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What is the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)?

The UBE is a standardized bar exam created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). It is designed to test knowledge and skills that every lawyer should have before becoming licensed to practice law.

The UBE is uniformly administered and scored, and the UBE score is portable, meaning it can be used to apply in multiple jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE. Some jurisdictions that use the UBE may also require applicants to complete additional educational components or exams. Each jurisdiction sets its own passing score.

About the UBE

The UBE consists of three parts: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). You can read more details about each of these sections below.

The UBE is administered twice a year over the course of two days.

The first administration of the MBE falls on the last Wednesday of February, with the MEE and MPT being administered the Tuesday prior to that. The second administration of the MBE is on the last Wednesday of July, with the MEE and MPT on the Tuesday prior to that.

What’s on the UBE

The UBE is comprised of the following three sections, weighted as follows:

  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) 50%
  • The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) 30%
  • The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) 20%

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is one component of the Uniform Bar Exam. It is a 200-question, multiple-choice exam that is administered over a six-hour period on two dates per year: the last Wednesday of February and the last Wednesday of July.

The MBE is used to help bar examiners determine competence to practice law. Specifically, it is used to assess an examinee’s ability to apply fundamental legal principles, exercise legal reasoning, and analyze fact patterns. Jurisdictions that administer the UBE weight the MBE component 50%.

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) consists of six 30-minute questions that are administered on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in July of each year (when the MBE is administered).

The MEE is used to determine effective communication in writing, specifically the ability to:

  1. identify legal issues raised by real-life, factual scenarios
  2. differentiate between relevant and non-relevant information
  3. present a reasoned analysis of relevant information through clarity in writing and composition
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental legal principles that are relevant to the issues tested

...and more

Jurisdictions that administer the UBE weight the MEE component 30%.

What are the UBE essay subjects?

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) may cover any of the following content areas:

  • Business Associations – Agency and Partnership, Corporations, Limited Liability Companies
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates – Decedents' Estates; Trusts and Future Interests
  • Uniform Commercial Code – Article 9, Secured Transactions

Unlike the MBE, which is graded and scored by the NCBE, the MEE is graded exclusively by the jurisdiction that administers the bar examination.

UBE states and UBE jurisdictions

The U.S. states and districts that accept the UBE are:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio (July 2020), Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

The UBE is uniformly administered across these jurisdictions, but the jurisdictions themselves are responsible for certain aspects of the exam and its administration, including, but not limited to:

  • determining who can sit for the exam and how many times they can take it
  • scoring the MEE and MPT components
  • setting score release policies
  • requiring additional jurisdiction-specific exams or educational components
  • setting passing score rates and determining how long scores will be accepted

Why does the UBE matter?

The Uniform Bar Examination provides a standardized bar exam that has been adopted in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Examinees who take the UBE earn a portable score that can be transferred to seek admission in other UBE jurisdictions.

For more information about the UBE and its sections, scoring, and jurisdictions, visit the NBCE’s site.