How Long is the Bar Exam?

long bar exam

Just how long is the bar exam? The Uniform Bar Exam, or UBE, takes place over two days and consists of 12 hours of testing. While that may seem like a lot, if you’re jurisdiction chooses to administer a state-specific component in addition to the UBE, the bar exam may be longer for you.

For example, the New York bar exam includes a state-specific component, the New York Law Exam. Be sure to check the bar exam requirements by jurisdiction to see if you have any additional components to take.

Here we’re going to focus on how long the UBE is by breaking into down into it’s three parts—the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).

The MEE and the MPT are administered on the first day of the UBE, which is always on a Tuesday. The MBE is administered on the second day of the UBE, which is always a Wednesday. Let’s jump into some details about how these two days of your life will be spent!

Length of MPT

For the MPT, you’ll have three hours to complete two MPT assignments. The assignments consist of a memo or email asking you to analyze an area of law and prepare a response as directed, such as a contract or a letter to a client. You’ll be given a File and a Library with all of the relevant facts and law to answer the question at hand, so you won’t need to rely on any outside knowledge.

You’re probably wondering how you’re going to be able to read all the facts and laws and write a response in 90 minutes. Well, it’s not going to be easy. So, you’ll want to know exactly how you’re going to use the allotted time, and you’re going to want to practice using past MPTs to get the timing down exactly right.

The American Bar Association for Law Students recommends the following approach to the ninety minutes you’re given to prepare an MPT response: (1) spend the first 45 minutes reading the File and Library: and (2) divide the remaining 45 minutes between the two questions based on level of difficulty.

We’d also like to make recommendation—save the last few minutes for a quick edit of your response!

Now that we’ve looked at what you’ll be doing during the morning on the first day of the UBE, let’s take a look at what your afternoon will look like on day one.

Length of MEE

After the lunch break on your first day of the UBE, you’ll have three hours to answer six essay questions. You’ll be given a packet with all six essays questions, so It’ll be up to you to only take 30 minutes per essay.

You have to be sure you don’t run out of time and you have enough time to answer each question adequately, so you’ll need to practice your timing a lot in advance of the actual UBE. Also, similar to the MPT and MBE, the MEE tests a wide variety of legal topics.

A good framework for timing your approach to each essay is to give yourself 10-15 minutes to read the prompt and outline your response. Then, use the remaining 15-20 minutes to write your response, saving the last minute for a quick review and edit. Having these time frames in mind will help you use your time efficiently and effectively.

Just like with the MPT, a great place to start practicing is by completing past MEEs from previous years. Also, be sure to review a lof of sample MEE questions and answers to get a sense of what what your responses should include.

And if you’re looking to improve your efficiency, check out How to Write Bar Exam Essays Fast and Well.

Length of MBE

The MBE is the end-all, be-all multiple choice test. It’s basically the equivalent of combining the SAT, ACT, LSAT and all AP exams into one super exam! I’m not sure if that makes it any better, but I always find thinking of something as super makes it seem like more fun. Anyway, the MBE is six hours of answering multiple choice questions on a wide range of topics.

Let’s break down this beast of a multiple choice exam, so it’s not quite so overwhelming. You’ll be given half of the 200 questions in the morning and the other half after lunch. You’ll have three hours for each set of 100 questions with a one-hour lunch break in between.

While the MBE seems designed to crush you, I promise it won’t. Instead, after a few months of studying, you’ll be the one doing the crushing.

In terms of timing yourself during the MBE, not all questions are created equal. You may need to spend more time on one question than another. That said, don’t get so far behind that you’re unable to make up the time later in the section.

A good rule of thumb is to try to answer around 15 questions every half hour. You can set up a couple of checkpoints during each section to ensure you’re on track.

For example, after an hour, check to see if you’ve done around 30 questions. At two hours, see if you’ve completed around 60 questions. This approach will help you stay on track and put your mind at ease. Remember that you have plenty of time to get to the remaining questions.

Takeaway

So, how long is the bar exam? The UBE is an intense, two-day long exam consisting of 12 hours of testing. You’ll be tested on a wide range of topics in both essay and multiple choice format. Given the wide variety of legal areas tested and the endurance needed for such a long exam, you’ll want to prepare thoroughly and begin well in advance of the actual UBE.

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