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Bar Admission and Exam Information

PA Board of Law Examiners Presentation
on Bar Application Process/Forms

It is never too early to plan for the bar exam. The bar exam is the most important final exam you face, covering a vast amount of material.  It is extremely important that you make preparing your bar admission application(s) and studying for the exam a top priority.</p> <p>Each state determines its criteria for bar admission. For comprehensive information about bar exam composition, additional requirements, application dates, multistate test requirements, and bar admission fees, refer to the American Bar Association’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.

Students are also encouraged to contact a jurisdiction's bar admission office directly for detailed and accurate information. You’ll find directories of state bar admission offices here.

Character and Fitness to Practice Law

All states have a character and fitness requirement. The Pennsylvania standard is illustrative: The character and fitness standards require that an applicant to the bar be one whose record of conduct justifies the trust of clients, adversaries, courts and others.  The hallmark of such a person is honesty, especially in connection with the applicd to be a basis for further inquiry before recommending admission:

  • unlawful conduct
  • academic misconduct
  • making false statement(s), including the omission of relevant facts
  • misconduct in employment acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
  • abuse of the legal process
  • neglect of financial responsibilities, especially failure to repay student loans
  • neglect of professional obligations
  • violation of an order of a court
  • evidence of mental or emotional instability, as it relates to the ability to practice law
  • evidence of current or recent drug or alcohol dependency
  • denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds
  • disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction

The Bar Exam

In general, the bar exam is offered twice a year, on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in July and February. For most states, one day covers state law (which may include the Multistate Essay Exam and the Multistate Performance Test) and the second day is for the Multistate Bar Examination. For a list of the subjects tested in the state(s) in which you are sitting for the bar, contact the state’s bar admission office directly for detailed and accurate information. You’ll find directories of state bar admission offices here. Most states also require the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which is offered in March, August, and November. The MPRE can be, and almost always is, taken before graduation from law school.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE is a six-hour, 200 question multiple-choice exam covering constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, evidence, and real property. The MBE is mandatory in all states except Louisiana and Washington.

Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is a collection of 30-minute essay questions. Applicants should contact the jurisdiction where admission is being sought to ascertain whether the MEE is part of the jurisdiction’s examination.

Jurisdictions using the MEE in 2008:

  District of Columbia
  New Hampshire
  New Mexico
  North Dakota
  Rhode Island
  South Dakota
  West Virginia
  Northern Mariana Islands

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

Applicants should contact the jurisdiction where admission is being sought to ascertain whether the MEE is part of the jurisdiction’s examination.

Jurisdictions using the MPT in 2008:

Alabama Montana
Alaska Nevada
Arkansas New Hampshire
Colorado New Mexico
Delaware New York
District of Columbia North Dakota
Georgia Ohio
Hawaii Oregon
Idaho Rhode Island
Illinois South Dakota
Indiana Texas
Iowa Utah
Maine Vermont
Maryland West Virginia
Minnesota Wisconsin (Feb. 08)
Mississippi Guam
Missouri Northern Mariana Islands

Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is a two-hour, 60 question multiple-choice exam that measures your knowledge of ethical standards in the legal profession. It is required in all states except Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Taking the Bar in More than One State

Most states will accept an MBE score from a concurrent exam (check your state). You can often then take two state bar exams depending on the dates of the state exam you are taking resulting in three days of testing (one day for each state’s exam and one day for the multi-state).

Bar Review Courses

Penn State Law Courses

BPREP 900: Fundamental Skills for the Bar Examination
This course will help students develop techniques for answering written essay and multiple-choice questions under exam conditions. Classes will be devoted to: timed practice questions; review and discussion of previously administered questions; and review and discussion of model essay answers. The focus is not on the review of substantive law as much as techniques for reading and writing a good bar exam essay.

Bar/Bri’s B.E.A.T. Program
The law school retains Bar/Bri to offer its Bar Examination Accelerated Training program every spring. The schedule will be announced in December.

Commercial Bar Review Courses

Students are strongly encouraged to take a commercial bar review course in order to properly prepare for successful completion of the bar exam.  The law school does not recommend any particular commercial bar review course and the links below are provided to students as a convenience only. Providing this information does not constitute an endorsement of any programs or products by the law school.

Past State Bar Exam Questions and Answers


What is a Dean’s Certification form?
Most states require a certificate from your law school dean attesting to the fact that you have graduated from law school. These forms can be found online at the various state bar websites. You should download the form and turn it to the Registrar's Office.

Can I get a loan to pay for bar exam expenses and living expenses during the bar study period?
Yes, see the Law School's information on student loans.

What do I do if fingerprints are required as part of the Bar Examination Application Process?
If you are asked to provide fingerprints as a requirement for a bar examination, please check with your local police department for information regarding where fingerprints can be processed. The law school does not handle fingerprinting processing.

Key Links

State Bar Admission Offices



District of Columbia

New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
Northern Mariana Islands
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Virgin Islands
West Virginia