Should I take the UBE in a Different State?
You may be wondering if you should take the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in a different state. Perhaps you are worried about the grading being especially hard in your state. Or perhaps you have failed the bar exam once and are wondering if you can find a state where it is easier to pass the UBE.
Here, we tell you a few factors to consider if you are thinking about taking the UBE in a different state:
1. The test is the same everywhere.
One thing to remember is no matter where you take the UBE, the test is the same everywhere. You will have the exact same multiple-choice section and written portion. So, keep this in mind! You will not be given an easier or different exam. And even if the passing score is lower in the state you are considering, remember you need a passing score in whatever jurisdiction you want to practice in. So if you want to practice in New York, you will need a score of 266 no matter where you ultimately take the exam.
2. The grading may differ in some states, but there is not strong evidence that grading is significantly easier in a given state.
Some students look at a state’s bar pass rate and assume the state grades “easier”. Perhaps the state does grade easier, but a few things to consider are;
- the bar pass rate might be higher because the passing score is lower (e.g., it is 260 whereas your jurisdiction requires a 266)
- the grader(s) may be different by the time you take the exam (so even if your friend had an “easy grader”—which is hard to verify in many cases—you might get a different grader). Grading is very subjective!
On the other hand, if you are competing against students who did not go to top law schools, perhaps you will “look better” to a grader than if you are competing against students who went to top schools.
3. Traveling may be expensive, time-consuming, and may lead to anxiety.
If you travel to a different state, keep in mind there are extra expenses involved. For example:
- you may have to fly or drive a long distance
- you will likely have to book a hotel room for at least two evenings
- you will have to consider other expenses (e.g., food, rental car, etc.)
- you may be in a different time zone, depending on which state you choose, so you should plan to give your body time to acclimate
Traveling adds a different layer to the exam that may negatively (or positively!) impact you.
Ultimately, it could add up to thousands of dollars to travel in a different state. In many cases, that money would be better spent on a fresh/new bar exam prep course or bar exam tutoring. (You can see some options we offer below.)
4. You may wish for a different exam experience.
Some students just want a different bar exam experience. They don’t want to be crammed into a huge testing center. They want to go to a state with less examinees, a more laid-back environment and perhaps (as a bonus) easier graders. If you want a “new” bar exam experience, then traveling might be the right answer for you.
In general, we don’t typically recommend students take the UBE in a different state. The disadvantages often outweigh the perceived advantages. But this is not a blanket recommendation, and in some cases we have suggested that the student switch venues.
If you are considering a different exam experience, here is a list of jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE.
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