State-by-State Bar Exam Information: Massachusetts

Bar Information


Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Wed and Thu of February and July

When is the application for the July exam made available: 

Early March

By when is the application for the July exam due?: 

It must be received by 75 days before the exam (roughly May 11th, but varies)

Exam Details

What tests and types of questions are on the bar exam?: 

Multiple-choice: The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) Written: 10 state law essays

How is the bar exam structured?: 

On Wednesday, applicants take the MBE, 100 questions in the morning and 100 questions in the afternoon--six hours total. On Thursday, applicants take the state law essay questions, five in the morning and five in the afternoon.

What subjects are tested: 

The MBE tests Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Property, and Torts. The state law essays can draw from: Agency, Civil Procedure (federal & Mass.), Business Organizations, Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility, Contracts, Real Property (including mortgages), Criminal Law, Torts, Descent & Distribution of Estates, Trusts, Domestic Relations, Unfair/Deceptive Practices, Evidence (federal & Mass.), UCC Articles 1-9, Federal Procedure, Wills.

Where is the July exam administered?: 
Boston and Springfield
Is it possible to take the written portions of the exam on a laptop computer?: 
Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 
How is the exam scored?: 

The essays and the MBE are each weighted at 50%. Applicants must achieve a total score of 270.


What was the first-time taker pass rate for the most recent July bar exam? : 

July 2012: 85%;July 2011: 88%

What was the overall pass rate for all takers of the most recent July bar exam?: 

July 2012: 81%; July 2011: 84%


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 

Yes, but concurrent examination only

Can applicants already admitted in another state gain admission without taking the bar exam?: 

Yes but they must have practiced law for five of the previous seven years. Consult the Board of Bar Examiners directly for more details on admission on motion.

The information on Massachusetts comes from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners' website, as well as from the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and annual statistical report.