Overview of Bar Exam Format, Subjects, and Topics
More and more states are administering the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®). Though well known, you probably came across this exam when deciding which bar exam you wanted to take once you finished law school. The UBE topics must be familiar to you now that you're ready to begin your bar exam preparation.
First, let’s address the fundamentals. As of the February 2023 exam,the UBE has been adopted by 41 jurisdictions, barring a few states. The bar exam is specifically designed to test a candidate’s overall knowledge of the legal system. As you read on, we will delve further into the basics of the bar exam format, topics, and subjects.
Bar Exam Format for UBE
The primary purpose of a bar exam is to test a candidate's knowledge and ability to translate that knowledge into real-time legal scenarios. It may sound simple, but believe us when we say it is no cakewalk. So, in this section, we will discuss the overall bar exam format to help you understand the core components of the bar exam process.
How long is the UBE Exam?
The UBE is a 12 hour exam. It is administered for two days and is divided as follows:
|Exam||Morning: 3 hours||Afternoon: 3 hours|
|Day 1: MPT® & MEE®||Two 90-minute MPT tasks||Six 30-minute MEE questions|
|Day 2:MBE®||100 multiple-choice questions||100 multiple-choice questions|
Note: All UBE jurisdictions administer the bar exam for 2 days. Non-UBE states test the bar exam over 2.5 days (Delaware and Nevada) or 3 days (Louisiana and Palau).
UBE Adopted States Bar Exam Weight and Subjects
If you’ve passed the bar exam in one UBE state but want to work in another state that administers the UBE, it’s important that you research the rules surrounding score portability.
Each state establishes its own criteria for admission to the bar, and many states have reciprocal agreements. If you want to work in a state that has reciprocity with the state where you've taken and passed the bar, you can do so without needing to retake the bar.
So, now let's discuss the three exams that comprise the UBE: MBE, MPT, and MEE. Below, we have outlined the format of each of these exams.
Note: UBE Bar Exam is divided into two parts. Part 1 is titled “The Written Portion” of the UBE is divided into two parts that are standardized across all 41 UBE states: the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Part 2 is the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), which consists of multiple-choice questions.
The MEE, or as the name suggests, the Essay Section, is Part 1 of the written portion of the exam. It requires you to draft six essays in thirty minutes, accounting for three hours. Though there is no blueprint on what kind of essay you can expect in this section, it would be a good idea to revisit the following law school subjects:
- Agency and Partnership
- Corporations and Limited Liability Companies
- Jurisdiction and venue
- Law applied by federal courts
- Pretrial procedures
- Jury trials
- Verdicts and judgments
- Appealability and review
- Jurisdiction of courts
- Choice of law
- Recognition and enforcement of other states’ judgments and foreign judgments
- The nature of judicial review
- The separation of powers
- The relation of nation and states in a federal system
- Individual rights
- Formation of contracts
- Defenses to enforceability
- Contract content and meaning
- Performance, breach, and discharge
- Third-party rights
- Other crimes
- Inchoate crimes; parties
- General principles
- Constitutional protection of accused persons
- Presentation of evidence
- Relevancy and reasons for excluding relevant evidence
- Privileges and other policy exclusions
- Writings, recordings, and photographs
- Hearsay and circumstances of its admissibility
- Getting married
- Being married
- Separation, divorce, dissolution, and annulment
- Child custody
- Rights of unmarried cohabitants
- Parent, child, and state
- Alternatives to adoption
- Ownership of real property
- Rights in real property
- Real estate contracts
- Mortgages/security devices
- Intentional torts
- Strict liability and products liability
- Other torts
- Decedents’ Estates
- Trusts and Future Interests
- General UCC principles
- Applicability and definitions (§ 9-101, et seq.)
- Validity of security agreements and rights of parties (§ 9-201, et seq.)
- Rights of third parties; perfected and unperfected security interests; rules of priority (§ 9-301, et seq.)
- Default (§ 9-601, et seq.)
Non-UBE States Bar Exam Format
Non-UBE states like California have individual state parameters that have to be met. It is therefore important that you reach out to the state-specific bodies to learn more. You can also view Chart 12 for non-UBE applicants to get clarity on the same.
Similar to the MEE in the UBE, the non-UBE states have an essay section called the "drafting section." The drafting section will come up on the first day of your bar exam. In most cases, you'll be asked to draft a report's findings in response to a query.
It's also a good idea to go over all of the drafted exercises you did in law school. The questions you'll be asked will be similar to the ones you've already learned in law school. Do as many old examinations as you can with drafting questions to prepare for such questions.
To answer several of these questions, you must write up the entire case. As a rule of thumb, you don't need to include all of these assertions to prepare for the exam; instead, you can only write the entête (the header) and then the conclusion. It's also a good idea to go over all of the drafted exercises you did in law school. The questions you'll be asked will be similar to the ones you've already learned in law school.
Frequently Asked Questions
You must refer to the state-wise requirements to understand which exam subjects you need to study. Please visit our page on the bar exam to learn more about your state’s requirements.
Enrolling in a full bar review course like Bar Review will help guide you through the topics you should study first, how often you should study them, and prepare you entirely for the exam as a whole.