Kansas Bar Exam

Written by: Nik Ventouris

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Kansas Bar Exam

Passing the Kansas 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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Kansas Bar Exam Overview

The Kansas Board of Law Examiners (the Board) administers the state’s bar exam under the authority of the Kansas Supreme Court, which was founded in 1862.

The exam is held twice a year on the last consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. Candidates for the February exam should register between April 2 and October 1, while those targeting the July exam can register between November 2 and March 1.

The standard filing fee for exam registrations is $700. Applicants who miss the standard filing deadline can still file late — until April 1 for the July exam and up until November 1 for the February exam — but will incur an additional $200 late fee.

In order to be eligible for the Kansas bar exam, you must satisfy the following criteria per the Kansas Supreme Court’s Administrative Order 2022-RL-055, Rules Relating to Admission of Attorneys:

  1. Provide Proof of Identity: Applicants must provide proof of identity satisfactory to the Attorney Admissions office, typically with a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license or passport.
  2. Complete the Required Undergraduate Education:  Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree based on a full course of study from a college, university, or other institution of higher learning.
  3. Graduate From an ABA-Approved Law School: Applicants also must’ve graduated from a US law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) throughout the applicant’s attendance.
  4. Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE): Applicants must achieve a minimum score of 80 on the MPRE prior to taking the bar exam.

Note: An applicant who’ll graduate from law school no later than 30 days after the administration of the bar exam may take the bar exam on a conditional basis.

Kansas Exam Structure

In 2016, the state of Kansas 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.

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 Kansas Bar Exam

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

Kansas Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Kansas’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 Kansas Bar Requirements

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

  1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation
  2. Satisfying the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements

1. Passing the Character and Fitness Evaluation

To gain admission to the bar, candidates must prove their moral character and fitness to practice law. This process starts with the admissions attorney reviewing each candidate’s application, focusing on their criminal history, credit reports, and other relevant documents.

If the admissions attorney uncovers any issues, they may delve deeper and possibly request more information or conduct interviews. If these concerns remain unresolved, they’ll escalate the case to the Attorney Admissions Review Committee for further examination.

The Review Committee will then closely examine the applicant’s character and fitness. If unresolved issues persist — or if the Review Committee’s concerns aren’t adequately addressed — the applicant in question will face a formal hearing before the Board.

At this hearing, applicants can present their case, submit evidence, and have the option to be represented by counsel. They also may present witnesses and cross-examine them. It’s the responsibility of the applicant to prove — through clear and convincing evidence — their good moral character and fitness for legal practice.

2. Satisfying the CLE Requirements

After gaining entry to the bar, newly admitted attorneys in Kansas have a grace period in which to fulfill their CLE requirements based on their admission date. This grace period allows them to commence their CLE activities in the compliance cycle that follows their official admission.

Specifically, attorneys must complete at least 12 CLE credit hours — with a minimum of two hours focused on ethics and professionalism training — by July 31 of the year after they gain admission to the bar.

It’s also worth noting that attorneys can carry over up to 10 CLE hours into their subsequent compliance period. However, any ethics and professionalism hours carried over will count as general attendance credits in the following cycle — not toward the specific ethics and professionalism requirement.

Note: For detailed information on CLE requirements in Kansas, please consult the Kansas Continuing Legal Education website.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Kansas offers an admission on motion pathway for lawyers seeking to join the Kansas bar without taking the bar exam — as long as they meet specific reciprocity criteria.

To qualify, applicants must:

  • Hold an active license in at least one such reciprocal jurisdiction;
  • Have a clean professional record with no history of suspension, disbarment, or license revocation; and
  • Have been actively engaged in the practice of law for five of the seven years immediately preceding their application

The process includes a thorough review of each applicant’s character and fitness that is similar to the one imposed on traditional bar exam applicants, which ensures that all attorneys admitted on motion meet Kansas’s high standards for legal practice.

Note: The definition of “active practice of law” under this rule is broad, encompassing roles like representing clients, serving as corporate counsel or in a governmental legal position, teaching law at an ABA-approved law school, or functioning as a judge or judicial law clerk in positions that necessitate a law license.

For more information, see the reciprocity section on the Kansas Judicial Branch website.

Kansas Bar Exam FAQ

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

No. In Kansas, all applicants must graduate from an ABA-approved law school in order to be eligible to take the bar exam. Check out our What is the Bar Exam article for more information.

How long is the Kansas bar exam?

The Kansas bar exam is conducted over two days. The first day includes the MPT and the MEE while the second day focuses on the MBE. Keep in mind that you also must pass the MPRE in order to be admitted into the state’s bar.

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

The Kansas bar examination encompasses a wide array of legal topics, such as the Uniform Commercial Code. In order to secure a passing score, you’ll need to ensure you give yourself enough time to prepare adequately and get comfortable with the exam’s format. For more information, check out our comprehensive Kansas Bar Exam article.

How much does the Kansas bar exam cost?

The cost of the Kansas bar exam is $700 for the standard application process. Those who miss the initial application deadlines — October 1 for the February exam and March 1 for the July exam — can submit a late application with an additional $200 fee. If you require in-person assistance, visit the Kansas Judicial Branch at 301 SW 10th Avenue.