Bar Exam Info

The Application Process

Each jurisdiction has its own licensing requirements for attorneys.  Most jurisdictions require an applicant to complete one or more examinations, as well as undergo a background investigation, known as a Character and Fitness review.

Information regarding each state's licensing requirements, including Character and Fitness procedures

Students with any questions or concerns about this process should contact Professor Ralston, Visiting Professor of Bar Support.

Helpful Links:

Preparing to take the Bar Exam

Most lawyers will tell you that preparing for the Bar Exam was one of the most difficult challenges that they have ever faced. The Law School is committed to preparing its graduates for first time success on the Bar Exam.  Here are the steps you can take to ensure you are sufficiently prepared for to apply for and take the bar exam: 

  • Decide whether to take the bar exam
    • Do your career goals require a law license?  If not, consider whether you need to take the bar exam. If you are unsure, you should probably take the exam, since the material will never be as fresh in your mind and the situation will likely never be as convenient as it will be immediately following graduation. 
  • Decide where to take the bar exam
    • You should take your first bar exam in the state in which you plan to immediately live and work.     
  • Understand your state’s licensing requirements 
    • Each state has its own requirements and timeline for attorney licensure.  Be sure to calendar all of the relevant deadlines, and familiarize yourself with the documents you will be required to submit as part of this process. 
    • If you plan to request testing accommodations during the bar exam, make sure to determine the documentation you’ll need to submit as part of this process. 
    • In addition to the bar exam itself, many states also require applicants to receive a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) and to complete a state specific law exam. The dates and times of these exams are different than the bar exam, and you may need to complete these exams prior to submitting your bar exam application. 
  • Research bar review courses
    • To adequately prepare for the bar exam you need to enroll in a bar review course.  For most RWU students, the best option will be to enroll in the Themis bar review course, since this material is used in Applied Legal Reasoning (ALR) and students receive a significant discount through the law school’s partnership with Themis.     
    • However, if you are unsure which bar review course is right for you, use the free materials offered by the bar review providers you are considering to prepare for the MPRE.  This will give you an apples-to-apples comparison of the providers’ programs.   
    • In addition to the materials you receive from your bar review provider, you may also consider purchasing supplemental study materials. However, before making any additional purchases, check with your bar review provider and the bar director at the law school to ensure you don’t already have access to the same or similar materials as part of your bar review course. 
  • Make a financial plan
    • Taking the bar exam is a significant financial commitment.  In addition to the application fee and the price of a bar review course, most students avoid working during the bar review period, in order to have an adequate amount of time to prepare for the exam.  If you need financial assistance during this period, make an appointment with the Office of Student Finance and Records to discuss grant and loan options. 
  • Enroll in a bar review course
    • Complete your bar application
    • Pre-bar review study 
      • If there are subjects tested on the bar exam that you have not studied during law school or feel uncertain about, consider reviewing commercial outlines for these subjects during this time period.  This will allow you to focus your attention on applying these concepts to multiple choice and essay questions when you begin your bar review course, as opposed to spending considerable time during bar review attempting to conceptualize this material.   
    • Make the most of your Applied Legal Reasoning (ALR) course 
      • This course will give provide you with an excellent primer for what the bar review experience will be like.  Additionally, it will give you an opportunity to try different study strategies you may want to use in your bar review course. 
    • Limit your commitments and discuss the bar review process with your employer and family
      • On average, you will spend 8-12 hrs a day studying during bar review.  This will leave you little time to take on outside obligations.  Thus, avoid taking on any unnecessary commitments, and work on formulating a plan to manage any unavoidable commitments and relationships that may be disrupted by your studies. 
  • Get organized
    • Familiarize yourself with the materials you received from your bar review provider, including the online platform you will use to complete most of your assignments.
    • Begin thinking about your daily routine during bar review, including possible study location(s), the hours you plan to study, and how to incorporate healthy habits into your schedule (exercise, eating, recreation, time with friends and family, etc.).
  • First eight weeks of bar review
    • Learn 
      • The bulk of your time during this period will be spent learning the black letter law tested on the bar exam.  This can be done by reading outlines and watching lectures.  As you review this material, take notes to distill the critical information to review later.       
    • Memorize
      • Given the volume of material tested on the bar exam, you will need a plan for retaining the material you’ve learned.  Emphasize memorization strategies that require you to actively recite information from memory as frequently as possible, as opposed to passively reading through your notes.
    • Apply 
      • The bar exam is composed of multiple choice questions, essays, and practical legal writing exercises (MPTs).  Your bar review provider will give you many practice questions designed to prepare you for each of these exam components.  While there is no magic number of questions a student needs to complete to be fully prepared for the exam, most students complete approximately 2,000-3,000 multiple choice questions, 10-20 essays per subject, and 10-20 MPTs by the end of bar review.  Additionally, your bar review provider will hold at least one simulated multiple choice exam and one written exam during this time period.   
    • Exam logistics
      • If you need to travel to your exam site, make hotel and travel arrangements.
      • If you plan to take your exam on the computer, most states require you to register your computer during this time period. 
  • Final review
    • Now that the learning phase of bar review is over, you need to review each subject one or two more times before the exam.  This will require you to review your lecture notes, study aids, and past practice questions, and to complete new practice problems on a daily basis.
    • Your goal is to reinforce what you’ve already learned and feel confident in your ability to recall and apply the central concepts within each subject.  This is not the time to learn anything new or to exhaust yourself by fixating on minutia.   
  • Prepare yourself for the exam
    • Taking the bar exam will be physically and mentally taxing. To avoid being fatigued during the exam, make sure to eat and sleep well, and not exhaust yourself studying late into the night. 
    • Decide on a plan of attack for each component of the exam, including devising strategies for managing your time, determining the order in which to do the questions, and developing an approach for handling questions on each subject. 
    • Visualize the process of taking the exam, and determine the stress management and exam techniques you’d like to employ to work through any difficulties you may encounter. 
  • Before the exam
    • Look over questions you’ve already done to get warmed-up.
    • Remind yourself of the stress management and exam strategies you want to employ that day.
  • During the exam
    • Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. 
    • Don’t panic read.  The quality of your answers will depend more on your reading skills, than on your writing skills. 
    • Stop and reset when you feel your focus slipping.
    • Don’t judge your performance (the reality of the situation is probably much different than your perception of it).
  • During the break
    • Don’t talk about the exam with friends or anyone else. 
    • Remind yourself that there is no way your performance on any one portion of the exam can tank your entire score.
    • Eat and drink something, even if you don’t feel like it.

Examination Requirements

The Bar Exam is a test administered twice a year in every state (July and February) which a prospective attorney must successfully complete to become eligible to practice law.   The length and composition of the exam varies from state to state, but nearly every state uses a combination of questions created by state bar examiners and the National Conference of Bar Examiners.


The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July of 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 MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that test on the following areas of law: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, and Torts. 

More information on the MBE


The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year.  The MEE is composed of six 30-minute questions which may cover any of the following areas of law: Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies), Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts (including Article 2 of the UCC), Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, Torts, Trusts and Estates, and Secured Transactions (Article 9 of the UCC). Some questions may include issues in more than one area of law. The particular areas covered vary from exam to exam. 

More information on the MEE


The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is administered by participating jurisdictions on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year. The MPT is a 90-minute designed to test an examinee’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation.  Each test evaluates an examinee’s ability to complete a task that a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish.  The MPT is not a test of substantive knowledge. Rather, it is designed to examine six fundamental skills lawyers are expected to demonstrate regardless of the area of law in which the skills arise: (1) sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts; (2) analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law; (3) apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem; (4) identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present; (5) communicate effectively in writing; and (6) complete a lawyering task within time constraints. These skills are tested by requiring examinees to perform one or more of a variety of lawyering tasks. For example, examinees might be instructed to complete any of the following: a memorandum to a supervising attorney, a letter to a client, a persuasive memorandum or brief, a statement of facts, a contract provision, a will, a counseling plan, a proposal for settlement or agreement, a discovery plan, a witness examination plan, or a closing argument.  

More information on the MPT


The MPRE is a 60-question, two-hour-and-five-minute, multiple-choice examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and administered three times per year at established test centers across the country. The purpose of the MPRE is to measure the examinee's knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct. The majority of states require bar applicants to receive a passing score on the MPRE as a condition to bar admission. Each of these states has specific rules regarding when an applicant must take the MPRE and what score the applicant must receive to “pass”. This information can typically be found on the state bar examiners’ websites.

Most students choose to sit for the exam while taking Professional Responsibility, or soon thereafter. However, studying from these class notes alone will not be sufficient to prepare you for the exam. Most commercial bar preparation companies offer a free MPRE review class and study materials. Additional resources can also be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ website. 

More information about the MPRE, administration dates, and registration

UBE Local Component

Some states that use the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) also require applicants to receive a passing score on a separate state-specific exam.  This exam is known as the local component.  These exams do not take place in conjunction with the bar exam.  

More information about which states require a local component

Contact Information 

For questions or more information, contact:

John Ralston
Visiting Professor of Bar Support
Roger Williams University
School of Law
Ten Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.