Everything You Need to Know About Taking the Bar Exam in New York

June 24 2019 By Pieper Bar Review
Students taking a test

The Empire State officially replaced the New York Bar Exam with the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in 2016. As of February 2019, New York is one of 35 jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE in place of state-specific examinations. To actually practice law in New York, however, you’ll have to complete a few important prerequisites, in addition to earning a passing bar score.

5 Must-Dos to Practice Law in New York, Besides Passing the Bar

1. Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE).

  • Purpose: to measure your knowledge and understanding of established standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers. Note: This is not a test to determine an individual’s personal ethical values.
  • Structure: two-hour exam comprised of 60 multiple-choice questions
  • When: three times each year: in March, August and November, and it should be taken prior to the UBE
  • Scoring: In New York, you need at least 85 (out of 150 possible points) to pass

Here is an example of a typical MPRE question:

Following a jury trial, a judge discharged the jury and thanked them for their service. Later that day, the judge bumped into several jurors who had congregated outside chambers. The judge complimented the jurors for their well-reasoned and just verdict. The jurors asked if the judge knew of any good places for dinner nearby, and the judge recommended several.

Did the conversation with jurors outside chambers comply with the judge's duties under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct?

A. Yes, because the judge did not discuss the merits of the case with the jurors outside chambers.

B. Yes, because a judge may thank jurors for their service.

C. No, because a judge may never communicate with jurors once a case has concluded.

D. No, because a judge may not commend or criticize jurors for their verdict. (Correct)

Register now for Pieper Bar Review’s FREE MPRE course, and get a taste of what our educators can do for you.

2. Complete the New York Law Course (NYLC).

  • Purpose: The NYLC is an online course covering important principles unique to the state of New York, specifically regarding the following subjects: Administrative Law, Business Relationships, Civil Practice and Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Matrimonial and Family Law, Professional Responsibility, Real Property, Torts and Tort Damages, and Trusts, Wills and Estates.
  • Structure: Contains about 17 hours of video lectures, with questions embedded intermittently, which must be answered correctly to progress through the course.
  • When: This is an on-demand course and can be taken at any time within one year of the date an applicant first sits for the bar exam. 
  • You can begin the NYLC here.

3. Pass the New York Law Exam (NYLE).

  • Purpose: The NYLE tests the exact subjects covered throughout the NYLC, and is intended to determine whether or not an examinee has adequate knowledge and understanding of important principles in New York law.
  • Structure: This is an open-book exam containing 50 multiple-choice questions to be answered within a two-hour time limit.
  • When: Offered four times each year. Dates for the two remaining 2019 registration deadlines and subsequent exams are as follows:
Registration Deadline Exam Date
August 27, 2019 11:59 p.m. September 26, 2019 12:00 p.m.
November 19, 2019 11:59 p.m. December 19, 2019 12:00 p.m.
  • Scoring: A passing raw score on the NYLE is 30 correct questions out of 50. The NYLE can be taken repeatedly within three years of passing the UBE.

4. Complete 50 Hours of Pro Bono Service.

In January 2013, the New York State Board of Law Examiners enacted a new rule requiring all candidates seeking admission to the bar to prove that they have completed 50 hours of pro bono work.

5. Complete an Interview with the Committee on Character and Fitness.

Differences Between the New York Bar Exam & Uniform Bar Exam

If you’re currently enrolled in law school in New York, then the switch to the UBE is probably old news. However, if you are an ex-law student plotting a comeback, or perhaps failed the bar in New York prior to July 2016 and are looking to give it another try, this is for you:

New York Bar Exam Uniform Bar Exam
5 essays on New York law (40%) 6 essays on “Fundamental Principles of Law” (30%) (Multistate Essay Exam, or MEE)
50 multiple-choice questions on New York law (10%)  
1 Multistate Performance Test (MPT) (10%) 2 MPTs (20%)
200 Questions on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) (40%) 200 questions on the Multistate Bar Exam (50%)


What Score Do You Need to Pass the Bar in New York?

The biggest advantage of the UBE, as opposed to state-specific exams, is the portability of your score. Even if you don’t achieve a passing score in the state where you take the UBE, you can transfer it to another jurisdiction with lower passing requirements. In New York, a passing score is 266 (out of a possible 400 points). For example, the passing score in Rhode Island is 276. If an examinee earns a 270 in Rhode Island, they could transfer that score to New York, but would then still need to complete the remaining tasks required to practice law in New York State.

Pieper Knows New York Law

John G. Pieper has passed the bar exam in 30 different jurisdictions, but he’s been lecturing on all things New York law specifically since 1972. Today, besides heading Pieper Bar Review, he is an adjust professor at the following New York institutions: Brooklyn Law School, The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the City University of New York, Fordham University School of Law, New York Law School, and Touro Law Center. 

 The Pieper Difference

With the Pieper family's more than 40 years of experience, the most lecture hours of any bar review course, and more than 1,500 pages of outlines, Pieper’s Full Bar Review Course delivers all the substantive law you’ll need to pass the UBE, along with the strategies for mastering multiple-choice questions and maximizing your scores on the MBE, Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Register Today to begin your journey toward bar exam success!


Pieper Bar Review

For more than 40 years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought-provoking examples and bar exam questions. Proof the Pieper teaching method works is found within the success of our former students—now present-day attorneys. Learn more.

About the author

Pieper Bar Review

For over forty years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought provoking examples and bar exam questions. The proof that the Pieper teaching method works is found in the success of our former students – now present-day attorneys. Learn more

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