Georgia Bar Exam

Written by: Will Bond

Last updated:

Passing the Georgia 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 for out-of-state attorneys.

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Georgia Bar Exam Overview

In Georgia, the bar examination is administered by the Board of Bar Examiners — which is the administrative arm of the Supreme Court of Georgia responsible for admitting attorneys to the Bar.

The Georgia bar exam takes place twice each year: once at the end of February and again at the end of July. To sit the bar exam in February, you’ll need to submit an application sometime between September 1 and January 1. This is between March 1 and June 1 for the July exam.

You’ll also need to pay a filing fee alongside your application that varies between $498 and $648. This figure includes a $400 or $550 fee to the Board of Bar Examiners and an additional charge to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).

If you miss these application deadlines, you’ll still be able to apply up until January 15 and June 15 for the February and July exams respectively, but will have to pay an additional late fee of $500 — any applications received after these dates will not be accepted.

Bar Exam Prerequisites

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the Georgia Bar Examination, you will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Undergraduate Degree: Applicants must have graduated with a BA, BS, BBA, or equivalent from a school accredited by a body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). If the candidate graduated from an institution not accredited by a CHEA-recognized body, they must either have:
    • Obtained a JD or LLB from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school, or
    • Graduated from a Georgia Board of Bar Examiners certified law school before 1998 and passed the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) in English Composition and two other subjects with scores above the 50th percentile of the College Board reference group
  2. Law School: Prior to taking the bar examination, an applicant must have been awarded their first professional degree in law (JD or LLB) by a law school approved by the American Bar Association.
    • Graduates of law schools approved by the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners but not the ABA shall only be eligible to take the bar exam if they graduated prior to January 1, 1998
    • For a foreign-educated lawyer to be eligible, they’ll need to:
      1. Be a graduate of a recognized foreign law school
      2. Be authorized to practice law in a foreign jurisdiction
      3. Have obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) Degree for the Practice of Law in the United States from a law school fully approved by the American Bar Association
  3. Register with the Supreme Court of Georgia: In order to be able to file an application with the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions you’ll be required to first create a personal account on this website.
  4. Be deemed fit to practice law: Only applicants who have been issued and currently hold a valid Certification from the Georgia Fitness Board are eligible to register and submit a Bar Examination Application. This is obtained by submitting a Fitness Application to the Office of Bar Admissions by the applicable deadline (see below).

Note: If you’ll be applying for admission on motion without examination or admission as a foreign-educated applicant, you’ll be required to file different forms.

Georgia Exam Structure

Unlike the majority of other states, Georgia chose not to adopt the Universal Bar Exam (UBE), and instead administers their own unique bar exam.

In Georgia, the bar exam adheres to the following structure:

Day 1:

  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT): Two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test Questions
  • Four 45-minute essay questions prepared and graded by the Board of Bar Examiners

Day 2:

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

In addition to the Georgia Bar Examination, all candidates are also required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) with a score of 75 or higher in order to be eligible for the 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).

Essay Questions

This section is composed of four questions that you’ll have 45 minutes each to complete.

The essay questions contained are designed to test your logical reasoning skills and ability to convey your ideas in writing, as a lawyer would. In particular, you’ll be examined on how well you can identify the legal issues and principles at play and justify the conclusion you arrive at.

These essay questions involve one or more key issues from the following list:

  • Business Organizations
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Federal Practice and Procedure
  • Georgia Practice and Procedure
  • Non Monetary Remedies
  • Professional Ethics
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts, Wills and Estates
  • The Uniform Commercial Code (Articles 2, 3 & 9)

Keep in mind that examiners are more interested in your chain of reasoning and analysis of these various issues and principles than the specific conclusion you arrive at. This reflects the reality of many legal cases, which are often decided by narrow margins between the dissenting and majority opinions.

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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.

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 National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE) Official Sample Test Questions document. A holistic Subject Matter Outline is also offered.

How to Pass the Georgia Bar Exam

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

Georgia Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Georgia’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 Contracts, 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 Georgia Bar Requirements

Apart from qualifying for and passing the Georgia bar exam, there are several other requirements you will need to satisfy in order to qualify for and continuing practicing law, including:

  1. Producing satisfactory evidence of good moral character
  2. Enrolling with the State Bar of Georgia
  3. Completing the Transition into Law Practice Program
  4. Meeting the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements

1. Proof of Character and Fitness

After you’ve registered with the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions, you’ll be able to file an Application for Certification of Fitness to practice law in the state. This is a mandatory background check that all applicants must undergo and receive a positive determination on in order to be able to take the bar exam.

You can submit this application at any time once you’ve registered, but will need to make sure it’s completed by one of the following deadlines:

  • February Bar Examination: This is typically due by the first Wednesday of July for a bar exam administered the following February. However, for an additional late fee of $500, you can submit your application up until the first Wednesday of October
  • July Bar Examination: While the regular filing period for the July exam is due no later than the first Wednesday of December, late filing of this fitness application is accepted all the way through to the first Wednesday of March

Bear in mind that on all of the above dates applications will automatically close at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Additionally, your application will only be submitted once you’ve paid the application filing fee, which varies between $450 and $5,000 depending on the type of application being made.

Note: For a more detailed look into the deadlines and fees of the fitness application, you can check out the Office of Bar Admissions’ report on this topic here.

2. Enroll with the State Bar of Georgia

After passing the bar exam, the first step to complete is being sworn in to the Superior Court, which can be done by contacting the clerk of the Superior Court of any Georgia county and making an appointment.

Once the swearing-in process has been completed, you’ll be required to enroll with the State Bar of Georgia within 60 days; this will authorize you to practice as an attorney in the state.

In order to finish enrolling and begin practicing law in Georgia, you must complete the following steps:

  1. The Attorney Oath and Order: You’ll need to check with your county’s Clerk of the Superior Court to find out whether your oath needs to be transferred to the Bar electronically or via a paper copy with your enrollment package.
  2. The Membership Enrollment Form: Be sure to fill out and sign this enrollment form. While any kind of ink can be used, blue ink is preferred.
  3. Payment of Fees: In order to speed up the enrollment process the State Bar of Georgia encourages attorneys to pay by credit card, though you can also pay by check or money order.
    • To pay by credit card, email all enrollment forms to membership@gabar.org. You should shortly receive an email response with clear instructions on how to complete fee payment
    • To pay by check, you’ll need to make a check or money order payable to State Bar of Georgia and mail all enrollment forms plus a a New Member License Fee Notice to State Bar of Georgia: Membership Department, PO Box 102054, Atlanta, GA 30368-2054
  4. Late Enrollment: It’s important to complete enrollment in a timely manner — if you fail to do so within 60 days of being sworn in, you’ll need to pay a $100 late fee alongside a Failure to Register Affidavit.
  5. Name Change: If you’ve legally changed your name since taking the Bar Exam, you’ll also be required to include a photocopy of your marriage certificate.

Note: If you need assistance with the enrollment process, be sure to contact the Membership Department via phone or email.

3. Transition into Law Practice Program

Once you’ve been admitted to the Bar in Georgia, you’ll have 90 days to enroll for the Transition into Law Practice Program (TILPP). This program, which is designed to give newly admitted attorneys a smooth start into the practice of law, must be completed by December 31 of the calendar year following your admission.

You’ll need to enroll by submitting this Enrollment Form alongside your membership application when registering with the State Bar of Georgia. After this form is received, you’ll be provided with additional information regarding how to comply with this requirement.

Having said that, you should note that TILPP compliance is generally made up of three parts:

  1. Enrollment: The first step is to complete your enrollment, which involves selecting between one of three mentoring types: Inside Mentoring, Outside Mentoring, and Group Mentoring. More information on each of these types can be found on the enrollment form above.
  2. Mentoring: When you join the TILPP, you’ll follow a tailored mentoring plan that varies depending on the kind of mentoring you’re getting and where you work. It’s important to know that the mentoring program and the CLE (Continuing Legal Education) program happen at the same time, and they’re both set up to last a whole year.
  3. CLE: As part of this program, you’ll complete the 12 credit hours of CLE. For most attorneys this is divided between six hours on a Beginning Lawyers Program and another six hours on modules of your choosing.

You’ll be exempt from the requirement to complete TILPP if you satisfy one of the following requirements:

  • Admitted on Motion
  • Admitted two years or more in another U.S. jurisdiction
  • Actively practiced law in another country for two or more years immediately preceding admission

Note: More information on the Transition into Law Practice Program can be found on the State Bar of Georgia website.

4. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirement

In order to remain in good standing with the state all members of The Georgia Bar are required to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) per year, including:

  • One credit hour of approved Ethics courses;
  • One credit hour of approved Professionalism courses; and
  • Three credit hours of approved Trial Skills courses (if you try cases in Georgia)

You’ll have until December 31 of each year to complete this requirement, though will have until January 31 to report any CLE hours you’ve completed during the reporting period.

Additionally, some credit hours can also be carried over to the next year, including up to:

  • 12 hours of regular CLE credits
  • Two hours of Ethics
  • Two hours of Professionalism
  • Three hours of Trial Skills

Note: You can find more details on CLE requirements in this state on the State Bar of Georgia website.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Under Section 2, Part C of the Rules Governing Admission to the Practice of Law, certain applicants can apply for admission “on motion” or reciprocity and not need to take the Georgia bar exam.

This means that if you are currently licensed and in good practice in another US jurisdiction or a foreign country, you may be able to become admitted into the Georgia bar without having to retake an exam.

In order to be eligible to be admitted to the Bar in Georgia on this basis, you must:

  • Meet the educational eligibility requirements for attorneys in Georgia discussed above
  • Have been admitted by examination to the Bar of the highest court in another US jurisdiction which has bar admission reciprocity with Georgia
  • Have never failed fitness and character investigation to practice law in any state
  • Have never failed the Georgia Bar Examination or Attorneys Examination
  • Have been predominantly involved in the practice of law for five of the seven years running up to your application for admission on motion
  • Be in good professional standing in every jurisdiction in which the applicant has been licensed to practice law
  • Receive Certification of Fitness to Practice Law in Georgia from the Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants
  • State that you haven’t engaged in the practice of law in Georgia without authorization

To apply for Admission on Motion in Georgia, you’ll be required to submit two forms: the Petition for Admission on Motion without Examination and the Application for Certification of Fitness to Practice Law. These should both be submitted at the same time along with a $2,500 fee.

Within 30 days of filing these forms, you’ll also be required to submit the following documents to demonstrate your eligibility:

  • Official law school transcript
  • Current letter or certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction in which you’re admitted
  • Current letter or record of disciplinary history from all jurisdictions in which you’ve been admitted to practice
  • A statement describing your “active practice of law” (as defined in the Rules) for at least five of the past seven years
  • If applicable, proof that you have satisfied the more stringent and exacting requirement(s) that would apply to a Georgia applicant seeking Admission on Motion in your reciprocal jurisdiction

Failure to upload these eligibility documents in a timely manner may result in the denial of your petition. If successful, you’ll be notified by the Board of Bar Examiners and your Application for Certification of Fitness will begin to be processed.

Note: Where referenced above, “current” means no older than 60 days prior to the date you filed your application for Admission on Motion.

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

AlabamaMassachusettsOklahoma
AlaskaMichiganOregon
ArizonaMinnesotaPennsylvania
ArkansasMississippiSouth Dakota
ColoradoMissouriTennessee
ConnecticutMontanaTexas
District of ColumbiaNebraskaUtah
IllinoisNew HampshireVermont
IndianaNew JerseyVirgin Islands
IowaNew MexicoVirginia
KansasNew YorkWashington
KentuckyNorth CarolinaWisconsin
MaineNorth DakotaWyoming
MarylandOhio

Georgia Bar Exam FAQ

How hard is the Georgia bar exam?

Many law students consider the Georgia bar exam to be highly challenging as it tests a wide range of legal knowledge and skills. However, it’s highly manageable if you prepare effectively, as evidenced by the fact that up to 79.1% of first-time takers passed it. To make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for this exam, see our What is the Bar Exam article.

What is the passing score for the bar exam in Georgia?

In Georgia, the passing score for the bar exam is 270 out of 400. This combines the scaled MBE score and MPT score you achieved with your mark on the essay section. In addition to this, you’ll also need to achieve a passing MPRE score of 75 or higher. Keep in mind that getting into the Georgia Bar is a two step process involving more than just the state’s exam.

How much does it cost to take the Georgia bar exam?

For most standard, first-time test-takers, it should cost between $498 and $648 to take the Georgia bar exam. However, several other factors can influence this cost, such as the type of application you must submit or whether you will require any non standard testing accommodations.

How many days is the Georgia bar exam?

The Georgia bar exam is administered over two days. The first day is dedicated to the written portion, including essays and performance tests, and the second day is for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). To read more about the rules, procedures and instructions of this exam, we recommend checking out our Georgia Bar Exam article.