The New York Bar Exam
The New York State Court of Appeals adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®) in July 2016. Since then, an increasing number of people have been taking the New York Bar Exam. The UBE is a standardized bar examination comprised of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE®), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE®), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT®). Due to its uniformity among participating states, interstate score transfer is much easier. This article will provide detailed information on New York Bar Exam dates, format, subjects, costs, results, and more.
New York Bar Exam Structure
The Uniform Bar Exam format consists of three components that span two days:
- Day 1 : Multistate Performance Test (MPT), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)
- Day 2 : Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
The MPT presents test-takers with a simulated case file based on a realistic scenario with a packet of various legal materials. Examinees will show their lawyering skills by using the materials provided to respond to the assignment(s). These assignments frequently involve law not tested on the bar exam (e.g., Professional Responsibility). Examinees will have to answer two such cases in 90 minutes each for a testing time of three hours.
Examinees take the MEE in the afternoon of day one. You will have 3 hours to complete six 30-minute MEE essay questions. Jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE weigh it at 30%.
With a weight of 50%, the MBE is the most heavily weighted portion of the New York Bar Exam. The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions administered in two three-hour sessions on day two.
New York Bar Exam Requirements, Dates, and Scheduling
Registration deadlines are the most important dates to remember as you prepare your New York Bar Exam application. The filing period for the February 21-22, 2023 exam is November 1-30, 2022, and for the July 25-26, 2023 exam, it is April 1-30, 2023. The New York State Board of Law Examiners does not allow late filing. If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to take the exam. Fortunately, they have listed application filing dates for the next several years (see Exam Dates below).
Thousands of hopeful examinees sit for the New York Bar Exam every year. To qualify as an applicant, you must meet one of the following five criteria, each requiring some form of classroom study in a law school.
- ABA Approved Law School Study (JD graduates) — Graduate with a Juris Doctorate from an ABA approved law school in the US.
- Law Office Study/Clerkship — Earn a minimum of 28 credit hours at an approved law school and study law at a New York State law office. The combination of all studies must be four years. (520.4)
- Unapproved Law School Study — Graduates with a JD from unapproved law schools in the US can sit for the New York Bar Exam if they have practiced law for at least 5 of the 7 years leading up to their application.
- Foreign Law School Study — Graduate from a law school program outside of the United States that is equivalent to an approved law school in the US, additional programs within the US may be required. (520.6)
- Pro Bono Scholars Program — Devote the last semester of study at an ABA-approved law school to performing pro bono legal services through an approved program. Qualifying students may sit for February bar examination following graduation.
The New York State Board of Law Examiners has posted application filing periods up to 2025. If you fail to submit your application within the following filing periods, you will not be permitted to sit the New York Bar Exam for that period.
|New York Bar Exam Dates and Application Deadlines 2023-2025|
|Dates of Bar Exam||Application Filing Dates|
|February 21-22, 2023||November 1-30, 2022|
|July 25-26, 2023||April 1-30, 2023|
|February 27-28 2023||November 1-30, 2023|
|July 20-31, 2024||April 1-30, 2024|
|February 25-26, 2025||November 1-30, 2024|
|July 29-30, 2025||April 1-30, 2025|
You must submit applications and fees for the New York Bar Exam through your BOLE account's Applicant Services Portal. To create an account, you must provide your name, date of birth, email address, and valid National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) number. You can get an NCBE number here. After you've created your BOLE account, you will receive an email with your BOLE ID.
Test center assignments are based on availability and on a first-come, first-serve basis. No applicant is guaranteed a seat in any particular city or test center, even if the applicant lives or attended law school in that city. Approximately six to seven weeks prior to the bar exam, you will be emailed a link instructing you to select your preferred testing location. First-time applicants who graduated with a JD from a NY law school are given first priority.
The New York Bar Exam is administered in person in the following locations:
Albany Capital Center
|Empire State Plaza Convention Hall
S Mall Arterial
Albany, NY 12242
|Buffalo||Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center
153 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
|New York City||Armory Track & Field Center
216 Fort Washington Avenue at West 168 Street
New York, NY 10032
|White Plains||New York State Judicial Institute and Pace Law School
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
NY Bar Exam Costs and Fees
NY Bar Exam Costs and Fees must be submitted through your BOLE account’s Applicant Services Portal. Exam application fees are tabulated below.
|JD received from an ABA-approved law school||$250|
|Law office study||$250|
|Unapproved law school||$250|
|Study of law in foreign country||$750|
|Pro Bono Scholars Program||$250|
Applicants may use personal laptops with pre-installed security software to answer questions on the MEE and the MPT for a $100 fee. If applicants wish to type their answers during the written portions of the exam, they must use their laptops when completing the online application. Otherwise, they will be required to handwrite their responses. After the application period is closed, applicants who opted into the Laptop Program will receive an email that provides instructions about purchasing the required software and registering the laptop used at the examination.
Applicants must pay for the UBE with a Visa or MasterCard credit card. Debit cards are not accepted, and credit card payments cannot be made by mail or phone. All payments must be submitted through the BOLE Applicant Services Portal.
Students in their final year at a New York law school can devote their last semester (12 weeks) to performing pro bono service through an approved externship program, law school clinic, legal services provider, law firm, or corporation.
Students accepted into the program can take the NY Bar Exam in February of their final year of law school before they graduate. Those who successfully complete the program will be eligible for accelerated admission to the NY Bar Exam. For more information on the Pro Bono Scholars Program and how to apply, please click here.
Pass the MBE Your First Time.
New York Bar Exam Subjects and Topics
Overall, the UBE assesses examinees’ knowledge and understanding of general legal principles, factual analysis, legal analysis and reasoning, and communication skills to evaluate their competencies and readiness to practice law in any jurisdiction.
Testable Subjects on the MEE
The MEE challenges students with six 30-minute essays lasting three hours in total. The MEE tests on the following subjects, which include seven subjects that are also tested on the Multistate Bar Exam:
Since 2007, Business Association has been one of the most tested MEE subjects on the UBE. Examinees should have a thorough understanding of the principles of agency rooted in business relationships and review the following:
- Agency relationships
- Power of agent to bind principal
- Vicarious liability of principal for acts of agent
- Fiduciary duties between principal and agent
- Creation of partnerships
- Power and liability of partners
- Rights of partners among themselves
- Special rules concerning limited partnerships
- Corporations and Limited Liability Companies
- Formation of organizations
- Pre-organization transactions
- Piercing the veil
- Financing the organization
- Management and control
Civil Procedure has appeared quite frequently on the UBE over the past decade. Spend time trying to understand the theoretical underpinnings of the rules and the distinctions between personal and subject matter jurisdiction.
Assume that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the sections of Title 28 of the US Code pertaining to trial and appellate jurisdiction, venue, and transfer are in effect. The topic breakdown is as follows:
- Jurisdiction and venue
- Law applied by federal courts
- Pretrial procedures
- Jury trials
- Verdicts and judgments
- Appealability and review
Conflict of Laws is the least tested subject on the UBE, and questions regarding Conflict of Laws don’t appear independently. Instead, it is always combined with other subjects, most often with Civil Procedure, followed by Family Law, Decedents’ Estates, and Corporations/LLCs.
Questions regarding Conflict of Law frequently appear with issues regarding the Klaxon Doctrine, transfer to a more appropriate forum, recognition of marriage, full faith and credit clause, personal property, real property, mergers, dissenter’s rights, and foreign corporations. Here is the topic breakdown:
- Jurisdiction of courts
- Choice of law
- Recognition and enforcement of other states’ judgments and foreign judgments
Savvy examinees will memorize the most important constitutional amendments and clauses. Constitutional law questions frequently involve matters regarding the commerce and dormant commerce clause and their exceptions, the equal protection clause (EPC), and the First Amendment. Note that “Constitution,” “constitutional,” and “unconstitutional” indicate the Federal Constitution unless otherwise stated. See the topic breakdown below:
- The nature of judicial review
- The separation of powers
- The relation of nation and state in a federal system
- Individual rights
Contract Law is typically tested on its own. Some critical issues to focus on are contract formation and performance obligations. Examinees should assume that articles 1 and 2 of the UCC are in effect. The following details the NCBE’s breakdown of the topic:
- Formation of contracts
- Defenses to enforceability
- Contract content and meaning
- Performance, breach, and discharge
- Third-party rights
There is a good chance you’ll come across Criminal Law and Procedure on the MEE. Highly tested issues include homicide, defense of insanity, and the Fifth and Fourth Amendments. Be sure that you can define commonly used ideas like “malice aforethought in murder,” “Miranda warnings,” “Interrogation,” and “Custody.” See the breakdown of topics below.
- Other crimes
- Inchoate crimes; parties
- General principles
- Constitutional protection of accused persons
Evidence is typically tested annually, so you should be prepared to see it on the MEE. While it’s usually tested independently, it has occurred alongside Criminal Procedure in the past. Students have difficulty studying Evidence, but luckily the same issues are often tested: Hearsay, impeachment, and, less frequently, character evidence, relevancy, witness testimony, and policy exclusions. Here is a subject breakdown:
- Presentation of evidence
- Relevancy and reasons for excluding relevant evidence
- Privileges and other policy exclusions
- Writings, recording, and photographs
- Hearsay and circumstances of its admissibility
Family Law sometimes appears alongside Conflict of Laws issues but is more often tested independently. Examinees will likely come across issues regarding child custody and support. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) are usually applied to Family Law issues. See the topic breakdown below:
- Getting married
- Being married
- Separation, divorce, dissolution, and annulment
- Child custody
- Rights of unmarried cohabitants
- Parent, child, and state
- Alternatives to adoption
Real Property is tested about yearly and is usually seen with other subjects. Examinees should focus their study on deeds, recording acts, landlord-tenant law, and important real property vocabulary like warranty deed, merger, and quitclaim deed. See the topic outline below for a subject overview.
- Ownership of real property
- Rights in real property
- Real estate contracts
- Mortgages/security devices
You have a good chance of coming across Torts on the MEE, and it is often seen with Agencies regarding the vicarious liability of an employer. The MEE typically tests basic tort principles. Issues to focus on include negligence, children and duty, eggshell-skull rule, premises liability, negligence per se, and strict liability.
The NCBE notes that examinees should assume survival actions and claims for wrongful death are available. Relevant rules (unless otherwise indicated) are joint and several liability, pure comparative fault. See below for the topic breakdown.
- Intentional torts
- Strict liability and products liability
- Other torts
Trusts has been seen less frequently on the MEE in recent years but have consistently been a popular subject. Trust questions will generally regard validity, revocability, types of trusts, pour-over will, discretionary trusts, and charitable trusts. The following outline provides important subtopics:
- Descendants’ Estates
- Family protection
- Living wills and durable health care powers
- Future interests
- Construction problems
Secured Transactions is middle of the road in terms of frequency. While it has been tested with Contracts and Sales, and Real Property, it’s typically seen on its own. This subject can be complex for examinees, but what’s tested often revolves around the application of Article 9, the four types of goods, attachment, and perfection.
The NCBE notes that examinees should assume that the Official Texts of Articles 1 and 9 of the UCC are in effect. See the following outline:
- General UCC principles
- Applicability and definitions
- Validity of security agreements and rights of parties
- Right of third parties; perfected and unperfected security interests; rules of priority
Note: Even though there are six essays, more than six subjects can be tested. In other words, a single fact pattern may have questions that implicate one or more different areas of the law. For instance, in the July 2020 UBE, Corporations were tested with Constitutional Law. With that being said, not all subjects are tested evenly.
While Civil Procedure is also tested on the MBE, it is the most frequently tested subject on the MEE. Since February 2014, Civil Procedure has been tested more than 71% of the time (either as a component or an entire essay). During this period, the most frequently tested subjects on the MEE have been:
- Civil Procedure (71%);
- Contracts (59%);
- Real Property (59%);
- Constitutional Law (53%)
- Secured Transactions (53%)
Testable Subjects on the MBE
The MBE topics test examinees across the following subjects in 200 multiple-choice questions lasting six hours:
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Civil Procedure
- Real Property
Out of the 200 questions, 25 questions are considered to be “experimental” and not scored. The other 175 questions are divided evenly so that 25 questions are counted toward your score for each subject. For example, there are 25 scored Contracts questions on the MBE.
Practice. Practice. Practice. See what the best practice questions truly look like.
New York Bar Exam Scoring/Grading
The passing UBE score in New York is 266 out of 400. The total score is split between the written section of the test administered on day one, which consists of the MEE (30%) and the MPT (20%), and the 200 multiple-choice MBE administered on day two.
Each of the two sections of the UBE requires a 133 scaled passing score which combines to make a total scaled passing score of 266. However, this combined score is all that matters. For example, if you receive a 120 on the written section and a 146 on the MBE, you will receive a scaled passing score of 266.
Scaled scoring is used to ensure fairness across test versions using a statistical method known as equating. Your raw score is converted into a scaled score based on the relative difficulty of your exam, which a review committee determines. Therefore, a combined MEE and MPT raw score of 100 doesn't necessarily mean you've scored 100 scaled. Unfortunately, the NCBE does not release data on how the calculations transform raw scores into scaled scores.
|Exam Section||Weight||Score Range||Scaled Passing Score|
|MEE||30% (5% per essay)||20 - 80||
|MPT||20% (10% per section)||20 - 80|
New York MPRE® Minimum Passing Score
The New York Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam's (MPRE®) minimum score is 85. A passing MPRE score is required to practice law in New York state. It is administered by the NCBE three times per year in March, August, and November. The MPRE measures performance with scaled scoring with a range of 50 to 150. While there is no complex data on exactly how raw scores are turned into scaled scores, it is recommended that students aim for a consistent score of at least 30 on their practice exams.
NY Bar Exam Pass Rates
Below are the pass rates for the NY Bar Exam over the past several years:
Out of 9609 only 6350 applicants passed on the July 2022 exam, which represents a 66% pass rate overall.
Out of 3068 only 1378 applicants passed on the Feb 2022 exam, which represents a 45% pass rate overall.
*The board has not released data for first time/repeat examinees for 2022
NY Bar Exam Results
It varies each year, but NY Bar Exam results are typically released in October for the July exam and in April for the February exam. You can check your results by visiting the NY BOLE website.
New York Bar Exam for Foreigners
Unlike most jurisdictions, NY permits foreign-trained attorneys to earn a NY Bar license. There are several differences in terms of the application for foreign-trained attorneys and LL.M. graduates. For detailed requirements see rule 520.6.
The application process itself is different for each foreign-trained applicant. It can take six months or more for the NY BOLE to process your application, so be sure to begin your application process early.
For applicants requiring an LL.M. to qualify for the bar exam, the deadlines are as follows:
|February||Online Foreign Evaluation
all Required Foreign Documentation
|May 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.|
|July||Online Foreign Evaluation
all Required Foreign Documentation
|October 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.|
For applications qualifying for the NY bar without needing an LL.M. degree from a US law school, the deadlines are as follows:
|February||Online Foreign Evaluation||November 30|
|Required Foreign Documentation||February 1|
|July||Online Foreign Evaluation||April 30|
|Required Foreign Documentation||June 15|
What Makes the NY Bar Exam Unique?
NY’s rules provide for Admission on Motion, meaning that an attorney licensed in other jurisdictions can be admitted into the NY bar without taking the NY Bar Exam when they have been a member of any other bar of any state or territory of the United States in good standing for at least five of the seven years preceding application to the NY bar.
As mentioned above, NY has a jurisdiction-specific component that examinees must complete. Prior to admission, NY bar applicants must complete the New York Law Course (NYLC) and the New York Law Exam (NYLE).
The NYLE and NYLC:
The NYLC is an online, on-demand series of free lectures covering NY-specific law in Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice and Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial & Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts, Trusts, and Wills and Estates.
It consists of approximately 17 hours of pre-recorded lectures with embedded questions that must be answered correctly before an applicant can continue viewing the lecture. Applicants are expected to watch, in good faith, each video in its entirety. The time spent watching each video in the NYLC will be electronically audited by the Board. The entire NYLC must be completed before applying for the NYLE.
The NYLE is a 50-question, multiple-choice, open-book, online exam. Each of the subjects covered in the NYLC will be tested on the NYLE. The NYLE may be completed up to one year prior to or within three years after taking the NY Bar Exam.
Applicants must score at least 30 out of 50 questions (60%) to pass the exam. Applicants who fail the NYLE will be required to retake both the NYLC and NYLE. The NYLE is typically offered four times a year (quarterly in March, June, September, and December).
|Upcoming NYLE Date||Registration/NYLC Deadline|
|December 15, 2022||12:00 PM ET||November 15, 2022||11:59 PM ET|
|March 30, 2023||12:00 PM ET||February 28, 2023||11:59 PM ET|
|September 14, 2023||12:00 PM ET||August 15, 2023||11:59 PM ET|
|December 14, 2023||12:00 PM ET||November 14, 2023||11:59 PM ET|
The best way to pass the New York Bar Exam is to prep with questions and practice exams that accurately reflect what you will confront when you sit for the bar. The Themis + UWorld full bar review bundle includes 4,000+ MBE practice questions, all of which are either NCBE-licensed or written by our expert team of legal professionals.
You'll also get access to 100+ practice essays from past Multistate Essay Exams (MEE®), 22 Multistate Performance Tests (MPT®) questions from past exams, customizable flashcards, performance tracking, thorough explanations for each question, Qbanks fitted with helpful visuals, readings with corresponding video lectures, and more.
It's essential to remember that New York, unlike many states, does not allow late filing. If you miss the deadline, you are simply out of luck. In addition, you must take the NYLC and NYLE, two NY-specific exams, to earn admission to the New York State Bar. The critical final takeaway is to develop a solid study plan with proper bar prep review and familiarize yourself with MBE strategies and tactics.
Contact Details of New York State Bar
|Contact the New York Bar|
New York State Board of Law Examiners
|Hours||Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm Eastern Time|
New York Bar Exam FAQs
The NY first-time taker pass rate for the July 2021 exam was 87%.
To Request Special Accommodations for New York Bar Exam, you must submit an Application for Non-standard Testing Accommodations via the Applicant Services Portal in your BOLE account. Detailed instructions can be found on the NY Bar Exam Office Website.