Bar Examinations

Bar Examinations

General Information
The bar exam is offered twice a year in every state: once in February and once in July.  For the great majority of states, the exam is two days long though some states have exams that are administered over a three day period. Most states will administer the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), a multiple choice type exam, on one of these days (currently all states but Louisiana use the MBE) and essay type questions on the other day. Each state requires an application be filed with that jurisdiction in advance of the exam. Some states even require notice of intent to sit for an exam in the student’s 1L year. Preparing the application for the bar exam can be a very long and detailed process. Students are encouraged to start early and fully understand the requirements and deadlines for each state exam for which they plan to sit. The American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) maintain the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. This handbook provides charts and commentary on all states’ requirements for bar admission.

Connecticut Bar Examination
The Connecticut bar exam is administered by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee (the body also responsible for investigation of an applicant’s character and fitness for admission to the bar). The CBEC maintains an extensive website detailing all requirements, deadlines, forms, bar passage statistics and model exam questions. 

To qualify to sit for the Connecticut bar exam, an applicant must have been awarded the Juris Doctor degree from a school approved by the Bar Examining Committee. All ABA approved law schools (including UConn School of Law) have been approved by the Bar Examining Committee. Before a candidate can be recommended for admission, an applicant must also have achieved a scaled score of 80 or better on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam or have obtained a grade of C or better in a course on professional responsibility. The course at UConn Law that meets the requirement for the course on professional responsibility is Legal Profession (Law 7565).

The Connecticut bar examination is a two-day examination. Day one consists of (12) thirty-minute essay questions composed of up to (6) Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) questions. Day two is the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a 200-question multiple choice examination. The subjects tested on the MBE include: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Real Property and Torts. The subjects tested on the essay portion of the bar examination include: Administrative Law, Business Entities, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law/Procedure, Federal and State Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Professional Responsibility, Property, Torts, Uniform Commercial Code and  Trusts/Wills/Estates.

Beginning with the February 2014 administration of the Connecticut bar examination, Part A shall be of six-hours' duration and shall be composed of six 30-minute essay questions and two 90-minute performance tests. The 30-minute essay questions may be selected from the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) which is that examination offered to the several states by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and designated by that organization as the MEE. The remaining 30-minute essay questions, if any, shall be prepared under the direction of the examinations committee. All six 30-minute essay questions shall be based upon such of the following subjects as the examinations committee shall determine: Administrative law, Business entities (including corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships), Conflict of laws, Contracts, Criminal law and procedure, Federal constitutional law, Civil procedure, Evidence, Professional responsibility, Property (real and personal, including future interests), Torts, Uniform Commercial Code, Wills, trusts and estates, and Family law.

The two 90-minute performance tests shall be selected from the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) which is that examination offered to the several states by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and designated by that organization as the MPT.  Part B shall consist of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) which is that examination offered to the several states by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and designated by that organization as the MBE.

The application for the Connecticut bar exam requires the submission of several forms, affidavits, letters of reference, driving history, copies of the applicant’s law school admission application, verification of the law degree and certificate of the dean. The Registrar’s Office is responsible for processing the applicant’s request to provide the copy of the law school admission application, verification of the degree and certificate of the dean. For the July exam, given the number of law school graduates applying, the Registrar’s Office prepares in advance the required Form 4 – the Certificate of the dean. Prospective graduates will be invited to the Registrar’s Office to sign this form. A student’s signature of the Certificate of the Dean will authorize us, upon the student’s graduation, to: (1) verify a student’s degree, in the form of a final transcript; (2) submit a copy of the student’s application to law school; and (3) comment upon the applicant’s character and fitness to be admitted to the bar. As information contained in the student’s file is used to make character and fitness statements, students are strongly encouraged to file any addendums to their law school application if omissions were made or new situations have occurred. Students taking the exam in February are asked to bring their signed Form 4  - the Certificate of the Dean directly to the Registrar’s Office.

New York Bar Examination
The New York bar exam is administered by the New York Board of Law Examiners (NYBOLE). The NYBOLE maintains an extensive website detailing all eligibility requirements, rules and regulations, forms, bar exam statistics, test accommodations and admission information. To qualify to sit for the New York bar exam an applicant must meet one of four modes: (1) ABA approved Law School Study (our Juris Doctor graduates); (2) law office study, or clerkship; (3) unapproved law school study; or (4) foreign law study (our LL.M. graduates).

Because of the very strict guidelines for receipt of all application materials, July graduates from the Law School are not permitted to sit for the July New York bar exam.

There are very specific and restrictive guidelines under which a Juris Doctor degree graduate may qualify to sit for the New York bar exam. Graduation does not automatically qualify an applicant to sit. Those JD graduates planning to sit for the New York bar must meet certain instructional, credit hour and course of study requirements. Curricular choices made while in law school involving clinical courses, externship and field placements and asynchronous format will determine an applicant’s eligibility. It is thus very strongly suggested that perspective New York bar applicants review the NYBOLE website generally and Rule 520.3 in particular very early in their law school studies.

There are also very specific requirements an LL.M. graduate must meet to qualify to sit for the New York bar exam.

Completion of the LL.M. degree according to the requirements of the Law School does not automatically qualify an applicant to sit. Those LL.M. graduates planning to sit for the New York bar must meet certain instructional, credit hour and course of study requirements. Curricular choices made in law school will determine an applicant’s eligibility. It is thus very strongly suggested that perspective New York bar applicants review the NYBOLE website generally and Rule 520.6 in particular prior to the selection of courses. The following are the current LL.M. course requirements for applicants who commence the LL.M. program in the 2012-2013 academic year (or later):

  1. at least two semester hours of credit in professional responsibility;
    1. UConn Law course: Legal Profession
  2. at least two credits in a legal research, writing and analysis course (which may NOT be satisfied by a research and writing requirement in a substantive course);
    1. UConn Law course: U.S. Law and Legal Institutions: Research and Writing
  3. at least two-credits in a course on American legal studies, the American legal system or a similar course designed to introduce students to U.S. law; and
    1. UConn Law course: U.S. Law and Legal Institutions
  4. at least six credits in subjects tested on the New York bar examination (where a principal focus of the course includes material contained in the Content Outline published by the Board). The following list, which is not an exhaustive list, contains those UConn Law courses which could be used to satisfy this requirement:
    1. All 1L Juris Doctor required curriculum substantive courses
    2. Business Organizations
    3. Conflict of Laws
    4. Criminal Procedure
    5. Evidence
    6. Family Law
    7. Trusts and Estates

The New York State bar examination contains two sections, the New York section and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). The New York section consists of five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions prepared by the New York Board, and one Multistate Performance Test question, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

The application process for the New York bar exam includes a certificate of attendance and a handwriting sample. The certificate of attendance asks each applicant to review their transcript for compliance with each specific requirement of Rule 520. This certificate is then forwarded by the New York Board of Law Examiners to the Registrar’s Office for verification.  We will verify and/or correct the Certificate of Attendance and send directly back to the Board. The handwriting sample may be done at the Registrar’s Office. If not completed in the Registrar's Office, it must be witnessed by a notary public and then submitted by the applicant directly.

Massachusetts Bar Examination
The Massachusetts bar exam is administered by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. The Board of Bar Examiners maintains an extensive website detailing the application process, bar exam results and essays from prior exams. The exam consists of two parts: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and the essay examination. The essay examination contains ten questions. Graduates of the J.D. program are eligible to apply to take the Massachusetts bar. To be eligible to sit for the Massachusetts bar, graduates of the LL.M. program must have a college and legal education that is, in the opinion of the Board, similar in nature and quality to that of graduates of a law school approved by the American Bar Association. Board of Bar Examiners Rule VI requires that foreign law school graduates obtain a determination from the Board of Bar Examiners of their educational sufficiency to sit for the Massachusetts bar examination or apply for admission on motion prior to filing an application for admission. All documentation required by Rule VI.2 must be received for evaluation by the Board of Bar Examiners at least four months prior to filing an application for admission to the Massachusetts bar. It is strongly suggested that foreign law school graduates fully review all provisions of Board of Bar Examiners Rule VI.

In addition to many other documents, the Massachusetts bar exam application includes a law school certificate which is to be brought to and completed in its entirety by the Registrar’s Office. It is requested that the certificate be left with the Registrar's Office prior to graduation so that it can prepared in advance of the conferral of the degree and filed with the clerk’s office as soon as the law degree is awarded. The Registrar’s Office will also provide copies of the law school certificate upon request.

Other States’ Bar Examination
We recognize that our graduates take bar exams all over the country and that the listing of the states are those taken by the majority of UConn Law students. The Registrar’s Office will complete all forms necessary by any state to verify an applicant’s degree and character and fitness. Please bring all required forms to the attention of the staff in the Registrar's Office as early as possible so that they can be prepared for filing upon conferral of the degree.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is administered by the Law School Admission Council on behalf of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The MPRE is a 60-question, two-hour, multiple-choice examination administered three times per year at established test centers across the country. The MPRE is required for admission to the bars of all but three U.S. jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico). Please note, Connecticut will permit a grade of C or better in the course Legal Profession in lieu of the MPRE score. Passing scores are established by each jurisdiction. Since the MPRE requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another, examinees are advised to check with the board of bar examiners in each jurisdiction where admission is being sought before registering for the MPRE.   

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July of each year. The purpose of the MBE is to assess the extent to which an examinee can apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to analyze given fact patterns. The MBE contains 200 multiple-choice questions, 190 of which are scored. The 190 scored questions on the MBE are distributed as follows: Constitutional Law (31), Contracts (33), Criminal Law and Procedure (31), Evidence (31), Real Property (31) and Torts (33).

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)
The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year. The NCBE offers nine 30-minute questions per administration; jurisdictions elect which of the nine questions they wish to use. Areas of law that may be covered on the MEE include the following: Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates (Decedents' Estates; Trusts and Future Interests) and Uniform Commercial Code (Negotiable Instruments and Bank Deposits and Collections; Secured Transactions). Some questions may include issues in more than one area of law.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year. NCBE offers two 90-minute MPT items per administration. A jurisdiction may select one or both items to include as part of its bar examination.

The MPT is designed to test an examinee’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation. Each test evaluates an examinee’s ability to complete a task that a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish. The MPT is not a test of substantive knowledge. Rather, it is designed to examine six fundamental skills lawyers are expected to demonstrate regardless of the area of law in which the skills arise.

The materials for each MPT include a File and a Library. The File consists of source documents containing all the facts of the case. The specific assignment the examinee is to complete is described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney. The File might also include transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings or trials, pleadings, correspondence, client documents, contracts, newspaper articles, medical records, police reports, or lawyer’s notes. Relevant as well as irrelevant facts are included. Facts are sometimes ambiguous, incomplete, or even conflicting. As in practice, a client’s or a supervising attorney’s version of events may be incomplete or unreliable. Examinees are expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing and are expected to identify sources of additional facts.

The Library may contain cases, statutes, regulations, or rules, some of which may not be relevant to the assigned lawyering task. The examinee is expected to extract from the Library the legal principles necessary to analyze the problem and perform the task. The MPT is not a test of substantive law; the Library materials provide sufficient substantive information to complete the task.

The MPT requires examinees to (1) sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts; (2) analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law; (3) apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem; (4) identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present; (5) communicate effectively in writing; and (6) complete a lawyering task within time constraints. Descriptions of the skills tested can be found in the 2014 MPT Information Booklet.

These skills are tested by requiring examinees to perform one or more of a variety of lawyering tasks. For example, examinees might be instructed to complete any of the following: a memorandum to a supervising attorney, a letter to a client, a persuasive memorandum or brief, a statement of facts, a contract provision, a will, a counseling plan, a proposal for settlement or agreement, a discovery plan, a witness examination plan, or a closing argument.

Patent Bar
Officially called the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Patent Bar is required to be registered as a patent agent or patent attorney in the United States. The examination is intended to measure the applicant's familiarity with USPTO procedures, ethics rules, federal statutes and regulations. A large number of questions typically deal with the proper drafting and handling of a U.S. patent application or international application. The USPTO requires that all those applying for registration (agents or attorneys) meet three requirements: (1) good moral character; (2) legal, scientific and technical qualifications necessary to render valuable service; and (3) competence to advise and assist patent applicants in the presentation and prosecution of patent applications. For the complete list of general requirements and exam registration requirements, interested students should review the USPTO website.

Character and Fitness
All United States jurisdictions require applicants to the bar to undergo "character and fitness" screening in addition to other admission requirements. Lawyers not only act as officers of the court but are entrusted with enormous responsibility (and sometimes vast amounts of money) by clients. The purpose of character and fitness screening is to protect the public, as well as the judicial system itself, from abuses by those in whom society has vested such responsibility and trust.

State bar examiners employ a variety of criteria and procedures for determining whether applicants possess the requisite character and fitness to practice law. It is important that students begin to familiarize themselves immediately with the character and fitness requirements of any jurisdiction in which they are considering applying to the bar. Bar applications typically ask detailed questions about applicants' personal history and background in areas such as finances, involvement in litigation of any sort, arrests and convictions, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, and the like. The application process also includes a formal inquiry directed to the dean of each applicant's law school, asking whether the law school has any information that may reflect adversely on the applicant's character and fitness to practice. Although relatively few people are ultimately denied admission on character and fitness grounds, a great deal of documentation may be required, and it may take quite a while to assemble it.

It should go without saying that all questions on bar applications should be answered truthfully and accurately. Moral considerations aside, applicants may run into serious trouble by failing to disclose requested information. Bar examining agencies typically regard misrepresentation on the application as a serious ethical breach, and its discovery is likely to significantly forestall, if not permanently thwart, an applicant's admission to the bar.

One question that arises frequently is how far bar examiners may go in delving into applicants' history of mental health treatment. For those interested in deepening their understanding of this issue, an article on the subject was written by UConn Law School Professor Jon Bauer. See "The Character of the Questions and the Fitness of the Process: Mental Health, Bar Admissions and the Americans With Disabilities Act," 49 U.C.L.A. L.Rev. 93 (2001). A few states (including Connecticut) have developed a "conditional" admission status that enables people with certain physical or mental disabilities, who might otherwise be deemed unfit to practice law, to be admitted subject to compliance with conditions specified by bar examiners (usually involving treatment and the monitoring thereof).

Students with questions or concerns about character and fitness requirements may find it helpful to speak in confidence with a faculty or staff member who is familiar with the bar application process. The associate dean of academic affairs and/or the assistant dean of students are great first resources. Although these individuals generally cannot provide legal advice, they are available to provide informal guidance and, if appropriate, referrals to lawyers who specialize in counseling and otherwise representing bar applicants.

Notaries Public
Members of the Law School community are available to assist students in notarizing documents that may be required as part of the bar application process. A list of notaries on the Law School campus is available online.

Bar Exam Preparation Courses
The Law School does not endorse any program or product offered by any bar exam prep company nor do we maintain or provide a list of those companies that provide this service.