Preparing for the MBE

Test Format

The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions: 175 scored questions and 25 unscored pretest questions. The pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored, so examinees should answer all questions. The exam is divided into morning and afternoon testing sessions of three hours each, with 100 questions in each session. There are no scheduled breaks during either the morning or afternoon session.

The 175 scored questions on the MBE are distributed evenly, with 25 questions from each of the seven subject areas: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.

Each of the questions on the MBE is followed by four possible answers. Examinees should choose the best answer from the four stated alternatives. Each question on the MBE is designed to be answered according to generally accepted fundamental legal principles, unless noted otherwise in the question. Examinees should mark only one answer for each question; multiple answers will be scored as incorrect. Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points are not subtracted for incorrect answers.

Examinees have three hours in each session to answer all questions. All answers must be marked on the answer sheet within the three-hour time limit. Once time is called, examinees must put down their pencils; no more marks or erasures are allowed. Examinees will receive credit only for those answers marked on the answer sheet. No additional time will be allowed to transfer answers from a test booklet to an answer sheet, and only answer sheets will be scored.

Subject Matter

For the MBE's scope of coverage, see the MBE Subject Matter Outline.

MBE Study Aids

MBE Online Practice Exams

The MBE Online Practice Exams (OPEs) are 100-question, annotated online practice exams that use questions drawn from actual MBEs administered in past years. (The questions have been retired and will not appear on a future MBE.) The annotations explain why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. Examinees can take the practice exam timed or untimed, receive feedback on their answers, and obtain a customized report designed to help identify strengths and weaknesses in six MBE subject areas: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. NOTE: The MBE-OPEs do not yet include Civil Procedure, which was introduced as a subject area in February 2015. For sample Civil Procedure questions, see MBE Civil Procedure Sample Test Questions or purchase the MBE Study Aid.

The MBE-OPEs are available for purchase at the NCBE Study Aids Store. Purchasing an MBE-OPE gives an examinee a subscription for unlimited online access to the exam for one year after the date of purchase.

MBE Study Aid

The MBE Study Aid contains 210 questions drawn from previous MBEs, with 30 questions for each of the seven MBE subject areas. Questions are grouped by subject; each group of questions is prefaced by the relevant section of the Subject Matter Outline and followed by an answer key. The MBE Study Aid is available for purchase at the NCBE Study Aids Store

Sample Test Questions

For examples of test questions similar to those on the MBE, see MBE Sample Test Questions.

Civil Procedure was added to the MBE in February 2015. For sample Civil Procedure questions, see MBE Civil Procedure Sample Test Questions or purchase the MBE Study Aid.

Older/Retired Questions

Retired questions drawn from MBEs administered many years ago are made available on this page, but examinees are advised not to use these questions as substantive preparation for the MBE. Due to changes in the law since the time the questions appeared on an exam, the questions and their keys may no longer be current. The question format may also be outdated. Because these questions are outdated, NCBE does not recommend their use but nevertheless makes them available because the questions may still be in use by commercial bar review courses under a licensing agreement with NCBE.  

These publications include answer keys but do not offer annotations. In addition, they do not include Civil Procedure questions.

MBE administered in February 1991: Sample MBE
MBE administered in July 1991: Sample MBE II
MBE administered in July 1998: Sample MBE III

MBE Online Practice Exams

Recent questions from retired MBEs with annotated answer keys

Customized score report


Copyright Notice

The MBE is owned by NCBE and is a secure exam protected by U.S. copyright laws. NCBE strictly prohibits copying, reproducing, or disclosing any MBE questions or answers, whether via electronic, telephonic, written, oral, or other means, to any party or to any public forum during or after the exam. NCBE will use every legal means available to protect its copyrighted materials. Any unauthorized disclosure of MBE content could result in civil liability, criminal penalties, cancellation of test scores, denial of applications to sit for future exams, denial of bar applications on character and fitness grounds, and/or disciplinary action by bar authorities.

Bar Admission Guide

Information on bar admission requirements in all U.S. jurisdictions, including a directory of state bar admission agencies