in a few years and re-take the exam at a later time. You can build on what you already know now, rather than basically starting over in a few years (or whenever you are able to consider taking the bar exam again).  Even though having to take the exam again in the upcoming administration is a minor setback, it could actually save you time in the long run if you are able to achieve a slightly higher score, become licensed in your preferred jurisdiction, and never have to think about the exam again!

Which state should I transfer to?

As mentioned above, the lowest passing score among UBE states is a 260.  The states that have a 260 passing score are Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota.  Many students who don’t achieve a passing score in their own state, but have a high enough score to pass in another state turn to these states as potential places to transfer.  We listed some information on each of these states and whether they have a state-specific component below.

Alabama

Check out Alabama’s rules regarding transferring your UBE score here.

You must complete an online course on Alabama law before you can become licensed.

Minnesota

Check out Minnesota’s rules regarding transferring your UBE score here.

Minnesota does not appear to have a state-law component.

Missouri

Check out Missouri’s rules regarding transferring your UBE score here.

You must complete an open-book exam on Missouri law before you can become licensed.

New Mexico

Check out New Mexico’s rules regarding transferring your UBE score here.

You must complete a 1-day class on New Mexico law before you can become licensed.

North Dakota

Check out North Dakota’s rules regarding transferring your UBE score here.

 North Dakota does not appear to have a state-law component.

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