MADISON, WISCONSIN, April 2, 2024— The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced today that the national mean scaled score for the February 2024 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) was 131.8, an increase of more than 0.6 points compared to the February 2023 mean of 131.1. The MBE, one of three sections that make up the bar exam in most US jurisdictions, consists of 200 multiple-choice questions answered over six hours. 

19,496 examinees took the February 2024 MBE, an increase of approximately 1.4% compared to the 19,228 examinees who sat for the exam in February 2023. This increase continues a return toward pre-pandemic examinee numbers that began with last February’s administration.

Line graph of February MBE national mean scaled scores, 2020-2024. 2020 = 132.6; 2021 = 134.0; 2022 = 132.6; 2023 = 131.1; 2024 = 131.8.

Bar graph of February MBE national examinee counts, 2020-2024. 2020 = 19,122; 2021 = 16,759; 2022 = 16,504, 2023 = 19,228; 2024 = 19,496.

Stacked bar graph of first-time and repeat February MBE examinees as a percentage of total February MBE examinees, 2020-2024. 2020 = 23% first-time, 68% repeat, 9% untrackable; 2021 = 49% first-time, 41% repeat,  11% untrackable; 2022 = 32% first-time, 68% repeat; 2023 = 28% first-time, 72% repeat; 2024 = 28% first-time, 72% repeat. The chart includes the following note: First-time and repeat examinee percentages are an approximation based on NCBE Number and biographic data.

Approximately 72% of February 2024 examinees were likely repeat test takers and approximately 28% were likely taking the exam for the first time, roughly the same proportion of repeat and first-time test takers as February 2023.  All groups of examinees saw performance increases compared to February 2023, with the greatest increase for first-time takers.
 
NCBE Director of Assessment and Research Rosemary Reshetar, EdD, commented: “These numbers reflect a continuation of the trend that began last February: we are moving back toward pre-Covid numbers in terms of both the mean and the examinee count. We will likely see an increase in pass rates compared to last February, but we are also still seeing the effects of the pandemic on examinees who were in law school in 2020, 2021, and 2022.” 

Reliability for the February 2024 exam was 0.93, slightly higher than the reliability for the February 2023 exam and consistent with the 5-year average for February administrations. (Reliability is an indicator of the consistency of a set of examination scores, with a maximum value of 1.0.)

Jurisdictions begin releasing their February 2024 results this week; bar examination pass rates as reported by jurisdictions are available on the NCBE website. Many jurisdictions are still in the process of grading the written components of the bar exam; once this process is completed, bar exam scores will be calculated and passing decisions reported by those jurisdictions.

More information about the MBE and bar passage rates can be found in the following Bar Examiner articles:

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The first-time and repeat MBE-based test taker information calculated by NCBE is an approximation based on the NCBE Number and biographic data, which has not been used consistently in all jurisdictions across time. Prior to 2022, approximately 10% of examinees could not be tracked with certainty by NCBE as either first-time or repeat takers due to a lack of sufficient biographic information.

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About the National Conference of Bar Examiners

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1931. NCBE promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public, in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. Best known for developing bar exam content used by 54 US jurisdictions, NCBE serves admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. In 2026, NCBE will launch the next generation of the bar examination, ensuring that the exam continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in a changing profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at https://www.ncbex.org.

About the Multistate Bar Examination

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE and administered by user jurisdictions as part of the bar examination, typically given twice each year. 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. The subjects tested on the MBE are Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. In addition to assessing examinee knowledge and skills, the MBE is used to equate the bar exam. Equating is a statistical procedure used for most large-scale standardized tests to ensure that exam scores retain the same meaning across administrations and over time. More information about the MBE is available on the NCBE website at https://www.ncbex.org/exams/mbe/.

About the Uniform Bar Examination

The UBE is a two-day bar examination composed of the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) tasks, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). It is uniformly administered, graded, and scored and results in a portable score that can be transferred to other UBE jurisdictions. More information about the UBE is available on the NCBE website at https://www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/. 41 US jurisdictions currently participate in the UBE, and more than 45,000 examinees took the UBE in 2023.

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