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The Bar Exam

The bar exam is a licensure test offered twice annually in February and July in all U.S. jurisdictions. Most law students take a bar exam shortly after graduation.

Most state bar exams consist of a multiple-choice component, an essay component and a performance component involving a LARC-like, closed-universe problem in which students are instructed to draft a memo, a brief or some other analytical document. Most states administer the bar exam over two days with the written components on the first day and the multiple-choice component on the second. The supreme court of each state determines the subjects tested on its bar exam.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) drafts questions used on most bar exams across the country, but many states draft some or all of their own questions. The proportion of state-drafted versus NCBE-drafted questions can vary widely from state to state, as well as whether a state administers a particular component at all. In addition, many states have converted to the Uniform Bar Exam . Students can visit the NCBE website to learn which subjects are tested and which components are included on the bar exams in the states where they intend to practice. The NCBE’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements also provides annually updated information on bar admission requirements for all U.S. jurisdictions.​​