NCBE Releases National Means for July MBE, August MPRE

MADISON, WISCONSIN, September 15, 2021—The National Conference of Bar Examiners today released national mean results for the July Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the August Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE).

The national MBE mean scaled score for July 2021 was 140.4, a decrease of 0.7 points compared to the national mean of 141.1 in July 2019, the most recent previous July administration when a full national group was tested. 45,872 examinees from 53 jurisdictions took the MBE in July 2021, a slight increase over the 45,334 examinees from 54 jurisdictions who took the exam in July 2019. (As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the July 2020 exam NCBE offered jurisdictions two additional in-person administrations in September and October 2020, as well as providing an emergency remote option for those states that determined they could not safely administer an in-person exam. Because only 7,906 examinees took a full MBE in July, September, or October 2020, comparability with July 2021 results is of limited value.)

37,387 examinees took the MBE in the 29 jurisdictions that offered a remote exam as their primary delivery mode for the July 2021 exam, and 8,485 took the exam in the 24 jurisdictions that offered an in-person, paper-based exam as their primary delivery mode.

Reliability for the July 2021 exam was 0.94, the same as the reliability for July 2019. (Reliability is an indicator of the consistency of a set of examination scores, with a maximum value of 1.0.)

Jurisdictions have begun reporting their July 2021 results; 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.

The bar exam, like other professional licensing exams, ensures that practitioners meet minimum standards of fundamental competency. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NCBE has provided a remote administration option to jurisdictions to help minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on recent law graduates. NCBE has announced plans to return to exclusively paper-based, in-person testing for the February 2022 administration of the bar exam, unless restrictions by a public health authority prohibit a jurisdiction from administering the exam in person. Should that occur, NCBE is committed to working with that jurisdiction on a solution that will enable its candidates to test.

18,614 examinees took the MPRE in August 2021, with a national mean scaled score of 96.0, an increase of about 2.6 points from the mean of 93.4 in August 2019, when 17,066 examinees took the exam, and a decrease of almost 2.6 points from the smaller August 2020 administration, with 12,688 examinees and a national mean of 98.6.

The MPRE is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination administered three times per year at Pearson VUE testing centers. It is required for admission to the bars of most US jurisdictions. The purpose of the MPRE is to measure candidates’ knowledge and understanding of established standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers.

NCBE’s mission is to promote fairness, integrity, and best practices in admission to the legal profession for the benefit and protection of the public. The bar exam serves the public interest and is supported by judges, state bar associations, practicing legal professionals, and the public.

Bar graph of July MBE national examinee counts, 2017-2021. 2017 = 46,627; 2018 = 45,274; 2019 = 45,334; 2020 = 5,678 (July), 1,811 (Sept.), 417 (Oct.); 2021 = 45,872.
Line graph of July MBE national mean scaled scores, 2017-2020. 2017 = 141.7; 2018 = 139.5; 2019 = 141.1; 2020 = 146.1 (July), 142.7 (Sept.), 137.2 (Oct.); 2021 = 140.4.
The chart includes the following note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2020 MBE was administered on three separate dates: July 29, September 10, and October 1. The results shown are for in-person examinees only; approximately 29,000 additional examinees sat for a remotely administered exam using NCBE materials in October 2020. Comparability to other years' results may be limited due to the lower examine count.

A graph showing the number of MPRE examinees 2017-2021. In March 2017-2021 there were 20,260; 20,346; 19,138; 17,000; and 18,078 examinees. In August 2017-2021 there were 17,326; 16,651; 17,066; 12,688; and 18,614 examinees. In October/November 2017-2020 there were 20,798; 20,580; 22,165; and 16,607 examinees.A graph showing MPRE mean scores 2017-2021. In March 2017-2021 the mean score was 92.7, 94.7, 93.8, 95.8, and 99.0. In August 2017-2021 the mean score was 93.7, 93.0, 93.4, 98.6, and 96.0. In November 2017-2020 the mean score was 94.1, 95.5, 97.0, and 98.8. The chart includes the following note: Comparability of results may be limited due to fluctuations in examinee counts.