Bar Readiness at Emory Law

Applying to Take the Bar Exam
Parts of the Bar Exam
Overview of the MBE
Overview of the Essay Portion of the Bar
Overview of the MPT
Overview of the MPRE
Example: The Georgia Bar Exam
Planning Resources
Other Considerations
A game plan for success on the bar exam
Getting Accurate, Updated Bar Information
Links to Select Bar Admissions Websites
A Sample Timeline for Planning Ahead

Applying to Take the Bar Exam

  • All jurisdictions require a license to practice law, normally by taking a bar examination or otherwise qualifying for bar admission.
  • In order to take the bar exam, you must apply to take the bar exam with the office of bar admissions in your jurisdiction of choice. 
  • In addition, as part of the admissions process, bar admissions officials will investigate applicants’ “character and fitness” for admission to practice law.  This investigation is done through a separate “character and fitness” application process with the office of bar admissions in your jurisdiction.  Preparing your “character and fitness” application takes longer than you think it will, so start early.  This investigation is done because law is a public profession and lawyers have fiduciary duties toward clients.  Be sure to attend the fall information session about this.
  • In many jurisdictions, like Georgia, applicants file their separate “character and fitness” application with the office of bar admission in the fall semester of their 3L year.  In others, like NY, applicants take the bar exam first, then apply for through a similar “character and fitness” process.  Yet other jurisdictions ask applicants to begin their character and fitness application process BEFORE their 3L year, so be sure to know the requirements of the jurisdiction in which you want to practice.
  • In all circumstances, applicants must pass the character and fitness certification process BEFORE they will be licensed to practice in their jurisdiction.
  • Take the time to learn the requirements for your jurisdiction and plan ahead to meet those requirements.  See the information, below on how to do this.
  • Many bar admissions offices have applicants set up an online account to manage their applications, registration and paperwork.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor this online account and make sure that all items are actually received by the bar admissions office by the relevant deadlines.

Parts of the Bar Exam

  • The most common test format is a two-day bar exam, one day for the Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”) and one day for essays and/or the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”).
  • Most jurisdictions also require a minimum score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”).  The MPRE is given three times per year, separately from the bar exam.  You must apply to take the MPRE separately, as well.
  • Approximately 23 jurisdictions in the United States have begun administering the Uniform Bar Examination.  For example, New York administered the UBE for the first time in July 2016.  Massachusetts will begin using it in 2017.  Check your jurisdiction to make sure your information is up to date.
  • As with all other aspects of the bar examination, you must research and learn the specific format of the bar exam in your jurisdiction of choice.

Overview of the MBE

  • The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions: 190 scored questions and 10 unscored pretest questions.
  • There are 7 general subjects tested on the MBE, as identified herein below.
  • The exam is divided into morning and afternoon testing sessions of three hours each, with 100 questions in each session.
  • MBE questions are broken down into the following subjects:
Subject/Type of QuestionCurrent Breakdown

Civil Procedure


Constitutional Law




Criminal Law & Procedure




Real Property




Total Number of Scored Questions


Unscored Questions


Total Number of Questions


  • For detailed information about the upcoming MBE, including a subject matter outline that details the topics within all 7 general subjects that COULD be tested, see

Overview of the Essay Portion of the Bar

  • The essay portion of the bar examination can either consist of essays written, developed, and graded by a jurisdiction’s board of bar examiners or essays found in the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), which are essays written and developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and graded by the jurisdiction where the particular exam is being given.
  • The subjects covered in the essay portion of any particular bar examination depends upon that jurisdiction’s selection of essay topics, so it is vital that all applicants familiarize themselves very early on with the type of essay test given in their jurisdiction and the specific subjects tested.
  • If your jurisdiction uses the MEE, the essay portion of the bar exam consists of six 30-minute questions.  A list of subjects covered on the MEE can be found at
  • However, for jurisdictions that do not use the MEE, applicants must search their jurisdiction’s office of bar admissions’ website for specific information about the exact format, duration and subjects covered on that state’s essay portion of the bar exam.

Overview of the MPT

  • The MPT is meant to evaluate an examinee’s ability to use basic lawyering skills in a realistic simulation.  The MPT is not a test of substantive knowledge of the law.
  • Each MPT section has a File and a Library; one has source documents, the other has legal materials.
  • An MPT testing item may require the examinee to write a memo to a partner or client, a persuasive memo or brief, a contract, a will, a settlement proposal, a closing argument, etc.
  • Not all jurisdictions use the MPT as part of their bar examination, so be sure familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction’s bar examination format.

Overview of the MPRE

  • The purpose of the MPRE is to measure an examinee’s knowledge and understanding of accepted and established standards relating to the professional conduct of lawyers, as established by the law governing the conduct of lawyers, including, but not limited to  the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct.  This is not an examination testing individual or personal ethics.
  • The MPRE consists of 60 multiple-choice questions given over a two-hour period.  Of the 60 questions, 50 are scored and 10 are unscored.
  • The MPRE is administered three times per year: November, March, August.
  • Many students choose to take it in November of their 3L year during the same semester when they take their required course in legal professionalism or legal professional responsibility.
  • For more information, see:

Example: The Georgia Bar Exam

  • As an example, the following is the format and information specific to the Georgia Bar Exam:
    • Application Deadlines for the February and July Georgia Bar examinations can be found at
    • For information about how to apply for Certification of Fitness to take the Georgia Bar Examination and how to apply to take the Georgia Bar Exam, visit the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions at
    • During the morning session of Day 1, the examinee with work on 2 Multistate Performance Test (MPT) questions.  This portion of the exam lasts from approximately 9:30am until about 12:30 p.m.  There is a page limit for each answer and scratch paper provided.
    • During the afternoon session of Day 1, the examinee works on 4 Georgia-specific essay questions.  Each question has a 45 minute limit.  This portion of the exam lasts from approximately 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Georgia essay topics may be drawn from any of the following subjects:

Business Organizations

Georgia Practice & Procedure

Constitutional Law

Non-Monetary Remedies


Professional Ethics

Criminal Law & Procedure




Family Law

Trusts, Wills & Estates

Federal Practice & Procedure

Uniform Commercial Code (Art.2, 3 & 9)

(See - The Supreme Court of Georgia Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law, Part B, §6(c).)

  • During the morning session of Day 2, the examinee works on ½ of the MBE:  100 multiple choice questions over a 3-hour period.
  • During the afternoon session of Day 2, the examinee works on the second ½ of the MBE: the remaining 100 multiple choice questions over a 3 hour period. 
  • Actual past Georgia essay and MPT questions are available on Georgia Office of Bar Admissions website:
  • Practice MBE exams are available at
  • Scores of essays and MBE are combined to reach passing grade.
  • MBE scores are scaled, not curved.
  • Sally Lockwood, Director of Bar Admissions, will come speak at Emory Law and explain this during 3L year.  Make sure to come to these meetings!

Planning Resources

  • Start planning and preparing in detail no later than the start of 3L year.
  • Make use of detailed timelines for managing your time for the six months before the July bar exam.
  • Published resources like “Pass The Bar!” book by Riebe and Schwartz.
  • Websites like The National Conference of Bar Examiners (, ABA Law Student Division website (, Georgia Office of Bar Admissions (
  • Law school programs and workshops
  • Resources from commercial bar review vendors

Other Considerations

  • Plan your finances; you can take out a “bar loan” from a small group of lenders, including Sallie Mae.  Talk to your campus financial aid advisor.  For more information regarding bar loans, see
  • Plan your other life obligations; line up support from family and friends, including with things like childcare, housing, etc.
  • Plan to make bar preparation your fulltime job between graduation and the exam itself.

A game plan for success on the bar exam

A complete “game plan” for success on the bar exam considers each of the following:

  • Commitment to prepare for, take, and pass the bar exam.
  • Advance planning for bar review and the actual process of taking the bar exam.
  • Planning for exam logistics and all details.
  • Consistent investment of your time.
  • Financial plan.
  • Academic self-assessment and check for gaps.
  • Planning for stress management, resilience.

Getting Accurate, Updated Bar Information


  • Website of the specific state where you plan to take a bar exam; links to individual bar admissions offices’ websites are posted on Emory Law’s registrar webpage.
  • Get information directly from the bar admissions website or office, not second or third hand.

Links to Select Bar Admissions Websites

A Sample Timeline for Planning Ahead

Fall of 2L year:

  • Start learning about the various bar review courses.  Speak to course representatives about how their courses work and the resources offered.  Ask recent graduates about their experiences.
  • Look out for and attend programming offered at the Law School providing guidance on the bar exam.

Spring of 2L year:

  • Try to decide where you will take the bar exam and review all requirements, at and the website of the bar admissions office in the appropriate state.
  • Choose a review course and use their resources for academic success BEFORE the bar.  (Once you register for a bar review course, many of the courses provide you with access to study aid materials that are very useful to you during your law school career.)
  • Review lists of topics that can be tested on MBE and state essays; choose courses to support your familiarity with them.
  • Register for a Legal Profession course and plan to sign up to take the MPRE in August, November or March of your 3L year.  Be aware that registration deadlines are prior to the exam dates, so be sure to plan ahead.

Summer after 2L year:

  • Review character and fitness application deadlines and requirements; start compiling file.

Fall of 3L year:

  • Complete character and fitness application(s) and/or other state requirements. TRACK DEADLINES! Go to information sessions.
  • Take Legal Profession class and register for MPRE; take MPRE in November or March of your 3L year.
  • Discuss bar exam plans with your OCS advisor, depending on job search status; decide whether to take more than one bar exam.
  • Register for core courses you have not yet taken; re-check MBE and state topics.
  • Research available “bar loans” from a small group of lenders, including Sallie Mae.  Talk to your campus financial aid advisor to determine availability and application deadlines.
  • Think about your financial needs for the summer and try to create a budget that will allow you to make your bar study time your ONLY “job”, if possible.  (You should be aiming for 8-10 hours of study time per day, 6 days per week from the end of May through the end of July.)

Spring of 3L year:

  • Finish paperwork to register for July bar exam and MBE.  TRACK DEADLINES! Go to information sessions, and check your online bar admissions account regularly to ensure the bar has received everything it needs prior to all relevant deadlines.
  • Attend MBE workshops and take advantage of other early bar preparation resources offered by the Law School.
  • Apply for “bar loans”, if necessary.  For more information regarding bar loans, see