This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, Winter 2023-2024 (Vol. 92, No. 4), pp. 31–33.On a blue background, two individuals are in front of laptops and facing each other. There are documents floating between them and arrows denoting transfer

What is the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE)?

The UBE is both a bar exam that’s administered across the country and a testing program that enables examinees to use one bar exam score for admission in multiple jurisdictions. Coordinated by NCBE, the UBE currently includes the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) tasks, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). From July 2026 to February 2028, score portability will be available in two formats: the current UBE and the NextGen bar exam. Starting in July 2028, the NextGen bar exam will be the only UBE format, although portability of pre-NextGen UBE scores will be maintained.

As of February 2023, 41 US jurisdictions participate in the UBE program. The UBE is designed to test knowledge and skills that every lawyer should be able to demonstrate prior to becoming licensed to practice law.

Note that you must take all portions of the examination in the same UBE jurisdiction and at the same exam administration to earn a portable UBE score; exam sub-scores from different UBE administrations may not be combined.

The UBE is administered over two days, with the MBE given on the last Wednesday of February and July and the MEE and MPT given on the Tuesday prior. Examinees may take the UBE more than once.

For more information on the UBE, please visit the NCBE website here: www.ncbex.org/sites/default/files/2024-01/NCBE_­Understanding_the_UBE.pdf.

Which jurisdictions have adopted the UBE?

For an interactive map of jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE, visit here: www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/about-ube.

What is UBE score portability?

Examinees who take the UBE earn a portable score that can be transferred to seek admission in other UBE jurisdictions. Bear in mind that each jurisdiction sets its own minimum passing UBE score and a maximum age of transferred UBE scores that may restrict UBE score transfer. (Visit www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/ube-minimum-scores and www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/ube-maximum-score-age for more information.)

Additional frequently asked questions about UBE score portability can be found here: www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/ube-score-portability.

How do I transfer my UBE score?

NCBE performs UBE score transfer services for all UBE jurisdictions, and all requests to have UBE scores sent to another jurisdiction must be submitted to NCBE—not to the testing jurisdiction. UBE Official Score Transcripts include all UBE scores the examinee earned in all UBE jurisdictions (please check with the jurisdiction regarding the age of accepted transferable scores). To request to transfer your UBE score, log into your online NCBE Account and select “Score Services.”

For more information on the UBE score services process, please visit the NCBE website here: www.ncbex.org/score-services/ube-score-services.

If I transfer my UBE score to another UBE jurisdiction, do I have to complete the character and fitness process again?

Yes. In addition to verifying that you meet the qualifications for application, each jurisdiction makes its own character and fitness decisions based on its own investigation. You must complete the application forms and meet the admission requirements, including approval of your character and fitness, as determined by each jurisdiction to which you transfer a UBE score.

How long does it take to be admitted following UBE score transfer?

The transfer of your score by UBE typically takes one business day, but the timeline for application, character and fitness investigation, review, and admission decision is set by the individual jurisdictions. The timeline will also depend on your thoroughness in completing the application for admission, responsiveness to questions, and any character and fitness or other qualification issues that may arise.

For more information on the application and character and fitness investigation process, check with your jurisdiction and see this recent Bar Examiner article: thebarexaminer.ncbex.org/article/fall-2023/bar-admissions-faqs-­investigations-fall23/.

If I can transfer my score to any UBE jurisdiction, does it matter where I take/sit for the exam?

Most UBE jurisdictions require that only examinees who intend to be licensed with their court may sit for the bar exam. Some jurisdictions, however, allow “courtesy seating,” which is when a candidate sits for the exam in a jurisdiction with the intention of applying elsewhere. If you plan on taking the exam via courtesy seating, it is recommended that you confirm if the jurisdiction to which you plan to transfer your score will accept scores earned through courtesy seating.

For more information on courtesy seating, including a list of jurisdictions that permit examinees to sit on a courtesy basis, visit the online Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements here: reports.ncbex.org/comp-guide/charts/chart-6/.

If I take the UBE, can I transfer my MBE score to a non-UBE jurisdiction?

Yes, provided the non-UBE jurisdiction accepts transferred MBE scores.

For more information on which non-UBE jurisdictions accept transferred MBE scores, visit reports.ncbex.org/comp-guide/charts/chart-10/.

If I take the bar exam in a non-UBE jurisdiction, can I transfer my MBE score to a UBE jurisdiction?

Yes, provided the UBE jurisdiction accepts transferred MBE scores. If you transfer a concurrent or prior MBE score to a UBE jurisdiction, however, you will not earn a portable UBE score. You must take all portions of the UBE (MEE, MPT, and MBE) in the same UBE jurisdiction and in the same exam administration to earn a portable UBE score.

For more information on which UBE jurisdictions permit MBE score transfers, visit reports.ncbex.org/comp-guide/charts/chart-6/.

If I took the bar exam in a jurisdiction that administers the MEE, MPT, and MBE but doesn’t participate in the UBE, can I transfer my exam score to a UBE jurisdiction? Does my exam score qualify as a UBE score?

You must take the examination in a UBE jurisdiction to earn a portable UBE score. The UBE is more than the sum of its components. It is uniformly administered, graded, and scored by the jurisdictions that adopt it. The fact that a jurisdiction administered the MEE, MPT, and MBE does not automatically qualify the score as a UBE score.

If the jurisdiction in which you tested did not adopt the UBE by the time you took the exam, you did not earn a UBE score, even if that jurisdiction administered the MEE, MPT, and MBE. See above for information on transferring your MBE score to a UBE jurisdiction.

May I apply to more than one jurisdiction using UBE transfer?

The answer to this question depends on the jurisdiction and whether you’ve yet received your UBE score.

Before receiving your score: Some jurisdictions permit “concurrent application,” which essentially means they will accept your application for UBE score transfer before you have received your qualifying UBE score, but some do not.

To see which jurisdictions allow ­concurrent applications, visit reports.ncbex.org/comp-guide/charts/chart-5/.

After receiving your score: There is no limit to the number of jurisdictions to which you may apply at one time after you have received your UBE score.

Does my UBE score ever expire?

Each UBE jurisdiction sets a time limit or a maximum age for accepting a transferred UBE score. To verify your jurisdiction’s maximum age for UBE scores, please check your jurisdiction’s rules.

Some jurisdictions impose a maximum number of bar exam attempts, currently ranging from two (in Iowa) to six (in Arizona, Idaho, North Dakota, and Utah); others have no limit on bar exam attempts. Jurisdiction rules govern how many times you can take the UBE in that jurisdiction, but they may also apply to how many times you can take any bar exam prior to admission in that jurisdiction. Check with the jurisdiction to ensure you meet this qualification and/or to determine whether the number of attempts may be increased.

You can view a summary of these rules at reports.ncbex.org/comp-guide/charts/chart-5/.

NCBE is happy to provide more information on this topic. Get in touch at www.ncbex.org/contact or via our online Help & Support function.

Contact us to request a pdf file of the original article as it appeared in the print edition.

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