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What You Should Know About the 2022 New York Bar Exam

The New York State Court of Appeals adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in July 2016. Since then, an increasing number of people have been taking the NY Bar Exam. This article will provide general and specific information about the NY Bar Exam so you can properly weigh your options and prepare adequately to succeed on test day.

Eligibility & Registration

Applying for the NY Bar Exam:

To register for the NY Bar Exam (the UBE), you must first create an NCBE account, which you can do here. (Note: You must apply under your legal name, which must be the exact name on the official government photo ID you plan to present on exam day).

Then, you may apply for the NY Bar Exam here. You will be asked several questions about the dates of your law school attendance and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), and you will be required to submit the filing fee. After the application process is complete, you will be emailed a Certificate of Attendance form to be verified by your law school and submitted directly to the Bar Examiners.

Testing Locations:

The NY Bar Exam is administered in-person at the following locations:

  • Albany: Empire State Plaza, Convention Hall, Concourse Level Albany, NY 12242
  • Buffalo: Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202
  • New York City: Armory Track & Field Center, 216 Fort Washington Avenue at West 168 Street, New York, NY 10032
  • White Plains: New York State Judicial Institute, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603

Note: The above locations are subject to change at any time. To obtain the latest information, including the NY Bar Exam locations for upcoming bar exam dates, please contact the NY Bar Examiners.

Test center assignments are based on availability and on a first-come, first-serve basis. No applicant is guaranteed a seat in any particular city or test center, even if the applicant lives or attended law school in that city. Approximately six to seven weeks prior to the bar exam, you will be emailed a link instructing you to select their preferred testing location. First-time applicants who graduated with a J.D. from a NY law school are given first priority. For more information on the testing locations, please visit the NY Board of Legal Examiners (BOLE) website.

Laptops and the New York Bar Exam:

The NY BOLE permits applicants to use their personal laptops, with pre-installed security software, to answer questions on the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) for a fee. Applicants must elect to use their own laptops when completing the online application if they wish to type their answers to the written portion of the exam; otherwise they will be required to handwrite their responses. After the application period is closed, applicants who opted into the Laptop Program will receive an email that provides instructions about purchasing the required software and registering the laptop that will be used at the examination.

Becoming an Admitted Attorney to the NY State Bar:

There are two different ways to become licensed in New York: Admission by Examination or Admission on Motion without Examination.

Generally, there are a few main components in the application process:

NY State Bar Admissions Application Requirements:

  • The application, including the Character and Fitness Questionnaire
  • A score of 266 or higher on the UBE
  • Achieving a score of 85 or higher on the MPRE
  • Completion of 50 Pro Bono Hours
  • Completion of the New York Law Course (NYLC) and New York Law Exam (NYLE) (more on this later in the article)
  • NY Bar License Fee.

Character & Fitness:

  • The Character and Fitness application is part of your admissions packet, to be completed after the bar exam, and should be submitted to the NY Appellate Department. If your address is not in the state of New York, you will be placed in the Third Department. You can find information on each Department, including its application forms, here.
  • The following is the information for the Character and Fitness component of the application that we have noticed generally takes NY Bar applicants the longest amount of time to gather: (Note that each Appellate Department may have slightly different requirements).

Residence History:

  • You must include all addresses where you’ve lived for the last 10 years, or since you were 18 years old (whichever period is shorter).

Employment History:

  • You must include your employment history for the last 10 years, or since you were 21 years old (whichever is shorter). Employment includes paid or unpaid work, volunteer work, internships, externships, self-employment, etc. You must also include the names and contact information for supervisors, colleagues, or individuals that can confirm your work history. You must also include details about gaps in employment.
  • Note: This does NOT include your 50 Pro Bono hours required for admission to the bar exam.

Character References:

  • You need written affirmations of character from at least two references who have known you, preferably for at least two years. The affirmations cannot be from: an individual related to you by blood or marriage, individuals that currently live with you, or members of faculty or administrative staff from your law school. Nor can you use references you are already using as references in the Employment section. The NY BOLE prefers that one of the references be an attorney in good standing.
  • In addition, you will need an affirmation from each law-related employer listed on your application. These references should also not be related to you by blood or marriage unless otherwise not feasible. (Note: you should not submit one of these affirmations for the same employment used to satisfy your 50-hour pro bono compliance affidavit or listed on your pro bono scholars completion affidavit.)

Any legal judgments, liens, bankruptcy, misconduct, arrests, convictions, citations, or tickets

  • These include matters that have been dismissed, expunged, or otherwise set aside. In addition to explanations, you would provide documents and other substantiation. Note that traffic violations that occurred more than 10 years prior to the application, except those involving alcohol or drug-related traffic violations need not be reported. Parking violations also should not be reported.

Because filling out the C&F Questionnaire can be rather time-consuming, consider reviewing it before applying:

NY BOLE Admissions Information:

NY Foreign-Trained Attorney and LL.M. Licensure:

Unlike most jurisdictions, NY permits foreign-trained attorneys to become licensed initially with a NY Bar license. There are several differences in terms of the application for foreign-trained attorneys and LL.M. graduates. Additionally, the application process itself is different for each foreign-trained applicant, and NY treats each applicant uniquely. To better understand which category you fall under and the requirements for each, please refer to Rule 520.6. Any questions about where you might fall under those categories should be directed to the NY Board of Law Examiners.

Also, it can take six months or more for the NY BOLE to process your application, so be sure to begin your application process early.

For applicants requiring an LL.M. to qualify for the bar exam, the deadlines are as follows:

Exam Documents Deadline
February Online Foreign Evaluation AND all Required Foreign Documentation May 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.
July Online Foreigh Evaluation AND all Required Foreign Documentation October 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.

For applications qualifying for the NY bar without needing an LL.M. degree from a US law school, the deadlines are as follows:

Exam Documents Deadline
February Online Foreign Evaluation November 30
Online Foreign Evaluation Required Foreign Documentation
July Online Foreign Evaluation April 30
Required Foreign Documentation June 15

The NYLE and NYLC:

The NYLC is an online, on-demand series of free lectures covering NY-specific law in Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice and Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial & Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts, Trusts, and Wills and Estates.

It consists of approximately 17 hours of pre-recorded lectures with embedded questions that must be answered correctly before an applicant can continue viewing the lecture. Applicants are expected to watch, in good faith, each video in its entirety. The time spent watching each video in the NYLC will be electronically audited by the Board.

The entire NYLC must be completed before applying for the NYLE.

The NYLE is a 50-question, multiple-choice, open-book, online exam. Each of the subjects covered in the NYLC will be tested on the NYLE. The NYLE may be completed up to one year prior to or within three years after taking the NY Bar Exam.

Applicants must score at least 30 out of 50 questions (60%) to pass the exam. Applicants who fail the NYLE will be required to retake both the NYLC and NYLE.

The NYLE is typically offered four times a year (quarterly in March, June, September, and December).

Upcoming NYLE Date Registration/NYLC Deadline
March 10, 2022 12:00PM February 8, 2022 11:59PM
June 16, 2022 12:00PM May 17, 2022 11:59PM
September 22, 2022 12:00PM August 23, 2022 11:59PM
December 15, 2022 12:00PM November 15, 2022 11:59PM

New York Bar Exam Dates & Fees 2022

Bar Examination Dates July 26-27, 2022
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
February 21-22, 2023
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
Bar Examination Fee $250 for JD applicants; $750 for Foreign-trained applicants $250 for JD applicants; $750 for Foreign-trained applicants
Filing Deadline April 30, 2022 November 30, 2022

Source: NY BOLE Bar Exam Dates & Application Deadlines

Structure & Subjects

Overall, the UBE assesses examinees’ knowledge and understanding of general legal principles, factual analysis, legal analysis and reasoning, and communication skills to evaluate their competencies and readiness to practice law in any jurisdiction.

The MPT presents test-takers with a simulated case file based on a realistic scenario with a packet of various legal materials. Examinees will show their lawyering skills by using the materials provided to respond to the assignment(s). These assignments frequently involve law not tested on the bar exam (e.g., Professional Responsibility). Examinees will have to answer two such cases in 90 minutes each for a testing time of three hours.Testable Subjects on the MEE:

The MEE challenges students in six 30-minute essays lasting three hours total. The MEE tests on the following subjects, which include seven subjects that are also tested on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE):

  • Business Associations (Agency, Partnerships, and Corporations)
  • Civil Procedure
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts & Estates (Trusts and Wills)
  • UCC Article 9 (Secured Transactions)

Even though there are six essays, more than six subjects can be tested. In other words, a single fact pattern may have questions that implicate one or more different areas of the law. For instance, in the July 2020 UBE, Corporations was tested with Constitutional Law. With that being said, not all subjects are tested evenly.

While Civil Procedure is also tested on the MBE, it is the most frequently tested subject on the MEE. Since February 2014, Civil Procedure has been tested more than 71% of the time (either as a component or an entire essay). During this period, the most frequently tested subjects on the MEE have been:

  • Civil Procedure (71%);
  • Contracts (59%);
  • Real Property (59%);
  • Constitutional Law (53%); and
  • Secured Transactions (53%)

Testable Subjects on the MBE:

The MBE tests examinees across the following subjects in 200 multiple-choice questions lasting six hours:

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

Out of the 200 questions, 25 questions are considered to be “experimental” and not scored. The other 175 questions are divided evenly so that 25 questions are counted toward your score for each subject. For example, there are 25 scored Contracts questions on the MBE.

Note: Before you can practice law in New York, you must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The MPRE features 60 multiple-choice questions administered over two hours.

Scoring and Pass rates

The passing UBE score in New York is a 266 out of 400. Below are the pass rates for the NY Bar Exam over the past several years:

Exam Pass Rate Total Examinees
July 2021 63% 9,227
February 2021 49% 2,130
October 2020 84% 5,150
February 2020 40% 3,563
July 2019 65% 10,071
February 2019 45% 4,129
July 2018 63% 9,679
February 2018 38% 3,759
July 2017 68% 9,932
February 2017 44% 4,162
July 2016 64% 10,297
February 2016 40% 4,193
July 2015 61% 10,671
February 2015 43% 3,997

Source: NY Bar Exam Statistics

How about NY Bar Exam Reciprocity?

New York has reciprocity with all other UBE jurisdictions. Additionally, NY will grant licensure by waiver for applicants who have been licensed in good standing in a US jurisdiction for at least five of seven years prior to admission.

What Makes the NY Bar Exam Unique?

NY’s rules provide for Admission on Motion, meaning that an attorney licensed in other jurisdictions can be admitted into the NY bar without taking the NY Bar Exam when they have been a member of any other bar of any state or territory of the United States in good standing for at least five of the seven years preceding application to the NY bar.

As mentioned above, NY has a jurisdiction-specific component that examinees must complete. Prior to admission, NY bar applicants must complete the New York Law Course (NYLC) and the New York Law Exam (NYLE).

NY Bar Exam Costs and Fees

The NY Bar Exam application filing fee is $250 for those with a J.D. and $750 for those qualifying to take the exam based on foreign training.

The technology fee associated with the Laptop Program is $100.

Accommodation Requests are accepted through November 30th for the February exams, and April 30th for the July exams.

For those applying on motion with a transferred UBE score, the application fees are the same as above: $250 for J.D. graduates and $750 for those who studied law in a foreign country, plus a $25 transcript fee charged by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

Cost-Saving Options

Pro Bono Scholars Program:

Students in their final year at a New York law school can devote their last semester (12 weeks) to performing pro bono service through an approved externship program, law school clinic, legal services provider, law firm, or corporation. Students accepted into the program can take the NY Bar Exam in February of their final year of law school, before they graduate. Those who successfully complete the program will be eligible for accelerated admission to the NY Bar Exam. For more information on the Pro Bono Scholars Program and how to apply, please click here.

Filing Deadlines

Bar Examination Dates July 26-27, 2022
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
February 21-22, 2023
(Tuesday & Wednesday)
Bar Examination Fee $250 for JD applicants; $750 for Foreign-trained applicants $250 for JD applicants; $750 for Foreign-trained applicants
Filing Deadline April 30, 2022 November 30, 2022

Source: NY BOLE Bar Exam Dates & Application Deadlines

For applicants requiring an LL.M. to qualify for the bar exam, the deadlines are as follows:

Exam Documents Deadline
February Online Foreign Evaluation AND all Required Foreign Documentation May 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.
July Online Foreigh Evaluation AND all Required Foreign Documentation October 1 of the year preceding the exam you wish to take.

For applicants qualifying for the NY bar without needing an LL.M. degree from a US law school, the deadlines are as follows:

Exam Documents Deadline
February Online Foreign Evaluation November 30
Required Foreign Documentation February 1
July Online Foreign Evaluation April 30
Required Foreign Documentation June 15

Exam FAQs

The UBE is a two-day exam, broken up into four 3-hour sessions.

The NY Bar Exam (or UBE) is no more difficult than the bar exam in any other UBE jurisdiction. In NY, you need a 266 out of 400 to pass, which roughly equates to a C average. 

The NY Bar Exam application filing fee is $250 for those with a J.D. and $750 for those qualifying to take the exam based on foreign training. 

The technology fee associated with the Laptop Program is $100.

For those applying on motion with a transferred UBE score, the application fees are the same as above: $250 for JD graduates and $750 for those who studied law in a foreign country, plus a $25 transcript fee charged by the NCBE.

It varies each year, but results are typically released in October for the July exam and in April for the February exam. You can check your results by visiting the NY BOLE website. 

Yes! LL.M. and foreign-trained students can apply to take the NY Bar Exam. Each applicant is treated uniquely by the NY BOLE, so be sure to double check their website to see which category you fall under and provide the appropriate documents in a timely manner. More on this above. 

The NY Bar, as in all UBE jurisdictions, is scored out of a possible 400 points. The MBE counts for 50% of your exam score. The MEE counts for 30% of your exam score, and the MPT counts for the final 20%. 

The NY first-time taker pass rate for the July 2021 exam was 87%.

Yes, you can transfer your MBE score in isolation to another jurisdiction through a similar process as transferring the UBE score to some non-UBE jurisdictions (i.e., going to NCBE’s score services to transfer the MBE score to a target jurisdiction).  

It is held the last Tuesday and Wednesday of every February and July. 

No, you must have a J.D., an LL.M., or a qualifying foreign degree. 

New York has reciprocity with all other UBE jurisdictions. Additionally, NY will grant licensure by waiver for applicants who have been licensed in good standing in a US jurisdiction for at least five of seven years prior to admission. 

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