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Preparing for the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) may require more than just learning the law; it also means learning in which jurisdiction you should take it. While there is not much that is new about the UBE’s individual components – the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) – what is new is that where you take the UBE may make the difference between passing and failing. This is possible because of the convergence of bar exam test practices of “portability,” “relative grading,” and “scaling” of scores. By adopting the UBE, jurisdictions agree to weight the MEE at 30%, the MPT at 20%, and the MBE at 50% in determining an examinee’s score. As a result, the UBE, as currently administered:

• leads to the situation where the same skill level could result in different UBE scores depending on where the candidate takes the exam;

• fails to ensure that the scores used to grant licensure in a UBE jurisdiction are sufficiently reliable for high-stakes testing when it is possible to achieve different outcomes on the same test by the same candidate if taken in different UBE jurisdictions;

• results in a “portable” score but not an “accurate” one because the written score – 50% of the total – depends on the strength of the applicant pool in the jurisdiction where the candidate wrote the exam;

• presents a candidate with the opportunity to “UBE shop” and “game the system” by taking the UBE in a jurisdiction where the same essay and MPT performance would result in a higher score and then transferring that inflated score for admission in a “harder” jurisdiction; and

• makes it possible for a candidate to file a discrimination lawsuit challenging his or her UBE results.


Reprinted with permission from New York State Bar Association Journal, July/August 2016, Vol. 88, No. 6, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207.

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88 N.Y.ST. B.J. 46