It’s important to know how the bar exam is scored so that you can understand what’s required to pass. The following sections will provide an overview of how the bar exam is scored, including information on essay grading, the MBE scale, and converted scores.

Understanding How the Bar Exam Is Scored

how is the bar exam scored

First, we’ll look at the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam). This is the bar exam used in a majority of states, and it’s what we’ll be focusing on in this article.

The UBE is broken down into three sections: the MPT (Multistate Performance Test), the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam), and the MEE (Multistate Essay Exam).

The MBE is a 200-question, multiple-choice exam covering six subject areas: contracts, torts, constitutional law, evidence, criminal law, and real property.

Each state sets its own passing bar exam score for the MBE. Thus, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, California, Minnesota, and Nevada bar exam scoring differs from state to state. But in general, it’s between 140 and 150.

The MEE consists of six essay questions covering the same six subject areas as the MBE.

Bar exam scoring in states may also include one or two additional, state-specific essay questions.

The MEE is graded on a scale of 0-30, and the bar exam pass score is typically between 24 and 27.

The MPT is a skills-based exam that consists of two 90-minute tasks. It’s designed to test your ability to complete common legal tasks, such as writing a memo or conducting research.

The MPT is graded on a pass/fail basis, and there is no set passing score.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the UBE bar exam score range, let’s take a more in-depth look at how each section is graded.

The Bar Exam & What to Expect: Scaled Scoring, MBE Subjects, Essays, the Performance Test and More

Essay Grading

The MEE essays are graded by trained graders from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

Each essay is read and graded twice, once by a human grader, and once by a computer program.

If the human and computer grades differ by more than 2 points, a third grader will read and grade the essay.

The essays are graded on a scale of 0-30, with 6 being the lowest passing score.

To determine your score, the graders will look at the overall quality of your answer, as well as your ability to apply legal principles, analyze fact patterns, and communicate effectively.

The MBE Scale

The MBE is graded on a scale of 0-200, with 130 being the lowest passing score.

To determine your score, the NCBE will first convert your raw score (the number of questions you answered correctly) into a scaled score.

This is done to account for differences in difficulty between the exams.

After your raw score gets converted to scaled scoring, it’s then added to your MEE score to determine your overall UBE score.

Scaled Scores

The total score that an examinee receives on the bar exam is typically a scaled score.

A scaled score is a number that has been adjusted so that it can be compared to the scores of other examinees who have taken the same test.

The purpose of scaling is to ensure that the scores are accurate and reliable and to account for any differences in difficulty between different versions of the test.

For example, suppose that the average score on the MBE in one state is 100 points and the average score in another state is 10 points.

If the two states were to use the same passing score, then it would be much easier to pass the bar exam in the first state than in the second.

Scaling ensures that this is not the case by adjusting the scores so that they are comparable.

It is important to note that scaling does not necessarily mean that the scoring process is fair.

In some cases, an examinee who receives a scaled score of 140 points might have scored higher than another examinee who received a scaled score of 150 points.

However, this does not necessarily mean that the first examinee performed better on the exam overall. It could simply be that the exam was easier in the first examinee’s state than in the second examinee’s state.

What’s important is that, thanks to scaling, the two examinees have an equal chance of passing the bar exam.


Another factor that can affect an examinee’s total score is weighting.

Weighting is the process of giving certain sections of the exam more importance than others.

For example, in some states, the MBE counts for 50% of the total score, while the MEE counts for 30%, and the MPT counts for 20%.

In other states, however, the weights may be different. For example, the MBE might count for 60%, while the MEE and MPT count for 20% each.

The weights are determined by each state’s bar examiners and can be changed at any time.

It is important to note that weighting does not affect an examinee’s score on individual sections of the exam. It only affects the overall total score.

What Is a Passing UBE Score in Every State?

In order to pass the Uniform Bar Exam, examinees must earn a score of at least 260 on the MBE and MEE. However, a score of 280 is generally considered to be a good score, and a score of 300 to 330 (highest score on bar exam) is considered to be excellent.

Bar Exam Passing Score by State

It’s worth noting that a 280 will ensure a passing score in all states. And it will put you in the 73 bar exam scores percentiles.

The average baby bar exam score range is between 40 and 100. This means that the average score is between 70 and 80.

Scoring high on bar exam essays is extremely important to your overall score. For many students, essay writing is the most difficult and stressful part of the bar exam. But with a little practice and guidance, you can learn how to score high on bar exam essays so you can pass the first time to keep your bar exam costs down.

FAQs on Bar Exam Scoring

How is the bar exam scored?

The bar exam is scored by a point system, with 400 being the highest possible score. What score do you need to pass the bar exam?

What is the highest score on the bar exam?

The highest possible score on the bar exam is 400.

What is a good bar exam score?

A good bar exam score depends on the jurisdiction but is typically between 260 and 280.

How does scoring work for the bar exam?

Scoring for the bar exam works by awarding points for each correct answer. The number of points awarded varies depending on the question and the jurisdiction.

Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular "For Dummies" books published by John Wiley & Sons including 'CPA Exam for Dummies' and 'Cost Accounting for Dummies'.

Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.