Each student should apply to take the bar examination by the deadline established in the state in which the student will sit for the examination. The deadlines are published annually on the internet website of each state’s Supreme Court, usually under a category related to the state office of bar examiners. Links to the most popular websites are provided below.
Some states require law students to register as early as within seventy-five days of beginning law school. Others will accept late applications up until a few months prior to the exam. Substantial money can usually be saved by prompt registration and application, so students should timely research the deadlines and requirements of states in which they think they may want to practice.
Most states also require students to take the separate Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), and some have special requirements for when the test must be taken. In Kentucky, applicants must pass the MPRE prior to sitting for the Kentucky Bar Examination. Therefore, a student who plans to take the Kentucky bar should probably not wait until the last semester of law school to take the Professional Responsibility course and the MPRE. In Ohio and Indiana, applicants may sit for the bar examination prior to passing the MPRE, but must pass both before being admitted to practice.
Students planning to remain in the tri-state area and to take either the Ohio or Indiana bar exam, along with the Kentucky bar exam, should consider taking the Ohio or Indiana bar exam first. Kentucky will accept a Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) score from another jurisdiction, if the score is no more than three years old. Ohio will not, and Indiana will only accept a concurrent MBE score, which would exclude Kentucky and Ohio because the administration dates conflict each year.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners provides testing materials used by most jurisdictions, but not every jurisdiction uses every available test. When you apply to take a state bar, you will be registered for whichever of these tests the state requires, with the exception of the MPRE, which is taken separately.
Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)
The only state that does not administer the MBE to bar applicants is Louisiana. The test consists of two hundred multiple choice questions, taken on one day: one hundred in the morning, one hundred in the afternoon, for a total of six hours of testing. Only 190 of the questions are scored; 10 are being evaluated for future use and are indistinguishable from the scored questions. With the addition of Civil Procedure in February of 2015, the 190 scored questions will be distributed as follows: Civil Procedure (27), Constitutional Law (27), Contracts (28), Criminal Law and Procedure (27), Evidence (27), Real Property (27), and Torts (27).
Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)
Kentucky administers the MEE as part of its two-day bar examination. Currently, the Kentucky exam contains three thirty-minute essay questions. Subjects that may be tested include Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and LLCs), 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 (Secured Transactions).
Most states use essays that test state law, rather than the MEE. State essay questions are written and graded by state bar examiners. Even Kentucky, which does administer the MEE, also administers six state essay questions.
Multistate Performance Test (MPT)
Ohio and Indiana require the MPT; Kentucky added the MPT in July 2019. The MPT is designed to test fundamental lawyering skills, not substantive law, in a realistic setting. Applicants are provided with a file containing facts and instructions and with a library containing authorities; some of the facts and authorities may not be relevant to the assigned task. Applicants might be asked to draft a memorandum, a client letter, a contract provision, a will, a discovery plan, a persuasive brief, or a closing argument, for example.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
Only two states, Maryland and Wisconsin, do not require the MPRE. The test is two hours and five minutes long and consists of sixty multiple choice questions testing knowledge and understanding of the established ethical standards that govern a lawyer’s professional conduct.
After an applicant registers for a state bar examination, the only separate registration necessary is for the MPRE, which is administered three times each year: March, August, and November. The deadline for applying to sit for the MPRE is approximately six weeks prior to the test administration. An MPRE application packet and deadline information may be obtained directly from the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
MPRE Application Department
P.O. Box 4001
Iowa City, IA 52243
Most jurisdictions allow applicants to sit for the MPRE as early as two years prior to graduation. As noted above, Kentucky requires an applicant to pass the MPRE before sitting for the bar, so Kentucky bar takers should sit for the MPRE no later than November, if they are graduating in May, and no later than August, if they are graduating in December.
Internet Bar Resources
Information about the multistate examinations, study aids, and sample tests may all be found at the National Conference of Bar Examiners' website.
Each state’s highest court decides what subjects will be tested on the bar examination. The following information was accurate at the time this Handbook was published, but the courts occasionally change the subjects tested on their bar examinations, so check the website for the most current list.
Listed below are the Chase courses that are tested on the bar examinations for Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. Courses listed in boldface type are tested on the MBE. The course tested on the MPRE is shown in italics.
|Agency, Partnership, & LLCs||x||x||x|
|Conflict of Laws||x|
|UCC: Payment Systems||x||x||x|
|UCC: Sales & Secured Transactions||x||x||x|
|Wills & Trusts||x||x||x|