What is the Uniform Bar Exam Like...and Why Should I Care?
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What is the Uniform Bar Exam Like… And Why Should I Care?

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) has been adopted by several states and continues to gain popularity. New York even adopted the UBE. With such a major state adopting the UBE, some predict that in the future every state will adopt a version of the Uniform Bar Exam. That is why, if you’re just beginning or attending law school, it is important to have an understanding of what the UBE is.

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is composed of the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), two Multistate Performance Tests (MPTs), and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). It is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. A description of the three parts of the exam is as follows: 

What is the Uniform Bar Exam Like… And Why Should I Care?

(1) The MEE: The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE is 30% of the examinee’s score. It contains six questions, each of which is composed of three-to-five paragraphs and expected to take 30 minutes to answer. The National Conference of Bar Examiners writes six questions for states distributing the MEE to test. (The NCBE used to write more but now only writes six). The subjects that are covered include:

  • Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies),
  • Civil Procedure,
  • Conflict of Laws,
  • Constitutional Law,
  • Contracts,
  • Criminal Law and Procedure,
  • Evidence,
  • Family Law,
  • Real Property,
  • Torts,
  • Trusts and Estates (Decedents’ Estates; Trusts and Future Interests), and
  • Uniform Commercial Code (Secured Transactions).

To see an overview of the highly tested subjects on the MEE, please see this post.

The purpose of the MEE is to test substantive law, and more specifically, to test whether examinees can identify issues, apply the relevant law to those issues, and give a detailed analysis of those issues.

(2) The MPT: The Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The MPT portion of the exam is weighted as 20% of the examinee’s score. It is composed of two 90-minute tasks. The purpose is not to test substantive law; rather, the purpose to test whether examinees have fundamental lawyer skills.  It tests whether examinees can analyze facts and sources of law, apply the law to the facts in a “real-life” problem, spot ethical issues, and communicate all of this clearly in writing—all under the pressure of having a deadline.

Each MPT has a file and a library. The file contains documents that state the facts of the case (in transcripts of interviews, pleadings, depositions, hearings or trials, correspondence, newspaper articles, police reports, client documents, medical records, lawyer’s notes, etc.). The facts given are sometimes ambiguous, incomplete, or they contradict each other (just like they sometimes do in real life). The examinee is expected to recognize ambiguous or contradicting facts. The library may contain rules, statutes, cases, regulations—not all of which are necessarily relevant. The examinee is supposed to identify what is relevant when performing the task assigned. The task will generally be detailed in a memo. To read more about the MPT, see this post.

(3) The MBE: The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

 The MBE is weighted as 50% of the examinee’s score. The MBE is given in virtually every jurisdiction. You are given six hours to complete 200 multiple-choice questions (you have three hours to complete the first 100 questions, then three hours to complete the second set of 100 questions). The MBE will test seven subjects beginning in February 2015: Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, Contracts and Sales, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Evidence, Torts, and Civil Procedure.

If the UBE is given in your jurisdiction, make sure to read your specific jurisdiction’s requirements. Each jurisdiction has leeway to add or modify the test to test local law, change how the test is scored (as well as decide what a passing score is) and to change the exam to conform to their specific requirements. This post just serves as a general overview of the UBE. For more information about the UBE, see these posts on the UBE.


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