What is the Multistate Bar Exam?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2019
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The multistate bar exam is a test devised by the National Conference of Bar Examiners in the United States. It is administered in almost every state as part of the bar exam, a test used to determine if attorneys are qualified to practice. People who want to practice law must pass the bar examination, as well as a character review. Numerous study products are available to help people with the multistate bar exam, as well as other components of individual state examinations.

From the name, people might imagine that this test qualifies people to practice law in multiple states if they pass. This is not the case. Instead, it is designed to test broad topical knowledge as part of a larger bar examination. The entire examination includes essay questions, as well as questions covering specific aspects of state law. It may be possible for a qualified attorney who is taking the bar exam in another state to practice law there to ask to waive the multistate bar exam component on the grounds that she has already taken it and should not have to repeat it.


This examination includes 200 questions designed to be answered in six hours, usually broken into two sections. The questions are multiple choice and people are marked on the percentage of questions they can accurately answer. For this reason, test-takers are often encouraged to answer every question, as they will not be penalized for answering questions incorrectly. Test taking strategy for attorneys preparing for the bar examination may include reminders to guess at answers and move on rather than puzzling over a difficult question.

Constitutional law, torts, evidence, criminal law, contracts, and real estate are covered on the multistate bar exam. Each section contains a number of experimental questions. These questions usually cannot be distinguished from the actual test questions and they are inserted into the test to see how well people perform on them, to determine if they should be included in future versions of the bar examination. The entire bar exam, including the multistate bar exam, can last two to three days, depending on how a state structures its bar.

People waiting for results on the bar examination are usually given a time frame, with a date they can start to expect answers. They are mailed out, and people can also check a website or call a telephone hotline on the announcement date to see if they passed.



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