The Uniform Bar Exam has officially been adopted by 25 states and the District of Columbia. Even New York, the second largest bar exam jurisdiction, has officially adopted the UBE with its first administration in July 2016.
Given the prevalence of the Uniform Bar Exam nationwide, and the likelihood that more and more states will adopt it, we thought we should take closer look at this exam.
The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is effectively a national bar exam composed of the:
- Multistate Essay Examination (MEE);
- Multistate Performance Test (MPT); and
- Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
As the name implies, the UBE is uniformly administered, graded and scored by states that have adopted the UBE.
The UBE has currently been adopted by the following 26 jurisdictions:
- District of Columbia
- Massachusetts (July 2018)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Oregon (July 2017)
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
While not technically UBE jurisdictions, the following jurisdictions either test or substantially test the UBE:
Grading of the UBE
The UBE is designed to test knowledge and skills that every lawyer should be able to demonstrate prior to becoming licensed to practice law.
The NCBE scores the MBE component of the UBE while jurisdictions grade the MEE and MPT components.
The MBE is weighted 50%, the MEE 30%, and the MPT 20%.
UBE total scores are reported on a 400-point scale and each jurisdiction sets its own passing score.
The UBE is administered over two days with the MBE administered on the last Wednesday of February and July and the writing portion (i.e. the MEE & the MPT) administered on the Tuesday immediately prior.
- Tuesday AM: Six 30-min Multistate Essays
- Tuesday PM: Two 90-min Multistate Performance Tests
- Wednesday AM: 100 Multistate Bar Exam multiple choice questions
- Wednesday PM: 100 Multistate Bar Exam multiple choice questions
Some jurisdictions, such as New York, require applicants to complete a jurisdiction-specific educational component and/or to pass a test on jurisdiction-specific law in addition to passing the UBE.
UBE Score Portability
The most intriguing aspect of the UBE for our purposes is that you can transfer UBE scores from one UBE jurisdiction to another?assuming of course that your score meets the requirement of the jurisdiction you are attempting to transfer your UBE score to.
It is important to note that UBE jurisdictions will accept transferred scores that meet their own passing standards whether or not the score met the passing standard in the testing jurisdiction.
So for example, if you sat for the UBE in Arizona where a 273 is required to pass, but failed with a score of a 270, you could nevertheless transfer this score to New York, where the minimum passing score is a 266.
Pretty convenient no? Not only would you not have to retake the Arizona bar exam, but you would also get to move to New York and be barred without having to take the New York bar exam. Sounds like a win-win!
And it is precisely this convenience that will continue to pressure non-UBE jurisdictions to adopt the UBE.