States no longer release “raw” scores. So you won’t see the actual number (currently out of 190 scored questions) of questions that you answered correctly. Rather, you will just see the “scaled” number. (The National Conference of Bar Examiners—NCBE—no longer releases how they “scale” scores, however, if you want some idea, see this post. It will tell you how your raw score compares with your scaled score using past statistical data.)
How to figure out what a passing MBE Score is:
Some states will tell you what a passing MBE score. (For example, in Michigan, it is 135. In Virginia, it is 140.) Generally, if your state scores the bar exam out of 200 points and a 135 is passing, a 135 is also what is considered a “passing” score if the MBE portion is worth the same as the essay portion.
Even most states with “passing” MBE scores say that you do not have to get the score on the MBE to pass—so long as your overall essay/mbe score exceeds the passing score, you will have passed the bar exam. For example, in most states, if your state’s passing score is 135 — if you received a 130 on the MBE and 140 on the essays, for a 135 overall score, you would have still passed the bar exam! Check your jurisdiction’s rules to make sure!
If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) state:
If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam state, take whatever the passing score is (out of 400) and divide it by two. So, for example, if the passing overall score is a 266, then a 133 would be passing on the MBE. (Remember, the MBE is worth half your score in a UBE state – with the MEE being worth 30% and the MPTs being worth 20%.)
To figure out what a passing MBE score is in your jurisdiction, you can also consult online resources to see exactly how the bar is graded and what score you need to pass.
What Your MBE Scaled Score Means:
Your MBE Scaled Score will be what is listed on your score report. If your MBE Scaled Score was lower than whatever score you need in your jurisdiction, you technically failed the Multistate Bar Exam. (Which again, in most states does not matter so long as you receive a passing overall score.) However, it can be very helpful to know how much you failed it by! What was your percentile? This can tell you how much help you may need going forward.
If you passed the MBE, you may also be curious as to how much you passed by — did you pass by a little or a landslide?
To figure that out, see our percentile chart, below. Your percentile means you did better than that percentage of students taking the exam. (So if you received a score of 130, you are in the 28th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 28 percent of students taking the exam).
Your percentile for the MBE Score is as follows:
- A 180 is 99th percentile
- A 170 is 98th percentile
- A 165 if about 95th percentile
- A 160 is about 90th percentile
- A 155 is about 82nd percentile
- A 150 is about 72nd percentile
- A 145 is about 62nd percentile
- A 140 is about 50th percentile
- A 135 is about 39th percentile
- A 130 is about 28th percentile
- A 125 is about 19th percentile
- A 120 is about 12th percentile
- A 115 is about 7th percentile
- A 110 is about 4th percentile
- A 100 is in the 1st percentile
(Note: This information is from 2015, the 2016 data has not been released yet!)
Looking for additional MBE help? If you are looking for MBE help, read our 10 expert MBE tips here. Check out our step-by-step guide to improving your MBE score, please review this post for an overview of tips. This is a great free MBE resource. If you would like to receive our MBE tip of the day emailed to you, please fill out the form below.
Looking for more MBE resources?
- Check out our MBE guide here. It comes with a 7-point MBE increase guarantee or your money back! You can purchase it online or in a hard copy. (See a sample of it by clicking on the picture to the left!)
- Purchase our MBE one-sheets here! We give you an overview of each MBE subject in one convenient page, front and back. They serve as a great tool for review.
- Looking for a private MBE tutor? Read more about our MBE tutoring services here. If you are wondering if it is worth it to hire an MBE tutor, please check out this post.
- We have an MBE seminar for students looking to learn strategies to improve their MBE scores. Sign up for our MBE seminar here!
- Wondering what skill you need to work on most to improve your MBE score – comprehension, application, or memorization? Check out our MBE diagnostic here.
- Want some free tips? Sign up for our MBE strategies series here! It is free and we remove you from the email list once the bar exam is over!
Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.