The North Carolina Bar Exam
The North Carolina Bar Exam has adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®), meaning it administers three components: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE®), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE®), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT®). The uniformity of the exam streamlines reciprocity between participating jurisdictions—great news for aspiring legal professionals who may want to transfer states in the future.
This article will provide all the information necessary to help you prepare for the NC Bar Exam, including important dates, subjects, application requirements, deadlines, and fees, and information regarding exam results and passing scores.
North Carolina Bar Exam Structure
The Uniform Bar Exam format has been adopted by North Carolina. Therefore, the NC bar exam has three parts which are administered over two days:
- Day 1 — Multistate Performance Test (MPT), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)
- Day 2 — Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)
The MEE is administered on the first afternoon of the exam. Examinees are given 3 hours to complete six 30-minute essay questions. The MEE accounts for 30% of the UBE’s total weight.
Multistate Performance Test (MPT)
The MPT Exam has a weight of 20% and challenges applicants to use legal reasoning skills to analyze two 90-minute performance case questions presenting legal scenarios to determine the right course of action an attorney should take in response to the case facts.
The questions will provide detailed instructions, factual data, statutes, and other references to test your legal analysis skills in distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant facts in a case.
Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
The 200 multiple choice question MBE has a weight of 50%. On day two, examinees answer 100 questions in the morning, and 100 more in the afternoon.
North Carolina Bar Exam Requirements, Dates, and Scheduling
The North Carolina Bar Exam is given biannually on the last Tuesday/Wednesday of February and July. Current filing periods are August 1, 2023, to November 7, 2023 (February 2024 exam) and November 8, 2023, to March 5, 2024 (July exam). Failure to meet timely filing deadlines will result in a $250 fee for most applicants, so be sure to mark them on your calendar.
Beginning in 2023, all examinees must take the MPT and MEE with their personal laptop computer using Board designated software (unless an accommodation is granted).
To sit for the North Carolina Bar Exam, examinees must prove they are of "moral and general fitness" by the Board. Violations of such conditions include military, academic, employment, legal misconduct, dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, neglect of financial responsibilities, etc.
Examinees must also meet the following educational qualifications:
- Graduate from a law school approved by the Council of The North Carolina State Bar or will graduate within 30 days of their bar exam (.0700)
- Graduate with an LL.B or JD from an ABA-approved law school (.0105)
Law schools approved by the Council of The North Carolina State Bar include:
|Council of The North Carolina State Bar Approved Law School
|Norman Adrian Wiggens School of Law
|Elon University of Law School
|University of North Carolina School of Law
|North Carolina Central University School of Law
|Wake Forest University School of Law
Beginning with the February 2023 North Carolina Bar exam, examinees cannot handwrite the MEE/MPT sections unless granted disability accommodation. You must type answers on your laptop, register your laptop with Examsoft (secure testing software), and complete the application to use your laptop. Registration periods are as follows:
- February 2024 — December 12, 2023 - January 5, 2024 (5 pm Eastern Time)
Applicants must apply within the timely filing period or they will face excess fees. See the following table for timely and late filing periods.
|North Carolina 2023 - 2024 Bar Exam Dates
|Feb 27-28, 2024
|Aug 1, 2023 - Oct 3, 2023
|Oct 4, 2023 - Nov 7, 2023
|July 30-31, 2024
|Nov 8, 2023 - Jan 2, 2024
|Jan 4, 2024 - Mar 5, 2024
To schedule your North Carolina Bar Exam, you must create an account on the Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina and register. After you have submitted your registration, you must navigate to the "Forms and Progress" section and go through the prompts to apply for the exam.
Costs & Fees
North Carolina Bar Exam Costs and Fees must be submitted through your Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina account. Exam fees are tabulated below:
*There is no late filing fee for July Supplemental Applicants.
|Miscellaneous Bar Fees
|Application Copy Fee
|Replacement of Wall License
|MBE Transfer Fee
|MPRE Transfer Fee
|Failure to supply copy of Application
|Examination Answers Copy
|Documentary Deficiency Fee
|Infraction Expedited Review Fee
*Laptops are mandatory
It’s no secret that the journey to legal practice can get expensive. Thankfully, scholarships and grants are available to help you with all these costs. Many North Carolina area organizations, including universities, foundations, and law firms, offer law students in the region various scholarships and grants to help with legal education and bar exam costs. For example,
- The North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF) provides scholarships and assistance to NC law students in several ways.
- The foundation’s Bar Exam Scholarship Fund offers grants to recent NC law school graduates to cover the bar exam laptop fee, while the Inscoe Fund provides financial support to low-income North Carolina law students.
For more information about any of these programs, you may email [email protected].
We strongly encourage all candidates who plan on taking the North Carolina Bar Exam to review the various scholarships and grants offered by NCBF and apply for those for which they are eligible.
Pass the MBE Your First Time.
North Carolina Bar Exam Subjects and Topics
The North Carolina Bar Exam has adopted the UBE format. Examinees will be assessed on their understanding of general legal principles, legal and factual analysis and reasoning, and communication skills. Exam sections are broken down as follows.
Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)
The six 30-minute essay questions on the MEE test cover the following subjects:
You are highly likely to confront Business Associations on the MEE. It has appeared frequently on the exam since 2007. Make an effort to study and understand the principles of agency rooted in business relationships. Here is a topic breakdown:
- 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
Conflicts of Law don’t appear on their own, making it the least tested subject on the UBE. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study it as it appears with other subjects, especially Civil Procedure, Family Law, Descendants’ Estate, and Corporations/LLCs.
Focus your attention on issues regarding the Klaxon Doctrine, recognition of marriage, more appropriate forum, full faith and credit clause, personal property, real property, merging, dissenter’s rights, transfer to a more appropriate forum, and foreign corporations. See below for a topic breakdown:
- Jurisdiction of courts
- Choice of law
- Recognition and enforcement of other states’ judgments and foreign judgments
Conflict of Laws issues occasionally appear with Family Law, but Family Law is most often tested on its own. Make sure you understand The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), as they are often applied to Family Law issues. Child custody and support issues are also commonly tested.
- Getting married
- Being married
- Separation, divorce, dissolution, and annulment
- Child custody
- Rights of unmarried cohabitants
- Parent, child, and state
- Alternatives to adoption
While the Trusts and Estates topic has been seen less and less over the past several years, it is still one of the most frequently tested topics on the MEE. Questions generally involved validity, revocability, types of trusts, pour-over will, discretionary trusts, and charitable trusts. Here is an outline of subtopics.
- Descendants’ Estates
- Family protection
- Living wills and durable health care powers
- Future interests
- Construction problems
Secured Transactions isn’t tested as much as Trusts and Estates or Business Associations, but there is still a solid chance you’ll confront it on the exam. It typically appears on its own but has been seen with Contracts and Sales, and Real Property. Brush up on the four types of goods, attachment, perfection, and the application of Article 9. According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®), the Official Texts of Articles 1 and 9 of the UCC are in effect. Here is an 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
Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
The MBE tests the following subjects across two 100-question sessions:
You may find a complete list of subjects and subtopics here: MBE Subject Matter Outline
According to the NCBE, the MPT is designed to test an examinees ability to do the following:
- Sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts
- Analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law; (3)
- Apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem; (4)
- Identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present
- Communicate effectively in writing
- Complete a lawyering task within time constraints
These skills are tested by providing examinees with a file of source documents and a library containing cases, statutes, regulations, or rules. Examinees must sift through for relevant information to complete the assigned task.
North Carolina Scoring/Grading
As with most UBE jurisdictions, the MEE and MPT scores are scaled to the MBE, with the following weightings:
MBE weighted 50%Of the 200 total multiple-choice questions, 175 are scored questions used to determine your performance, while 25 are unscored questions being evaluated for use on future MBE examinations. Each scored MBE question you answer correctly receives one raw score point.
MEE weighted 30%Each essay answer receives a raw score on a 0-6 point scale, with the answers scored on a relative basis and no passing or failing score. Your raw score for a particular answer reflects your performance relative to that of the other examinees on that particular question. The three scores are then combined to determine if the applicant earned a passing score of 270. Below is a breakdown of how the scores of each UBE bar exam component are calculated:
MPT weighted 20%Each performance test item response receives a raw score on a 0-6 point scale, with the answers scored on a relative basis and no passing or failing score. Your raw score for a particular answer reflects your performance relative to that of the other examinees on that particular question.
For more details, visit Understanding your Examination Score on the NC Bar Exam.
North Carolina MPRE Minimum Passing Score
Before practicing law in North Carolina, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a minimum scaled score of 80. Click here to register to take the MPRE or to request the transfer of your MPRE score from another jurisdiction to North Carolina.
North Carolina Bar Exam Pass Rates
The North Carolina bar exam pass rate for the most recent July 2023 was 69% for all test-takers, 78% for first-time, and 29% for repeat takers and February 2023 bar exam was 47% for all test-takers, 63% for first-time, and 29% for repeat takers
North Carolina Bar Exam Results
North Carolina makes bar exam results available approximately 5 to 6 weeks after the exam. The NC Bar Exam February 2023 exam results were released on March 29, 2023. The NC Bar Exam July 2023 exam results were released on August 29, 2023.
North Carolina Bar Exam Reciprocity
As of July 1, 2019, when North Carolina adopted the UBE, the state will accept transfers of qualifying UBE scores from applicants who achieved those scores in other UBE states. However, North Carolina does not currently accept the transfer of MBE scores earned in another jurisdiction.
The North Carolina Bar Exam allows applicants to gain admission to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners by comity (or reciprocity). To be eligible to submit a comity application, you must be able to demonstrate that you:
- are a member of a reciprocating state bar,
- have engaged in the active practice of law for 4 of the 6 years immediately preceding your application,
- have passed the MPRE, and
- have fulfilled all additional requirements.
Practice. Practice. Practice. See what the best practice questions truly look like.
North Carolina Bar Exam for Foreigners
Foreigners wishing to sit for the North Carolina Bar Exam must meet the same moral character and fitness qualifications as domestic applicants. Depending on an applicant's situation, they must also continue to be in standing and meet one of the following criteria (.0103):
- Have practiced law in a foreign country for a minimum of 5 years
- Have practiced law or a law profession that requires admission to practice law in a foreign country for a minimum of 5 out of the 7 years leading up to their application date.
- Foreign applicants must also certify that they intend to practice as a foreign legal consultant and maintain an office in North Carolina
What Makes the North Carolina Bar Exam Unique?
The North Carolina Bar Exam follows the UBE format, which is not unique. However, post–admission mandatory Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is required (12 hours per year).
The difference between those who fail the North Carolina Bar Examination and those who pass is the right study plan. A quality full bar review course will help improve your score, whether it's your first, second, or even third time taking the North Carolina Bar Exam.
Themis + UWorld gets you exam-ready with exam-like practice with content and questions curated by an in-house team of subject matter experts. Our in-depth answer explanations for each answer choice and industry-leading images make the hard stuff easy to understand. Here's an overview of what you'll get:
Contact Details of North Carolina State Bar
The Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
5510 Six Forks Rd., Suite 300
|General Public Inquiry
North Carolina Bar Exam FAQs
The NC Bar Exam is about as challenging as those administered in other UBE jurisdictions.
The timely filing deadline for the February 2024 North Carolina Bar Exam is October 3, 2023, and January 2, 2024 for the July 2024 exam. Applicants can submit their applications later, but they will incur additional fees. The application fee is $850 for timely filing ($1,100 for late filing).
North Carolina imposes no set limits on the number of times you can take the NC State Bar Exam, so if you fail the exam on your first try, you can come up with a better game plan to perform better and pass on your next attempt.
The North Carolina Bar Exam requires 400 hours of study. While many examinees begin studying 8-10 before their exam, starting 4-6 months out will reduce burnout and increase retention. The amount of time you ultimately need depends on your educational background and how you optimize your time.