State-by-State Bar Exam Information: District of Columbia

Bar Information


Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Tue and Wed of February and July

When is the application for the July exam made available: 


By when is the application for the July exam due?: 

May 3 (late filing allowed until May 18 with additional fee.)  The filing fee is $100 if the application is filed by the first deadline and $300 if the application is filed by the late deadline. The testing fee for the Multistate Bar Examination is $58 and the testing fee for the essays (Multistate Essay Examination + Multistate Performance Test) is $42. There is also a fee, the amount of which to be specified in the application materials, for the National Conference of Bar Examiners to conduct the background investigation. The manner of payment and payees for all fees is also specified in the application materials.

Exam Details

What tests and types of questions are on the bar exam?: 

Multiple-choice: The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) Written: Essay questions drawn from the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and two performance tests drawn from the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

What subjects are tested: 

The Multistate Bar Examination tests Constitutional Law, Contracts, Evidence, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts. The Multistate Essay Examination subjects are listed on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners here.

Is it possible to take the written portions of the exam on a laptop computer?: 


Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 

Because D.C. administers only multistate tests, past questions and sample answers are available only from the National Conference of Bar Examiners at

How is the exam scored?: 

The written portion (MPT, 25%, and MEE, 25%) and the MBE are each weighted equally at 50% of the overall score.


What was the first-time taker pass rate for the most recent July bar exam? : 

2012: 70%; 2011: 64%

What was the overall pass rate for all takers of the most recent July bar exam?: 

2012: 53%; 2011: 46%


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 

Yes, if taken within the preceding 25 months

Can applicants already admitted in another state gain admission without taking the bar exam?: 

Yes. An attorney with a J.D. from an ABA-approved law school may be admitted without taking the D.C. exam if he or she was admitted in another jurisdiction by examination and attained a 133 scaled MBE score and a 75 scaled MPRE score. There is no years of practice requirement. Alternately, an attorney who has been a member in good standing of the bar for 5 years may be admitted without taking the D.C. exam.



Because D.C. grants immediate reciprocity to anyone who passes another jurisdiction's exam (if that exam includes the MBE and the applicant attains at least a 133 scaled score), most law school graduates prefer to take another jurisdiction's exam and then apply for D.C. membership based on the result of that exam.

The information on the District of Columbia comes from the D.C. Court of Appeals' Admissions office and from the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and annual statistical report.