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Which Subjects Are Tested on the Uniform Bar Exam?

May 2, 2024
3 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 5/1/24

Wondering about bar tested subjects and looking for answers? Keep reading, and we’ll break down everything you need to know!

Writing the bar is a pivotal moment for many soon-to-be lawyers. Representing the final step before becoming a lawyer, the bar will assess your knowledge in key legal areas. Learning how to prepare for the bar is best achieved by understanding what content you’ll need to know in order to ace the exam.

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is a way for states and jurisdictions to standardize the bar testing process. Having a regulated way to test law school graduates helps make sure everyone is held to the same standard, regardless of which law school they attend.

Although the Uniform Bar Exam tests fewer subjects, law graduates will need to be familiar with core law knowledge relevant across all states. Although the format and scope of the Uniform Bar Exam have varied throughout the years, there are general trends and themes in the test.

So, without further ado, let’s get into what subjects are on the bar!

What Subjects Are on the Uniform Bar Exam?

The UBE is divided into three sections with each covering different subjects: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

The Uniform Bar Exam subjects for the MBE include:

  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Real Property
  • Civil Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Evidence
  • Torts

This is in addition to the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), which focuses on areas such as: 

  • Trusts & Estates
  • Family Law
  • Business Associations
  • Conflicts Law
  • Secured Transactions

Seeing from above, the UBE subjects cover all major areas of law. When writing the Multistate Essay Examination of the UBE, you’ll be expected to provide clear and written answers. This is in contrast to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which is multiple-choice.

The final area of the UBE is the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Unlike the MBE and MEE, the MPT seeks to address more practical law skills, such as research, analysis, and drafting legal documents. Overall, the three portions of the UBE give a comprehensive assessment of the competence of aspiring lawyers.

What Is Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is the first portion of the UBE and contains 200 multiple-choice questions. Bar tested subjects include Civil Procedure, Contracts, Evidence, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law. The MBE accounts for roughly 50% of the entire UBE score and lasts a total of six hours.

The 200 questions are broken up into two different writing sessions. For the morning and evening testing sessions, you’ll be presented with approximately 100 questions and have three hours to answer everything. While this may seem daunting, the two sessions make the testing significantly easier to handle.

The MBE is the largest portion of the UBE, so it makes sense to place a lot of emphasis on the relevant topics when studying. Students should be well versed in the major themes of each subject and have an understanding of the legal implications involved with all areas.

Essay Section Topics for the Uniform Bar Exam—Multistate Essay Exam

Although the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) doesn't release what topics are tested on during the Multistate Essay Exam, test takers can get a general idea from looking at past trends of the UBE. Keep in mind that the exam can change every year, and there’s no guarantee that the most recent testing trends will stay the same.

While it can be helpful as a guide, it’s always important to make sure you’re familiar with all bar tested subjects before the UBE. The Multistate Essay Exam is unique from the other sections of the test, and you’ll need to be able to articulate your thoughts in all the possible subject areas.

That being said, having the most frequent and least frequent topics can give you a roadmap of what to prepare for. This is because preparing to write the bar is as much about time as it is about knowledge. In a sense, you’ll want to triage your time as effectively as possible when you’re finishing up law school.

Highly Tested Subjects (Ranked Most to Least)

Looking at 25 previous bar exams, we’ve ranked each subject according to its frequency of appearing on the MEE. You’ll notice that several subjects are tied with one another on how frequently they’re tested, while others are seldomly tested on. At any rate, this should give law school graduates a general idea of what to expect.

Topic Frequency Ranking
Civil Procedures 22/25 1
Corporations and LLCs 16/25 2
Family Law 16/25 2
Trusts and Future Interests 16/25 2
Contracts 15/25 3
Criminal Law and Procedure 14/25 4
Real Property 14/25 4
Secured Transactions 14/25 4

Source: Brigham Young University

All things considered, the most commonly tested subject on the MEE is Civil Procedures, being tested 88% of the time, and it’s no wonder. The laws of civil procedures look beyond criminal problems and give insight into how everyday people can resolve their legal disputes.

You’ll notice that the most tested topics are usually areas that the general population has at least heard of. Legal branches like Family Law, Contracts, Property, and Corporations and LLCs have laws that everyone has thought of or at least considered the implications of at some point in their lives.

Lesser-Tested Subjects (Ranked Most to Least)

Using the same methodology, it’s possible to see what bar exam subjects you’re less likely to encounter when writing the MEE. Once again, simply because a topic has been less tested on in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t show up on the next bar exam. Regardless, this list can give you a good idea of what to expect. 

Topic Frequency Ranking
Agency 13/25 5
Constitutional Law 12/25 6
Evidence 12/25 6
Torts 12/25 6
Wills and Estates 12/25 6
Partnerships 11/25 7
Conflict of Laws 8/25 8

Source: Brigham Young University

Similar to before, you’ll notice subjects that appear less frequently are generally more niche and not as applicable to the general population. The least common out of all the subjects tested on the MEE is Conflicts of Law, being tested only 32% of the time. Conflicts of Law would unlikely concern most citizens in day-to-day life.

Another niche area is Torts, which focuses on when the actions of one party result in the harm of another. Notable exceptions to this trend are Wills and Estates and Constitutional Law. However, even these are specialized and focus on individuals dealing with specific circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Common bar tested subjects include Civil Procedures, Family Law, and Contracts. These subjects all frequently appear on the MEE portion of the Uniform Bar Exam. When studying for the bar exam, it is always advisable to be familiar with all possible topics to be best prepared.

Test takers should also be aware that the Uniform Bar Exam contains more than just the MEE, which constitutes 30% of the total grade. Law students will be required to write the MBT, which is worth 50% of their overall exam score. The final portion of the UBE is the MPT which covers the remaining 20% of the exam.

Studying for the bar exam can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you ever feel like you’re struggling, you should always remember that you’re not alone. Countless law students rely on help when they need it. That’s why you should never be afraid to book a free consultation with our law school experts to make your JD dreams a reality.

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