Exactly How Difficult Is the Uniform Bar Exam?
Becoming a lawyer is no easy task! It usually takes seven years of full-time study after high school—four years of undergraduate study followed by three law schools. Before taking the bar exams, you have written many papers, have taken tons of final exams, and survived cold-calling. Even with all of that rigorous study, however, in most states, you must be admitted to the Bar before you are authorized to practice law. In many jurisdictions, that is now the Uniform Bar Exam. So, exactly how difficult is the Uniform Bar Exam, and what makes it so?
Exactly How Difficult Is the Uniform Bar Exam?
Relatively New Exam
The Uniform Bar Exam is challenging because the UBE is relatively new. The UBE was created in 2011 and was first administered to Missouri and North Dakota. Since 2011, 37 United States jurisdictions have adopted the UBE and that number is always changing. States like California and Florida have not adopted the UBE because of concerns about state law’s lack of questions. New York indicated it might withdraw from the UBE after a task force commissioned by the New York State bar found that the bar examination’s purpose, which is to protect the public, has been lost.
Different Passing Scores
Another component that can frustrate many test takers about the exam is that each jurisdiction sets its own passing score. You can pass the bar exam in one U.S. jurisdiction and fail in another. The inconsistency can be cause for annoyance if you failed by just a few points in a jurisdiction you were hoping to practice in, even though you would have passed in many other states. Check out our chart on the minimum passing UBE score by state.
Confusing MBE Questions
The MBE is a core component of most bar exams. It’s the multiple-choice section that usually takes place on day 2 of the exam. The MBE is designed to distract bar examiners who do not understand black letter law and its nuisances. Generally, each MBE question may have two correct answers. The examiners are testing you on your ability to choose the best answer out of the two. To tackle the issues asked, it is essential to memorize the highly tested areas of law, practice on real MBE questions, review the practice questions and answers, and take care of yourself when studying for the bar exam. Here are some tips on where to find real MBE questions including our MBE Question Bank that has actual, released, NCBE-licensed questions that you can try out for free.
Challenging MPT Tasks
UBE states also administer the MPT or Multistate Performance Test. The MPT provides you with 1.5 hours of time to complete a lawyerly task, such as a persuasive brief or objective memorandum. Here is a detailed overview of the MPT. This part of the exam is worth 20% of your score. (That is the equivalent of 70 multiple-choice questions in a UBE jurisdiction!)
While the MPT materials give you everything you need to know, it’s more difficult to study for it because you aren’t being tested on substantive law, like on the MBE or MEE. Instead, you’re being tested on your lawyerly skills. The only way to become comfortable with this is to practice all different types of possible MPT tasks. You don’t know which kind you’ll have on the actual test day and it may even be a “wild card” task. So like all the other parts of the Uniform Bar Exam, this is equally challenging because many students find it more difficult to study and prepare for it. Nonetheless, there are plenty of things you can do to help ensure success on this part of the test. Check out these MPT tips here!
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