The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is an exam that has been developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). This exam is used by a number of jurisdictions as part of their own testing of candidates to determine if they are competent to practice law in that jurisdiction. A listing of the jurisdictions that uses that MBE can be found on the NCBE website.
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Registration for the Multistate Bar Exam should be directed to the jurisdiction in which one is seeking admission to the Bar. A listing of the contact information for each jurisdiction can be found online on the NCBE website, as well as the contact information for each jurisdiction’s state bar admission agency.
The MBE is offered in all participating jurisdictions on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July each year. However, application deadlines for these test dates vary by jurisdiction.
These deadlines can be found on the NCBE website, as well as by calling the state bar admission agency for the jurisdiction in which one is seeking admission. Fees for the MBE also vary by jurisdiction, and this information can be found online as well.
The MBE is a six hour, paper and pencil examination. The exam is divided into two testing periods (morning and afternoon), each lasting three hours.
There are 200 multiple choice questions on the MBE, with 100 questions in each of the two testing periods. One hundred and ninety of these questions are scored test items in six categories (Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, and Real Property), and ten of these questions are pre-test items that do not count towards the overall score on the MBE.
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There are 33 questions that deal with contracts on the MBE. Of these questions, 60% deal with the formation of contracts, conditions, and remedies. Forty percent deal with consideration, third-party beneficiary contracts, assignment of rights and delegation of duties, statutes of frauds, parol evidence and interpretation, impossibility of performance and frustration of purpose, and discharge of contractual duties.
There are 33 questions on the MBE that deal with the area of torts. Of these questions, 50% deal with negligence, and 50% deal with intentional torts, strict liability, product liability, and other torts.
There are 31 questions on the MBE that deal with the area of constitutional law. Of these questions, 50% deal with individual rights, and 50% deal with the nature of judicial review, the separation of powers, and the relations of nation and states in a federal system.
Thirty-one questions on the MBE deal with the area of criminal law and procedure. Of these questions, 40% deal with the constitutional protection of accused persons, and 60% deal with homicide, other crimes, inchoate crimes and parties, and general principles.
On the MBE, 31 questions also deal with the area of evidence. Of these, 33% of the questions deal with the area of presentation of evidence, 33% deal with hearsay and circumstances of its admissibility, and 33% deal with relevancy and reasons for excluding relevant evidence, privileges and other policy exclusions, and writings, recordings, and photographs.
Finally, there are 31 questions on the MBE that deal with the area of real property. Of these 31 questions, 75% deal with ownership, rights in land, and titles, and 25% deal with real property contracts and real property mortgages. Further details about the contents of the MBE can be found online on the NCBE website.
On the MBE, credit is given for correct responses to the presented questions. A raw score is first calculated, and the raw score is equal to the number of questions answered correctly. A scaled score is then calculated using a process called equating. This takes into account the differences in difficulty on different forms of the examination. The minimum passing scaled score for the MBE varies by the jurisdiction in which the exam is taken. The minimum passing scaled scores for each participating jurisdiction can be found on the NCBE website. In addition, the average amount of time that it takes to grade the MBE and report the scores to candidates also varies by jurisdiction. This information can be found online the NCBE website as well.
Prior to taking the MBE, it is imperative that candidates are familiar with the structure and content breakdown of the exam. This will aid in helping candidates know which areas should be studied and reviewed prior to taking the exam. In addition, doing sample questions and taking sample tests can also aid in preparation. During the exam, it is important to work steadily and as quickly as possible. All questions on the MBE should be answered, since blank questions count as incorrect responses. If a question seems difficult, it can be marked and revisited later during the exam. If an answer to a question is not known, it is best to make a best guess, and then move on to the next question. In addition, all answers must be marked clearly on the answer sheet. Any answers that are unclear may not be read properly by the grading equipment, so being clear is highly important.