Alaska Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Alaska Bar Exam

Passing the Alaska bar exam is an essential part of being admitted into the state’s bar and beginning a successful career practicing law.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to get started, including:

  • The bar exam’s eligibility criteria, content, and structure
  • The steps you can take in order to give yourself the best chance of passing on your first attempt
  • The additional requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to become admitted into the state’s bar

We’ll also briefly look at the process of getting admitted on motion for out-of-state attorneys.

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Alaska Bar Exam Overview

The Alaska Bar Association’s Board of Governors (the Board) administers the bar exam in this state. It has complete control over the exam’s content, administration, and scoring.

This exam occurs twice a year in February and July, and the application deadlines are December 1 and May 1, respectively. New applicants must pay an $850 fee while individuals reapplying pay a reduced fee of $550.

For cases in which candidates present compelling mitigating circumstances, the president of the Board reserves the right to consider late applications — subject to an added fee of $125.

In order to be eligible for the Alaska bar exam, you must satisfy the following criteria per the Alaska Court Rules:

  1. Legal Age: Candidates must be at least 18 years old, which can be verified by submitting a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or passport during the application process.
  2. Educational Requirements: Candidates must hold a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) at the time of their entrance or graduation.

Note: Candidates must arrange for proof of their graduation to be sent directly from their law school to the Alaska Bar Association prior to their exam date.

Alaska Exam Structure

In 2014, the state of Alaska adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which adheres to the following structure:

Day 1:

  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT): Two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test Questions (20%)
  • Multistate Essay Examination (MEE): Six 30-minute Multistate Essay Exam questions (30%)

Day 2:

  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE): 200-question multiple-choice exam (50%)

The UBE exam is scored out of 400 points, 270 of which need to be answered correctly in order for a candidate to receive a passing mark.

Moreover, candidates must achieve a scaled score of 80 or above on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) not more than eight years prior to their application.

Below, we’ve broken down the content and structure of each exam-related requirement in more detail.

Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The MPT is made up of two 90-minute parts, and the materials for each part contain a “File” and a “Library.”

The File consists of source documents that contain all of the facts of a specific case.

As the examinee, the assignment that you will need to complete will be described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney.

The File can also include things like transcripts of interviews, depositions, pleadings, trials, client documents, newspaper articles, police reports, and any other similar documents.

Keep in mind that irrelevant information is generally included, and facts are sometimes incomplete, ambiguous, or even conflicting.

This is meant to mirror legal practice, in which a client’s or supervising attorney’s version of events may be unreliable or entirely incomplete. In such a scenario, you will be expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing in the exam and identify sources of additional facts.

The Library part contains things like cases, statutes, and regulations, some of which may also not be relevant to the task that you will be assigned. You will need to be able to extract the legal principles required to analyze the legal problem you’ll be presented with and perform the requested task.

For more information, you can have a look at the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Instructions for Taking the MPT document.

Free summaries of MPTs from recent examinations are also offered (e.g., MPT Summaries of 2023).

Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)

The MEE consists of six 30-minute sections that can cover a variety of legal areas, including:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Business Associations (e.g., Agency and Partnership, Limited Liability Companies, Corporations, etc.)
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contract Law
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Torts
  • Trust and Estates

Keep in mind that questions can often include issues in more than one area of law. This means that it’ll be important to ensure that you have a “wide” range of understanding rather than a deep focus on one or two subjects.

Note: For more information, have a look at the NCBE’s official Instructions for Taking the MEE document or check out a few official MEE questions.

Multistate Bar Exam (MBE)

The MBE is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions, which are broken down into 175 scored questions and 25 unscored questions.

The exam is broken down into two three-hour sections, with one administered in the morning and one in the afternoon, both of which contain 100 questions each.

Keep in mind that there are no scheduled breaks during either one of the sections.

All 175 scored questions on the exam are distributed evenly, with 25 questions being attributed to each of the following seven topics:

  • Constitutional Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Contract Law
  • Real Property
  • Tort Law
  • Evidence
  • Criminal Law and Procedure

Each question on the MBE exam will have four potential answers. You should choose what you believe is the best answer — keep in mind that scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, and points are not subtracted for answering incorrectly.

If you want to have a look at the exact format, you can have a look at the NCBE’s official MBE Sample Test Questions document.

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Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)

The MPRE is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions (50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions) and is administered via Pearson VUE.

Like the MBE exam, each question offers four possible answers, one of which is correct.

The exam’s content is based on law that relates to the conduct and discipline of attorneys and judges and includes the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as important constitutional common law and generally accepted principles.

In relation to questions of professional responsibility in the context of evidentiary issues (e.g., litigation sanctions, attorney-client evidentiary privilege, etc.), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply unless otherwise stated.

Note: You will have two hours to complete the MPRE exam in its entirety.

For more information, we recommend having a look at the NCBE’s Official Sample Test Questions document. A holistic Subject Matter Outline is also offered.

How to Pass the Alaska Bar Exam

In order to give yourself the best chance of passing the Alaska UBE on your first attempt, it’s important to take enough time to make sure you’re adequately prepared.

Alaska Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Alaska’s bar exam, passing it on your first attempt is definitely possible with the right tools and preparation techniques.

Here are a few key tips that should aid you in your licensing journey:

  • Start strong in your first year. This is important due to the fundamental areas of law practice that the first year of law school generally covers, such as contract, tort, and constitutional law
  • Leverage academic support. If your law school offers additional support services aimed at improving your preparation, use these as much as possible. This can involve one-on-one tutoring, academic counseling, and mock exam programs
  • Obtain practical legal experience. If possible, gain as much practical experience as you can during law school (e.g., through summer internships, mock trials, etc.). This experience can go a long way in cementing your legal knowledge
  • Adopt a broad study approach. When studying for the bar, aim for a wide-ranging understanding of various subjects rather than an in-depth study of a few. This is important given the huge amount of content you’ll need to learn for this test

Most importantly, make sure you remain consistent so you don’t have to resort to last-minute cramming.

Research has shown that we are able to retain a higher degree of information – and more easily – when revisiting old content in comparison to when learning it for the first time. This is known as Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve.

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Other Alaska Bar Requirements 

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Alaska bar exam, you must meet several other requirements in order to become a licensed attorney in the state. These include: 

  1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation
  2. Completing the Newly Admitted Attorneys Ethics Program
  3. Satisfying the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements

1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation

To qualify for licensure as an attorney in Alaska, applicants must meet comprehensive character and fitness requirements. 

The Board conducts a thorough evaluation, which focuses on the following aspects of a candidate’s professional and personal background:

  • Criminal, Academic, and Professional Integrity: The Board will examine any criminal records (excluding minor traffic violations), instances of academic misconduct that led to disciplinary actions, and any history of dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
  • Financial Responsibility and Legal Compliance: The Board also will scrutinize candidates’ financial integrity — especially in relation to the neglect of financial obligations and any violations of court orders.
  • Health and Legal Standing: The Board will review evidence of mental or emotional disorders, substance abuse, or dependency as well as the candidate’s standing in other jurisdictions — particularly in regards to disbarment, suspension, or disciplinary actions.

In evaluating these aspects, the Board will consider the nature and seriousness of any conduct, the applicant’s age at the time, the recency and reliability of the information, the cumulative effect of the conduct, evidence of rehabilitation, the applicant’s contributions since the conduct, and their truthfulness during the admissions process.

Applicants who’ve been disbarred, suspended for disciplinary reasons, or aren’t in good standing in any jurisdiction will be deemed ineligible to enter the Alaska bar.

Importantly, when the Board denies an applicant admission due to character and fitness concerns, the applicant has the right to review all related materials and documentation, including transcripts from hearings involved in the evaluation process.

Note: Applicants may submit additional documentation or arguments supporting their character and fitness for the Board’s consideration at any stage of the application process.

2. Completing the Newly Admitted Attorneys Ethics Program 

According to Rule 5, Section 6 of the Alaska Rules of Court, candidates who successfully pass the bar exam must then attend an ethics presentation before their admission to the bar. 

This mandate aims to equip future attorneys with the moral compass and ethical reasoning skills essential for navigating the complexities of the legal dilemmas they’ll encounter.

The Board will contact candidates who’ve passed the exam to share details regarding the time and location of the ethics presentation. The inclusion of this ethics education step underscores the Alaska Bar Association’s commitment to fostering a legal community where ethical considerations are at the forefront of practice.

3. Satisfying the CLE Requirements 

In Alaska, all practicing attorneys must fulfill CLE obligations to maintain their legal licensure. 

This includes completing a mandatory three hours of ethics CLE credits annually. While not mandatory, the Alaska Bar Association also recommends attorneys pursue at least nine additional hours of general legal education to support their broader professional development.

To meet these CLE requirements, attorneys have the flexibility to choose from a range of approved educational formats (e.g., live seminars, online courses, and webinars). 

Newly admitted attorneys need to start fulfilling their CLE requirements in the next year following their admission to the bar. 

All attorneys must report their CLE credits by the annual deadline of February 1 following the compliance period, which ends on December 31. Attorneys also should keep thorough records of their CLE activities because these may be subject to review in audits conducted by the Alaska Bar Association.

For additional details on CLE requirements in Alaska, visit the ABA’s Alaska CLE page.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity) 

Alaska provides a pathway for experienced attorneys from other states to gain admission to the bar without having to pass the bar exam through a process known as admission on motion or Reciprocity. 

To qualify for admission on motion in Alaska, attorneys must meet the following criteria:

  • Pass a Bar Exam in Another Jurisdiction: Attorneys must’ve passed a written bar examination in a state, territory, or the District of Columbia that shares a reciprocal admission agreement with Alaska.
  • Engage in Legal Practice: Attorneys must demonstrate they’ve engaged in the active practice of law for five of the seven years immediately preceding their application.

In addition to these criteria, applicants must pass the MPRE and meet Alaska’s educational, character, and fitness requirements.

Notably, applicants need to ensure the relevant authorities send their certificates of graduation, good standing, bar exam passage, discipline history, and MPRE scores directly to the Alaska Bar Association. These documents can’t come through the applicant.

Here’s the full list of reciprocity states for Alaska:

ColoradoMississippiSouth Dakota
District of ColumbiaMontanaTexas
IdahoNew HampshireVermont
IllinoisNew JerseyVirgin Islands
IndianaNew MexicoVirginia
IowaNew YorkWashington
KansasNorth CarolinaWest Virginia (if admitted by bar exam in West Virginia)
KentuckyNorth DakotaWisconsin (if admitted by bar exam in Wisconsin)

For more detailed information regarding reciprocity, visit the Alaska Bar Association’s Admission by Reciprocity page.

Alaska Bar Exam FAQ

Can you take the Alaska bar exam without going to law school?

No, you can’t take the bar exam in Alaska without having first attended law school. Applicants must hold a JD or LLB degree from a law school accredited by the ABA at the time of their entrance or graduation to be eligible for the Alaska bar exam.

How long is the Alaska bar exam?

The Alaska bar exam is a two-day comprehensive assessment. Day one involves the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). Day two features the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which is a multiple-choice test.

How hard is it to pass the Alaska state bar examination?

Passing the Alaska state bar exam is challenging, reflecting the high standards set for entry into the legal profession. Success depends on thorough preparation and the understanding of a broad range of legal subjects tested, such as the uniform commercial code.

How much does the Alaska bar exam cost?

The application fee for the Alaska bar exam is $850 for first-time applicants. Anyone reapplying to take the exam must pay a reduced fee of $550. For more information, check out our What is the Bar Exam article.

What parts of the Alaska UBE can I transfer?

Alaska permits the transfer of your UBE score, including both your MEE and MPT scores, for bar admission. It’s important to note, however, that Alaska does not separately accept MBE scores from exams taken in other jurisdictions.