Bar Examinations - Selected States
The Pennsylvania Bar Examination is given the last Tuesday and Wednesday every February and July. It consists of six essay questions and a performance test question on Tuesday and the Multistate Bar Examination on Wednesday.
The following subjects are tested on the essay questions: Business Organizations (including corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and professional corporations); Employment Discrimination (limited to Title VII, ADA, and ADEA), Professional Responsibility; Civil Procedure (Pennsylvania and Federal); Evidence (Pennsylvania and Federal); Real Property; Criminal Law (including related Pennsylvania and Federal constitutional issues and Pennsylvania DUI); Family Law; Torts; Conflicts of Law; Federal Constitutional Law; U.C.C., Article II – Sales; Contracts; Federal Income Tax (personal only and limited to taxable and non-taxable income, deductions, proprietorships and capital transactions); and Wills, Trusts and Decedent’s Estates (including related fiduciary responsibilities). Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge of applicable Pennsylvania law when answering the essay questions. A single essay question tests several different subjects.
According to the Pennsylvania Bar Examiners, “[t]he Performance Test is designed to test an applicant’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation and to complete a task, which a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish.” It is not a test of substantive knowledge. Applicants are given a file including the facts needed to answer the question, a library of research material containing the substantive information necessary to answer the question, and a memorandum outlining the assignment to be completed by the applicant. In the past, applicants were asked to write the following: a brief in support of a summary judgment motion (July 2008); a memorandum to a supervising attorney (February 2008 and February 2006); a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (July 2007); a bench memorandum to a judge (February 2007); an opinion letter to a client (July 2006); and a letter to opposing counsel (July 2005).
In addition to on-line registration and detailed information about the Bar Exam, the website for the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners contains downloadable essay and performance test questions along with grading guidelines, the examiners’ analyses of the essay questions, and sample essay question answers. For more information, click here.
Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
5070A Ritter Road, Suite 300
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
The New Jersey Bar Exam is given the last Wednesday and Thursday every February and July. It consists of Multistate Bar Examination on Wednesday and seven essay questions on Thursday. Because the MBE is administered on the same day in all jurisdictions and the essay portion of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bar exams are given on different days, an applicant can concurrently take the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bar exams during the same exam period.
The following subjects are tested on the essay questions: Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law; Contracts; Criminal Law; Evidence; Real Property; and Torts. Although the New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners state that the essay questions “may cut across two or more of the basic subject areas,” typically the questions have focused on single subjects that may be framed in the context of fact situations involving the following additional subjects: agency; conflicts of law; corporations; equity; family law; partnership; U.C.C. Articles II (Sales), III (Commercial Paper), and IX (Secured Transactions); wills, trusts and estates; zoning and planning; and disciplinary rules. Familiarity with these areas of law may help a candidate answer the essay questions.
In addition to application materials and detailed information about the Bar Exam, the website for the New Jersey Board of Law Examiners contains downloadable essay questions and sample answers. For more information, click here.
New Jersey Board of Law Examiners
P.O. Box 973
Trenton, NJ 08625-0973