How Is The UBE Different From The MBE?
As students begin to prepare for the bar exam many questions arise. How much should I study? What bar prep class should I take? Other, more basic questions also arise—like what is the difference between the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)? This post answers that question.
How Is The UBE Different From The MBE?
1. What is the UBE?
The UBE consists of the MBE, the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). The idea behind the exam was to make it easier for people to practice in many states or transfer their membership from state-to-state, hence the word “uniform.” The theory behind the UBE is that if you can address legal concepts, then you should be able to apply relevant state law not tested on the UBE (or so the thinking goes—some states disagree).
2. What are the MEE and MPT?
The MEE consists of 6, 30-minute essay questions and is worth 30% of your total UBE score. The goal of the MEE is to demonstrate (and then communicate in writing) your knowledge of different legal subjects in a clear, coherent manner. In addition to 1L courses, the MEE tests some upper-level courses including Family Law, Business Organizations, Conflicts of Law, Trusts and Estates, and the Uniform Commercial Code (otherwise known as “Secure Transactions”).The MEE, unlike the MBE, is graded by the jurisdiction in which the exam is taken.
Finally, the MPT is comprised of two, 90-minute assessments that test a student’s ability to, in essence, “practice law.” Students may be presented with a task like drafting a contract or will, or they may be asked to author a letter providing legal advice to a client or organization. This part of the exam accounts for 20% of the total UBE score (this helpful chart provides a list of possible MPT assignments).
The results of the UBE can be used in any jurisdiction that has adopted the UBE (with some restrictions). You will have to attain the jurisdiction’s required score as well as meet other additional requirements (which vary by jurisdiction). As of this writing, California, Nevada, South Dakota, Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, and Wisconsin, have not yet adopted the UBE. Guam, Puerto Rico, Palau, and the Northern Mariana Islands have also not adopted the UBE. Pennsylvania will adopt the UBE in July, 2022, and Michigan plans to adopt the UBE in February 2023.
For more information check out the NCBE website and if you are on the fence about whether to take the UBE or the exam for the state, this post will help you weigh various factors (hint: think about where you want to live and practice law not only in the short term, but also in the long term, too!).
3. What is the MBE?
The MBE is a component of the uniform bar exam. All states/territories incorporate the MBE into their bar exams with he exception of Louisiana and Puerto Rico. The MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions that test Evidence, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Procedure, Constitutional Law, Torts, Property, and Contracts. Each of the seven MBE subjects are tested equally with 25 questions per subject, however, the MBE topics within each subject are not tested equally. Take a look at this great chart that breaks down the number of questions for the various highly-tested areas of law on the MBE. The MBE serves as the counter to the MEE. The MBE tests your ability to correctly identify issues and quickly apply the applicable rule (or exception) with multiple-choice questions.
You’ll have two three-hour segments to complete 200 multiple-choice questions over the course of one day. The MBE counts as 50% of your total UBE score. Unlike the MEE, the National Conference of Bar Examiners scores the MBE. As such, some states allow you to transfer your MBE score, even if they have not yet adopted the MBE. You will still, however, have to take the rest of that state’s exam.
In closing the difference between the UBE and the MBE is not really a difference at all—rather the MBE is part of the UBE. If you find yourself looking for a comprehensive UBE course, check out JD Advising’s prep course offering here.
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