At the time of this blog post, the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) has been officially adopted by 33 states and one jurisdiction. The UBE was first adopted in 2011 by just three states (Alabama, Missouri and North Dakota), and now there are plans to implement this “universal” testing format going out as far as 2021 (Texas).
INSTANT PORTABILITY OF BAR SCORES
The UBE was designed initially to help reduce the need for newly minted attorneys to take another bar exam in order to become licensed in another state or jurisdiction. The UBE permits you to transfer a score obtained in one UBE state/jurisdiction to another, subject to certain limitations (the NCBE Bar Admission Guide has those details).
INSTANT RECIPROCITY, MAXIMIZING JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Today, with more than half of the U.S. administering the UBE, students are benefiting from instant reciprocity, an immediate benefit right after passing the bar exam. With a high enough score, you can cast a much wider net to expand your job search, faster, into all states that have adopted the UBE. That makes you more marketable to employers in different parts of the country, who are looking to hire to meet greater demand, in areas less inundated with legal practitioners.
Many student have taken advantage of this mobility. Since 2011, roughly 12,000 UBE test takers have transferred their scores to a jurisdiction where they did not take the bar, according to Judith A. Gundersen, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE)*.
“Lawyers are more mobile than they once were. No longer do lawyers settle in one state and practice in that state until retirement,” said Jeffrey Ward, President of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners**.
THE MBE, MEE AND MPT COMPONENTS
The UBE is a two-day exam drafted by the NCBE, consisting of the Multistate Bar Exam (50%), Multistate Essay Exam (30%) and Multistate Performance Test (20%). These testing components are not new and have long been part of the bar exam format in many states. However, the UBE rests upon an agreement, whereby a state agrees to give full faith and credit to a score achieved on the bar exam in another jurisdiction because that jurisdiction uniformly administers, grades and scores the exam.
PASSING SCORES SET INDEPENDENTLY BY STATE
Each UBE state sets its own minimum passing score, which ranges from 260 to 280. Your passing score is portable to another UBE state as long as you sit for the entire exam at one time in the same location. You may transfer the score to a state with a lower required passing score, even if you “fail” the bar exam in the state in which you sat.
For example, a student who takes the UBE in Colorado, scores 272 and fails to achieve the required passing score of 276 may transfer the score to Utah, a neighboring UBE jurisdiction with a passing score of 270. The UBE score is not valid beyond a set period of time and each state sets its own deadline, varying between three and five years.
UBE PASSING SCORES
260: Alabama | Minnesota | Missouri | New Mexico | North Dakota
266: Connecticut | District of Columbia | Illinois | Iowa | Kansas | Maryland | Montana | New Jersey | New York | South Carolina
270: Massachusetts | Nebraska | New Hampshire | North Carolina | Tennessee | Utah | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wyoming
276: Colorado | Maine | Rhode Island
TBD: Ohio (coming July 2020) | Texas (coming February 2021)
You can get bar exam information for every U.S. state in the BARBRI Bar Exam Digest.
BARBRI KNOWS THE UBE, SINCE ITS INCEPTION
BARBRI has been preparing students for each of the components that now comprise the UBE since their inception: 1972 for the MBE, 1988 for the MEE and 1997 for the MPT. The BARBRI Bar Review course in each state is uniquely tailored to the needs of the bar exam, accommodating the subtle grading differences among UBE states.
*Source: American Bar Association, Before The Bar Blog
** Source: The National Jurist