2017 will bring many changes to the bar exam. In February 2017, bar candidates will be responsible for knowing additional subject matter not previously tested on the bar exam, to include conflicts of law; property owners’ associations and common interest ownership communities; drafting, review, and negotiation of closing documents; and persons authorized to execute real estate documents.
In addition, test subject modifications will include providing specific examples of rules affecting future interests; including security deposits in termination of tenancies; providing more detailed zoning topics; and including as separate topics: transfers of restrictive covenants, transfers of easements, profits, and licenses, and acceleration of loans before foreclosure.
Note that the Real Property topics will no longer include the application of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code to fixtures or abatement of devises.
Starting in February 2017, the allocation for Evidence MBE subject matter will also be adjusted. 25% of the questions will test presentation of evidence; 30% will test relevancy and reasons for excluding relevant evidence; 10% will test privileges and other policy exclusions; 10% will test writings, recordings, and photographs; and 25% will test hearsay and circumstances of its admissibility.
Finally, with the February 2017 bar exam, the manner in which the MBE portion of the test is scored will be changed. The MBE test consists of 200 total questions (items). Of that 200 total, 175 of the questions (items) will be scored. Of the 175 scored questions (items), there will be 25 questions (items) for each of the seven testable subjects. The remaining 25 items will be regarded as "pretest questions." These 25 questions (items) will not be scored.
Examinees will not know when they take the February 2017 bar exam, and all future bar exams, which of the 200 total MBE questions (items) will be scored and which ones will not. Thus, examinees must answer each and every MBE question (item) as if all will be scored.
Of the 175 scored questions, there will be 25 questions for each of the 7 testable subjects. The remaining 25 “pretest questions” that will not be scored will be used for control purposes.
As stated in the NCBE notification, “MBE scores will continue to be expressed on a 200-point scale. Because MBE scores are equated and scaled, scores will still be comparable to those earned when there were more scored questions. The change was made in consultation with our testing and measurement staff with the goal [of] further strengthening of the MBE. The change should require nothing different in terms of preparation for the test.”
The subjects currently tested on the MBE are Contracts, Federal Civil Procedure, Criminal Law/Procedure, Constitutional Law, Evidence, Property, and Torts. Federal Civil Procedure was added to the MBE testable subject matter in February 2015. All of these same subjects are also tested on the essay and Performance portions of the bar exam, in addition to Agency and Partnership, Community Property, Corporations, Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts, and Wills.