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Bar Exam Success

Bar Exam Passing Scores by State

 Bar Exam Passing Scores by State
When it comes to the bar exam, there’s really only one thing that matters: getting a passing score. While most of your focus should be on studying the material necessary to know on the exam, it can be helpful to have some understanding of how the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) grading system functions.

First, it’s important to note that the three sections of the UBE are not weighted equally in your total score. The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is worth 50% of your total UBE score, the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is worth 30%, and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is worth 20%.

UBE total scores are based on a 400-point scale, and jurisdictions set their own minimum passing scores. The UBE is graded on a curve, and median scores tend to be highly consistent year-to-year.

Grading the MBE is relatively straightforward: an examinee either chooses the correct answer or not. The number of correct answers is the examinee’s raw score. Raw scores are then converted into scaled scores based on how other examinees performed. In 2019, the mean scaled MBE score was 138.8 (out of a maximum of 200). In February 2021, the mean MBE score was 134.0.

Grading the MEE and MPT is a little more complicated. Unlike the MBE, which is graded by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), the MEE and MPT is graded by each jurisdiction. The NCBE has published a detailed article explaining the system that its graders use for scoring those sections. This system centers on what the NCBE calls its “relative scoring” philosophy. Graders attend extensive workshops conducted by the NCBE, where they are trained to rank order answers based on whatever scale a jurisdiction uses. (The NCBE uses a 1-6 scale, but jurisdictions may set their own scale.) Because of this system, the NCBE does not release universal data on MEE or MPT scores.     

In a typical year, bar exam pass rates in most jurisdictions tend to fall between 60-80%. While you don’t need a perfect score, or anything close to one, to pass the UBE, you also want to be able to enter the test site confident that you’re prepared to handle whatever the NCBE can throw at you. To ensure that you have the best bar exam performance possible, most experts suggest signing up for a comprehensive bar exam prep course. While you’re shopping for a bar prep course, you might want to check out Quimbee Bar Review’s seven-day free trial. And, if you want to learn more about the UBE in general, be sure to check out our detailed guide!

Minimum Passing UBE Score by Jurisdiction

Below are the minimum scores necessary to pass the UBE in each UBE jurisdiction. Note that jurisdictions' rules are subject to change. For example, according to the NCBE, “North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington temporarily lowered their minimum passing scores for the July 2020 exam to 268, 266, and 266, respectively, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina's lowered minimum passing score also applies to the February 2021 exam; Washington's lowered minimum passing score also applies to the February and July 2021 exams.” Be sure to check with your jurisdiction’s bar admissions office for the most current information. 

260

Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota

264

Indiana, Oklahoma

266

Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Virgin Islands

270

Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

272

Idaho

273

Arizona

274

Oregon

276

Colorado

280

Alaska