The Massachusetts Bar Exam

Structure, Topics, Dates, Cost, Scores, and Eligibility

The Massachusetts Bar Exam adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE®) in July 2016 and began administering it in July 2018. The UBE is divided into three sections—the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE®), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT®), and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE®). Bar candidates that may want to eventually practice law in another state benefit from score portability between the 41 jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE. This article provides everything you need regarding MA Bar Exam results, dates, deadlines, fees, applications, and more.

Massachusetts Bar Exam Structure

The Uniform Bar Exam is administered over two days and consists of a writing section (MPT/MEE) and a multiple-choice section (MBE).

  • Day 1 - MPT/MEE
  • Day 2 - MBE


The MPT is weighted at 20% of the UBE and is administered on day one. Examinees are provided with simulated case files imitating realistic scenarios and a folder with various legal documents, which they must use to respond to assignments.


The MEE is weighted at 30% of the UBE and is administered on day one. Examinees have 3 hours to answer six 30-minute essay questions.


The MBE is weighted at 50% of the UBE, making it the most heavily weighted section of the New Jersey Bar Exam. Examinees will have two 3-hour sessions to answer a total of 200 multiple-choice questions.

Massachusetts Bar Exam Dates, Requirements, and Scheduling

Preparing your application for the Massachusetts Bar Exam and submitting it before the first deadline is critical because there are no late filing periods. If you miss the deadline, you cannot sit for the exam. Applications open on November 7, 2022, and March 25, 2022, for the 2023 February and July exams, respectively.

Exam Dates

Application fees to take the Massachusetts Bar Exam are technically not bar exam fees. Instead, they are considered a "civil action at law" and thus require examinees to pay a case filing fee and surcharge fees. Surcharge fees include a technology fee of $75 and an e-filing fee of $22. Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not have timely or late filing periods. Examinees must file their petitions at least 75 days before their exam date. The date is set when the application is made available.

Filing Periods Application Opens Filing Fee
February 27-28, 2024 75 days before $815
July 30-31, 2024 75 days before $815


To sit for the Massachusetts Bar Exam, applicants must have graduated with a bachelor of law or JD degree from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school or a law school authorized by the Commonwealth to grant such degrees.


To schedule your MA Bar Exam :

You will receive an e-confirmation once the above steps are completed. Allow 10-15 days for verification that your application has been accepted.

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Massachusetts Bar Exam Costs and Fees

Massachusetts is unique because applicants are technically applying for a civil action at law rather than sitting for the exam. As such, you must pay a case filing fee in addition to surcharge fees and technology fees (see chart below). There are no late filing fees. If you fail to meet the deadline, you cannot sit for the exam. All fees are tabulated below:

Application Fees
Petition for Admission $815
Technology $75
E-filing $22
Tyler payment convenience fee Variable
Other Application Fees
Admission to Motion $1,015
UBE Score Transfer $815
Miscellaneous Fees
Laptop Fee $75
ExamSoft Software License $97.35

Payment Policies

All filing fees are considered statutory and are not refundable. Payments are made when you file your petition and nothing should be sent directly to the court. If you do not receive an email confirming your payment within 10-15 days, call the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners at (617) 557-1050 or email them at [email protected].

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.

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Massachusetts Bar Exam Subjects and Topics

The MA bar exam tests an examinee's ability to analyze and reason alongside their knowledge and understanding of fundamental legal principles. Furthermore, since Massachusetts has adopted the UBE, a successful exam score represents one's competency and readiness to practice law in the 40 other participating jurisdictions.

Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE consists of six essay questions. Each question involves one or more of the subjects listed below. Some subjects may be paired together. Other subjects could be omitted. While it's impossible to know which subjects the NCBE® will choose for any given exam version, some have been tested more frequently than others historically.

For example, Civil Procedure has appeared on nearly every MEE in the past decade, while Criminal Law has only appeared several times. However, subjects that occur less frequently on their own may be paired with others.

  • Business Associations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Conflicts of Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law & Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Real Property
  • Secured Transactions
  • Torts
  • Trusts & Estates

MEE subjects are different on every exam. For example, subjects may be paired or omitted altogether. Historically, some subjects (e.g., civil procedure) have appeared frequently, while others (e.g., criminal law) are rarely tested. Additional information on the list of subjects and subtopics can be found on our MEE Subject Matter Outline page.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

Massachusetts offers two 90-minute Multistate 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.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

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

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

You may find a complete list of subjects and subtopics at MBE Subject Matter Outline.

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Illustration of partial performance in a contract.

Massachusetts Bar Exam Scoring/Grading

UBE performance is measured with a scaled score through a statistical method known as equating. Scaled scoring ensures fairness across exam versions by awarding or penalizing raw exam scores based on their relative difficulty.

For example, if exam version A is more difficult than exam version B, exam A will be given bonus points to ameliorate the discrepancy. Unfortunately, the NCBE does not release data on the calculations it uses to determine scaled scores.

Weightage for each exam component is as follows:

MBE weighted
MEE weighted
MPT weighted

The MEE, MPT, and MEE are all equated. However, MEE and MPT scores are combined into a single scaled score out of 200, and the MBE is also scaled out of 200. This means that an examinee can do poorly on one half of the exam and make up for it on the other, as long as they meet the MA Bar Exam minimum passing score of 270.

Massachusetts MPRE Minimum Passing Score

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.

Massachusetts Bar Exam Pass Rates

As is typical with bar exams across the country, the Massachusetts Bar Exam's repeater pass rate is markedly lower than the first-timer pass rate. This phenomenon is likely due to the fact that many examinees who failed the first time haven't changed their study habits significantly.

Exam Overall
Pass Rate
Pass Rate
Pass Rate
Release Date
July 2023 73% 82% 25% October 10, 2023
Feb. 2023 40% 60% 28% April 19, 2023

Below are the annual pass rates for the Massachusetts Bar Exam since 2016 divided into first-time examinees and repeaters:

Massachusetts Bar Exam Results

Massachusetts generally releases its bar exam results 8-12 weeks following the administration of an exam.

What Makes the Massachusetts Bar Exam Unique?

Massachusetts requires that individuals pass an additional Massachusetts-specific legal exam called the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) as a condition of bar admission. The MLC contains 50 multiple-choice questions covering the distinct laws and procedures of the state.

Topic areas include the following:

  • Access to Justice
  • Anti-Discrimination Law
  • Business Organizations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Consumer Protection, G.L. c. 93A
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Domestic Relations
  • Estate and WIlls
  • Evidence
  • Legal Ethics

There is no fee for the MLC exam. Examinees must take the exam online upon receiving an email about ten days after filing a petition for admission to the Massachusetts Bar at the Office of the Clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for the County of Suffolk. Exam instructions and a link to access the MLC are provided in said email.

Massachusetts Bar Exam for Foreigners

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools may sit for the Massachusetts Bar Exam if they have successfully completed college and have received a legal education commensurate with the standards of institutions accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. However, the Board of Bar Examiners may require foreign applicants to take additional legal studies.

The Board of Bar Examinees (BBE) requires a minimum of four months to determine eligibility once documentation is received. Documents include official transcripts, diplomas/degree certificates, course descriptions, certificates of admission, certificates of good standing, and a resume. See Rule VI for details.

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 MBE prep provider that helps you practice with proven MBE strategies and tactics.

Whether you are taking the UBE for the first time or you are a repeater, the best way to be among those who pass the MA Bar Exam is to study with questions and mock exams that imitate the actual bar exam. If practice feels like the real thing, the real thing will feel like practice. The Themis + UWorld full bar review bundle offers 4000+ MBE practice questions. Each question has been curated by our premier team of legal professionals or is licensed by the NCBE.

UWorld's wide range of study tools for bar exam

You'll gain access to 100+ MEE practice essays and 22 MPT practice questions from recent bar exams. In addition, our platform offers customizable flashcards, performance tracking, QBanks filled with detailed illustrations, readings paired with bite-sized video lectures, and thorough explanations for each question.

Good luck with your Massachusetts Bar Exam preparation!

Contact Details of Massachusetts State Bar

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners answers calls Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, except for state and federal holidays.

Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners Contact Information
Medium Info
Phone Number 617-482-4466
Fax Number 617-542-5943
Email [email protected]
Facebook Facebook@BBEMass
Address John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 5-140,
Boston, MA 02108
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Massachusetts Bar Exam FAQs

The MA Bar Exam is administered twice a year—on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July.
The MA Bar Exam lasts two days, with the MEE and MPT lasting 3 hours each on the first day and the MBE lasting 6 hours in two 3-hour sessions on day two.
To take the bar exam in Massachusetts, applicants must have obtained a JD from an ABA-approved law school or a law school authorized by the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Bar Exam application fee is $815. Examinees must file their petitions at least 75 days before their exam date. The date is set when the application is made available.

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 calibrate your study strategy and try again.

The MA Bar Exam is as challenging as those administered in other UBE jurisdictions.
The 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%.
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.
It takes 400 hours to study for the Illinois State Bar Exam. Study time will vary depending on your educational background and study habits. Many examinees begin studying 8-10 weeks out. However, starting 4-6 months out will decrease burnout and increase retention.

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.

Furthermore, 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.

No, you cannot practice law without a law degree in Massachusetts.
To become a licensed attorney in MA, you must graduate from an ABA-approved law school or one approved by the Commonwealth, pass the UBE, the MLC, and the MPRE, and apply for the state bar.
To request special accommodations for the Massachusetts Bar Exam, you must file an application for Nonstandard Testing Accommodations (NTA). Guidelines and instructions can be found here.
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