The Bar Exam & the MPRE
Arkansas Bar Exam
The Arkansas Bar Exam is administered twice a year (February and July) and lasts for two days. The first day of the exam is composed of the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) – these components make up 20% and 30% of the bar exam score respectively. The second day consists of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which accounts for 50% of the bar exam score.
The Bar Exam in Other States
Other jurisdictions may have different tested components and formats. For example, some jurisdictions test state-specific areas of the law. To see a full review of each jurisdiction’s requirements and formats, take a look at the Bar Admissions Guide, published by the NCBE and the ABA.
Transferring Scores to and from Arkansas
Effective February 2020, Arkansas will become a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) state, meaning that scores are portable to and from different UBE states. The list of UBE states and the effective dates of such elections are always changing. Please review the National Conference of Bar Examiners web page for up to date information. http://www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/
Arkansas requires a cutoff score of 270 points. Other jurisdictions have differing cutoff scores, so please refer to the website above for more detailed information. Arkansas attorneys will still continue to grade the written portion of the bar exam even after electing to adopt the UBE. Please see the Arkansas Judiciary web page for more detailed information. https://www.arcourts.gov/administration/professional-programs/bar-exam
Bar Exam Application & Fees
Applications for the February Arkansas bar exam are due in mid-November. Applications for the July Arkansas bar exam applications are due in early-April. (Check the Arkansas Board of Law Examiners website to get specific dates). The deadlines for applications may be different for other jurisdictions, so be sure to check those websites as well.
In Arkansas, there is a $1,000 fee for applying to sit for the bar exam. Though the bar exam application generally isn’t difficult to complete, you need to review it well in advance of the deadline and begin planning to obtain all of the information and documents you will need to complete it.
Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your bar exam application! You don’t need that added stressor. If you have questions or problems, the Director of Bar Success Services is available to help!
Character & Fitness Questionnaire
One big part of the bar exam application is the Character & Fitness Questionnaire. To become a member of the bar, you must meet a certain standard of character and mental and emotional stability, as outlined in Rule 8 (AR Court Rules Governing Admission to the Bar Regulations). There are several questions on the Questionnaire that might require you to obtain documents or other information. Issues such as a past bankruptcy, legal infractions and academic misconduct, as well as mental illness or substance abuse may require you to answer additional questions on the Character & Fitness Questionnaire.
It is important to note that seeking assistance from the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) for mental health or substance abuse challenges does NOT adversely impact your character and fitness evaluation if you have completed the program JLAP has designed for you. In fact, according to the Arkansas Supreme Court, completing a JLAP program shall be considered favorably when your character and fitness questionnaire is being reviewed. Therefore, you should seek assistance from JLAP to address any challenges you encounter while in law school.
Again, the Director of Bar Success Services is available to help.
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
Developed and scored by NCBE, the MPRE is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination covering established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct. The MPRE is administered by NCBE and required for admission by most jurisdictions.
Second year students are encouraged to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) after completion of the Legal Profession course. You can learn more about the MPRE and take a practice test on the NCBE website. You may take the MPRE after you take the bar exam, though generally it is best to take and pass it before you graduate. You cannot be admitted to the Arkansas bar until you have passed both the bar exam and the MPRE.
Additionally, the three major bar vendors: BarBri, Themis and Kaplan offer free MPRE prep courses on their websites.