State-by-State Bar Exam Information: Pennsylvania

Bar Information

(717) 231-3350

Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Tue and Wed of February and July

When is the application for the July exam made available: 


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

The first deadline is April 15th. The final deadline, with a much higher fee, is May 30th.

Exam Details

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

Written: Six essay questions on Pennsylvania law and one performance test

Multiple-choice:   The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

How is the bar exam structured?: 

Day 1:

  • Morning, performance test and two essays
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon, four essays

Day 2:      

  • Morning, first 100 MBE questions
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon, second 100 MBE questions
What subjects are tested: 

The MBE tests Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.

The state essays test Business Organizations (including corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and professional corporations), Civil Procedure (PA and Federal), Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination (Title VII, ADA, and ADEA only), Evidence (PA and Federal), Family Law, Federal Constitutional Law, Federal Income Tax (personal only and limited to taxable income, nontaxable income, deductions, proprietorships, and capital transactions), Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts, UCC Article II (Sales), and Wills, Trusts and Decedents' Estates (including related fiduciary responsibilities). 

Where is the July exam administered?: 
Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg
Is it possible to take the written portions of the exam on a laptop computer?: 

Yes. All applicants who request to take the exam on a laptop will be able to do so.

Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 
How is the exam scored?: 

The written portions (essays and performance test) are scaled to the MBE and then the written portions are weighted at 55% and the MBE at 45% of the overall score.


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

2012: 83%; 2011: 85%

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

2012: 77%; 2011: 80%


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 


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

Yes, but only if the applicant has practiced law for five of the last seven years in a jurisdiction with which Pennsylvania has reciprocity. Pennsylvania has reciprocity with Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  Please consult the jurisdiction directly for more detailed information on admission by motion.

The information for Pennsylvania comes from the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners' website and response to our survey, as well as the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and annual statistical report.