|Effective February 2015, Civil Procedure will be tested on the MBE. Click here for additional information.|
It is never too early to plan for the bar exam. The bar exam is the most important final exam you face, covering a vast amount of material. It is extremely important that you make preparing your bar admission application(s) and studying for the exam a top priority.
Each state determines its criteria for bar admission. For comprehensive information about bar exam composition, additional requirements, application dates, multistate test requirements, and bar admission fees, refer to the American Bar Association’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.
Students are also encouraged to contact a jurisdiction's bar admission office directly for detailed and accurate information. You’ll find directories of state bar admission offices here.
Character and Fitness to Practice Law
All states have a character and fitness requirement. The Pennsylvania standard is illustrative: "The character and fitness standards require that an applicant to the bar be one whose record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others. The hallmark of such a person is honesty, especially in connection with the application for admission to the bar. Persons with a record showing a deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence or reliability may not be recommended for admission."
The Bar Exam
In general, the bar exam is offered twice a year, on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in July and February. For most states, one day covers state law (which may include the Multistate Essay Exam and the Multistate Performance Test) and the second day is for the Multistate Bar Examination. For a list of the subjects tested in the state(s) in which you are sitting for the bar, contact the state’s bar admission office directly for detailed and accurate information. Subjects tested in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are listed below. You can find directories of state bar admission offices online. Most states also require the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which is offered in March, August, and November. The MPRE can be, and almost always is, taken before graduation from law school.
Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)
The MBE is a six-hour, 200 question multiple-choice exam covering constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, torts, and real property. The MBE is mandatory in all states except Louisiana and Washington. Effective February 2015, Civil Procedure will be tested on the MBE. Click here for additional information.
The Pennsylvania bar examination consists of six essay questions that cover one or more of the following subjects:
- Business Organizations (including corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and professional corporations)
- Employment Discrimination (limited to Title VII, ADA, and ADEA)
- Professional Responsibility
- Civil Procedure (Pennsylvania and federal)
- Evidence (Pennsylvania and federal)
- Real Property
- Criminal Law (including related Pennsylvania and federal constitutional issues and DUI)
- Family Law
- Conflict of Laws
- Federal Constitutional Law
- U.C.C., Art. II — Sales
- Federal Income Taxes (personal only and limited to taxable and non-taxable income, deductions, proprietorships, and capital transactions)
- Wills, Trusts and Decedents' Estates (including related fiduciary responsibilities)
The New Jersey examination consists of essay questions based upon the subjects of contracts, criminal law, real property, torts, constitutional law, evidence, and civil procedure. These questions may be framed in the context of fact situations involving, and interrelated with, the following subjects:
- Conflicts of law
- Family law
- Uniform Commercial Code Articles 2 (Sales), 3 (Commercial Paper), and 9 (Secured Transactions)
- Wills, trusts, and estates
- Zoning and planning
- Disciplinary rules
The New York bar examination consists of essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions drawn from the following subjects:
- Business relationships including agency, business corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and joint ventures
- Civil practice and procedure (New York, except as noted)
- Conflict of laws
- New York and federal constitutional law
- Contracts and contract remedies
- Criminal law and procedure
- Matrimonial and family law
- Professional responsibility
- Real property
- Torts and tort damages
- Trusts, wills and estates
- UCC Articles 2, 3, and 9
NEW INFORMATION! — New York Pro Bono Rule, effective January 1, 2015.
NEW INFORMATION — Effective with the July 2014 bar exam, NY will no longer test
U.C.C. Article 3 — Negotiable Instruments. Effective with the February 2015 bar exam,
Administrative Law will be added to the list of subjects NY tests.
The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is a collection of 30-minute essay questions. As of 2011, the following jurisdictions have adopted the MEE. If administration is effective at a future date, the date of the first administration of the MEE by that jurisdiction is noted in parentheses.
District of Columbia
Washington (July 2013)
Northern Mariana Islands
The MPT consists of two 90-minute skills questions covering legal analysis, fact analysis, problem solving, resolution of ethical dilemmas, organization and management of a lawyering task, and communication. The MPT is administered by participating jurisdictions on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year. Applicants should contact the jurisdiction where admission is being sought to ascertain dates of administration and whether one or more MPTs are part of the jurisdiction’s examination.
As of 2011, the following jurisdictions have adopted the MPT. If administration is effective at a future date, the date of the first administration of the MPT by that jurisdiction is noted in parentheses.
Connecticut (February 2014)
District of Columbia
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
The MPRE is a two-hour, 60 question multiple-choice exam that measures your knowledge of ethical standards in the legal profession. It is required in all states except Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Taking the Bar in More than One State
Most states will accept an MBE score from a concurrent exam (check your state). You can often then take two state bar exams depending on the dates of the state exam you are taking resulting in three days of testing (one day for each state’s exam and one day for the multi-state).
Bar Review Courses
Penn State Law Course
BPREP 900: Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination
This course provides students with a substantive review of selected material routinely tested on the bar exam, primarily through problems and exercises in a bar exam format designed to familiarize students with the exam and techniques for answering multiple choice and essay questions. Individualized feedback is provided every week to assist each student identify areas of strength and weakness. The goal is to enhance student ability to prepare for the bar exam and is intended to supplement, not replace, commercial bar preparation courses. This course is not focused an any particular state, so all students will benefit regardless of where they are sitting for the bar exam. Students enrolled in BPREP 900 are not permitted to use laptops, phones or other devices during class. This course is not recommended for students ranked in the top third of their class. BPREP 900 is graded on a pass/fail basis but is not subject in any other respect to the Pass/Fail Rule.
Commercial Bar Review Courses
Students are strongly encouraged to take a commercial bar review course in order to properly prepare for successful completion of the bar exam. The law school does not recommend any particular commercial bar review course and the links below are provided to students as a convenience only. Providing this information does not constitute an endorsement of any programs or products by the law school.
- Kaplan PMBR Bar Review
- Marino Bar Review
- Reed Law Group
- Supreme Bar Review
What is a Dean’s Certification form?
Most states require a certificate from your law school dean attesting to the fact that you have graduated from law school. These forms can be found online at the various state bar websites. You should download the form and turn it to the Registrar's Office.
What do I do if an official transcript is required as part of the Bar Examination Application Process?
You will need to order an official transcript from the University Registrar. There is a fee, per transcript, which must be paid with a credit card when ordering online.
Can I get a loan to pay for bar exam expenses and living expenses during the bar study period?
Yes, see the Law School's information on student loans.
What do I do if fingerprints are required as part of the Bar Examination Application Process?
If you are asked to provide fingerprints as a requirement for a bar examination, please check with your local police department for information regarding where fingerprints can be processed. The law school does not handle fingerprinting processing.