Bar exam information

Photo of Sarah Garrison chatting with studentsWayne Law is committed to helping our students succeed in law school and pass the bar examination. We believe this journey starts in your first year of law school, as students begin to master the first-year law courses, and continues through the middle and final years at Wayne Law. Our programs are designed to provide additional bar support, using diagnostic exams to predict areas that students should focus on as well as free programs to enhance essay writing skills.

In addition to our programs, we provide expert individual advice and guidance. Wayne Law students graduate with the tools and support to start bar examination preparation and ultimately to be successful in the bar exam.

Student Affairs encourages students to begin preliminary bar preparation in their first year. Megan Canty, director of academic success and bar exam preparation, can help students create a bar exam plan for each of their years at Wayne Law.

Michigan Bar Exam

Overview of the bar exam

Video of February Michigan Bar Exam Overview presentation

The Michigan Bar Exam is a two-day exam on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. In February, the bar exam is administered at the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University. In July, the bar exam is administered at the Breslin Center at MSU.

The first day consists of 15 essays on Michigan law. The second day is the Multistate Bar Exam, consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice portion doesn't test Michigan law – rather it tests the general (or majority) law of all of the states.

Day 1: Michigan essay topics – 24 subjects could be tested on the essay portion. The subjects are Agency, Commercial Paper, Conflict of Laws, Corporations, Creditors' Rights, Equity, Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, Domestic Relations, Insurance (no-fault), Partnerships, Personal Property, Practice and Procedure (State and Federal), Sales, Secured Transactions, Wills & Trusts, Workers' Compensation, plus all Multistate Bar Exam subjects.

Day 2: Multistate Bar Exam (multiple choice) topics – Seven subjects are tested: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts and (as of February 2015) Civil Procedure. They are weighted about equally.

Application, fees and deadline information are on the State Bar of Michigan (character and fitness and personal history information) and Michigan Board of Law Examiners (examination application and FAQs) websites.

More detailed information about the bar exam

How your overall score is calculated – Your overall score on the Michigan Bar Exam is determined by your performance on the essay portion, as well as the multiple-choice portion. Each section is worth 50 percent of your grade. Your combined score must be a 135 or higher to pass. There is no minimum passing score for either the multistate portion or the essay portion.

Essay portion of the exam – The essay portion is administered Tuesday, the first day of the exam. There are 15 essays to complete (nine in the morning, which you have three hours to complete, and six in the afternoon, which you have two hours to complete). Each essay should take about 20 minutes to complete. Most questions only test one subject per question, but occasionally two subjects will be combined in one question. Each essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of 7 is understood to be a passing score for an essay. The essay portion is scored using an undisclosed formula. The essays test Michigan law, but a lot of the material overlaps with what you will learn when you study for the Multistate Bar Exam.

Multistate Bar Exam – The Multistate Bar Exam portion of the exam is administered Wednesday. You will have three hours to complete 100 questions in the morning and three hours to complete 100 questions in the afternoon. Out of the 200 total questions, 190 questions are scored and 10 are "test" questions that are not scored.  

Multistate Professional Responsiblity Exam

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam is a two-hour-and-five-minute test consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The exam tests your knowledge and understanding of the ethical standards of the legal profession chronicled in the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

The exam is offered nationwide each March, August and November, and most students take the exam sometime after their second year of law school. Passing exam scores vary by jurisdiction but are transferable between states as long as the score requirement can be met. Michigan requires that a student pass the exam with a score of 85 to be admitted to the Michigan bar.

Application, fees and deadline information are the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.

Planning on taking the bar outside Michigan?

List of bar exam agencies by jurisdiction

The links in the list will lead you to information and instructions on the application and character and fitness process, fees, as well as applicable deadlines for each state.

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