Arizona Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

Passing the Arizona 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 via Admission on Motion.

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Arizona Bar Exam Overview

The Arizona bar exam is overseen by the Attorney Admissions Unit, which processes all applications and works closely with the Committee on Examinations and the Committee on Character and Fitness, all under the Arizona Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.

If you are interested in sitting for the exam, you should know that it is conducted biannually, with sessions in both February and July.

The registration periods start on August 15 and end on October 31 for the February exam, with a late registration deadline on November 30. For the July exam, registration periods start from January 15 to March 30, with late registration open until April 30.

The cost of the examination is $580 for those who register within the standard timeframe, with an additional fee of $100 for late registrants.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the Arizona bar exam, you will need to satisfy the following criteria as per Supreme Court of Arizona, Rule 34:

  1. Proof of Age and Lawful Status: Applicants must provide a valid, government-issued photo ID when applying for the Arizona bar exam. This ID serves a dual purpose: it verifies that the candidate is at least 21 years old, the minimum age required for taking the bar exam in Arizona, and confirms their lawful residency in the US.
  2. Evidence of Graduation: To be eligible for the Arizona bar exam, candidates are required to have a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-accredited law school. This requirement ensures that all applicants have received a standardized level of legal education.

For comprehensive details, please refer to the Arizona Bar Admissions Exam Application Checklist.

Arizona Exam Structure

Since 2012, the state of Arizona has 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 will be required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in order to be eligible for the Arizona bar.

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, LLCs, 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 Criminal 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 Arizona Bar Exam

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

Arizona Bar Exam Tips

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

Below, we’ve broken down 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 Law, Tort, and Constitutional Law
  • Leverage Academic Support: If your law school offers additional support services that are aimed at improving your preparation, we recommend utilizing these as much as possible. This can involve one-on-one tutoring, academic counseling, and mock exam programs
  • Obtain Practical Legal Experience: If possible, we recommend gaining as much practical experience as you can during law school (i.e., through summer internships, mock trials, etc.). This is because this can go a long way in cementing your legal knowledge
  • Adopt a Broad Study Approach: When studying for the bar, you should aim for a wide-ranging understanding of various subjects rather than an in-depth study of a few. This is important due to the huge amount of content that you will need to learn and/or will be tested on

Most importantly, make sure you remain consistent so that you do not 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 Arizona Bar Requirements

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Arizona bar exam, there are several other requirements you will need to meet in order to become and/or remain a licensed attorney in the state, including:

  1. Character and Fitness Evaluation
  2. Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)
  3. Certificate of Standing
  4. Mandatory Professionalism Course

1. Character and Fitness Evaluation

After successfully passing the Arizona bar exam, candidates must go through the Committee on Character and Fitness, as per Rule 36 of the Arizona Supreme Court.

This Committee evaluates an applicant’s suitability for legal practice, focusing on traits like honesty, trustworthiness, and respect for legal institutions.

In situations involving intricate backgrounds or ambiguous situations, the committee may find it necessary to appoint a special investigator. Applicants are allowed to represent themselves or choose a legal representative in such a scenario.

Note: The Committee’s decision can result in either a recommendation for admission, denial, or conditional admission, depending on the applicant’s demonstration of ethical conduct and moral standing.

2. Certificate of Standing

Applicants who have previously been admitted to practice law in any jurisdiction, whether within the United States or internationally, will be required to provide a Certificate of Standing.

This document should be issued by an authorized legal entity, such as a court agency or the mandatory bar association, and will need to be dated no earlier than 60 days prior to the submission of your bar application.

3. Mandatory Professionalism Course

Under Rule 34(n) of the Arizona Supreme Court, all members who have successfully passed the bar exam are required to complete a 4.25-hour Professionalism Course within their first year of admission or registration.

This course focuses on the standards of professional conduct expected in the legal community and emphasizes the responsibility of lawyers to uphold the integrity of the legal system, as well as other principles rooted in Arizona constitutional law.

This course is conducted five to six times a year, with four sessions usually in Phoenix and two in Tucson.

Keep in mind that there are two exemptions regarding the Mandatory Professionalism Course mandate:

  • Exemption for Inactive Members: Newly admitted members who opt for inactive status are exempt from the Mandatory Professionalism Course initially. However, they are required to complete the course within 12 months of returning to active status
  • Exemption for Non-Resident Active Members: Active members who neither reside nor practice law in Arizona are initially exempt from the Professionalism Course. Yet, should they relocate to Arizona or commence practicing law in the state, they will be obligated to complete the course within a year

Please note that this course counts towards the annual Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements that all lawyers in Arizona are required to fulfill.

Note: For more information, please visit the Arizona State Bar’s official webpage on the Mandatory Professionalism Course.

4. Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)

In addition to passing the bar exam, newly admitted attorneys in Arizona must adhere to Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements as stipulated in Rule 45(b).

Each attorney must acquire 15 hours of CLE annually, with a minimum of three hours in professional responsibility/ethics, which ensures that attorneys remain updated on legal developments and maintain high professional standards.

Exemptions to this requirement include inactive or retired members, members over 70 years old, new admittees during their first educational year, and members complying with out-of-state CLE requirements.

Nevertheless, all attorneys, exempt or otherwise, are obliged to submit an affidavit of compliance on an annual basis.

Note: For additional information on MCLE requirements in Arizona, please refer to the relevant section on the State Bar of Arizona’s official website.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Admission on Motion, often referred to as reciprocity, allows lawyers licensed in other jurisdictions to be admitted to practice in Arizona without taking the Arizona bar exam, a process which is detailed in Rule 34(f) of the Arizona Supreme Court.

To be eligible for Admission on Motion in Arizona, you will have to satisfy several criteria, including:

  • Legal Practice Experience: To qualify for Admission on Motion in Arizona, the applicant must have actively practiced law for at least three of the past five years. Eligible experience includes working in states, territories, or Washington D.C., and encompasses client representation, government legal service, law teaching at ABA-approved schools, judicial work, and corporate counsel roles
  • Educational Qualification: The applicant must be a graduate with a Juris Doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association at the time of graduation. This requirement is meant to confirm that the applicant’s legal education aligns with the standards set by Arizona for legal practice
  • Good Standing Status: The applicant must be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where they are admitted. If there are issues with standing due to unpaid fees or incomplete continuing legal education requirements, these must be addressed before the application can proceed
  • Eligibility Limitations: Lawyers who have failed the Arizona bar exam within the past three years, or who did not achieve the required scaled score on the Arizona Uniform Bar Examination in another jurisdiction, are not eligible for Admission on Motion

Note: Keep in mind that Arizona has established special reciprocity agreements with certain jurisdictions, which may offer more relaxed criteria for admission on motion than the general guidelines discussed above.

A full list of reciprocity states for Arizona can be found below:

GeorgiaMissouriSouth Dakota
IndianaNew HampshireUtah
IowaNew JerseyVermont
KansasNew MexicoVirginia
KentuckyNew YorkWashington
MaineNorth CarolinaWashington DC
MarylandNorth DakotaWisconsin

For detailed and updated information regarding Admission on Motion and the reciprocity agreements with Arizona, please visit the Arizona Bar Admissions website.

Arizona Bar Exam FAQ

Can you take the bar without going to law school in Arizona?

In Arizona, the primary route to the bar exam is through graduating from an ABA-accredited law school. Exceptions exist for final-year law students at ABA-accredited institutions who may be allowed to take the bar exam under certain conditions. However, alternative paths like “reading the law” or apprenticeships, common in other states, are not available in Arizona, making it predominantly for law school graduates.

How long is the Arizona bar exam?

The Arizona bar exam is a two-day test that includes the MPT, MEE, and 200-question MBE. Having said that, you should note that Arizona will introduce the NextGen Bar Examination in July 2026 to update the testing process, which signals the state’s continued commitment to evolving legal education standards.

How hard is it to pass the Arizona State bar examination?

The difficulty of the Arizona state bar examination can vary depending on the individual’s preparation and background. However, like all bar exams, it’s challenging and requires extensive preparation. The exam tests a wide range of legal knowledge and skills, and the pass rate can fluctuate from year to year. Interested in finding out more? Check out our What is the Bar Exam article.

How much does the AZ bar exam cost?

The cost of the Arizona bar examination is $580 for those who register on time. However, for candidates who register after the standard deadline, an additional late fee of $100 is imposed, bringing the total cost to $680. This fee covers the costs associated with providing administrative support for the bar exam.