Idaho Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Idaho Bar Exam

Passing the Idaho 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 through an Admission on Motion for out-of-state attorneys.

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Idaho Bar Exam Overview

The Idaho bar examination is administered by the Idaho State Bar Admissions Department, which ensures that all candidates meet the necessary standards for admission to practice law in the state.

Applicants should note that the exam is held biannually on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. For those aiming for the February session, applications must be submitted by October 1st, whereas those preparing for the July exam will have up until March 1st ($600 fee).

In instances where the initial deadlines are missed, the Idaho State Bar allows late submissions until November 15th for the February exam and until April 15th for the July exam — though it will impose an additional fee of $200 for this, which brings the total up to $800.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the Idaho bar exam, applicants will need to satisfy the following criteria according to the Idaho Bar Commission Rule 202:

  1. Age and Legal Status: Must be at least eighteen years of age and lawfully admitted to the US.
  2. Educational Requirements: Must possess a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) or Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. Applicants may apply before graduation, provided the degree will be conferred by their exam date.
  3. Character and Moral Standing: Must demonstrate good moral character by providing thorough and complete responses to character and fitness questions along with all required documentation — such as employment history and any other relevant supporting documents.
  4. Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE): Must take the MPRE and achieve a minimum scaled score of 85. This can also be done within the next two scheduled MPRE administrations after successfully completing the Idaho bar exam.

Note: It’s important to remember that once fees are paid, the Idaho State Bar does not offer refunds under any circumstances.

Idaho Exam Structure

Since 2012, the state of Idaho 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.

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 Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply unless otherwise stated.

Note: You will have two hours to complete the Multistate Professional Responsibility 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 Idaho Bar Exam

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

Idaho Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Idaho’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 Idaho Bar Requirements 

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

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

1. Character and Fitness Evaluation

Following the examination, the Character and Fitness Committee may invite candidates to address any concerns relating to their ethical standards and/or commitment to the legal profession.

Given a reasonable notice, candidates may be required to appear before the Board for a character and fitness examination. This will be documented by a court reporter, and the applicant will be responsible for all associated fees and transcription costs.

The committee will then evaluate whether applicants exhibit disqualifying behaviors, such as past crime convictions, dishonesty, financial irresponsibility, or conduct that undermines legal ethical standards.

Note: The burden of proving moral character and fitness to practice law rests with each applicant.

2. Continuing Legal Education (CLE)

After being admitted to the Idaho bar, newly licensed attorneys have specific Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements they need to complete in order to remain licensed.

This includes completing 30 hours of CLE courses over three years, including a minimum of 3 hours on legal ethics or professional responsibility.

For newly licensed attorneys, the CLE reporting cycle starts with the attorney’s admission date and ends on December 31 of the third full calendar year thereafter.

If attorneys need additional time to complete their CLE requirements, Idaho permits them to file for an extension. These written requests, along with a $100 fee, can be submitted anytime between January 1 and March 1.

Note: For more information on CLE requirements, refer to the Idaho State Bar CLE Guidelines.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Experienced attorneys from out of state may be granted entry to the Idaho State Bar without having to pass the Idaho bar examination.

This process, referred to as admission on motion or reciprocity, requires attorneys to meet specific criteria:

  • Professional Engagement: Applicants must show significant involvement in the practice of law, either in Idaho or another jurisdiction, for a minimum of three out of the five years immediately preceding their application
  • Moral Character and Fitness: Applicants must adhere to the same standards of moral character and fitness as all other candidates for admission to the Idaho State Bar (discussed above)
  • No Recent Bar Exam Failures: Applicants must not have failed the Idaho bar exam within the five years preceding their application

It’s important to note that practicing under certain legal intern or pro hac vice statuses does not count as significant engagement in the active practice of law as outlined in Idaho Bar Commission Rule 206.

Note: The application process for Admission on Motion can take between 60 to 90 days to complete and incurs a fee of $1000.

For more information on the reciprocity admission process, visit the Idaho State Bar’s Reciprocal Admission page.

Idaho Bar Exam FAQ

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

No, to sit for the Idaho bar exam, candidates must have earned a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) or an equivalent degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). For more Idaho bar exam information, take a look at our What is the Bar Exam article.

How long is the Idaho bar exam?

The Idaho bar exam extends across two days. The exam serves as a key step for those aiming to start actively practicing law. On the first day, candidates tackle the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). The second day is devoted to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which tests a candidate’s comprehensive legal knowledge and reasoning abilities.

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

The Idaho bar exam is challenging and requires a comprehensive understanding of various legal principles. To get a passing score, candidates will need a detailed understanding of the Idaho bar exam format, as well as a fundamental grounding in a variety of legal areas. Reviewing previous Idaho bar exam results can also be helpful.

How much does the Idaho bar exam cost?

Fees for the Idaho bar exam are $600 for students and $800 for out-of-state attorneys. This applies equally to all attorneys, regardless of the areas in which they have actively practiced law (e.g., secured transactions, federal civil procedure, etc).