Bar Test 101: How the UBE is Administered and Scored

bar exam

If you’re in one of the many states now administering the Uniform Bar Exam, or UBE, you’re bound to have a lot of questions about how the UBE is administered and scored. We’ve outlined here how the UBE is structured and scored so you can get the basics down and move on to studying for and passing the UBE. If you’re not sure if your state administers the UBE, check out this map.

Let’s start by taking a look at who designs the UBE, the components of the UBE, and how the exam is administered in each jurisdiction. Then, we can get into the scoring of the UBE. And while this may seem like a lot, you’ll be studying for the UBE for at least two months. You’ll have plenty of time to learn everything you need to pass.

Administration of the Bar Exam and UBE

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) designs the UBE, but specific jurisdictions, like New York or the Virgin Islands, administer the exam. While the UBE is administered by the different jurisdictions, it is administered on the same days in the same order every year in every jurisdiction.

The UBE is administered on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July every year. On Tuesdays, the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) are administered across the jurisdictions administering the UBE.

On Wednesdays, the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is always administered—it requires its own day because the MBE is six hours of multiple choice questions. For more on the MBE subjects that are tested, check out Important MBE Subjects: An Overview.

Although the UBE is uniform, each jurisdiction can still choose to administer other exams as part of their jurisdiction’s bar exam. For example, Washington administers the UBE but also requires its bar applicants to complete a Washington Law Component, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions on areas of law specific to Washington.

New York also administers the UBE but requires its applicants to pass the New York Law Exam, which is an online exam containing questions specific to New York law. Be sure to check with your jurisdiction’s board of bar examiners to see what additional requirements they have.

Jurisdictions also decide on the requirements for who may sit for the UBE in the jurisdiction and how many times an applicant is permitted to take the UBE. Another key role jurisdictions play in the UBE is scoring. Let’s dive into how the UBE is scored.

Scoring of the UBE

The NCBE determines the weight of each component of the UBE, but each jurisdiction sets its own passing score. Remember the day-long component of the UBE, the MBE? It’s worth half of your UBE score (so be sure to complete lots of MBE practice questions!).

The MEE, the essay exam, is made up of six essays and is worth 30% of your UBE score. Each essay is worth 5% of your total score. Finally, the MPT is worth the remaining 20% of your UBE score.

Let’s dig into how each of these components are scored, starting with the MBE.

MBE

Unlike the MEE and MPT, the MBE is scored by the NCBE, not by your jurisdiction. The total score is out of 200. Remember that each jurisdiction sets its own passing score as a total for the UBE, so there’s no specific passing score for the MBE. You’ll just need to get enough points overall on the UBE to pass.

MEE

The MEE is made up of six essays that are scored individually for a total MEE score out of 120. The essays are graded by the jurisdiction. Graders across jurisdictions are usually looking for the same elements. In particular, MEE scores are based on your ability to spot the correct legal issues, write a concise rule statement, apply the facts to your rule statement, and, finally, reach a logical conclusion.

Lucky for you, you’ve been working on these skills all throughout law school. For more information on how best to approach the MEE, review our MEE Topics and Writing Advice.

MPT

Like the MEE, the MPT is scored by your jurisdiction. Your score is out of a possible 80 points. The MPT as part of the UBE consists of two writing assignments that mimic the practice of law. You’re given a file and a library and asked to apply the laws to the facts presented to you. Your score is determined based on your ability to apply the relevant laws to the critical facts in a concise manner.

Each of the individual scores on these components equal a possible score of 400. The good news is that you don’t even have to come close to a 400 to pass! As a quick point of reference, the passing score in New York is 266. Passing scores in other states range between 260 and 280. You’ll want to check with your jurisdiction to determine what score you’ll need to pass the UBE.

Recap

The UBE is administered throughout the county during the last week in February and July every year. The MEE and MPT are administered on Tuesday, and they are scored by your jurisdiction. The MBE is always administered on Wednesday, and it’s scored by the NCBE. Your jurisdiction sets its own passing score and determines if there are any other components to its bar exam besides the UBE.

Make sure to check with your jurisdiction’s board of bar examiners to see the specifics on how to sit for the bar exam in your state. To get started be sure to check out the NCBE’s Jurisdiction Information.

While the UBE is a huge undertaking, you are well on your way to success now that you know the basics of how the test is administered and scored. Be sure to set out your study schedule well in advance of your UBE date, and learn as many tips for the UBE as possible, starting with How to Write Bar Exam Essays Fast and Well.

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