The Tennessee Bar Exam

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

The Tennessee Bar Exam switched to the format of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE®) in February 2017. The UBE is made up of three parts: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE®), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT®), and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE®). Tennessee also has a state-specific requirement called the Tennessee Law Course (TLC) which becomes available following the completion of the bar exam.

This standardized test format allows individuals to transfer their scores to participating states more easily. The article provides more information about the TN Bar Exam, including dates, deadlines, fees, applications, results, and more.

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


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 MPT, which makes up 20% of the UBE, is given on the first day of the exam. Test takers are given simulated case files and a set of legal documents to use in answering assigned tasks.

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Tennessee Bar Exam Dates, Requirements, and Scheduling

Reduce stress by making note of the following Tennessee Bar Exam deadlines and requirements and preparing early.

Exam Dates

Tennessee has an initial deadline period and a final deadline period. Unlike other jurisdictions, filing after the initial deadline does not come with a financial penalty. Instead, if you file or pay your fee after the initial deadline, you won't be notified of issues with your application. Applications must be received by, not on, the deadlines. Any applications received after the final deadline will not be accepted.

Filing Periods February 27-28, 2023 July 30-31, 2023
Application Opens October 1, 2023 March 1, 2024
Initial Deadline December 1, 2023 May 1, 2024
Final Deadline December 20, 2023 May 22, 2024

Like most jurisdictions, Tennessee requires a character and fitness investigation. However, Tennessee requires that candidates submit the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) Character and Fitness Application (NCBE Application), which must be finalized before starting your Tennessee application.


US law school students seeking admission to the Tennessee Bar through examination must submit the following proof showing that they meet the criteria to sit for the exam:

  • Undergraduate transcripts for Bachelor's Degree or higher must be mailed or emailed from the school/transcript service to the Tennessee State Board of Law Examiners (TBLE) and
  • Law Degree Verification and Certificate of Dean of Law School form from a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or a Tennessee law approved by the Board or
  • Disclosure form from any non-ABA approved law schools outside of Tennessee (if applicable). You must have proof of licensing by examination, of a passing bar score, and that the curriculum is equivalent to a three-year course of in-person study and meets the standards set by the ABA

In addition to the above, individuals seeking admission through admission to motion must provide:

  • Certificates of admissions and good standing in the jurisdiction(s) in which they have been admitted to practice law
  • UBE transfer score that the meets or exceeds the Tennessee's minimum passing score of 270


To schedule your Tennessee Bar Exam appointment, you must:

  • Create an NCBE number account if you have not already done so
  • Complete the online NCBE character and fitness application for background investigation and upload it to your Synergy account promptly so that it can be finalized on or before the final deadline
  • Complete the Tennessee application on Synergy before the deadline (check your spam folder if you do not receive a confirmation email upon submission of registration)
  • Upload all required documents in .pdf format (unless instructed otherwise) by selecting “details” next to the application
  • Submit full payment of fees online by credit card after you finalize your application or by money order or check to the Board Office—must be received (no postmarked) by 4:30 pm (CST/CDT) on the deadline date

You will select your desired exam administration dates as you work through the application process.

Tennessee Bar Exam Cost and Fees

Filing an application to sit for the Tennessee Bar Exam costs $625. However, there are additional miscellaneous fees as well as other application fees (i.e., character and fitness investigation). See the table below for details.

Application Fees
First-Time Examination $625
Re-Examination $450
Other Application Fees
Re-activate Admission Application $375
UBE Score Transfer $625
Comity Fee $1,100
Character and Fitness (JD/LLB anticipated within 1 year) $395
Character and Fitness (JD/LLB anticipated awarded 1 year ago) $550
Character and Fitness (JD/LLB not obtained in the US) $925
Miscellaneous Fees
Tennessee Law Course Fee $15
Returned Check Fee $40
Copy Fee $20
Archive Fee $40
License Fee $150
Reissue License $35
Supervised Practice/Pending Admin. Registration $40
Practice Pending Admission Re-registration $25

Payment Policies

Following the finalization and submission of your online Tennessee application, fees must be paid online by credit card, check, or money order to the Board office. All application fees must be received on or before 4:30 (CST/CDT) on the day of the deadline.

Cost-saving options

Applying for the Tennessee Bar Exam is expensive. Fortunately, cost-saving options are available for students in tight financial situations. The University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) offers students scholarships for six law school semesters.

Here are some cost-saving tips:

  1. Join a study group and split the cost of bar exam preparation materials among group members.
  2. Research free or low-cost study online study materials like past bar exam questions and answers to supplement commercial study aids.
  3. Some bar exam prep companies offer discounts or promotions to students who register early or refer friends to their program.
  4. The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners may grant a waiver fee in some instances, such as financial hardship.

Tennessee Bar Exam Subjects and Topics

The Tennessee Bar Exam is designed to evaluate the analytical and reasoning skills, as well as the understanding of basic legal principles of an individual. By adopting the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) program, Tennessee recognizes that a passing score indicates that the examinee has the necessary qualifications and capability to practice law in the other 40 states that participate in the UBE program.

MEE: Testable subjects

The MEE consists of six 30-minute 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 National Conference of Bar Examiners will choose on 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. Our MEE Study Guide and Prep Tips provides all the details you need to focus your studies on what's essential and use your time efficiently.

  • Business Associations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Real Property
  • Secured Transactions
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates

Check out our MEE Subject Matter Outline for detailed explanations of MEE subjects and sub-topics.

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MBE: Testable subjects

The MBE is administered in two 3-hour sessions on (Day 2) of the bar exam on the last Wednesday in February and July. It is scored on a 200-point scale and presents candidates with 200 multiple-choice questions spanning the following MBE subjects, broken down into 25 questions per subject:

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

MPT: Testable items

The MPT consists of closed-universe practical questions with instructions, factual data, cases, statutes, and other reference material supplied by examiners. Candidates will answer two cases presenting simulated real-life scenarios occurring in the fictional jurisdiction of "Franklin." These tasks are designed for examinees to demonstrate their lawyering skills, using only the materials provided by the bar examiners. Each case is assessed on a 6-point scale, with a 6 being the highest possible score and a 0 being the lowest possible score.

Tennessee Bar Exam Scoring/Grading

To be eligible for admission to the Tennessee Bar, candidates must pass the UBE with a minimum scaled score of 270 out of 400. The exam is divided into three parts: the MBE, MEE, and MPT. The MBE counts for 50%, the MEE and MPT are combined and count for 50% of the total UBE scaled score. The MEE and MPT scores are combined and scaled out of 200, which means that the written and multiple-choice sections each make up 50% of the total UBE scaled score. It's important to note that even if you don't perform well in one section, you can still pass as long as the scores add up to 270 or more.

It is important to note that the raw score and the scaled score are different. For example, getting 135 of 200 questions correct on the MBE does not necessarily mean you've earned 135 scaled points. Scaled scoring is used to ensure fairness across exam versions, this scoring model applies to all three sections of the bar exam.

For example, the difficulty level of July's exam may be different from February's. It would be unfair to allow someone to pass or fail based on the relative difficulty of their exam version. Therefore, examinees' raw scores are transformed into scaled scores through a statistical method called equating. Unfortunately, the NCBE does not disclose the calculations it uses to determine scaled scores.

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Tennessee MPRE minimum passing score

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE®) features 60 multiple-choice questions administered over two hours. You must pass the MPRE. The minimum passing score in Tennessee is 80. Check out our article, About the MPRE, to learn more.

Tennessee Bar Exam Results and Pass Rates

As it is common in bar exams throughout the country, the pass rate for repeat takers of the Tennessee Bar Exam is significantly lower compared to the pass rate for first-time takers. This may be due to the fact that many repeat examinees who failed the first time have not made significant changes to their study habits.

Exam Overall
Pass Rate
Pass Rate
Pass Rate
Release Date
July 2023 67% 76% 29% October 6
Feb. 2023 36% 54% 26% April 13

Below are the annual pass rates for the TN Bar Exam since 2017 divided into first-time examinees and repeaters:

Tennessee Bar Exam results

In Tennessee, Bar Exam results are typically released and posted on the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners website and sent to individual examinees via email about 2-3 months following administration of the exam.

Tennessee Bar Exam Reciprocity

Attorneys from any state can be admitted on motion in Tennessee, admission is not based on reciprocity. Applications to apply for admission without examination (comity) are done through two online applications—the NCBE Character and Fitness Application and the Tennessee Application for Comity Application. must:

  • Intend to practice law in Tennessee
  • Provide proof of an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university
  • Provide proof of a law degree from an ABA or Tennessee-approved law school
  • Meet NCBE character and fitness standards
  • Be in good standing in jurisdictions where they are admitted to practice law
  • Have been practicing law full-time for five of the seven years leading up to application

Furthermore, UBE scores are transferable but cannot be more than five years old at the time of approval of the application (no submission) which typically takes 6 to 8 months.

What Makes the Tennessee Bar Exam Unique?

The Tennessee Bar Exam is unique for its Tennessee Law Course (TLC)—a seven-and-a-half mandatory online course that covers Tennessee-specific law. It becomes available to examinees ten days after their TN Bar Exam or within five business days of approval of a transferred UBE score. Course material includes:

  • Claims Commission
  • Employment law
  • Workers Compensation
  • Business Associations
  • Constitutional Law
  • Family Law (Divorce, Alimony, and Custody)
  • Family Law (Juvenile Matters)
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Property Law
  • Tennessee Rules (Civil Procedure, Evidence and Appellate Procedure)
  • Torts
  • Wills, Estates, Trusts, and Probate

The TLC must be completed within one year from the completion of all other requirements for admission to the Tennessee Bar.

Tennessee Bar Exam for foreigners

Foreign-educated applicants may apply to sit for the Tennessee Bar Exam if they have met one of the two following criteria:

Final Takeaways

Whether you are taking the UBE for the first time or are a repeat taker, the key to passing the Tennessee Bar Exam is to study using questions and practice exams that closely mimic the actual bar exam. By practicing with materials that closely resemble the real exam, the actual exam will feel like practice.

Themis + UWorld full bar review bundle offers 4000+ MBE practice questions, all curated by a team of legal experts or licensed by the NCBE. Additionally, the bundle provides access to 100+ MEE practice essays and 22 MPT practice questions from previous bar exams.

The platform also includes customizable flashcards, performance tracking, a QBank with detailed illustrations, bite-sized video lectures paired with readings, and thorough explanations for each question.

Contact details of the Tennessee State Bar

If you wish to contact the Tennessee State Board of Law Examiners office with inquiries regarding the Tennessee Bar Exam, please see the details below. Office hours are 8 am - 4:30 pm (CST), Monday through Friday.

Medium Info
Phone Number (615) 741-3234
Hearing/Speech Impaired 1 (800) 842-9710
Email [email protected]
Mailing Address 511 Union Street
Suite 525
Nashville, TN

Tennessee Bar Exam FAQs

To take the bar exam in Tennessee, you must have graduated from an ABA or Tennessee-approved law school or received foreign education of similar quality and duration.
The bar exam in Tennessee spans two days, each consisting of six hour testing sessions.
The final filing deadlines for the Tennessee Bar Exam are December 20, 2023, and May 22, 2024, for the February and July 2024 exams, respectively. Applications must be submitted with a $625 fee.
The Tennessee Bar Exam is as hard as the bar exam of the 40 other jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE. It may be considered slightly easier than bar exams with state-specific components.
We recommend dedicating 400 study hours to the CT Bar Exam. Most students begin studying 8-10 prior to their exam’s administration. However, starting sooner may aid retention and decrease burnout, so we recommend starting as early as 4-6 months out if possible, especially if you work full-time.
The minimum UBE passing score in Tennessee is 270.
There is no limit to how many times you can take the Tennessee Bar Exam.
It costs $450 to retake the Tennessee Bar Exam.
Tennessee does not offer reciprocity with any jurisdictions, but lawyers from any jurisdiction can transfer to Tennessee if they meet certain standards.
Yes, you can transfer your MBE score from another jurisdiction to Tennessee. Tennessee has authorized the NCBE to perform MBE score transfers.
Yes, you can transfer your Tennessee UBE score to another jurisdiction as long as the jurisdiction allows it. Check with their website for details.
No, you cannot practice law without a law degree in Tennessee.
For admission without examination, applicants must provide certificates of admission and good standing in the jurisdiction(s) in which they have been admitted to practice law and have earned a UBE transfer score of 270 or more.
Foreign candidates for the Tennessee Bar Exam must have completed an education commensurate with ABA standards or have practiced law in a foreign jurisdiction. Details here.
To become a licensed attorney in Tennessee, you must earn an undergraduate degree, pass the LSAT, earn a JD from an ABA or Tennessee-approved law school, be deemed of good moral character and fitness, pass the bar exam, and take the Tennessee Law Course, and be approved for admission to the bar.
To request special accommodation for the Tennessee Bar Exam, you must fill out the Request for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations on your Synergy dashboard and provide all the requisite documentation.
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