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Bar Preparation: General Information and Resources

A Guide to Preparing for the Multistate (MBE) and South Carolina Bar Exams

General Resources

Useful Articles

Cochran, Rebecca A. Hope, Again: Hope Theory in Bar Exam Preparation [article]. Duquesne Law Review, Vol. 48, Issue 2 (Spring 2010), pp. 513-532.

Cahill, Maureen. Raising the Bar - Preparing Students for Legal Research Questions on the Bar Exam [article]. AALL Spectrum, Vol. 14, Issue 1 (September/October 2009), pp. 20-21.

Moezzi, Melody. Prepare Yourself for the Bar Exam [article], Student Lawyer, Vol. 36, Issue 7 (March 2008), pp. 20-32.

Dennis Tonsing, Passing the Bar Requires You to Follow Advice [article], Student Lawyer, Vol. 35, Issue 12 (May 2007).

Piskel, Jason T. My Summer of Study: Sitting for the Idaho Bar Exam [article], Advocate (Idaho State Bar), Vol. 49, Number 10 (November 2006), pp. 42-51.

Dennis Tonsing. Don't Gamble on Passing the Bar Exam [article]Student Lawyer, Vol. 34, Issue 14 (May 2006). 

Sorensen, Laurene. Secrets of a Bar Exam Survivor [article], Student Lawyer, Vol. 33, Issue 8 (April 2005), pp. 32-38.

 

American Bar Association (ABA) Information

From the American Bar Association.

In order to obtain a license to practice law, almost all law school graduates must apply for bar admission through a state board of bar examiners. Most often this board is an agency of the highest state court in the jurisdiction, but occasionally the board is connected more closely to the state's bar association. The criteria for eligibility to take the bar examination or to otherwise qualify for bar admission are set by each state, not by the ABA or the Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Licensing involves a demonstration of worthiness in two distinct areas. The first is competence. For initial licensure, competence is ordinarily established by a showing that the applicant holds an acceptable educational credential (with some exceptions, a J.D. degree) from a law school that meets educational standards, and by achieving a passing score on the bar examination.

The most common testing configuration consists of a two-day bar examination, one day of which is devoted to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a standardized 200-item test covering six areas (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts). The second day of testing is typically comprised of locally crafted essays from a broader range of subject matters; however, in a growing number of states, two nationally developed tests, the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), may be used to round out the test.

In addition, almost all jurisdictions require that the applicant present an acceptable score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which is separately administered three times each year.

The second area of inquiry by bar examiners involves the character and fitness of applicants for a law license. In this regard, bar examiners seek background information concerning each applicant that is relevant to the appropriateness of granting a professional credential. Because law is a public profession, and because the degree of harm a lawyer, once licensed, can inflict is substantial, decisions about who should be admitted to practice law are made carefully by bar examining boards.

Boards of bar examiners in most jurisdictions expect to hear from prospective candidates during the final year of law school. Bar examinations are administered at the end of February and July, with considerably more applicants taking the summer test because it falls after graduation from law school.

Some boards offer or require law student registration at an earlier point in law school. This preliminary processing, where available, permits the board to review character and fitness issues in advance.

As state-specific information is so important (and so variable) in the lawyer-licensing process, law students should contact the board of bar examiners in the jurisdiction(s) in which they are most likely to practice law.

Additional Information

Georgia:

Applicants must be granted a Certification of Fitness to Practice Law in Georgia before filing an application to sit for the Bar Exam.

The Bar Examination Application is NOT available on-line, but applicants can request that an application be mailed to them.

Unlike South Carolina, Georgia's Bar Exam contains the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

Other Jurisdictions:

Bar Prep Guides for Selected States