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Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

Last updated 29th Nov 2022


The term Multistate Bar Examination refers to the second of a two-part test that assesses the applicant's knowledge of fundamental legal principles as well as reasoning skills. The Multistate Bar Examination, or MBE, is sponsored by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The purpose of the test is to ensure individuals have the knowledge and skills necessary to practice law in a given state.


In the United States, local state boards of law examiners grant individuals a license to practice their skills. The Multistate Bar Examination, or MBE, is the second of two tests used by state boards to qualify candidates. The test is administered as part of a two day event occurring in late February and July each year. The MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions in the following areas:

  • Constitutional Law: includes topics such as the nature of judicial review, separation of powers, intergovernmental immunities, and individual rights.
  • Contracts: includes topics such as the formation of contracts, defenses to enforceability, parole evidence and interpretation, performance, breach, discharge, remedies and third-party rights.
  • Criminal Law and Procedure: includes topics such as homicide, theft, assault, burglary, kidnapping, inchoate crimes, general principles, and constitutional protections of accused persons.
  • Evidence: includes topics such as the presentation of evidence, exclusion of witnesses, relevancy, privileges and policy exclusions, writings, recordings, photographs, and hearsay.
  • Real Property: includes topics such as ownership, rights in land, contracts, mortgages and other security devices, and titles.
  • Torts: includes topics such as intentional torts, negligence, claims of economic loss, strict liability and product liability.

The day is divided into two three-hour sessions. Candidates are expected to answer 100 questions in each session. The examinee's answers are electronically scored and reviewed by testing experts. Once this process is complete, scores are provided to the appropriate jurisdiction. Not all jurisdictions allow scores to be released to examinees. Results are typically considered valid for up to seven years. States oftentimes do not limit the number of times a candidate may attempt to pass the MBE.

Related Terms

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