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Everything You Need To Know About the Pennsylvania Bar Exam

Starting July 2022, Pennsylvania is adopting the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). Like most UBE jurisdictions, the PA Bar Exam will present its fair share of challenges to bar applicants. This detailed article will equip you with pertinent information about the new UBE Pennsylvania Bar Exam to help you prepare to ace the high-stakes test.

Eligibility & Registration

To be eligible to sit for the PA Bar Exam, you must meet the following general requirements:

  1. Have received an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, or completed a level of education which, in the opinion of the Board, is equivalent to an undergraduate college or a university education.
  2. Have completed the study of law at and earned a Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school, or one that was accredited at the time the applicant enrolled or graduated.
  3. Can present a certificate of good standing from the highest court or the agency having jurisdiction over admission to the bar and the practice of law in every state or jurisdiction where the applicant has been admitted to practice law.

Foreign attorneys may also be eligible to sit for the PA Bar Exam provided they meet all of the requirements under the Pennslyvania Bar Examiners’ Rule 205 - Admission of Foreign Attorneys and Graduates of Foreign Institutions.

Source: PA Bar Admission Rules

To apply for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam, you must first register with the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and complete an online application using their web portal, where you will create a login account. Once completed, you will be able to file an application online.

Exam Dates & Schedule

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

Day 1:

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

Day 2:

  • 200-question Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), with 100 questions in the morning and 100 in the afternoon)

July 2022 Exam

Upcoming Pennsylvania Bar Exam Dates
Future Exams Test Dates
July 2022 July 26-27, 2022
February 2023 February 21-22, 2023
Pennsylvania Bar Exam Filing Fees
Bar Exam Fee $650
CBT (Computer Based Testing) Fees & Deadlines
Timely CBT request & fee submitted with
bar application
Late CBT request and/or fee submitted
after bar application
Accompanied with an Amendment Form

CBT request and fee must be sent
and postmarked

February exam: January 6

July exam: June 6

No CBT submissions will be
accepted after the final deadline

Accompanied with an Amendment Form

Source: Computer Based Testings (CBT) Fee Schedule

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Cost-Saving Options

Bar exam costs can quickly add up. Thankfully, scholarships and grants are available to help reduce the financial burden of pursuing a legal license.

Many Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Bar Foundation annually provides several compelling scholarships and grants to PA law students.

Temple University’s Beasley School of Law has done an excellent job compiling a host of scholarships and grants here: Outside Scholarships - Temple Law.

We strongly encourage all candidates who plan on taking the Pennsylvania Bar Exam to apply to as many of these scholarships as possible for which they are eligible.

Structure & Subjects

The PA Bar Exam tests applicants on the following:

1. Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

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

  • Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations; and Limited Liability Companies)c
  • 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)

The PA Bar Exam tests applicants with two 90-minute performance legal case scenarios challenging them to determine the correct course of action an attorney should take in response to the case details. The questions will provide detailed instructions, factual data, statutes, and other references to assess your ability to use legal analysis to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant case facts. In a nutshell, the MPT assesses your ability to think like a lawyer.

3. Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE tests the following subjects across two 100-question sessions:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • 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 Pennsylvania, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which you must take before submitting your bar application. All PA bar applicants must earn a scaled score of 75 to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

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Scoring and Pass Rates

Although the Pennsylvania Bar Exam is adopting the UBE effective July 2022, the Board of Law Examiners does not intend to change the required minimum passing score of 272 for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam.

As is typical for UBE jurisdictions, the MEE and MPT scores are scaled to the MBE, with the following weightings:

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

The three scores are then combined to determine if the applicant has achieved a passing score of 272.

For the most recent February 2022 bar exam, the pass rate for all test-takers was 37%, 56% for first-time, and 27% for repeat test-takers.

The table below shows the past two administrations’ results:

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Results Overall Pass Rate First-Timer Pass Rate Repeater Pass Rate Results Release Date
February 2022 37% 56% 27% April 8, 2022
July 2021 69.43% 77.22% 24.86% October 15, 2021

Source: Bar Exam Results by Jurisdiction - NCBE
Pass rates | Themis Bar Review

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Reciprocity

Admission by MBE Score Transfer

Pennsylvania does not accept MBE scores from exams taken in other jurisdictions. Still, 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.

Admission by UBE Score Transfer

There is a proposal to amend the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules to allow admission to the Pennsylvania Bar by UBE score transfer. If adopted, this amendment would make it possible for applicants who have met the passing UBE score requirements in another jurisdiction to gain entry into the Pennsylvania Bar by UBE score transfer as long as they submit their application within 30 months of their exam.

The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners is considering the amendment; if they decide to adopt it, the Board will begin accepting applications for admission by UBE score transfer after the upcoming July 2022 PA Bar Exam.

Visit Reciprocity Information - List of Reciprocal states for a full list of states with and without PA Bar Exam reciprocity.

What Makes the Pennsylvania Bar Exam Unique?

Although some UBE jurisdictions, such as New York and Massachusetts, add state-specific testing to their exams, Pennsylvania will not be adding this component to the PA Bar Exam. Also, Pennsylvania will keep its minimum passing score of 272 for all applicants who desire to practice law in Pennsylvania; most UBE jurisdictions have a minimum passing score between 260 and 280.

Final Takeaways

Judging by the most recent PA bar exam results, the Pennsylvania Bar Exam poses a significant challenge to PA bar applicants. This underscores why it is important to prepare with the right bar prep review that helps you practice with proven MBE Strategies and tactics.

Good luck with your PA 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.

Pennsylvania Bar Exam FAQs

Judging by the pass rates from the past three administrations (February 2022, July 2021, and February 2021), the PA Bar Exam may be even more challenging than those administered in other UBE jurisdictions.
The most recent February 2022 pass rates were 37% for all test-takers, 56% for first-time, and 27% for repeats.
The PA Bar Exam lasts two days, with the MEE and MPT lasting 3 hours and the MBE lasting 6 hours.
Pennsylvania does not have a set limit on the number of times you can take the PA State Bar Exam, so if you fail the exam on your first attempt, you can revise your strategy and strive to do better the next time.
Pennsylvania has reciprocity with the following states: AK, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NH, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY.
Pennsylvania UBE Bar Exam is scored on a 400-point scale, with a minimum passing score of 272 or greater. Both MPT questions are worth 20% total, the MEE 30%, and the MBE 50%.
The PA Bar Exam February 2022 exam results were released on April 8, 2022. The PA Bar Exam July 2021 exam results were released on October 15, 2021.
Yes, as long as they meet all the requirements under the Board of Law Examiner’s Rule 205.

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