Bar Exam


In December 2015, the State of New York adopted a Skills Competency and Professional Values Requirement (“Skills and Values Requirement”) for admission to the New York bar. This requirement applies to all J.D. students entering law school in August 2016 or later and to all LL.M. students entering in August 2018 or later. There are several different “pathways” by which our students can fulfill this requirement.

Show NY bar requirements

What is the bar exam?
Most states require you to pass a bar exam in order to be licensed to practice law in that state. The content of each state’s bar exam differs, but in general the bar exam tests knowledge of legal concepts generally and the laws of the testing state specifically. The bar exam is offered twice a year, in February and July. May graduates typically take the July bar exam and January graduates typically take the February bar exam. View the American Bar Association's general overview of bar admissions.

What is tested on the bar exam?
Most state’s bar exams are two days long and the Ohio bar exam is two and a half days. One day is generally devoted to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a standardized 200-item test covering Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. The second (and, if applicable, third) day of testing typically comprises essays from a broader range of subjects, as well as a performance (skills) test.

The content of the exam varies from state to state. About half of our graduates take the Ohio bar exam, which tests the following subjects in its essays: Business Associations, Civil Procedure, Commercial Transactions, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Legal Ethics, Property, Torts, and Wills. The Ohio Bar Exam incorporates the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) in its bar exam. The second most popular bar exam for our graduates is New York, which adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) with the July 2016 administration of the New York State bar examination. In addition to taking the UBE, applicants for admission in New York must also complete an online course and pass an online examination on New York law.  The UBE, now adopted in over 20 states, is administered over two days, and is composed of the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) tasks, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).  The UBE results in a portable score that can be used to apply for bar admission in other UBE jurisdictions.

How do I prepare for the bar exam?
You should consider the subjects on the bar exam when deciding what courses to take in your second and third years of law school. You should try to take courses in many of the subjects covered on the bar exam so you do not have to learn too many new subjects when studying for the bar exam.

You will also need to take a commercial bar review course during the two months leading up to the bar exam. These courses usually begin immediately after graduation. Please note that the law school does not take a position on the quality of these vendors or courses, nor do we recommend one vendor or course over another. You should compare the different providers and decide which is best for you.

In addition to commercial bar review courses, we offer a course that provides an introduction to the testing formats and required skills common to bar exams in United States jurisdictions, including the Multistate Bar Exam, the Multistate Performance Test, and essay questions in various substantive areas (which generally incorporate some state-specific content). However, the course does not comprise complete preparation for any bar exam. Rather, it provides familiarity, study strategies, and test-taking instruction along with limited substantive content.

Do I have to pass a Professional Responsibility Exam?
In order to practice law in most jurisdictions (including Ohio), you need to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). This exam is not part of the Bar Exam; it is a separate exam offered several times each year. Click here for more information about the MPRE.

What is the character & fitness process?
In addition to taking a bar exam, applicants will be required to provide detailed information relating to their character and fitness. You answered some questions relating to character and fitness on your application to law school. The inquiry into character and fitness is designed to ensure that applicants can safely be entrusted with the professional responsibility of representing clients. Character and fitness standards and practices vary widely by state. In Ohio, timely character and fitness applications are due in the fall of 2L year; in most other states, this information must be submitted during 3L year. It is your responsibility to find out as early as possible when your state's application is due and what material you will need to gather and submit for your character and fitness review. You will need to plan ahead, because it takes time to gather and submit this information; it simply can't be done within a day or two of the application submission deadline.

How can I get more information about the bar exam?
The National Conference of Bar Examiners has published a Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions. It contains helpful information about bar exams and admittance to the bar in each state.

How can I get information specific to bar applicants with disabilities?
In an effort to assist bar applicants with disabilities, the ABA's Commission on Mental Health and Physical Disability Law has created a directory of bar information for applicants with disabilities. Bar Information for Applicants with Disabilities (BIAD) provides information from state, territorial, and federal jurisdictions that grant licenses to practice law.

Law school resources for your questions about the bar exam are:
Sarah M. Polly, Associate Dean for Student Services
Jay Ruffner, Director of Academic Services
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