What Is the MBE?

Just what exactly is the MBE? Let’s start here: the MBE stands for the Multistate Bar Exam and is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The MBE is administered in all states, except for Louisiana, as part of the bar exam. In the states that have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), the MBE makes up one of the four parts of the UBE and is worth 50% of the total UBE score.
 
If you’re planning to take the bar exam to practice law, the MBE is in your future. Unless, of course, you live in, or plan to become licensed only in Louisiana—for you lucky Louisianans, you’re welcome to stop reading and go enjoy some beignets and Cajun food (or, better yet, you can go spend some time and learn about the Louisiana bar exam). For the rest of you, let’s walk through the format and subjects tested on the MBE, how to prepare, and how to register for the exam.

MBE Format

The MBE is a six-hour exam consisting of 200 multiple choice questions. It’s broken down into two, three-hour sections with a break for lunch in between. You have to work methodically through the questions to answer 100 questions during each three-hour block, but with a lot of studying—and I mean a lot of studying—you’ll be prepared and ready to work through the questions in the time given.

Subjects Tested on the MBE

Do you have fond memories of your first-year law school subjects? I hope so—because guess what? Those subjects are back! The MBE covers Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. For a more detailed list of what topics within these subjects are covered, the NCBE has developed a very helpful MBE Subject Matter Outline.
 
The MBE consists of 175 scored questions and 25 unscored pretest questions. According to NCBE, “the pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored, so examinees should answer all questions.”
 
Every question on the MBE has four answer choices—your job is to pick the best answer. Unless it tells you to do something different, every question should be “answered according to generally accepted fundamental legal principles.” To gain exposure to MBE practice questions, check out these online practice exams available for purchase from the NCBE.

MBE registration and important dates

The MBE is administered each year, in every jurisdiction, on the last Wednesday of both February and July. To register for the MBE, you’ll need to create an account with NCBE. By registering, you’ll receive a special NCBE number, which you’ll need in order to register with the board of bar examiners for your state. You’ll also use this number to register for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which is administered separately from the bar exam.
 
The date when you are required to register for the bar exam does vary by state, so make sure to check with your local board of bar examiners to find out the exact dates for your state’s bar exam. For more information on registering for the bar exam, check out the NCBE’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.

Recap

In short, the MBE is an important part of the bar exam in all states (except Louisiana). It’s an intensive, day-long component of the bar exam that tests your ability to apply fundamental legal knowledge and principles, and is worth 50% of your entire bar exam score. To learn even more about the MBE, be sure to check out Important MBE Subjects: An Overview!
 

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