The North Carolina Bar Exam

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

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.

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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
Law School City
Campbell University Raleigh
Norman Adrian Wiggens School of Law Raleigh
Elon University of Law School Durham
University of North Carolina School of Law Chapel Hill
North Carolina Central University School of Law Durham 
Wake Forest University School of Law Winston-Salem 

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)

Exam Dates

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
Exam Date Timely Filing Late Filing 
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:

Application Category Timely  Late Fee
Non-licensed Applicant $850 $1,100
Licensed Attorney $1,650 $1,900
Supplemental Application  $400 $650* 

*There is no late filing fee for July Supplemental Applicants.

Miscellaneous Bar Fees Fee
Laptop Fee* $125
Application Copy Fee $20
Replacement of Wall License $40
MBE Transfer Fee $25
MPRE Transfer Fee $25
Failure to supply copy of Application $20
License Copy $35
Examination Answers Copy $20
Documentary Deficiency Fee $100
Infraction Expedited Review Fee $200

*Laptops are mandatory

Cost-Saving Options

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.

Don’t Leave Your Legal Career Up to Chance!

Pass the MBE Your First Time.

Illustration of partial performance in a contract.

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
  • Dissolution
  • 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:

  • Domicile
  • 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
  • Adoption
  • 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
  • Wills
  • Family protection
  • Living wills and durable health care powers
  • Trusts
  • 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
  • Default

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.

North Carolina has comity with the following states.

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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).

Final Takeaways

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.

Method Contact 

5510 Six Forks Rd., Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27609



Phone 919-848-4229
General Public Inquiry [email protected] 

North Carolina Bar Exam FAQs

No. Applicants must have a JD from a “reputable and qualified law school” that requires three year of full-time study for graduation or an ABA-approved law school to take the Bar Exam in North Carolina
The North Carolina Bar Exam is offered biannually in February and July.
The North Carolina Bar Exam is administered over 2 days, each day consists of two 3-hour sessions.

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).

The North Carolina UBE Bar Exam is scored on a 400-point scale, with a minimum passing score of 270 or greater, equating to 135 on the MBE’s 200-point scale. Both MPT questions are worth 20% total, the MEE 30%, and the MBE 50%.

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.

You must pass the UBE and the MPRE, meet character and fitness standards, and take an oath to become a licensed attorney in North Carolina.
No, you cannot practice law in North Carolina without a law degree.
To register for special testing accommodations in North Carolina, you must submit a Petition for Special Accommodations along with disability-specific forms, prior to the bar exam application filing deadline.
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