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What You Should Know About the 2022 Massachusetts Bar Exam

As of July 2018, Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). Like other bar exams, the Massachusetts Bar Exam is challenging. This in-depth article will provide you with critical information about the MA Bar Exam to help you prepare for success on exam day and beyond.

Eligibility & Registration

To gain entry to the Massachusetts bar exam, you must file a Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts bar by Examination or Motion with the Supreme Judicial Court for The County of Suffolk. Once you have completed your petition and all filing requirements, your petition will be referred to the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE). The BEE determines whether you have the qualifications and requirements required for admission and whether you embody the ethical standards worthy of becoming a lawyer.

To submit an application with the Massachusetts Board of Admissions to the Bar, you must electronically file your application by registering on the Odyssey Guide and File website before beginning the petition. You must also complete an online interview.

For more detailed information on the Mass Bar Exam petition e-filing process, visit Guide to Filing a Petition for Admission by Examination (First-Time) | Mass.gov.

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Exam Dates & Schedule

Like most UBE jurisdictions, the Massachusetts Bar Exam follows a two-day schedule.

Day 1 is structured as follows:

  • Two 90-min Multistate Performance Test questions (MPT) and
  • Six 30-min Multistate Essay Exam questions (MEE).

Day 2 is structured as follows:

  • The 200-question, multiple-choice Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and
  • Ten Massachusetts drafted essay questions.
Upcoming Massachusetts Bar Exam Dates
Future Exams Test Dates
July 2022 July 26-27, 2022
February 2023 February 21-22, 2023
Massachusetts Bar Exam Filing Fees
Court filing fee for petition $815
Technology fee $75
Tyler e-filing fees $22
Tyler payment convenience fee variable

Source: Guide to Filing a Petition for Admission by Examination (First-Time) from Mass.gov

Cost-Saving Options

Bar exam costs can be expensive, and Massachusetts is no exception. The good news is that scholarships and grants are commonly available to help applicants ease their financial burden.

For example, the University of Massachusetts School of Law offers numerous scholarships and financial aid, including fellowships, Bar exam fee loans & bar study loans, and Federal Direct Loan funds for the direct cost of one bar examination.

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation is another excellent resource for scholarships and grants that could help applicants pay for their bar exam registration and prep costs. As a prospective Mass Bar Exam applicant, we encourage you to explore these and more online resources to help you with bar exam and/or bar prep costs.

Structure & Subjects

The MA Bar Exam tests applicants on the following components:

1. Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE consists of six 30-minute essay questions on the following subjects:

  • Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations; and Limited Liability Companies)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Family Law
  • Trusts and Estates (Decedents' Estates; Trusts and Future Interests)
  • Article 9 (Secured Transactions) of the Uniform Commercial Code
  • Plus all MBE subjects

2. Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

Massachusetts offers two 90-minute performance test questions presenting a challenging legal case scenario that tasks you with identifying the correct course of action an attorney should take in response to the case details. The questions will give you detailed instructions, factual data, statutes, and other references to assess your ability to discern relevant and irrelevant facts from the case using sound legal analysis. In a nutshell, the MPT challenges you to think like a lawyer.

3. Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination administered in a morning and afternoon session. Each three-hour session consists of 100 questions. The following subjects are tested on the MBE:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

You may find a complete list of subjects and subtopics here: MBE Subject Matter Outline

Note: Before you can practice law in Massachusetts, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which you must take before submitting your bar application. The MPRE features 60 multiple-choice questions administered over two hours, and applicants must earn a scaled score of 85 to be admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

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Scoring and Pass Rates

The MEE and MPT scores are scaled to the MBE with the following weightings:

  • MBE weighted 50%
  • MEE weighted 30%
  • MPT weighted 20%

Applicants must earn a scaled score of 270 or higher to pass the Massachusetts State Bar Exam.

For the most recent February 2022 bar exam, the pass rate for all test-takers was 44%, 62% for first-time, and 30% for repeat test-takers.

The table below shows the past two administrations’ results:

Massachusetts Bar Exam Results Overall Pass Rate First-Timer Pass Rate Repeater Pass Rate Results Release Date
February 2022 44% 62% 30% April 28, 2022
July 2021 74.7% 85% 19.3% November 9, 2021
Massachusetts Bar Exam Results February 2022 July 2021
Overall Pass Rate 44% 74.7%
First-Timer Pass Rate 62% 85%
Repeater Pass Rate 30% 19.3%
Results Release Date April 28, 2022 November 9, 2021

Massachusetts Bar Exam Reciprocity

Massachusetts does not accept MBE scores from other jurisdictions, but an applicant who is a member in good standing in another jurisdiction may be admitted on motion if they have actively practiced or taught law for five of the seven years preceding their application.

Also, applicants who have earned the required minimum passing scaled score of 270 on a Uniform Bar Exam in another jurisdiction within the preceding three years may apply for admission into the Massachusetts Bar. Note that you must have also passed the MPRE with a scaled score of 85.

What Makes the Massachusetts Bar Exam Unique?

In addition to the UBE components covered above, Massachusetts has a jurisdiction-specific requirement—the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC)—all applicants must take and pass to be admitted. The MLC is a 50-question multiple-choice exam created and administered by the Board of Bar Examiners, assessing applicants’ understanding of key components of Massachusetts law and procedure across ten topic areas.

Also, according to Mass.gov, filing fees for a petition for admission by examination in Massachusetts are treated as non-refundable court filing fees. Unlike in other jurisdictions,

  • a Petition for Admission to the Bar in Massachusetts is considered a civil action at law,
  • the fees charged are not a fee to sit for the exam, per se,
  • the case filing fee and surcharge fees are not refundable,
  • and the $75 technology fee is also statutorily mandated and non-refundable.

Final Takeaways

Recent pass rates suggest that the Massachusetts State Bar Exam is on par with other UBE jurisdictions in terms of difficulty. That’s why it is critical to prepare with the right bar prep review that helps you practice with proven MBE Strategies and tactics.

Good luck with your Massachusetts Bar Exam preparation!
What is the most effective way to pass the MBE?

Practice. Practice. Practice. See what the best practice questions truly look like.

Massachusetts Bar Exam FAQs

The Mass Bar Exam is administered twice yearly—on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in both February and July.

Judging by the pass rates from the past three administrations (February 2022, July 2021, and February 2021), the MA Bar exam is as challenging as those administered in other UBE jurisdictions.

The most recent February 2022 pass rates were 44% for all test-takers, 62% for first-time, and 30% for repeats.

The MA Bar Exam lasts two days, with the MEE and MPT lasting 3 hours and the MBE lasting 6 hours (3 hours per session).

Massachusetts does not have a set limit on the number of times you can take the MA State Bar Exam, so if you fail the exam on your first attempt, you can go back to the drawing board and do better the next time.

Applicants who have earned the required minimum passing scaled score of 270 in another UBE jurisdiction within the preceding three years may apply for admission into the Massachusetts Bar.

Massachusetts UBE Bar Exam is scored on a 400-point scale, with a minimum passing score of 270 or greater. Both MPT questions are worth 20% total, the MEE 30%, and the MBE 50%.

The MA Bar Exam February 2022 exam results were released on April 28, 2022. The MA Bar Exam July 2021 exam results were released on November 9, 2021.

Massachusetts will accept MBE scores from another jurisdiction only if applicants take the MBE concurrently with the Massachusetts essay exam. Massachusetts will not accept MBE scores from a previous exam administration.

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