The Bar Examination

The bar examination in every jurisdiction is at least a two-day examination administered in late July (and also in mid-February) of every year. In every jurisdiction except Louisiana, one of the two days is for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a six-hour, two-hundred question multiple choice examination. The second day everywhere consists of essay questions on a variety of legal topics and, in an increasing number of jurisdictions, the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). What follows is general information about the three main components of the bar examination (the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Essay section (MEE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Test (MPRE), which together constitute the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which is now administered in 13 jurisdictions.  There is then specific information about the bar examination in three jurisdictions, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York. Since states can and do change the format, length and subjects tested on their examinations, you must check with your particular state for accurate, up-to-date, state-specific information on the content of that state’s bar examination for that examination period.

The Uniform Bar Examination is a new and growing phenomenon, where the entire bar examination in a particular jurisdiction (and not just the MBE) is designed and coordinated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  With the UBE, states “outsource” the creation of the bar examination but retain control over the scoring of the exams and the setting of the passing score.  Consisting of three parts – the MBE, the MEE and the MPT – 13 jurisdictions have adopted the UBE as of July, 2013.

Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

The Multistate Bar Examination is a six-hour, 200-question multiple choice examination that tests on the following six topics: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. There are 33 questions each in contracts and torts law and 31 questions on each of the remaining topics, with the topics dispersed randomly throughout the questions for the day. The test is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which provides information about, and practice questions from, the MBE Information Booklet; the Booklet is available on the MBE webpage by selecting "MBE Information Booklet."

You will notice that, as part of your legal studies at Western New England University School of Law, you will have taken a required course on each of the six topics tested on the Multistate Bar Examination. However, you should also know the Multistate Bar Examination tests on some material not covered in our required courses. The Constitutional Law questions test on First Amendment and Federal Courts issues; the Contracts section includes more Sales/UCC Article 2 questions than are typically covered in our required Contracts course.The Criminal Law multistate section tests both substantive criminal law and material covered in our Criminal Procedure: Investigations course. The Evidence questions cover Privileges, Presumptions and Expert Witnesses, as well as Relevance, Character, Impeachment and Hearsay. The Property section includes questions on Conveyancing and Mortgages. In addition to intentional torts and negligence, the Torts section include questions on Strict Liability, Products Liability and various torts including Defamation, Misrepresentation and Interference with Business Relationships. A detailed explanation of the specific issues covered under each topic is provided in a pdf called "Subject Matter Outlines available" on the MBE webpage by clicking on "Which subjects are covered on the MBE?"

Essay Questions — State-Created and the MEE

Every state has an essay examination for all or part of one day of the bar examination, consisting of either essay questions created by the state bar examiners or MEE questions created by the NCBE.The essay questions are typically short (as compared with law school essay questions) and often involve problems that cut across several subject matter areas. Many states are now posting their past essay questions on-line, and some states are also listing model answers. See, e.g., New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Each state selects its own topics for the Essay section, and you should consult the jurisdiction in which you plan to take the bar for specific guidance. Notwithstanding this state-by-state variation, most states regularly test on the following subjects: Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Conflict of Laws, Family Law, Federal Civil Procedure, Trusts & Estates (Decedents' Estates; Trusts and Future Interests), and, Uniform Commercial Code (Negotiable Instruments [Commercial Paper]; Secured Transactions) as well as the six topics covered on the multistate bar examination.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia now use the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), developed by the National Board of Bar Examiners. The MEE is a three-hour test with six essay questions and tests on the following subjects: Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates (Decedents' Estates; Trusts and Future Interests), and Uniform Commercial Code (Negotiable Instruments and Bank Deposits and Collections; Secured Transactions). Some questions may include issues in more than one area of law. The particular areas covered vary from exam to exam. Subject matter outlines are available by clicking on the "Multistate Essay Examination Information Booklet." Bar examination essay questions from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and the MEE are available at the reserve section of our law library.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

An increasing number of states (currently 38, including all Northeast states except Massachusetts) are now using the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) as part of their bar examination. This test presents one or two 90-minute skills questions covering legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and client communication. The MPT uses a case file consisting of factual documents like written summaries of client interviews, police reports and contracts, as well as case law and statutes. Some of the factual documents, and laws presented are ambiguous, conflicting or irrelevant. The case files are approximately fifteen pages in length. The examinee has 90 minutes in which to read and digest the material and to perform the appointed task, whether it be drafting a persuasive memo, writing an objective opinion letter to a client, or drafting a settlement proposal, discovery plan or closing argument. The MPT is further described by the National Conference of Board Examiners MPT webpage. For further details see the "Skills Tested" section of the Multistate Performance Test Information Booklet.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

All jurisdictions (except Maryland and Wisconsin and Washington state, which test on professional responsibility with essay questions) require passage of the MPRE, a two-hour, 60-question multiple choice examination designed to measure knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct. The MPRE is given nationwide three times per year. Most students take it prior to graduation, typically in the sitting shortly after taking the required professional responsibility course. Some jurisdictions (including Massachusetts) have made MPRE passage — and in Massachusetts passing with a score above 85 — a condition precedent to sitting for the bar examination. For further details see the Subject Matter Outline under the MPRE Content and Preparation section in the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination Information Booklet.

Bar Exam In Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Bar Examination consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) on one day and an Essay Examination on the other day. The Massachusetts essay examination consists of ten essay questions covering the following possible topics: Agency, Business Organizations, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Descent & Distribution of Estates, Domestic Relations, Evidence (including Federal Rules), Federal Jurisdiction, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Real Property (including Mortgages), Torts, Trusts, Unfair or Deceptive Practices (G.L.c. 93A) Uniform Commercial Code (Articles 1-9), Wills, and the six topics covered on the multistate examination. Questions from past essay examinations are provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners webpage and click on "Essay Questions - Prior Exams."

Connecticut

The Connecticut state bar examination is administered by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee and held twice a year on in February and July.  The two day sessions are designated Part A and Part B. Part A is six-hours in duration and composed of twelve 30-minute sections. Up to six of the sections may be selected from the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). The remaining sections are based upon the following subjects: Administrative law, Business entities (including corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships), Conflict of laws, Contracts, Criminal law and procedure, Federal and state constitutional law, Civil procedure, Evidence, Professional responsibility, Property (real and personal, including future interests), Torts, Uniform Commercial Code, and Wills, trusts and estates. There are two 90-minute performance tests selected from the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Part B consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).  Sample answers from recent bar exams are available on the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee website see "Questions from recent bar exams" for the fee schedule.

 New York

The New York State bar examination is administered twice a year in February and July. The bar examination contains two sections, the New York section, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).  The New York section consists of five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions prepared by the New York Board, and one Multistate Performance Test question, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The second day of the exam is the MBE section. The New York section is based on both procedural and substantive law. It may deal with the six subject matters covered on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)--Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts (including statutory no-fault insurance provisions). In addition, the questions may deal with Business Relationships, Conflict of Laws, New York Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Remedies, New York and Federal Civil Jurisdiction and Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills and Estates, and UCC Articles 2, 3, and 9. More than one subject is tested in a single essay question. Copies of past New York essay questions and answers are provided by the New York State Board of Law Examiners, webpage by clicking on Past Bar Exam Questions and Answers along with a link to "Content Outline." There is good information about the New York exam at this web site, Seperac.com: Advice for the New York State Bar Exam.