Mississippi Bar Exam

Written by: Will Bond

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Passing the Mississippi 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; and
  • 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 applying as an out-of-state attorney.

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Mississippi Bar Exam Overview

Section 73-3-2 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 grants the Board of Bar Admissions (the Board) the duty of determining the fitness and eligibility of applicants seeking to practice law in the state.

The Board conducts the Mississippi bar exam twice a year on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. To take the exam in either of these cycles, you must submit an application and pay the $850 filing fee by Sept. 1 (for the February exam) or Feb. 1 (for the July exam).

If you miss these filing deadlines, you can submit late applications up until Nov. 1 (for the February exam) and April 1 (for the July exam) along with an additional $200 in filing fees for this privilege.

Keep in mind that in order to qualify for the Mississippi bar exam, you will need to satisfy the following eligibility requirements under Rule IV, Section 5 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Mississippi Bar:

  1. Be at least 21 years old;
  2. Have obtained a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or a qualifying equivalent; and
  3. Have successfully met the requirements to complete a course of the study of law at an institution either provisionally or currently approved by the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the American Bar Association (ABA).

Note: While it’s not required in order to take the state bar exam, law students can choose to file an Application for Registration as a Law Student with the Board and save $200 in fees compared to a “regular” Mississippi bar examination application.

Mississippi Exam Structure

While Mississippi hasn’t adopted the Universal Bar Exam (UBE), the proprietary assessment it uses instead includes many of the same components.

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

Day 1:

  • Mississippi Essay Examinations (MSE): Six essay questions drafted by the Board (30%)
  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT): One 90-Minute Multistate Performance Test Question (15%)
  • Multistate Essay Examination (MEE): Six 30-Minute Multistate Essay Exam Questions (15%)

Day 2:

  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE): A 200-Question Multiple-Choice Exam (40%)

The Mississippi bar exam is scored out of 200 points, 132 of which need to be answered correctly in order for a candidate to receive a passing mark.

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

Below, we’ve broken down the content and structure of each exam-related requirement in more detail.

Mississippi Essay Examinations (MSE)

The MSE portion of the Mississippi bar exam tests candidates’ knowledge and understanding of Mississippi-specific laws and legal procedures. It focuses on various legal subjects relevant to practicing law in Mississippi and has historically included the following subjects:

  • Practice and Procedure of Mississippi Courts
  • Evidence
  • US Constitution and Mississippi Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Domestic Relations
  • Professional Conduct and Ethics

The exam requires candidates to go beyond just memorizing legal principles. To succeed in this section, they must demonstrate their ability to:

  • Analyze legal problems from a Mississippi perspective;
  • Apply relevant Mississippi statutes, case law, and rules of procedure to these problems; and
  • Develop well-reasoned legal arguments and solutions

By testing these areas, the MSE aims to ensure candidates possess the necessary legal knowledge and skills to effectively represent clients and practice law within the specific legal framework of Mississippi.

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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
  • Secured Transactions
  • 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 your MBE scaled score is 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, and must obtain a score of 75 or higher in order to pass.

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 Mississippi Bar Exam

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

Mississippi Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of Mississippi’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 Mississippi Bar Requirements

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

  1. Meeting the Good Character and Fitness Standard
  2. Gaining Admission to Chancery Court
  3. Enrolling With the Mississippi Bar
  4. Gaining Admission to the Mississippi Supreme Court
  5. Satisfying the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements

1. Meeting the Good Character and Fitness Standard

All candidates must prove to the Committee on Character and Fitness that they possess the qualities and character necessary to carry out the responsibilities of this profession.

After submitting your application to take the bar exam, the Committee will consider it and start an investigation into your record of past conduct before making a recommendation to the Mississippi Board regarding whether or not it feels you should gain admission to the bar.

In particular, the Committee may recommend against your admission to the bar if it finds any indication of the following conduct on your record:

  • Dishonesty
  • Taking unfair advantage of others
  • Being disloyal to those to whom loyalty is legally owed
  • Professional irresponsibility
  • Unlawfully engaging in the practice of law
  • Mental or emotional instability to the extent that it makes you unsuitable

In order to clarify any queries it may have regarding your past conduct, the Committee may require you to appear in person for an interview touching on your character and fitness.

2. Gaining Admission to Chancery Court

After successfully completing your studies and being found qualified for the Mississippi Bar by the Board, you should receive a Certificate of Eligibility.

The first step you’ll need to take after receiving this is to gain admission in the Chancery Court of:

  1. The county of your residence; or
  2. The county in which you intend to practice; or
  3. Hinds County

In order to gain admission, you must bring the following to your ceremony at Chancery Court:

  • An Ex Parte Petition for License to Practice Law (signed and notarized prior to the day of admittance)
  • Your Certificate of Eligibility from the Board
  • Your Oath to Practice Law
  • A Decree Granting License to Practice Law (to be signed by the chancellor)
  • A typed note with your complete mailing address
  • A $148 filing fee made payable to Chancery Clerk of Hinds County

Once you prescribe your oath in the court’s presence, your name — along with the date of your admission — will be entered in a roll or book kept in each court.

Note: For more information on this step, visit the Mississippi Bar’s Bar Admission Instructions page.

3. Enrolling With the Mississippi Bar

The next step for all prospective attorneys involves enrolling with the Mississippi Bar. You can complete this step in one of two ways, depending on if you plan to attend the Bar Admissions Ceremony.

Attending the Bar Admissions Ceremony

If you plan to attend, during your ceremony at Chancery Court, representatives from the Membership Department also will be present to accept your enrollment form and fee.

You’ll need to complete and submit the following forms:

  • Mississippi Bar Enrollment Information Form
  • Mississippi Bar Enrollment Fee Payment Form

Note that the enrollment fee will vary, depending on the time of year you gain admission. If this ceremony takes place between April and July, the fee is $25. It rises to $100, however, if you gain admission between August and March.

Not Attending the Bar Admissions Ceremony

If you don’t plan to attend this ceremony, you must contact the Chancery Court and Mississippi Supreme Court separately.

After being sworn in, you’ll need to fill out and submit the following documents to the Mississippi Bar by mail:

  • Mississippi Bar Enrollment Information Form
  • A copy of your Chancery Court Decree
  • Your enrollment check or credit card form

You’ll send these documents to the following address:

The Mississippi Bar
ATTN: Membership Department
P.O. Box 2168
Jackson, MS 39225

The same enrollment fees stipulated above also will apply in this case.

Note: Completing this step is mandatory for all aspiring attorneys. You must be a Mississippi Bar member in order to practice law in this state.

4. Gaining Admission to the Mississippi Supreme Court

The final step is to gain admission to the state’s Supreme Court. Once again, you can complete this in one of two ways based on whether or not you plan to attend your Bar Admissions Ceremony.

Attending the Bar Admissions Ceremony

If you attend this ceremony, you’ll need to present a certified copy of your Chancery Court Admissions Decree and Bar Admission certificate to one of the representatives of the Supreme Court Clerk also in attendance.

In return for these documents and a $30 admission fee made payable to the Supreme Court Clerk, you’ll receive your Bar Number.

Not Attending the Bar Admissions Ceremony

If you don’t attend this ceremony, you’ll need to contact the Clerk’s office for a swearing-in appointment as well as additional details on the rest of the procedure.

Note: If you have any questions regarding this procedure, contact the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office by email or by phone.

5. Satisfying the CLE Requirements

Under Rule 3 of the State of Mississippi Regulations for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, all attorneys licensed in Mississippi must complete at least 12 hours of CLE each year.

As part of this annual requirement, a minimum of one credit hour must be spent on courses involving one of the following topics:

  • Legal Ethics
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Professionalism
  • Malpractice Prevention
  • Substance Abuse
  • Mental Health

According to Rule 3(b) of these rules, all newly licensed attorneys in Mississippi must complete a new lawyer program approved by the Commission on Continuing Legal Education by the end of their second year after admission.

This course must last 12 hours, broken down as follows:

  • Basic Skills Training (Six Hours)
  • Ethics/Professionalism (Six Hours)

Completing this course will meet the CLE requirement for a newly qualified attorney’s year of admission and the next CLE year.

Note: For more information on the rules surrounding CLE in this state, check out the Rules and Regulations for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Attorneys who’ve already qualified in a US territory or state may be eligible for the Mississippi Bar without needing to take the state exam as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • They’re qualified in a reciprocal jurisdiction (see below)
  • They’ve practiced law for at least five years in that jurisdiction
  • They haven’t failed a bar exam in the five years immediately preceding their application
  • They haven’t been subject to disciplinary action in another state that would make them ineligible in Mississippi

If you believe you meet the above requirements, you can submit an application for admission on motion to the Board using the same forms required of applicants seeking admission through the Mississippi bar exam. You also must pay a $1,500 application fee as well as an extra NCBE character investigation fee.

Here’s a full list of the states/territories that have reciprocity with Mississippi:

American SamoaMassachusettsSouth Dakota
District of ColumbiaNew HampshireVirgin Islands
GeorgiaNew JerseyVirginia
IdahoNew MexicoWashington
IllinoisNew YorkWest Virginia
IndianaNorth CarolinaWisconsin
IowaNorth DakotaWyoming

Note: For more guidance on the application process, check out Mississippi’s Admission on Motion Application Instructions.

Mississippi Bar Exam FAQ

Is the Mississippi bar exam hard?

Yes, the Mississippi bar exam is often considered highly challenging due to its comprehensive coverage of state-specific laws and legal principles. However, the difficulty of the Mississippi bar exam is subjective and will vary based on your individual preparation and background.

What is the passing score for the Mississippi bar exam?

To pass the Mississippi bar exam, candidates must obtain a scaled score of at least 132 points out of 200. Additionally, they must score 75 or higher on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) if they’re looking to seek admission to the bar.

What is the hardest US state bar exam?

While the bar exams in all states are considered highly difficult, many candidates consider the California bar exam to be the trickiest — a belief that isn’t helped by its low overall pass rate. Interested in learning more? Check out our What is the Bar Exam article.

How many times can you take the Mississippi bar exam?

According to the bar admissions website, following revisions made by the Mississippi Supreme Court in December 2022, any applicants who fail the state’s bar exam four times may not retake it again.