Connecticut Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Connecticut Bar Exam

Passing the Connecticut 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 as an out-of-state attorney.

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Connecticut Bar Exam Overview

The Connecticut bar examination is administered by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, which was established in 1891 by the Supreme Court of Connecticut.

This committee, which consists of 24 members, is tasked with preparing the bar examination and evaluating the character and fitness of each candidate.

If you are interested in sitting for the exam, you should know that it is offered biannually, on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July.

For the July exam, the registration fee is $800 if you apply by March 31, or $900 if you apply by April 30.

Similarly, for the February exam, applying by October 31 costs $800, with the fee increasing to $900 for persons applying between November 1 and November 30.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the CT bar exam, you will need to satisfy the following criteria as per the Rules of the Connecticut Superior Court Regulating Admission to the Bar, Chapter 2 Attorneys, CT Practice Book:

  • Legal Status: You must be a U.S. citizen or have legal residency (including authorization to work in the U.S.)
  • Education Requirements: You must hold a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school within the U.S. If you have a law degree from outside the U.S., you will need to additionally complete an LL.M. program at an ABA-accredited law school in order to be eligible

Keep in mind that regardless of your path, your law school will be required to submit a form that has been signed by a dean after your graduation — along with your official transcript — to the Bar Examining Committee.

This needs to be done at least seven days before the day you are set to take your bar exam.

Connecticut Exam Structure

Since 2017, the state of Connecticut 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, 266 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), with a scaled score of at least 80, in order to be eligible for the Connecticut 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. Candidates have two hours to complete the exam in its entirety.

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.

You will be able to complete the MPRE up to four years before submitting your bar exam application or up to one year afterwards.

Having said that, it’s important to note that if you choose to complete a course in Professional Responsibility whilst in law school — and obtain a grade of C or above — you will generally be exempt from having to take the MPRE.

Keep in mind that your law school will need to have been approved by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee in order for this exemption to apply.

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 Connecticut Bar Exam

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

Connecticut Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Connecticut’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 Connecticut Bar Requirements

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

  1. Pass the Character and Fitness Evaluation
  2. Satisfy the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Requirements

1. Character and Fitness Evaluation

After passing the Connecticut bar exam, the Committee will assess your character and fitness in order to ensure you adhere to the ethical standards and professional conduct that is expected of a practicing attorney.

This evaluation, which may take several months, will require comprehensive information about your past, and can relate to:

  • Legal infractions
  • Academic misconduct
  • Professional disciplinary actions

Keep in mind that the committee aims to assess each applicant holistically, rather than focusing solely on isolated events.

Even so, while no specific incidents will automatically lead to a candidate’s disqualification, conduct that would have subjected an applicant to disciplinary action if they were already a member of the bar is taken extremely seriously, and is therefore very likely to negatively impact the final assessment of a character and fitness evaluation.

2. Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)

As a newly admitted Connecticut bar member, you will be required to complete a certain number of legal education hours annually in order to maintain your license.

Specifically, you will be required to complete 12 hours of legal education each year, with at least two of those hours focusing on ethics and professionalism. This requirement kicks in the year after you’re admitted, meaning that you will have time to adjust to your new role before having to dive into additional education.

For instance, if you were admitted in 2017, you would be required to complete your MCLE credit hours by 2018. You’ll then need to confirm you’ve completed these education hours as part of your annual compliance process with the Connecticut Bar Association by 2019.

Keep in mind that you also have the flexibility to carry over up to 2 credits from one year to the next, which can make it easier to manage your continuing education requirements alongside your legal practice.

For more information on MCLE requirements, you can refer to the professional resources provided by the Connecticut Bar Association.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

If you’re an experienced attorney from another state, you might be able to gain entry to the Connecticut bar without having to take the bar exam. This is done through a process known as Admission on Motion or reciprocity.

As per Article VII – Admission on Motion of Attorneys of Other States, all candidates will need to satisfy the educational and character and fitness criteria previously outlined above as well as adhere to the following requirements in order to skip the bar exam:

  •  Jurisdictional Admission: You must be admitted to the bar in at least one jurisdiction that allows Connecticut attorneys to join its bar without an examination, as outlined in Rule 2-13.
  • Legal Practice: You must have been duly licensed and actively engaged in the practice of law as your principal livelihood for at least five out of the ten years immediately preceding your application for admission in Connecticut.

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

ArkansasMississippiSouth Dakota
District of ColumbiaMontanaTexas
IllinoisNew HampshireVermont
IndianaNew JerseyVirgin Islands, US
IowaNew MexicoVirginia
KansasNew YorkWashington
KentuckyNorth CarolinaWest Virginia
MaineNorth DakotaWisconsin

For more information on the state’s reciprocity agreements, you can have a look at the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee’s Admission Without Examination page.

Connecticut Bar Exam FAQ

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

No. To sit for the Connecticut bar exam (and achieve the required passing score), you will need to possess a JD degree from a US law school approved by the ABA. For those educated abroad, an LL.M. from an ABA-accredited U.S. law school will be required.

How long is the Connecticut bar exam?

The Connecticut bar exam, which follows the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) format, spans two days. Day 1 covers the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), while Day 2 focuses on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). You will also be required to complete the MPRE, which takes two hours to complete.

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

Even though the Connecticut bar exam is undoubtedly challenging, the extent of this will depend on your individual preparation (especially in areas like procedure evidence.). We recommend having a look at past Connecticut bar exam results and understanding the UBE’s complexity in order to understand how challenging the exam may be for you.

How much does the CT bar exam cost?

The cost to register for the Connecticut Bar Exam is $800 if you apply by the early deadline, which is March 31st for the July exam and October 31st for the February exam. Keep in mind that if you submit your application by the late filing deadline — which is April 30th for the July exam and November 30th for the February exam — the fee will increase to $900. For more information, we recommend having a look at our What is the Bar Exam article.