Ultimate Guide to Pennsylvania State Bar Exam

Your complete guide to Pennsylvania bar exam prep.

Pass Rates · Bar Review Courses · Format · Essay Topics · Schedule · Dates · Location · Application Fees & Deadlines · What to Bring · Scores & Grading · Results · Reciprocity · Law Schools · Groups · Other Resources

*Update June 2020

pennsylvania bar

Pennsylvania State Bar Exam | Basic Information

The Pennsylvania Bar Association was formed in 1845.

Pennsylvania is not a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) state. Pennsylvania has its own bar exam that uses the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the national multiple-choice test. Pennsylvania also requires the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).

Pennsylvania State Bar Exam Pass Rates

February 2020 (506 takers)

Overall Pass Rate: 52%
First-Time Pass Rate: 67%
Repeat Pass Rate: 38%

February 2019 (510 takers)

Overall Pass Rate: 76%
First-Time Pass Rate: 61%
Repeat Pass Rate: 48%

July 2019 (1,270 takers)

Overall Pass Rate: 73%
First-Time Pass Rate: 81%
Repeat Pass Rate: 27%

July 2018 (1,293 takers)

Overall Pass Rate: 71%
First-Time Pass Rate: 79%
Repeat Pass Rate: 28%

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Format

What’s the format of the Pennsylvania Bar?

The Pennsylvania bar is only administered twice a year in February and July. The examination is administered over two days on the last Tuesday and Wednesday in July. The Pennsylvania bar has three parts: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), one PT essay, and six Pennsylvania essay questions.

MBE

The MBE is a six-hour test and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that test your understanding across seven subjects. Your MBE score comprises 45% of your Pennsylvania bar score.

Pennsylvania MBE Review Course

Crushendo’s comprehensive MBE Suite comes with everything you need to crush the MBE.

  • 1750+ Licensed NCBE MBE Practice Questions
  • Audio Flashcards
  • Lifetime Access
Learn More

Pennsylvania Essays

The Pennsylvania essays consist of seven legal essays written on the first day of the Pennsylvania bar. These essays, along with one PT question, comprise 55% of your Pennsylvania bar score.

Pennsylvania bar exam essay topics may include the following:

  • Business Organizations (including corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and professional corporations)
  • Civil Procedure (Pennsylvania and federal)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law (including related Pennsylvania and federal constitutional issues and DUI)
  • Employment Discrimination (limited to Title VII, ADA, and ADEA)
  • Evidence (Pennsylvania and federal)
  • Family Law
  • Federal Constitutional Law
  • Federal Income Taxes (personal only and limited to taxable and non-taxable income, deductions, proprietorships, and capital transactions)
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • U.C.C., Art. II – Sales
  • Wills, Trusts, and Decedents’ Estates (including related fiduciary responsibilities)

Crushendo offers the most recent MEE questions and includes the point sheets that the graders used. These MEE questions are similar to the questions that the Pennsylvania bar uses. You can find old Pennsylvania essay questions here.

This video provides general essay tips that will be useful on this essay portion.

What’s the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination?

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) tests your understanding of established standards of conduct for lawyers. The MPRE is administered three times each year (in March, August, and November). The test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and is two hours long. Check out this MPRE Tips video!

Upcoming Bar Exam Schedule, Dates, Location

Schedule

Morning Afternoon
Day 1 Essays Essays
Day 2 MPT No afternoon exam
Day 3 MBE MBE

Dates

  • July 28-29, 2020
  • February 23-24, 2021
  • July 27-28, 2021
  • February 22-23, 2022
  • July 26-27, 2022
  • February 21-22, 2023
  • July 25-26, 2023

Locations

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Application

Are you interested in taking the Pennsylvania State bar exam? Here’s some basic information on applying to take the Pennsylvania bar exam.

The Pennsylvania Bar application fee for most takers is $650. There are late fees.

*Visit the Pennsylvania Bar website for more information.

If you desire to take the bar exam in February, the filing deadline is October 30. If you file between October 30 and November 15, you will pay a $150 late fee. If you file between November 15 and November 30, you will pay a $300 late fee. If you file between November 30 and December 15, you will pay a $400 late fee. December 15 is the final deadline.

If you desire to take the bar exam in July, the filing deadline is April 15. If you file between April 15 and April 30, you will pay a $150 late fee. If you file between April 30 and May 15, you will pay a $300 late fee. If you file between May 15 and May 15, you will pay a $400 late fee. May 15 is the final deadline.

In addition to passing the Pennsylvania bar exam with a score of at least 272, there are several requirements that must be met in order to be admitted as an attorney in Pennsylvania, including:

  1. Score 85 or higher on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) within the accepted time frame.
  2. Character and Fitness Review
  3. Graduate from an ABA-approved law school
  4. Get fingerprinted

Pennsylvania State Bar Admissions Office

Physical address:

Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
601 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 3600
P.O Box 62535
Harrisburg, PA 17106-2535

Phone: (717) 231-3350
Fax: (717) 231-3351
Email (technical issues only): webmaster@pabarexam.org

Pennsylvania Bar Exam: What to Bring

What to bring

  • Your current driver’s license
  • Your Bar Examination Identification & Certification Card that has your photo, NCBE number, and examinee number

What is Provided

  • Earplugs
  • Tissues and cough drops
  • Pens or pencils
  • Feminine hygiene products

Important notes

  • You need to have these items with you for each of the four testing sessions.
  • Pens and pencils are provided to examinees.
  • Laptop testers should not bring their laptop in a case or bag.

Prohibited items

  • Any item that can connect to the internet
  • Any item that can record audio or video
  • Fitness trackers
  • Backpacks
  • Books
  • Briefcases
  • Calculators
  • Cameras
  • Notes
  • Phones
  • Food or drink
  • Purses
  • Radios
  • Rulers
  • Scratch papers
  • Study materials

More information here.

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Scores and Grading

A passing score for the Pennsylvania bar is a 272. Scores of the three tests comprising the bar are weighted as follows:

  • MBE = 45% of total score
  • Essays and PT= 55% of total score

*A passing score for the MPRE in Pennsylvania is 75/150.

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Results

View lists of those who passed the Pennsylvania State bar exam, posted on the Pennsylvania State Bar Association’s website:

Frequently Asked Questions

When are my Pennsylvania bar exam results released?

Pennsylvania bar exam results are usually released mid-April or mid-October.

Can I see my Pennsylvania bar exam score?

If you passed the Pennsylvania bar exam, you won’t be able to see your score.

Can I appeal to have my Pennsylvania bar exam re-graded?

Re-grading is offered but appeals are not.

How many times can I take the bar exam in Pennsylvania?

You can retake the Pennsylvania bar without any limit.

Pennsylvania Bar Exam Reciprocity

The following states have reciprocity with Pennsylvania:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
In order to be admitted, you must follow the reciprocity requirements according to Rule 204:
  • Graduate from an ABA-approved law school
  • Active practice of law for five of the last seven years
  • Received Certificate of Good Standing from last state or jurisdiction
  • Have not failed the Pennsylvania bar in the past

Law Schools in Pennsylvania

Here’s a list of law schools in Pennsylvania.

Thomas R. Kline School of Law (Drexel University)

Duquesne University School of Law

Penn State Dickinson Law

Penn State Law

Carey Law School (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Founded: 1923
  • Located: Philadelphia, PA
  • Enrollment: about 775
  • Tuition Cost: $67,998 View tuition breakdown
  • Bar Passage Rate: 97%
  • ABA Accredited: Yes
  • Website: law.upenn.edu

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

  • Founded: 1895
  • Located: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Enrollment: about 400
  • Tuition Cost: $46,874 View tuition breakdown
  • Bar Passage Rate: 91%
  • ABA Accredited: Yes
  • Website: law.pitt.edu

Beasley School of Law (Temple University)

Charles Widger School of Law (Villanova University)

Widener University Commonwealth Law School

Helpful Groups

Here are some Facebook groups you may find helpful before, and after, passing the bar exam:

Thomas R. Kline School of Law (Drexel University)

Duquesne University School of Law

Penn State Dickinson Law

Penn State Law

Carey Law School (University of Pennsylvania)

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Beasley School of Law (Temple University)

Charles Widger School of Law (Villanova University)

Widener University Commonwealth Law School