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Posted on August 17, 2020 in Arizona Law

How Hard is it to Pass the Arizona Bar Exam?

To become an attorney in Arizona, you must be admitted to the Arizona State Bar. The Arizona Supreme Court handles all aspects of admitting lawyers to practice law in the state. Lawyers cannot practice law in Arizona without being admitted to the Bar.

Attorneys are admitted to practice law in Arizona in one of three ways. They pass the Arizona Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) or transfer their score on the UBE from another jurisdiction. Attorneys may also be permitted to practice law in Arizona upon admission on motion.

Candidates for admission to the Bar must also meet all other criteria for practicing law in Arizona, such as graduating with a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school and receiving approval of a Character and Fitness Application.

For more recent law school graduates in Arizona, taking the Arizona Bar Exam is the most common method of becoming approved to practice law in Arizona. However, the bar exam in Arizona is not easy. A significant number of individuals fail the bar exam on the first attempt. In 2017, Arizona’s bar exam had a pass rate of 49.85%.

What are the Three Sections of the Arizona Bar Exam?

The Arizona Bar Exam is a two-day Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) offered in February and July of each year. By using the Uniform Bar Exam as the state bar exam, Arizona attorneys can apply to other jurisdictions that use the UBE to transfer their bar exam scores if they choose to apply to the bar in those states.

The Arizona Uniform Bar Exam consists of:

  • Six MEE (Multistate Essay Examination) questions
  • Two MPT (Multistate Performance Test) questions
  • The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)

Each section of the bar examination has a specific purpose. The tests measure an examinee’s knowledge and abilities in several areas important to the practice of law.

The Multistate Bar Examination

The MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions and counts for 50 percent of the overall score. The exam tests whether the person can apply legal reasoning and fundamental legal principles to analyze various fact patterns. An examinee has six hours to complete the MBE section of the exam.

The Multistate Essay Examination

The MEE contains six 30-minute questions and is worth 30 percent of the score. The MEE serves several purposes. It tests a person’s ability to identify legal issues and distinguish that is relevant in a given situation.

The MEE also tests to determine if the person can present a reasoned analysis that is well organized and concise while demonstrating an understanding of fundamental legal principles relevant to the situation.

The Multistate Performance Test

The MPT has two 90-minute items and is worth 30 percent of the score. The MPT is not used to test an examinee’s substantive knowledge of the law. The test is used to evaluate fundamental skills that an attorney should be able to demonstrate when practicing in any area of law, including personal injury or criminal defense.

There are several skills that the MPT tests, including:

  • Sorting factual materials
  • Separating irrelevant facts from relevant facts
  • Analyze a variety of materials for applicable principles of law
  • Apply the relevant law to the facts to solve the client’s issue
  • Identify and resolve any ethical problems
  • Effective communication through writing
  • Completing a lawyering task within a given time frame

The lawyering tasks that must be completed to successfully pass the MPT vary, as does the information and scenarios used for the test.

Preparing for the Arizona Bar Exam

Most people expect that three years of law school prepares them to take the bar exam. However, they may discover too late that they needed to prepare for the bar exam. Most individuals spent several weeks or months preparing to take the bar exam.

How difficult the Arizona Bar Exam might be for an individual depends on numerous factors. Where a person attended law school and the subjects the person focused upon during school can impact how hard a bar exam might be for the person.

How much time the person spent preparing for the bar exam is another factor. The use of prepared study materials and taking study courses can also impact how well someone might perform on the bar exam. Many companies offer bar exam study courses and materials.

Something as simple as test-taking anxiety can have an impact on the bar exam scores. Learning how to prepare for and take an exam can also be important for passing the bar.

The bar examination is not like taking a final exam to pass a class. The bar exam is a culmination of all the years spent in law school combined with the person’s skills and inherent legal aptitude.