A Chart Summarizing the New York Bar Exam Changes

What’s new with the New York Bar Exam in 2016?

Big changes are coming to the New York Bar Exam beginning in July 2016. As you may know, the NY Bar has decided to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”) to replace the current NY Exam format.

What’s Changing?

To help you prepare for the change and to see the differences, Celebration Bar Review has prepared the following chart of testable subjects from the old and new exams:

Current NY Exam Subjects

UBE Subjects (July 2016)

Multistate Torts – MBE + Essay Multistate Torts – MBE + Essay
Multistate Contracts & Sales – MBE + Essay Multistate Contracts & Sales – MBE + Essay
Multistate Property – MBE + Essay Multistate Property – MBE + Essay
Multistate Criminal Law & Procedure – MBE + Essay Multistate Criminal Law & Procedure – MBE + Essay
Multistate Constitutional Law – MBE Only Multistate Constitutional Law – MBE + Essay
Multistate Evidence – MBE Only Multistate Evidence – MBE + Essay
Federal Civil Procedure & Jurisdiction – MBE Only Federal Civil Procedure & Jurisdiction – MBE + Essay
NY CPLR – Essay + NY Multiple Choice
NY Wills and Estates – Essay + NY Multiple Choice Decedent’s Estates (general) – Essay
NY Trusts – Essay + NY Multiple Choice Trusts (general) – Essay
Administrative Law Essay + NY Multiple Choice
Business Relationships (Corporations, Agency & Partnerships) – Essay + NY Multiple Choice Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (general) – Essay
Conflicts of Laws – Essay + NY Multiple Choice Conflicts of Laws (general) – Essay
Equities & Remedies – Essay + NY Multiple Choice
NY Evidence – Essay + NY Multiple Choice
NY Family Law – Essay + NY Multiple Choice Domestic Relations (general) – Essay
Professional Responsibility – Essay + NY Multiple Choice
UCC 9 (Secured Transactions) – Essay + NY Multiple Choice UCC 9 (Secured Transactions) – Essay
Multistate Performance Test (MPT) Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

As you can see from the Chart, there are 5 fewer subjects potentially testable on the UBE than in the former NY Exam format.

In addition, you should be aware of these other changes:

  • There will be no NY Multiple Choice Exam (although a separate, post bar-exam compliance test with 50 Multiple Choice Questions will be required)
  • Essays will be limited to 30 minutes in length under the UBE as compared to the generally longer (45-60 minutes) format of the current NY Exam
  • There will be 2 MPTs in the UBE rather than the single MPT now. In addition, the MPTs will have a 90-minute time limit instead of the flexible timing currently offered

So What Do These Changes Mean?

Based on our experience with the UBE in 14 other jurisdictions for the past several years, we think the new test will be significantly easier than the current exam. Here are a few reasons for our conclusion:

  1. There are fewer subjects to study
  2. The core of the exam – the 7 MBE Subjects – are also the core of the Essay section, making study more focused and compact
  3. Shorter Essay Questions and set time limits will allow for better, more focused writing, particularly for students who use our exclusive and successful UBE Writing Format
  4. Removing NY Multiple Choice will reduce both the number of subjects and the need to learn NY differences for Multistate Topics that currently can be tested on the NY Day of the Exam as well

Some “Myths” to be Aware Of

Like any big change to an important test, a lot has – and will – be written about this shift in the test. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s already been said is either speculative or just plain disingenuous. Here are a couple of “Myths” you should be on the lookout for:

Myth #1: Your Bar License will be portable.
Not so fast, friend. Yes, taking and passing the UBE in NY may (and that’s a big “may”) – allow some candidates to waive into a few of the other 14 UBE jurisdictions without taking another bar exam. Here’s a blog post we wrote on this subject recently, but the bottom line is this: Not every jurisdiction will allow a waive in, including NY, so if your plan is to take the UBE in Wyoming and waive into NY, that’s not going to happen, at least under the current rules.

Myth #2: Pass Rates will Soar with the New Test
This is certainly what applicants (and Law School Deans) are hoping for, but not necessarily the case. The test is easier (see above) but the passing level and criteria will still be set by the NY Bar Examiners and frankly, if they wish to keep the pass rate at its current 45-50% level, they can easily do so. Don’t underestimate the power of a protective trade association.

Myth #3: I can use my old NY Bar Study Materials on the new Exam
That would be a very bad choice. In addition to a different set of subjects, several of which will be generic rather than NY-specific, essays will need to be drafted differently on the new exam. Old materials with old questions will be nearly-useless.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare?

Study for the new bar exam with a company that’s proven and experienced with the UBE. Celebration Bar Review has been successfully working with the UBE, the MBE and the MPT for over 20 years. We’ve got hundreds of questions along with topic-specific outlines, lectures and a range of mentoring choices. You can begin your studies with us for the July 2016 NY Bar as early as you wish, using our home study program, and be assured through our online delivery system of any updates to the test between now and the exam date.

About Jackson Mumey

For over 20 years, Celebration Bar Review’s Jackson Mumey has taught legal writing to the bar takers of California, NY, NJ, Florida, Texas and Georgia. His proprietary “FLA” writing system has been successfully used on the bar exam by thousands of students. For more information, visit www.celebrationbarreview.com