Bar Exam Dates and Schedule

Every year, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) administers the bar exam on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®) is currently administered in 41 jurisdictions. The UBE consists of three components: the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE®) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT®), and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE®). The MEE and the MPT are administered on the first day of the exam, and the MBE on the second.

Some jurisdictions do not administer the UBE, but have a state-specific bar exam. However, most of these jurisdictions have adopted one or more UBE components, and nearly all use the MBE. This article provides details on bar exam scheduling, application submission deadlines, and information on non-UBE jurisdictions.

Keeping Track of Bar Exam Dates

Every year, the UBE is administered on the last Tuesday & Wednesday of February and July, while some non-UBE jurisdictions administer their bar exams over a 12 hour period, broken into two or two and a half days.

The standard formula for the bar exam schedule is as follows:

MEE (3 hours) + MPT (3 hours) + MBE (6 hours) = 12 hours
Tuesday: MEE (3 hours) + MPT (3 hours) + Wednesday: MBE (6 hours) = 12 hours

The bar exam is composed of multiple choice questions (MCQs), essay questions, and performance tasks and each component carries a different weight (MBE 50%, MEE 30%, MPT 20%).

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Bar Exam Dates for UBE Adopted States

Here are the latest dates for bar exams in the 41 UBE jurisdictions:

Month of the Year Dates for the Exam
February 2023 Tuesday, Feb 21st - Wednesday, Feb 22nd
July 2023 Tuesday, July 25th - Wednesday, July 26th

Bar Exam Dates for Non UBE States

Non-UBE jurisdictions typically have similar exam dates. However, the exam format and structure may vary from their UBE counterparts. It is always best to reach out to a state's board of bar examiners to clearly understand a jurisdiction's specific requirements.

Non-UBE Bar Exam Windows 2023
Winter 2023 Late February
Summer 2023 Late July

While many non-UBE jurisdictions follow the testing calendar established by the NCBE, there are a few exceptions. Several states—Delaware, Louisiana, and Nevada—have a three-day bar exam.

Below is a list of UBE jurisdiction filing deadlines for the July 2023 bar exam. Notice that some states do not have late filing deadlines as indicated by an em-dash (—). If you are taking the bar exam in a non-UBE state, refer to your state board of bar examiner website for details.

Jurisdiction July 2023
First filing deadline
July 23
Late filing deadline
Alabama Feb. 1
Alaska May 1
Arkansas Jan. 15 April 30
Colorado April 1
Connecticut March 31 April 30
District of Columbia May 16
Idaho March 1 April 15
Illinois Feb. 15 May 15
Indiana Nov. 30 April 1
Iowa April 1
Kansas March 1 April 1
Kentucky Feb. 1 May 10
Maine May 20 June 3
Maryland May 20
Massachusetts May 6
Michigan March 1 May 15
Minnesota March 15 May 1
Missouri March 1 May 31
Montana March 15
Nebraska March 1 March 31
New Hampshire May 1
New Jersey March 31 April 30
New Mexico Jan 20 May 2
New York April 30
North Carolina Jan. 3 March 7
North Dakota March 15 May 15
Ohio April 1 May 10
Oklahoma Feb 1 April 3
Oregon April 15 May 15
Pennsylvania April 15 May 30
Rhode Island Feb. 1
South Carolina Jan. 10 Jan. 31
Tennessee May 1 May 20
Texas Feb. 1 May 1
Utah March 1 April 1
Vermont May 1
Washington March 5 April 5
West Virginia April 1 May 1
Wyoming April 21
Virgin Islands May 1 June 1

How to Schedule, Reschedule Your Bar Examination?

Once you have completed all the necessary application steps, one last thing you need to do: schedule your bar exam. To schedule your bar exam, UBE candidates must create an account on the NCBE portal in their preferred jurisdiction. Upon completion of this step, examinees will be given an NCBE Number. This NCBE number is a unique identifier to access UBE and MBE scores. The number also serves as an official confirmation that you have successfully registered for your UBE exam.

Now that you have set up your account on the NCBE portal, you must select your bar exam date, time, and location. Most of these factors depend on the availability of seats, exam slots, and test center regulations. To learn more about the NCBE scheduling process, visit the NCBE official website.

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Exam Locations

Every year, the NCBE releases announcements to inform candidates of their exam locations and test centers. This information is specific to the state and jurisdiction in which the candidate has chosen to take the bar.

To find more information about exam locations and other jurisdiction announcements, visit the official NCBE website.

Bar Exam Essentials & Tips

Now that your calendar is blocked, let’s discuss everything you need on exam day. Because of the pressure and exam anxiety, candidates often forget to bring some small yet essential items to the test center.

So, let's call this the MPZ rule: M stands for the morning of the bar exam, P stands for packing essentials, and Z is the most important one; zero anxiety! So essentially, on the morning of the bar exam, be ready with a properly packed bag, and zero stress!

  • Set the alarm the night before, and ensure someone calls you to wake you up.
  • Set aside some time for having a wholesome breakfast.
  • Keep your liquid intake to a minimum since the bathroom breaks are limited.
  • Bring a jacket or a sweater to stay warm in the test center, as they're usually quite cold.
  • Maintain a checklist, and have one final look at it before you leave for the exam.

For a detailed guide on how to prepare for the bar exam, check out our Bar Exam Study Guide.

How to be stress-free on the morning of your bar exam?

It's important to stay composed before you approach the bar exam day. In some cases, stress and anxiety can affect a candidate's rationalization ability. Even if you've done everything you can to prepare for the exam, there's always a slim chance that you'll forget something. Maintaining a positive mindset during the exam will boost your confidence and improve your outcome. Ensure you don't panic before entering the test center. It is imperative to stay calm and composed.

What’s inside a bar exam candidate’s backpack?

This is where having a checklist comes in handy. Please make it a point not to overlook any of these items:

  • Government Issued ID card (with photo)
  • Proof of submission documents
  • Laptop and laptop accessories
  • Number 2 pencils and black and blue ink pens
  • A couple of plastic bags to carry your testing materials into the test center
  • State-specific verification documents
  • Two to three pairs of clothing
  • Jackets, socks, and comfortable shoes
  • Attire specific to the dress code (if any)
  • Toothbrush, comb, body wash, and shampoo
  • First-aid items like medicines, ointments, bandages
  • Light snacks like protein bars,nuts, or dry fruits, etc.
  • Cooked or semi-cooked meals in case of unavailability
  • Packaged drinking water, juice boxes, or energy drinks
  • Extra pair of contact lenses
  • Glasses
  • Watch
  • Cash/ debit card/ credit card
  • Comfortable pillows or an extra bed sheet
  • Noise-canceling ear plugs
  • Reading materials

Bar exam day tips

  • Frame your answers to indicate clarity on the subject. It's always best to separate sections by headings and bullet points.
  • Keep the formatting easy on the eyes. Ensure your written answers are organized, concise, and structurally sound.
  • Support your answers using the logical-analysis method. Everything you write must be based on logical reasoning and a conclusion that supports your argument.
  • If you sit for two MPT tasks, manage your time to attempt both exams. It might seem tricky to get both right because of the time constraint, but your practice hours will pay off here.
  • Remember the law-school fundamentals; write it like you know the material. The essay test may present you with an unfamiliar scenario; however, that should not stop you from analyzing the situation and drafting an in-depth, comprehensive essay.
  • Attempt all MCQs regardless of whether you know the answer or not. Bar exams do not have a negative marking system.
  • Review your answers before submitting them. Even the most minor mistake can be a vital one. Remember, the devil is in the details.

Pass the MBE® Your First Time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The UBE states have their bar exams on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. However, UBE dates are subject to change. For example, exams were rescheduled during 2020 due to the pandemic.

Yes, it is possible to change your bar exam location. In most cases, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to make changes. To learn more, visit the NCBE registration page and/or your state’s board of bar website.

Read more about the Bar Exam

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The bar exam is the final and perhaps most important obstacle to becoming a lawyer. Learn everything you need to know about it here.
Learn about the recent updates to the bar exam format. Prepare for the bar exam well ahead of your exam day, and stay up to date with the subjects, exam format, and more.
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