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NY Lawyer: The New York Bar Exam

It's the one nerve-wracking experience every New York lawyer has in common: taking the New York Bar Examination, and waiting the long months for the results to be released. It's no secret how to survive the ordeal: study like a madman during the months before the test, and think about anything but the exam during the months afterward.

The New York Board of Law Examiners offers application materials as well as listing test dates and locations.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners provides information about the Multistate Performance Test and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

DESCRIPTION OF THE BAR EXAMINATION - The New York State bar examination is administered twice a year on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of every February and July. The bar examination contains two sections, the New York section which is given on Tuesday, and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) which is given on Wednesday. The New York section consists of five essay questions and 50 multiple choice questions prepared by the New York Board, and one Multistate Performance Test question, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The second day of the exam is the MBE section which consists of 200 multiple choice questions. Each day of the examination will consist of a morning session and an afternoon session with a lunch break in between. The examination is given at the same time and date at various testing locations across the state.

The New York portion is based on both procedural and substantive law. It may deal with the six subject matters covered on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)--Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts (including statutory no-fault insurance provisions). In addition, the questions may deal with Business Relationships, Conflict of Laws, New York Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Family Law, Remedies, New York and Federal Civil Jurisdiction and Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, Wills and Estates , and UCC Articles 2, 3, and 9. More than one subject is tested in a single essay question. Except for questions involving federal law, the New York essay and multiple choice questions are based on the law of New York.

Each essay question is designed to test the applicant's ability to analyze a given set of facts, to identify the issues involved and the applicable principles of law, and to reason therefrom to a sound conclusion. An essay answer should show a recognition of each issue presented by the material facts, discuss the principles of law applicable thereto and set forth the reasoning by which the conclusion has been reached. The answer should be clear and concise. It should be confined to the particular issues presented and should not include information that is not responsive to the question. Appropriate credit is given in the grading of essay answers for well reasoned analyses of the issues and legal principles involved even though the final conclusion itself may be incorrect.

A compilation of the essay questions and sample above average candidate answers from the three most recent bar examinations is available on this web site, or upon written request for a fee of $50 in a certified check, cashier's check or money order, payable to "State Board of Law Examiners."

The New York multiple choice questions require the applicant to select the correct answer from among four stated alternatives, of which only one is correct.

Change of Departments: Upon successful completion of the bar examination, applicants are certified to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Judicial Department where the last address the Board has on file for the applicant is located. The applicant is mailed a letter of certification which must be filed with the Appellate Division as a part of the application for admission to the Bar. Once an applicant has been certified by the Board, a change in Department can only be made by application to the Presiding Justice of the Department to which the applicant was certified. Because of their proximity, transfers between the First and Second Departments are not usually permitted.

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