Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) passing scores vary state by state. The UBE has been adopted by 35 jurisdictions—33 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands—and offers candidates a portable score, meaning that they can seek admission to the bar using their UBE results in any of the participating jurisdictions.
The UBE, coordinated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), was established to maximize job opportunities. Scores are transferable, so a candidate can seek admission to the bar in more than one jurisdiction if desired. Additionally, a failing score in one jurisdiction can be transferred to a jurisdiction with a lower passing score, allowing candidates to seek employment without waiting for the next UBE administration and incurring the costs of registering and preparing again.
Keep reading for more details about the UBE, and passing scores and additional requirements for each jurisdiction.
What is the UBE?
The UBE is a multi-part exam that tests candidates’ knowledge of legal principles, and assesses their analytical, reasoning, and communication skills. Because it is administered by many states, the material tested exclusively concerns national law principles. Some jurisdictions require candidates to pass an additional jurisdiction-specific law component and/or a character and fitness assessment. The UBE has three components:
The UBE is typically administered over two days. During Tuesday sessions, candidates take the MEE and the MPT. The following day is devoted entirely to the MBE, which is split up into two parts: 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon.
Uniform Bar Exam States and Passing Scores
Each jurisdiction not only sets their UBE passing score, but also determines whether an additional jurisdiction-specific component must be completed before admission to the bar is granted. Below are the passing scores for each jurisdiction and information about whether a jurisdiction-specific component is required. Note that some jurisdictions do not allow concurrent applications, so candidates will have to wait for a decision from that jurisdiction before applying to another.
States with two different time limits listed for accepting a UBE score transfer have different caps for candidates who have already been practicing law and those who have not. For example, a candidate who has been practicing law for two years or less can submit UBE scores up to 5 years old to Vermont, but if a candidate has not successfully been admitted to the bar in another state, Vermont will only accept scores that are up to 3 years old.
|UBE Jurisdiction||Minimum Passing UBE Score||Jurisdiction-Specific Component?||Time Limit for Accepting a UBE Score Transfer||Allows Concurrent Transfer Applications?|
|Colorado||276||No||3 years / 5 years||No|
|District of Columbia||266||No||5 years||No|
|Iowa||266||No||2 years / 5 years||No|
|New Hampshire||270||No||3 years / 5 years||Yes|
|New Jersey||266||No||36 months||No|
|New Mexico||260||Yes||3 years||Yes|
|New York||266||Yes||3 years||Yes|
|North Carolina||270||Yes||3 years||Yes|
|North Dakota||260||No||2 years||No|
|Rhode Island||276||No||2 years||No|
|South Carolina||266||Yes||3 years||No|
|Tennessee||270||Yes||3 years / 5 years||No|
|Utah||270||No||24 months / 5 years||Yes|
|Vermont||270||No||3 years / 5 years||Yes|
|West Virginia||270||No||3 years||No|
|Virgin Islands||266||Yes||3 years||Yes|
*Ohio will first administer the UBE in July 2020. The first administration in Texas will be in February 2021.
When is the UBE administered?
The UBE is administered twice a year. The first administration is typically in February, and the second is in July. The cost of the exam varies from state to state.
How is the UBE scored?
The UBE is scored on a 400-point scale. The MBE component is scored by the NCBE. State jurisdictions score the MEE and MPT components of the exam. Not all three components equally impact the overall score: the MBE is weighted 50%, the MEE 30%, and the MPT 20%.
The NCBE provides free study aids on their website for the MEE, MPT, and the MBE, which include previously administered questions, sample questions, and summaries of recent exams.
Many students choose to take a comprehensive bar review course to prep for the UBE. Kaplan has courses to prep students for the UBE in each state, for either test administration. Attend live lectures by streaming online, or heading to a classroom where available. Or, study on demand and watch our recorded lectures at your own pace. 90%* of Kaplan students who complete 75% or more of the assigned practice pass the UBE.
[ KEEP STUDYING: What’s the Bar Exam like in your state? ]
*Pass rates based on responses to a survey of all first-time takers from accredited ABA law schools who are JD graduates and prepared for the July 2018 Bar examination with Kaplan Bar Review. “Assigned practice” means MBE questions and essays assigned by Kaplan in its Bar Review course.