The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has produced the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) since 1972.

The MBE consists of 200 ­multiple-choice questions in the follow­ing areas: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. The purpose of the MBE is to assess the extent to which an examinee can apply fundamental legal ­p­­rinciples and legal reasoning to analyze given fact patterns.

Both a raw score and a scaled score are computed for each examinee. A raw score is the number of questions answered correctly. Raw scores from different administrations of the MBE are not comparable, primarily due to differences in the difficulty of the questions from one administration to the next. The MBE, like virtually all high-stakes exams, is equated. Equating is a statistical process that adjusts for variations in the difficulty of the questions, producing scaled scores that represent the same level of performance across all MBE administrations. For instance, if the questions appearing on the July MBE were more difficult than those appearing on the February MBE, then the scaled scores for the July MBE would be adjusted upward to account for this difference. These adjustments ensure that no examinee is unfairly penalized or rewarded for taking a more or less difficult exam. Each jurisdiction determines its own policy with regard to the relative weight given to the MBE and other scores. (Jurisdictions that administer the Uniform Bar Examination [UBE] weight the MBE component 50%.)

Jurisdictions Using the MBE in 2018

2018 MBE National Summary Statistics (Based on Scaled Scores)

Note: The values reflect valid scores available electronically as of 2/14/2019.  

2018 MBE National Score Distributions

Note: The values reflect valid scores available electronically as of 2/14/2019.  These data represent scaled scores in increments of 5. For example, the percentage reported for 135 includes examinees whose MBE scaled scores were between 130.5 and 135.4. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

MBE National Examinee Counts, 2009–2018

Note: The values reflect valid scores available electronically as of 2/14/2019.

Year February (Number of Examinees) July (Number of Examinees) Year Total (Number of Examinees)
2009 18,868 50,385 69,253
2010 19,504 50,114 69,618
2011 20,369 49,933 70,302
2012 20,695 52,337 73,032
2013 21,578 53,706 75,284
2014 22,083 51,005 73,088
2015 22,396 48,384 70,780
2016 23,324 46,518 69,842
2017 22,269 46,627 68,896
2018 21,111 45,274 66,385

MBE National Mean Scaled Scores, 2009–2018

Note: The values reflect valid scores available electronically as of 2/14/2019.

Year February (Mean Scaled Scores) July (Mean Scaled Scores) Year Total (Mean Scaled Scores)
2009 135.7 144.5 142.1
2010 136.6 143.6 141.7
2011 138.6 143.8 142.3
2012 137.0 143.4 141.6
2013 138.0 144.3 142.5
2014 138.0 141.5 140.4
2015 136.2 139.9 138.7
2016 135.0 140.3 138.5
2017 134.1 141.7 139.2
2018 132.8 139.5 137.4

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