New Hampshire Bar Exam

Written by: Will Bond

Last updated:

Passing the New Hampshire 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 take a look at the process of applying as an out-of-state-attorney.

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New Hampshire Bar Exam Overview

The New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners (the Board) administers the bar exam in this state.

If you plan to take the New Hampshire bar exam, it’s administered twice a year: once on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and again on the same days in July.

In order to take the bar exam in New Hampshire on either of these dates, you must submit an application by December 1 for the February exam and May 1 for the July exam. The application fee is $725, which you can pay by check or money order.

Because the Board won’t accept late requests to take the bar exam, it’ll reject your application if you submit it after 4:30 p.m. on either of the above deadlines.

Keep in mind that in order to be eligible for the New Hampshire bar exam, you will need to satisfy the following educational criteria per Section V of New Hampshire Supreme Court Rule 42:

  1. Undergraduate Education: In order to be eligible for the bar in this state, you’ll need to prove you completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited institution that required at least three years of work or that you have an equivalent education.
  2. Law School Education: With the exception of certain applicants who are already licensed to practice law in Vermont, all candidates must graduate from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school from a course lasting either:
    • Three years of continuous, full-time study; or
    • At least four years of part-time study equivalent to the same number of working hours
  3. Foreign Law School Graduates: Applicants who graduated from law schools in foreign countries also must be members in good standing of that country’s bar in order to be eligible for the New Hampshire bar exam.

Note: The New Hampshire Judicial Branch provides a Packet Completion Checklist you can use to ensure you complete your application for the bar exam properly.

New Hampshire Exam Structure

In 2014, the state of New Hampshire 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.

In addition to the UBE, all candidates must obtain a passing score of 79 or higher on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in order to be eligible for the New Hampshire 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.

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 New Hampshire Bar Exam

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

New Hampshire Bar Exam Tips

Despite the infamous difficulty of New Hampshire’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 New Hampshire Bar Requirements

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

  1. Demonstrating Good Moral Character
  2. Taking the Attorney’s Oath
  3. Completing the Practical Skills Course
  4. Satisfying the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Requirements

1. Demonstrating Good Moral Character

In order to be eligible for the bar, all applicants must demonstrate to the New Hampshire Committee on Character and Fitness (the Committee) that they possess the necessary qualities to satisfy the duties of this profession.

This investigation commences when you submit the prescribed petition and questionnaire for admission to the Committee, which must include a certificate with the signatures of two people testifying to your good character.

After receiving your petition, the Committee will review the results of your questionnaire, contact your references, and make further investigation into any of the following as it deems relevant:

  • Court Records
  • Criminal History
  • Education
  • Financial History (Including Civil Cases)
  • Professional History

If necessary, the Committee may ask you to attend interviews and evidentiary hearings if it needs to consider your application in more detail.

Once the Committee reaches a conclusion, it’ll send its recommendation and a report of its investigation to the New Hampshire Supreme Court — which makes the final decision on whether or not you’ll gain admission to the bar.

Upon receiving notice of the final decision from the New Hampshire Supreme Court regarding your eligibility for the bar, you’ll have 20 days in which to file a petition for review if you don’t agree with the conclusion of this investigation.

Note: You can find more information about this process under Section VI of Rule 42 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of New Hampshire.

2. Taking the Attorney’s Oath

Once you successfully pass the New Hampshire bar exam and satisfy the requirements for admission contained under Rule 42 (IV)(a), the next step involves taking your oath of admission.

Applicants admitted to the bar through examination must take this oath in a court proceedings conducted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Unless granted an extension by the Board, you’ll have two years from the date you first received notice by the Board of your admission to take this oath. If you fail to complete this step within this time, you’ll have to reapply for admission, retake the bar exam, and satisfy the good moral character requirements again.

3. Completing the Practical Skills Course

Per the New Hampshire Supreme Court, all new attorneys must take the Practical Skills Course within two years of being sworn in to the New Hampshire Bar Association.

The course is designed to help new attorneys develop the basic skills and practical knowledge they’ll need to practice law in New Hampshire. It includes an opening session in addition to a choice among several practice areas within four subsequent “breakout” sessions:

  • Family Practice, or Wills and Trusts, or Debtor/Creditor
  • Real Estate, or Civil Litigation, or Criminal Practice
  • Discovery Practice or Business Organization
  • Solo & Small Firm Management/Technology, or Employment Law Issues

In-person attendance is mandatory, which you’ll need to prove with an affidavit that states you attended each session (unless exempted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court).

Completing the Practical Skills Course also will provide you with some credits toward the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements of that reporting period, including:

  • 405 General Minutes (If You Attend Both Days)
  • 150 Ethics/Professionalism Minutes

Note: You can find more information about the mandatory Practical Skills Course on the New Hampshire Bar Association website.

4. Satisfying the MCLE Requirements

Under Rule 53, all active attorneys in New Hampshire must complete 12 hours of MCLE each year in order to retain their license.

In particular, at least two of these MCLE hours must focus on one of the following:

  • Legal Ethics
  • Professionalism
  • The Prevention of Malpractice, Substance Abuse, or Attorney-Client Disputes

You’ll need to finish all these hours by May 31, although you’ll have until July 1 to submit your annual New Hampshire Minimum Continuing Legal Education (NHMCLE) affidavit filing.

If you exceed the 12-hour annual MCLE requirement, you may carry over excess hours to meet the requirement of the next reporting period.

Note: If you haven’t satisfied this annual requirement by August 2, the NHMCLE Board will fine you for delinquency. If you still don’t complete your MCLE hours by September 15, the NHMCLE Board will report your name to the New Hampshire Supreme Court for suspension of your license.

Admission on Motion (Reciprocity)

Attorneys who otherwise meet the academic and character requirements outlined in Rule 42(IV)(a), (V), and (VI) may gain admission to the New Hampshire bar without examination as long as they:

  • Have passed the bar exam and been admitted to the bar in a reciprocal US jurisdiction;
  • Have actively rendered legal services in a US territory for at least five of the seven years prior to the date of filing the motion;
  • Are in good standing in all jurisdictions where they’ve been previously or are currently admitted;
  • Aren’t subject to lawyer discipline or a pending disciplinary matter anywhere;
  • Appoint the clerk of the New Hampshire Supreme Court as agent for service of process; and
  • Submit a motion form (and the accompanying fee), a completed petition/questionnaire for admission, and supporting documents to the Board.

If you satisfy the requirements outlined above, you’ll need to submit the following to the New Hampshire Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions:

  1. The Petition and Questionnaire for Admission to the New Hampshire Bar
  2. Form A
  3. A $1,225 filing fee

Here’s a full list of reciprocity states for New Hampshire:

ArizonaMichiganSouth Dakota
ConnecticutMissouriUS Virgin Islands
District of ColumbiaMontanaUtah
IdahoNew JerseyVermont (see below)
IllinoisNew MexicoWashington
IndianaNew YorkWest Virginia
IowaNorth CarolinaWisconsin
KansasNorth DakotaWyoming
Maine (see below)Oklahoma

Note: If you’re qualified to practice as an attorney in either Maine or Vermont, you’ll need to meet a different set of requirements in order to be eligible for admission on motion. See Rules 42(XI)(b) and (c) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of New Hampshire for more information.

New Hampshire Bar Exam FAQ

Does New Hampshire have a bar exam?

Yes, New Hampshire has a bar exam that candidates can take in order to apply for admission to the state bar. Individuals also have several other admission application options, including admission by motion, transferred UBE score, and successful completion of the Daniel Webster Scholar (DWS) Honors Program.

What is a passing score on the New Hampshire bar exam?

In order to be eligible for the New Hampshire bar, you’ll need to obtain a score of 270 or above on the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) as well as at least 79 on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). For more New Hampshire bar exam information, see our overview above.

What states have reciprocity with the New Hampshire Bar?

The reciprocity situation is quite complex in New Hampshire. While it offers a preliminary determination of reciprocity with 41 states, including Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania, it also has a distinct set of rules that apply to candidates qualified as attorneys in Maine and Vermont.

What state has the hardest bar exam?

Many people believe California has the hardest bar exam due to its consistently low pass rate. Ultimately, though, the biggest factor influencing the difficulty of this exam is how well you prepare. While challenging, you can ensure you pass the New Hampshire bar exam if you prepare effectively.