The Wisconsin Bar Exam
Wisconsin essay exam
The Wisconsin essay exam is weighted at 50%. On day one, examinees will answer MEE and MPT items and items developed by the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners.
The MBE is weighted at 50% of the WI Bar Exam. Examinees will answer 200 multiple-choice questions on day two.
Wisconsin Bar Exam Dates, Requirements, and Scheduling
There are two filing periods for applying to the Wisconsin Bar Exam. It’s highly recommended that you gather all required documents and submit your application before the early filing deadline to avoid a $200 late filing fee. See below for details regarding deadlines and filing periods.
All forms must be filed electronically with the Board by May 1 or December 1 for the July and February exams, respectively.
|Filing Deadlines||July 25-26, 2023||February TBD 2024||Fee|
|Early Filing||May 1||December 1||$450|
|Final Filing||June 1||January 1||$650|
To sit for the Wisconsin Bar Exam, you must have graduated from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school with a Juris Doctor degree (JD). Graduates from non-ABA-accredited law schools may sit for the exam if they have passed a bar exam and been admitted to the bar in another US jurisdiction.
To register and schedule your appointment for the Wisconsin Bar Exam, you must create an eCourts account and fill out the applicant questionnaire. You’ll need an NCBE number, so create an account if you don’t have one. Your law school must directly submit your final transcript or a dean’s certificate to the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners. Graduates from non-ABA-approved law schools must submit a certificate of good standing (or certificate of admission). You will also be required to upload a passport style headshot taken within 6 months of your application and submit an Authorization and Release form.
Some subjects may be paired together. Other subjects could be omitted. Remember that the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners also develops its own essay questions. Check out our MEE Subject Matter Outline for detailed explanations of MEE subjects and sub-topics.
Testable Subjects on the MBE
The MBE is administered from 9 am to 4:30 pm on the second day of the bar exam. It is scored on a 200-point scale and presents candidates with 200 multiple-choice questions spanning 7 MBE subjects. There are 25 questions per subject, with an additional 25 unscored pilot questions for future exams. There is no way to tell which questions are scored and which are unscored, so answer each question carefully. Possible subjects include:
Wisconsin Bar Exam Scoring/Grading
The combined minimum passing score for the Wisconsin Bar Exam in 258. Each component—the MBE and the Essay portion—is worth 50% of your total score. This means that you should aim for a scaled score of 129 on the MBE. Note that getting 129 of 200 MBE questions correct does not necessarily mean you've earned 129 scaled points. Scaled scoring is a method used to ensure that everyone's exam is judged fairly. Imagine that you and a friend take the bar exam during different administrations, and your exam turns out to be more difficult. 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 translated into scaled scores.
Wisconsin Bar Exam Results and Pass Rates
As is common with bar exams across the United States, the Wisconsin Bar Exam's pass rate for repeaters is considerably lower than for those taking it for the first time. This is likely because many repeat takers don't substantially modify their study habits.
|July 2022||50%||66%||33%||August 30|
|Feb. 2022||41%||56%||18%||March 30|
Below are the annual pass rates for the Wisconsin Bar Exam since 2017 divided into first-time examinees and repeaters:
*Aggregate exam scores for 2022 have not yet been released.
Wisconsin Bar Exam Results
Wisconsin typically releases bar exam results six weeks after an exam administration. The July 2022 exam results were released on August 30, 2022, and on March 30, 2022, for the February 2022 exam.
What Makes the Wisconsin Bar Exam Unique?
Where bar admission is concerned, Wisconsin is a unicorn. The Board of Bar Examiners allows admission based on diploma privilege, meaning that an applicant is admitted to the bar based on having been awarded their first professional degree in law from an ABA-approved law school in Wisconsin. In short, you can become a lawyer in Wisconsin simply by graduating from an approved Wisconsin law school. Those who have not graduated from such a law school may still be admitted through examination or proof of practice.
Wisconsin Bar Exam Reciprocity
Admission on Proof of Practice Elsewhere is not based on reciprocity in Wisconsin. Instead, candidates can apply for admission without examination if they can prove that they have been substantially engaged in the practice of law in any US jurisdiction for 3 of the 5 years preceding application submission. Applicants who have failed the Wisconsin Bar Exam are not eligible for Admission on Proof of Practice Elsewhere (SCR 40.055).
Wisconsin bar exam for foreigners
Foreigners may sit for the Wisconsin Bar Exam if they have obtained a law degree from a jurisdiction where the law is based on the principles of English Common Law and have been actively engaged in the practice of law for a minimum of 3 of the 10 years leading up to their application. Alternatively, they may have obtained a Masters of Law (LLM) from a law school that was recognized by a competent accreditation agency after completing 24 semester credit hours and 700 minutes of instruction time (see SCR 40.055 for details). Foreigners may also qualify for admission without examination if they have been admitted to practice law in another US jurisdiction.
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Wisconsin does not offer formal reciprocity with other jurisdictions, but candidates can be accepted to the WI Bar without examination if they can prove that they have been substantially engaged in the practice of law in any US jurisdiction for 3 of the 5 years preceding application submission. See “Reciprocity”.
What is the time limit for accepting a transferred UBE score in Wisconsin (i.e., maximum age of the UBE score)?
Foreigners may sit for the Wisconsin Bar Exam if they have been practicing law for 3 of the 10 years leading up to their application or have earned an LLM degree from a law school that has been recognized by a competent accreditation essay. See the section “Wisconsin bar exam for foreigners” for details.