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The Pennsylvania Bar Exam

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The Pennsylvania Bar Exam

General information
Exam TypeNon-UBE
Jurisdiction-specific component
Upcoming Registration DatesOctober 30, 2018 (February 2019 exam); April 15, 2019 (July 2019 exam)
Recent Pass Rates54% (February 2017); 74% (July 2017)

What is the Pennsylvania bar exam?

The Pennsylvania bar exam assesses whether an examinee is competent to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Passing the bar exam is an essential step in becoming a lawyer in Pennsylvania. The exam consists of three components: an essay component, a multiple-choice component, and a performance component. Examinees are tested on a variety of legal subjects. Bar exam scores are scaled, meaning that scores are adjusted to reflect the relative difficulty of a particular exam. These adjustments ensure that no examinee is unfairly penalized or rewarded for taking a more or less difficult exam.

Studying for the Pennsylvania bar exam is a full-time job that requires discipline, determination, and—for most people—a formal course structure. Quimbee’s Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) review course is expertly designed to help you prepare for the Pennsylvania bar examination in the most efficient and effective way possible. Our MBE review course includes 7,000+ smart flashcards, real practice questions and answers with detailed explanations, full-length practice tests, and comprehensive outlines of MBE subjects. 

Read on to learn more about the Pennsylvania bar exam.

What is the Pennsylvania Bar Exam format?

The Pennsylvania bar examination consists of three sections: the MBE, an essay examination on Pennsylvania law, and a performance test.

Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

The MBE is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and administered by participating jurisdictions, including Pennsylvania, on the last Wednesday in February and July of each year.

According to the NCBE, 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 is divided into morning and afternoon testing sessions of three hours each, with 100 questions in each session. There are no scheduled breaks during either the morning or afternoon session, though test taskers typically may be excused from the exam room during the test. Be sure to check with your jurisdiction, however, as the rules regarding leaving the exam room may vary.

Of the 200 questions on the MBE, 175 questions are scored. The remaining unscored 25 questions are used by the NCBE to test potential future questions. The scored questions are distributed evenly, with 25 questions from each tested subject area. The Pennsylvania bar exam subjects include civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, and torts. The MBE counts for 45 percent of the total Pennsylvania bar exam score.

Jurisdiction-Specific Component

In addition to the MBE, the Pennsylvania bar exam includes an essay section and a performance test. The essay examination consists of six essay questions that cover one or more of the following subjects:

  • business organizations

  • civil procedure

  • conflict of laws

  • contracts

  • criminal law

  • employment discrimination

  • evidence

  • family law

  • federal constitutional law

  • federal income taxes

  • professional responsibility

  • real property

  • torts

  • U.C.C. Art. II

  • wills, trusts, and decedents' estates.

The Pennsylvania bar exam also includes the Performance Test (PT), which is intended to test an applicant’s ability to use basic skills that a lawyer should possess to perform a task that a newly admitted attorney would be expected to perform. The Pennsylvania essay section counts for 44 percent of the total Pennsylvania bar exam score. The PT counts for 11 percent of an examinee's score. For more information on these components of the Pennsylvania bar exam, please see the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners’ website.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

A passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is also required to become a licensed Pennsylvania attorney. The MPRE tests an examinee’s knowledge of the ethics rules related to the practice of law. According to the NCBE, the purpose of the MPRE is to “measure examinees' knowledge and understanding of established standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers.”

The MPRE’s questions are largely based on the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, but the MPRE also covers relevant court decisions as well as procedural and evidentiary rules.

The MPRE consists of 60 multiple-choice questions—50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions. As with the MBE, each question on the MPRE is followed by four possible answer options. You’ll have two hours to complete the exam.

The MPRE is offered three times per year, typically in March, August, and November. Be sure to register early—the regular registration fee is $95, but the late registration fee is $190.

The MPRE is scored on a scale that ranges from 50 to 100. Pennsylvania requires a minimum-passing MPRE score of 75.

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Information

Below is a list of useful information for Pennsylvania bar examinees:

What are the Pennsylvania Bar Exam Dates?

The Pennsylvania bar exam is a two-day exam and is offered twice a year on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July. The Pennsylvania bar exam is administered in Lancaster and Pittsburgh. For more information on dates and locations, please see the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners' website.

When Do I Need to Register for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam?

The regular deadline for registering for the February 2019 bar exam in Pennsylvania is October 30, 2018. The regular deadline for the July 2019 exam is April 15, 2019. For more details on these deadlines, please see the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners' website.

What are the Fees for the Pennsylvania Bar Exam?

The regular application fee for the Pennsylvania bar exam is $650. For more details on fees, visit the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners' website.

When Will I Receive My Pennsylvania Bar Exam Results?

February bar examination results are available approximately five weeks after administration of the exam. July bar examination results are available approximately nine weeks after administration of the exam. Results are posted publicly on the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners’ website.

What Is the Pennsylvania Bar Exam Contact Information?

The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners is the organization responsible for overseeing admission to the bar in Pennsylvania. It is through this board that you will register for the bar exam, receive exam information, and obtain your score.

Mailing Address:
Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
601 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 3600
P.O Box 62535
Harrisburg, PA 17106-2535

Physical Address:
Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
Pennsylvania Judicial Center
601 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 3600
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0901

Phone: (717) 231-3350

Website: http://www.pabarexam.org/

How Do I Get Pennsylvania Bar Exam News?

News and information about the Pennsylvania bar exam can be found on the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners' website.

What is the Best Pennsylvania Bar Exam Prep Course?

Quimbee does not provide state-specific coverage for the Pennsylvania bar exam, but you can use Quimbee MBE Review to supplement your prep. Heavy and cumbersome coursebooks are a thing of the past. All of the course material for Quimbee MBE Review is available from your computer.

Pennsylvania Bar Practice Tests

Quimbee’s course offers several full-length practice MBEs and thousands of MBE practice questions—many licensed directly from the NCBE.

Pennsylvania Bar Study Guide

With Quimbee, you’ll watch Quimbee's beautifully designed video lessons, practice multiple-choice questions to test what you've learned, and read through Quimbee's expert-written outlines. And true understanding isn’t just answering a question correctly. You need to know why you got a question right or why you got a question wrong. That’s why Quimbee provides you with detailed explanations for every practice question, so you can understand the difference between the correct and incorrect answers.

Quimbee’s outlines provide comprehensive coverage of all MBE subjects. Quimbee Outlines are written by experts and are perfectly tailored to the NCBE’s subject-matter outlines, so you can be confident you’re studying only the material that’s tested on the bar exam.

Pennsylvania Bar Flashcards

You’ll also have access to Quimbee’s 7,000+ MBE flashcards, which utilize the latest developments in learning science to ensure you’re learning as efficiently as possible by assessing your proficiency as you go. Quimbee harnesses the magic of spaced repetition to maximize your learning outcomes. Quimbee’s flashcards cover every topic that appears on the MBE.

So, if you’re wondering how to pass the Pennsylvania bar exam, check out Quimbee MBE Review, and you’ll see why Quimbee is the best MBE review tool available.