Taking two bar exams (simultaneously)

By Dale Larrimore,
BARBRI Regional Vice President

Can I take two bar exams this summer? We often hear this question at this time of year. The lawyerly answer is: “It depends.”

There are two factors that control whether you sit for two different bar exams in the same week. First, you have to determine on which day each state administers its essay exam. Second, you have to find out if one of the states will accept a transferred Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) score from a concurrent exam.

KNOW THE EXACT DATES FOR BOTH STATES

The MBE is always given on the last Wednesday in February and July. Most states administer essay exams on the Tuesday before the MBE. Three states administer essays on the Thursday after the MBE – Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming. So if you want to take two bar exams at the same time, you have to combine a Tuesday/Wednesday exam with the exam in one of these three states.

For example, many students take the New York bar exam on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then travel to New Jersey for Thursday. Other popular combinations include Pennsylvania/New Jersey or Pennsylvania/Massachusetts.

CONSIDER GEOGRAPHY TO AVOID FATIGUE

There are many other combinations that you could consider like Alabama/Massachusetts, yet keep in mind that geography and fatigue can work against you.

Using this example – to sit for Alabama and Massachusetts – here’s what your schedule would look like on bar exam week:

Monday: Three hours of Alabama Civil Procedure exams

Tuesday: Six hours of MBE and Multistate Performance Test

Wednesday: Six hours of MBE, then travel to Massachusetts

Thursday: Six hours of Massachusetts Essay Exam

As you can imagine, it’s much easier to travel from New York to New Jersey than from Alabama to Massachusetts, especially after three days of the bar exam.

MAKE SURE YOUR MBE SCORE WILL BE ACCEPTED

Once you figure out whether the dates will work for the two states you choose, you next have to determine whether one of the states will accept an MBE score from an exam administered in another state. This list includes:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah

FINALLY, HOW HARD IS IT TO PASS TWO STATE BARS

In some states, like New Jersey, little knowledge of state law is required. In others, like Massachusetts, a significant amount of state law is required to be successful on the essay exam.

There are obviously many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to take two bar exams at once. The good news is that BARBRI has helped thousands of students pass two bar exams simultaneously. We have specifically tailored study programs that highlight key differences between the two states and make learning law in two states not significantly harder than learning one.