State-by-State Bar Exam Information: Iowa

Bar Information


Key Dates

When is the Bar Exam: 

The last Tue and Wed of February and July (There is a mandatory orientation on Monday afternoon as well.)

When is the application for the July exam made available: 

Available at all times

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

April 1 (firm deadline). There is also a required law student registration, and applicants can avoid higher fees by turning this in as early as possible.

Exam Details

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

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

How is the bar exam structured?: 

There is a mandatory orientation on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, the two MPT items are administered in the morning (total of 3 hours), and the MEE items are administered in the afternoon (total of 3 hours). The MBE is administered on Wednesday, 100 questions in the morning and 100 questions in the afternoon--six hours total. The exam begins at 8:30 each morning.

What subjects are tested: 

The MBE tests Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law. Evidence, Property, and Torts. The MEE tested subjects are listed here.

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

Yes. All applicants who seek to take the exam on a laptop will be able to do so.

Are past exam questions and sample answers available?: 

Only through the National Conference of Bar Examiners, as Iowa uses only NCBE's tests.

How is the exam scored?: 

The written portion (essays, 30%, and performance tests, 20%, combined) and multiple-choice portion are weighted equally--each at 50%. Applicants must achieve a combined total score of 264.


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

July 2012: 93%; July 2011: 90%

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

July 2012: 90%; July 2011: 87%


Can MBE scores be transferred from other jurisdictions?: 

Yes, if from one of the last four MBE administrations

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

Yes, but only if they have practiced law for five of the previous seven years. Consult the jurisdiction directly for more detailed information on admission by motion.

The information for Iowa comes from the Iowa Office of Professional Regulation's website and response to our survey, as well as from the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements and annual statistical report.