Bar Examination is an aptitude examination for the law graduates from American Bar Association approved law schools in the U.S. to grant eligibility to practice law in a certain jurisdiction.
The Bar Examinations in U.S. is administered by state owned agencies. A state bar licensing agency is associated with the judicial branch of government. This bar licensing agency may be an office or committee. The state’s highest court or intermediate appellate court forms such a licensing agency. In some states, the bar licensing agency is part of the state bar association or its subunit.
The structure of Bar Examination is different in every state. However, there are some similarities. Normally the examination is broken into two to three days. There are two sessions daily.
The ethics exam, Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), designed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) is part of the Bar Examination in 47 states of the U.S. This examination is a prerequisite or corequisite to the Bar Examination. This is a multiple choice examination designed to evaluate the knowledge and understanding of professional conduct of lawyers.
The Bar Examinations of U.S. states include essays, multiple choice essays, and multiple choice questions. The essay questions of the Bar Examination are aimed to evaluate the knowledge of general legal principles and state’s own laws related to wills, trusts and community property. In some jurisdictions, the essay questions are from NCBC’s Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). In certain other jurisdictions, they use essay questions from MEE and their own pool.
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is administered as part of the Bar Examinations in 48 states of the U.S. The MBE is not adopted in the states of Louisiana, Washington and Puerto Rico. This is a standardized examination designed by the NCBE. The MBE questions are aimed to evaluate the basic standard element for a particular field of law and general and accepted legal principles of common law.
The MBE is a multiple choice examination conducted in a single day with two sessions. Duration of each session is three hours with 100 questions each. There are 33 questions each in Contracts and Torts. There are 31 questions each in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, and Real Property. Moreover, there are 10 pretest questions. Generally the questions may indicate the applicable statute, theory of liability, or comparable principle of law. Some questions require an analysis of legal relationships in a factual situation, or suggestions about interpretation, drafting, and counseling.
All questions are multiple choices with four alternatives. The Bar Examination score is based on the number of correct answers. Time management is an important factor in MBE.
The answer sheets of MBE candidates are centrally scored. The scores of candidate are based on raw scores and scaled scores. The raw score is the total of right answers. The scaled score is a conversion of a candidate’s raw score to a common scale.
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is another written examination as part of the Bar Examination. This test is conducting in 33 jurisdictions of the U.S. The MPT is developed by the NCBE. The goals of the MPT are aimed to:
1. sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts,
2. analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for principles of law,
3. apply the law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem,
4. identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present,
5. communicate effectively in writing, and
6. complete a lawyering task within time constraints.
The MPT includes writing a legal memorandum, drafting an affidavit, or drafting a settlement offer letter to opposing counsel.
The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is a written examination to answer a collection of essay questions. The MEE is administered as a part of the Bar Examination in 26 jurisdictions of the U.S. This essay test is developed by the NCBE. The questions of essays can be from:
- Business associations such as agency and partnership, corporations, limited liability companies
- Conflict of laws
- Constitutional law
- Criminal law and procedure
- Family law
- Federal civil procedure
- Real property
- Trusts and estates — decedents’ estates; trusts and future interests
- Uniform Commercial Code — Article 3, Negotiable Instruments; Article 9, Secured Transactions
The MBE, MEE and MPT are administered on same days across the country along with the state Bar Examinations.