You have gone through three grueling years of law school and are ready to get your feet wet in the real world,  but before becoming a practicing attorney you have to jump through one more hoop – studying for the Bar Exam.

The bar exam is scheduled to take place twice a year, and is given at the same time in each state. Although you don’t have to go to law school to take the bar exam in some states (check your state for requirements) it is highly recommended. It is also recommended that you take the Bar in the state that you plan to reside and practice law.

Contact your State Board of Bar (or Law) Examiners to request an application. It is time consuming and long, so allow yourself plenty of time to complete it. Make sure to follow the directions as they are written, this is very important.

Most state bar exams last for three days, although there are some that require only two days of testing. The first day is the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE); the second day is the State Essay Exam (SEE); and the third day is the Ethics portion of the test, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

  • A Six-hour test consisting of 200 all multiple-choice questions.
  • Covers constitutional law, torts, contracts, criminal law, evidence and real property. 
  • Is required in all states except Louisiana and Washington.
  • Given on the last Wednesday of February and July.

State Essay Exam (SEE)

  • An all essay exam, the questions and topics will depend on the jurisdiction of the test site
  • Measures your knowledge of federal law, federal civil procedure, wills, trusts, family law, business organizations, conflict of laws, commercial transactions, family law, federal civil procedure and wills, trusts, and future interests.
  • Administered on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July following the MBE.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

  • Two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice exam.
  • Measures your knowledge of the ethical standards in the legal profession.
  • Required in all states except Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • Administered in November, March, and August.

Some states use the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) instead of the MPRE, which is made up of six 30-minute essay questions. You may be required to apply both general and state law principles on this exam.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

  • Three 90-minute skills questions.
  • Covering legal analysis, fact analysis, problem-solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and communication.
  • Currently 32 states require this exam.
  • Administered on the last Tuesday in February and July.

Like any test, the key to passing the bar exam is memorization. The Bar Exam is not difficult to pass as long as you relax and don’t panic. By design it is made to overwhelm you and weed out the ones who can’t stand the pressure. It is not for the timid, so trust yourself that you are prepared and will get through it with flying colors – and you will.

This is Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion , memory training expert, and memory keynote speaker. If you are planning on taking the Bar Exam I have a useful memory tool that will help you. My CD, How to Memorize The Bar Exam has been extremely useful for students planning to take the Bar.




Wikipedia – Bar Examination:

Sallie Mae – College Answer, Law School:

PASS – Academic Support Services, 10 Reasons Why People Fail The Bar Exam:

How To Take The Bar Exam –  -  How to Pass the Bar Exam: