The Vermont Bar Exam
Structure, Topics, Dates, Cost, Scores, and Eligibility
The Judiciary of Vermont adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®) in July 2016. 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®).
Uniformity among participating states has made interstate score transfer much easier. This article will provide detailed information on VT Bar Exam dates, format, subjects, costs, results, and more.
Vermont Bar Exam Structure
The UBE is divided into 2 days, each with 6 testing hours. The writing portion (MPT/MEE) is administered on day one, and the MBE on day 2. See below for a detailed breakdown.
Vermont Bar Exam Dates, Requirements, and Scheduling
You can't pass an exam you don't take. Mark the dates and deadlines shown below on your calendar and review the eligibility requirements below. Save yourself some stress by collecting the proper documentation and submitting your application early.
The Vermont Bar Exam falls on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. It's important to file for your application on or before the timely filing deadline, as Vermont has no late filing periods. You cannot sit for the exam if you do not submit your application in time. That is unless you file your late application with an official law school transcript and a written request to the Board demonstrating “extraordinary circumstances.”
|Filing Periods||February 27-28, 2024||July 30-31, 2024*||Fee|
|Deadline||May 1||December 1||$300|
*These were the filing deadlines for the July 2023 exam. The deadline for the July 2024 exam is TBD. While we cannot guarantee that the deadlines will be the same, they will likely be around the same time. We will update this with official information as soon as it becomes available.
You must take the Vermont Bar Exam within 5 years of graduating from an ABA-accredited law school or completing the Law Office Study Program. To apply for the early examination, you must submit a transcript proving that you will have completed 5 semesters of law school (including academic instruction on each subject tested on the UBE) before taking the UBE.
If you've graduated from a non-ABA-accredited US law school, you may still apply for the VT Bar Exam if you can demonstrate that the law school you've attended was in the process of becoming accredited during the time you attended and that its accreditation has not since been denied.
Vermont is one of the few jurisdictions that offers a pathway to bar admission without attending law school. Candidates can participate in a law office study program and submit a Completion Notice to the Board. A lawyer or judge must oversee Vermont's Law Office Study Program (LOS Program), which requires that candidates study law for 25 hours a week for 4 years. A bachelor's degree from an institution accredited by the US Department of Education or a foreign equivalent is also required. To begin the process, candidates must submit the Law Office Study Registration and Law Office Study Initial Supervisor Certification forms.
Any path you take toward the VT Bar Exam begins with creating an account with the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) and completing the NCBE Standard Character and Fitness Electronic Application (sample). Your Vermont Bar Exam application will be made available, along with instructions, after you have submitted the NCBE application. You must submit both your Vermont and NCBE applications together through Odyssey File and Serve.
To apply for early examination, you must have your law school send the Office of Attorney Licensing an official transcript documenting completion of the required study with a letter from the law school stating that you've received academic instruction on each UBE subject and are academically prepared for early testing. You must also graduate within 7 months of taking the UBE.
Vermont Bar Exam Cost and Fees
Vermont has relatively low application fees. See fees regarding exam application, UBE score transfer, Law Office Study registration, and more below.
|Vermont Bar Exam||$300|
|Late Filing Fee||$50|
|Transfer UBE Score||$800|
|Non Approval Law School Equivalency Determination||$50|
|First-Time Registration of Law Office Study||$200|
|Fee for filing of Each Six-Month Report||$100|
|Admin Fee for Any Application||$50|
|Character and Fitness Report||Schedule|
Each application requires an additional $50 administrative fee. Application fees are non-refundable, even if your application is denied.
Attending law school and applying for the bar exam isn't cheap. Fortunately, there are cost-saving options available to eligible candidates. For example, Vermont Law & Graduate School offers scholarships and grants based on merit, needs, and opportunity.
Most of the scholarships above are for current or soon-to-be law students. Try browsing the AccessLex Institute Law School Scholarship Databank for options better suited to you. You can also check out the American Bar Association's (ABA) website, which offers 100+ opportunities and programs for young lawyers and law students. Even if you can't obtain a scholarship, you can do some basic things to save money while preparing for the bar exam:
- Join a study group and split the cost of bar exam preparation materials among group members.
- Research free or low-cost study online study materials like past bar exam questions and answers to supplement commercial study aids.
- Some bar exam prep companies offer discounts or promotions to students who register early or refer friends to their program.
Vermont Bar Exam Subjects and Topics
The VT Bar Exam tests a candidate's legal knowledge, analytical skills, and competence to practice law. It covers a range of subjects, from Constitutional Law and Contracts to Criminal Law and Evidence. Candidates will be assessed by their ability to apply legal principles, draft legal documents, and effectively solve problems to ensure they can competently represent clients and complete entry-level legal tasks.
Testable subjects on the MEE
The MEE requires candidates to identify legal issues, apply relevant legal principles, and demonstrate their ability to analyze fact patterns and compose well-reasoned, organized, and concise written responses. MEE subjects include:
Some subjects may be tested together. Others may not be tested at all. What subjects the NCBE chooses for any administration are not made public before the exam. Historically, some have been tested more often than others historically. For example, Civil Procedure has been tested on almost every MEE for the past 10 years, while Criminal Law has only appeared a few times. However, subjects that occur less frequently may still be paired with others.
Check out our MEE Study Guide for details on planning your studies and determining what's essential so you use your time efficiently. Also, check out our MEE Subject Matter Outline for in-depth explanations of MEE subjects and sub-topics.
Testable subjects on the MBE
The MBE contains 200 multiple-choice questions divided evenly over 7 subjects. You'll notice that 7 x 25 does not equal 200. That's because 25 MBE questions are unscored questions that the NCBE field tests for future exams. There is no way to identify which questions are scored or unscored, so it's best to imagine that they are all just as important. MBE subjects are as follows:
MPT: Testable items
The MPT is designed to test an examinee's "lawyering skills" using only the materials provided. These tasks are conducted in a closed-universe, fictional jurisdiction called "Franklin." The laws of the real world do not apply, so your critical thinking skills and understanding of fundamental legal principles are key. You'll receive faux reference material, which you'll use to solve two tasks, each graded on a scale from 0 to 6.
Vermont MPRE Requirements
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE®) is a 2-hour, 60-multiple-choice question exam that assesses an examinee's knowledge of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. You can register through the NCBE. In Vermont, a passing MPRE score must be earned no sooner than 3 years before sitting for the UBE and no later than 1 year after receiving a passing UBE score.
Vermont MPRE minimum passing score
Vermont has an MPRE minimum passing score of 80. Candidates are responsible for requesting a copy of their MPRE score report be sent to the Bar. Scores are only valid if transferred directly from the MPRE testing authority.
Vermont Bar Exam Scoring, Results, and Pass Rates
The UBE employs scaled scoring to ensure fairness across exam versions. Scaled scoring accounts for the fact that one exam administration may be more or less difficult than another administration. For example, February's exam may be more difficult than July's. It wouldn't be fair if you failed because you just happened to receive a harder exam version. To solve this, your raw scores are transformed into scaled scores through a statistical method called equating. Unfortunately, the NCBE does not release data on the calculations it uses to determine scaled scores.
Vermont Bar exam scoring/grading
You must achieve a minimum score of 270 out of 400 for admission to the Vermont Bar. Since the UBE is divided into two equally weighted sections—writing (MPT/MEE) and the MBE—you want to aim for a 135 on each section. However, you do not need to score 135 on each section to pass the VT bar exam. For example, an exceptional score on the MBE can balance out a subpar score on the writing section. What's important is that the sum of your two scores is 270 or higher.
Vermont Bar Exam results and pass rates
You'll notice that The Vermont Bar Exam's repeater pass rates are substantially lower than the first-timer pass rates, especially for the February 2023 exam. In fact, of the 10 repeat takers of the July 2022 exam, 0 passed. This discrepancy between first-timer and repeater pass rates is common across all jurisdictions and is likely because many who fail their first bar exam don't change how they study.
|Feb. 2023||66%||72%||50%||April 13|
|July 2022||50%||60%||0%||September 20|
Here are the annual pass rates for the Vermont Bar Exam since 2017, divided into first-time examinees and repeaters:
Vermont Bar Exam results are typically released 8-10 weeks following an exam administration. Results were released on April 13, 2023, and September 20, 2022, for the February 2023 and July 2022 exams, respectively.
Vermont Bar Exam Reciprocity
Candidates from any US jurisdiction can apply to the Vermont Bar via Admission on Motion. However, New Hampshire and Maine have a special reciprocity agreement with Vermont (see below). To apply for Admission on Motion, Attorneys must have been actively engaged in the practice of law for 5 of the preceding 10 years in one or more US jurisdictions. Part of this 5 years requirement may be waived if you:
- Are currently licensed and actively practicing law for 6 months or more in any jurisdiction that requires more than 5 years of admission as a condition of Admission on Motion
- Have been practicing law in Maine or New Hampshire for more than 3 years immediately preceding their application
Vermont has no legal education requirements to apply for Admission on Motion. However, Vermont does require that you:
- Have not failed the VT Bar Exam or scored lower than 270 on the UBE within the 5 years preceding your application.
- Have passed the UBE within 3 years of filing your application (5 years if you have been practicing law for at least 2 years)
- Have passed the MPRE within 3 years before, and not later than 1 year after, the date of your application.
- Attend a minimum of 15 hours of certified Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
- Participate in a mentorship program during your first year of practice in Vermont
- Establish good moral character and fitness to the satisfaction of the Committee
For further information, see Rule 13 of the Rules of Admission.
Need more proof? We are the only bar review course that publishes our pass rates every year.
What Makes the Vermont Bar Exam Unique?
Vermont is one of only 4 states where you can be admitted to the bar without having earned a JD degree. Instead, candidates may complete a Law Office Study Program (see requirements section for details).
Vermont Bar Exam for foreigners
Foreign law schools graduates may take the Vermont Bar Exam if they meet the following requirements:
- Have completed legal education at a foreign law school whose curriculum is based on the common law of England and is equivalent to graduation from an approved law school
- Have been admitted to the bar in the country in which the applicant attended the foreign law school and has maintained good standing
To begin the equivalency determination process, you must have your law school send an official transcript to the Office of Attorney Licensing, complete the Application for Foreign Equivalency Determination and pay the fee through Odyssey File and Serve.
The difference between those who fail the Vermont 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 Vermont 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 the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners
If you wish to contact the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners with inquiries regarding the VT Bar Exam, please see the details below.
|Phone Number||(802) 859-3000|
Andrew Strauss, Licensing Counsel
Office of Attorney Licensing
32 Cherry St., Suite 213