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Guide FAQs Related to Examination for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar

Frequently asked questions about filing for admission to the October 2020 and February 2021 bar exam administrations, and what happens post-examination.

Table of Contents

General questions

Is the February 2021 remote exam for Massachusetts bar admission a Uniform Bar Exam?

Yes, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners will administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) for February 2021 remotely given continuing health and safety issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The February 2021 remote exam is a full UBE that will provide examinees with a portable exam score, transferable to other UBE jurisdictions.  For more information on the benefits of earning a UBE score, please see https://www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/.

Does the administration of a remote exam have any impact on the character and fitness process or on other requirements for Massachusetts bar admission?

No. All other requirements for Massachusetts bar admission, including a determination of requisite character and fitness for admission remain the same and are not impacted by the remote administration of the Uniform Bar Exam.

What content will be tested by this remote exam?

The remote exam will be a full Uniform Bar Exam, comprised of 200 MBE multiple-choice questions, six Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) questions, and two Multistate Performance Test (MPT) items. A complete description of the subject matter tested on each segment of the Uniform Ba Exam (MBE, MEE, MPT) is available at https://www.ncbex.org/exams/.

What is the format of the remote exam?

The  remotely-administered Uniform Bar Exam will consist of eight, 90-minute test sessions administered over two days, February 23-24, 2021. The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), comprised of two MPT items, will be administered in two 90-minute sessions on February 23, 2021.  There will also be two 90-minute Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) sessions on February 23, each session including three MEE questions. The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) will be administered in four 90-minute sessions on February 24, 2021 and will each consist of 50 multiple-choice questions.

What is the schedule for the February 2021 remote exam?

The standard administration of the February 2021 remote exam will occur on the following schedule (all times are Eastern Time (ET)):

Tuesday, 2/23/2021 Multistate Performance Test (MPT)                                                                                   
  MPT1 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET 
  MPT2 11:00a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, 2/23/2021 Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)             
  MEE 1-3 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET 
  MEE 4-6 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, 2/24/2021 Multistate Bar Exam  (MBE)                     
  MBE 1-50       9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. 
  MBE 51-100                                                            11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET 
  MBE 101-150 2:00 p.m.  -3:30 p.m. ET
  MBE 151-200 4:00 p.m. -  5:30 p.m  ET

Schedules for examinees pre-approved by the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) for testing under accommodated conditions due to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be notified by the BBE of their testing schedule.

Is the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) included as part of the remote exam?

No. The MLC is a requirement for admission separate and distinct from the Uniform Bar Exam.  All petitioners for admission are required to successfully complete the MLC as a condition of admission. Petitioners will receive an email notice from the Board of Bar Examiners Bar Applicant Portal providing information on accessing and completing the MLC requirement for admission.  This requirement should be completed by March 31, 2021 in order to avoid a delay in admission.

If I sit for the UBE in another jurisdiction, can I ALSO file a petition for admission by examination for the February 2021 Massachusetts remote UBE?

Candidates for Massachusetts bar admission are permitted to sit for only one bar exam.  You may apply concurrently in another jurisdiction, but you must choose only one location to sit for the exam.  Your score must be transferred to MA or another jurisdiction by the NCBE.  Massachusetts will not transfer any Uniform Bar Exam score.

Exam administration questions

Policy on Scratch Paper (For MPT Only)

You MAY use scratch paper and a non-digital pencil or pen to take notes for the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) portion of the exam ONLY.  Use of scratch paper and/or pencils or pens of any kind are strictly prohibited during the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) and Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) exam sessions.

Any use of scratch paper on the MEE or MBE sessions will be flagged for further investigation.

Any scratch paper used on the MPT sessions of the exam must be removed from the testing area prior to the start of the MEE sessions.

The standard administration of the February 2021 remote UBE will occur on the following schedule (all times are Eastern Time (ET)):

Tuesday, 2/23/2021 Multistate Performance Test (MPT)                                                                                   
  MPT1 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET 
  MPT2 11:00a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday, 2/23/2021 Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)             
  MEE 1-3 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET 
  MEE 4-6 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, 2/24/2021 Multistate Bar Exam  (MBE)                     
  MBE 1-50       9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. 
  MBE 51-100                                                            11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET 
  MBE 101-150 2:00 p.m.  -3:30 p.m. ET
  MBE 151-200 4:00 p.m. -  5:30 p.m  ET

Schedules for examinees pre-approved by the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) for testing under accommodated conditions due to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be notified by the BBE of their testing schedule.

How is the exam administered? What technology is required?

  • Examinees may take the remote exam on their own computers at their home, work/office, law school, library, or another location of their choice. The environment should be quiet and distraction free, with no personal identifying information visible to the webcam.
  • Minimum system requirements are available at are available at https://ei.examsoft.com/GKWeb/login/mabar.  Please review the minimum system requirements in detail to ensure that your computer meets all requirements.  There will be no deferments or refunds available for petitioners who are unable to complete the exam due to computers that do not meet these requirements.
  • All examinees are required to have a webcam and microphone for check-in and for remote proctoring of the exam. If your computer does not have an internal webcam and microphone, you may use an external webcam with microphone. You will need to test the use of the webcam and microphone during the mandatory mock exam.
  • Examinees will need a reliable internet connection before each exam session to obtain the password for each exam session, to check in and begin each session, and to upload their answer file and proctoring video at the close of each session. An active internet connection is not required during each , only at the beginning and the end of each session. Once examinees check in and begin the exam session the exam will be taken offline.  Remote proctoring through ExamSoft’s Exam Monitor software will be in place throughout each exam session.
  • Some law schools may offer physical space for use by examinees who may not have access to a secure and reliable internet connection, or access to suitable testing space. If your law school offers space for you to take the exam and is authorized to do so, it is permissible for you to take the exam at the law school provided that you are seated sufficiently far enough away from any other examinees to assure the security of the test and to minimize problems with the remote proctoring. You will need to abide by all other instructions including remaining in your seat in view of your webcam throughout each session. It is the responsibility of the law school and examinee to make sure that all social-distancing protocols are followed.

What will examinees be able to do within the exam software, Examplify?

On the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), examinees will be able to:

  • View the question, response, and virtual scrap paper on the screen at the same time. For the MPT, examinees will also be able to open the MPT library attachments and view both the attachments and the exam response on the screen simultaneously;
  • Highlight within the text of questions (highlighting is not available within the MPT attachment);
  • Use the virtual scrap paper, or “Notes” feature, for each MEE question and MPT item to take notes and outline responses.  This feature also allows examinees to ‘cut and paste’ text between the virtual scrap paper and question or item response;
  • Use the spell-check, highlighter, and "find and replace" features in your answers.

On the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), examinees will be able to:

  • Highlight within the text of each question;
  • Strike-out particular multiple-choice answers to eliminate incorrect answers as questions are considered. Please note that examinees must actually select an answer (and not just strike through purported incorrect answers) in order to receive credit for a correct answer;
  • Navigate forward and backward between questions, as well as skip and/or return to unanswered questions during each exam session;
  • Flag multiple-choice questions to return to for further consideration during that exam session;
  • Use the virtual scrap paper throughout the MBE session.

Examinees are not permitted to:

  • Use more than one monitor;
  • Cut-and-Paste or Drag-and-Drop’ from the text of any MEE question or MPT item
    question and library to a question or item response;
  • Underline, circle, or strike text within the MEE/MBE questions or MPT materials;
  • Use physical scratch paper, writing instruments, notes, or any other physical reference materials for the MEE or MBE portions of the exam. See the note above (Policy on Scratch Paper) for information on the use of scratch paper for the MPT.

What testing conditions will be required?

  • Examinees must be in a distraction-free environment, and preferably alone in the room in which they are taking the exam.
  • Examinees may not have a phone within reach, and may access the phone for the sole purpose of contacting ExamSoft, if necessary, to resolve a technology issue.  Access of a phone or mobile device for any other purpose during a testing session is a violation of the Board of Bar Examiners' security policy and may result in the invalidation of the examinee’s exam score.  If a technology issue arises that requires a call to ExamSoft Support, the examinee may retrieve a phone and contact ExamSoft. When the technology issue is resolved, the examinee must remove the phone from the testing area.
  • Examinees are required to submit a copy of a government issued photo identification to ExamSoft and to the Board of Bar Examiners, as instructed upon registration with ExamSoft and in Board of Bar Examiners February 2021 Email Notice 1. There will not be a photo identification requirement on exam days.
  • Diplomas, photographs, or other items that personally identify examinees should not be visible to examinee webcams during the examination.
  • Examinees must remain seated with their face visible to the camera for the duration of each 90-minute test session.  Examinees will have a break between the 90-minute exam sessions, during which they will be allowed to step away from their computer to stretch, use the bathroom, take medications, etc.  Should an emergency occur that requires and examinee to leave their seat during an exam session, the examinee must announce the fact and nature of the emergency to the camera before leaving their seat.
  • Should an examinee be seated for testing in a location requiring that a face covering be worn, or should an examinee otherwise choose to wear a face covering during testing, the examinee must lower the face covering during the ExamID facial recognition process by which the examinee’s identification is confirmed.  Once that process has been completed, the examinee may place the face covering back on his or her face for the duration of the exam session.
  • Examinees are not permitted to  wear a head covering during a remote exam session except for religious or medical reasons, in which case the head covering may not have a brim or otherwise obscure the examinee’s eyes or face.
  • Examinees may not wear headphones, headsets, earbuds, or any similar device that can access two-way communication during the examOnly basic foam earplugs are permitted.

How does remote proctoring work?

  • Examinees must remain at their computer, with their face fully visible to their webcam, for the entirety of each 90-minute test session.  During this time, the proctoring software will record the examinee (audio and video) throughout the exam session. The recording will be uploaded to ExamSoft along with the examinee’s answer files.
  • Each recording will be analyzed through the use of ExamSoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) program.  The AI will flag unusual behaviors, movements, or sounds. All flagged footage will then be reviewed first by a human proctor to remove flags for movements or sounds that do not raise concern as to a potential cheating incident.  For example, a dog barking in the background, or a natural movement such as an examinee scratching his or her face, might be initially flagged by AI, but will be cleared upon review.  Upon completion of this review, a second set of human proctors will review the remaining flags for further analysis as to behaviors that may raise a concern over particular flagged behaviors.  A final review of any remaining flags will be reviewed by Board of Bar Examiners personnel.  It is important to note that persons reviewing the recordings and flags will not, at any time, have access to any examinees’ personal identifying information. 
  • Remote proctoring recordings will be destroyed by ExamSoft, at the direction of the Board of Bar Examiners, within a reasonable time after the completion of all grading or, where misconduct investigations are initiated, after resolution of any misconduct investigation.
  • It is expected that all examinees will demonstrate integrity, honor, and ethical behavior during all exam sessions, including mock exam sessions. Any examinee who is found to have violated or attempted to violate any rule or restriction established by the Board of Bar Examiners related to taking the remote exam for admission is subject to referral for character & fitness investigation as provided by Board of Bar Examiners Rule V.

What software vendor will be used to deliver the February 2021 remote UBE for admission?

The February 2021 Uniform Bar Exam will be remotely administered through use of  Examplify testing software provided by ExamSoft Worldwide.  ExamSoft will contact examinees directly, via email, with instructions for registration and exam preparation.  ExamSoft required registration deadline will be confirmed after the Massachusetts filing deadline.  ExamSoft will contact examinees directly with instructions for downloading the required exam files for exam day.  It is critical that all deadlines are strictly complied with as they will not be extended.  General information on Examplify for bar exams may be found at https://bar.examsoft.com/

Will examinees have the chance to test and familiarize themselves with the exam software prior to the exam administration?

Examinees are required to take a minimum of two mock exams, and will have the opportunity to take a third mock exam before the date of the exam.  The mock exams will be available for download upon registration ExamSoft.  During the first mock exam, examinees will establish a baseline facial identification through ExamSoft’s facial recognition software platform, ExamID.  This will provide a baseline for facial recognition to confirm examinee identification for each exam session.  The mock exams will also provide examinees with the opportunity to become familiar with all Examplify testing features and functionality.  The second mock exam will contain practice questions so that examinees may practice using all of the software features and functionality within an exam.

Will technical support be available during exam sessions?

Yes. ExamSoft will have dedicated phone response available throughout each exam session for examinees in need of technical assistance. Examinees are permitted to access their phones for technical support, but phones must be removed from the testing area immediately after the support call ends.  Assistance will also be available through ExamSoft’s online chat assistance at the beginning of each exam session, accessible from the testing computer only until examinees enter the secure software platform for testing.

Will examinees be required to pay a separate fee for access to the ExamSoft software platform?

No.  All fees will be paid by the Board of Bar Examiners.

How does ExamID facial recognition software work?

ExamSoft uses ExamID to authenticate the identity of examinee, confirming that the person sitting in front of the camera to take the exam is the same person who registered for the exam.
During an examinee’s first mock exam, ExamID will take a baseline photo of the examinee. Examinees are urged to sit in a well-lit room to provide adequate lighting for the photo. It is recommended that examinees, to the extent possible, take this baseline photo in the well-lit room in which they intend to take the exam. ExamID will confirm that the photo taken in the first mock exam is acceptable. At the start of each session of the actual exam, ExamID will take another photo of the examinee and will compare it to the photo taken during the mock exam to authenticate the examinee's identity. Should an examinee experience an issue with the ExamID authentication at the beginning of an exam session, the examinee will be permitted to take the exam and the Board of Bar Examiners will authenticate the examinee’s identity following the exam through review of the video and previously submitted photo identifications.

NOTE:  Should an examinee be seated for testing in a location requiring that a face covering be worn, or should an examinee otherwise choose to wear a face covering during testing, the examinee must lower the face covering during the ExamID facial recognition process by which the examinee’s identification is confirmed.  Once that process has been completed, the examinee may place the face covering back on his or her face for the duration of the exam session.

Is the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) included as part of the remote exam?

No. The MLC is a requirement for admission separate and distinct from the examination.  All petitioners for admission are required to successfully complete the MLC. Petitioners have received an email notice from the Board of Bar Examiners Bar Applicant Portal providing information on accessing and completing the MLC requirement for admission.  This requirement should be completed by March 31, 2021 in order to avoid a delay in admission.

How are non-standard testing accommodations due to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacted by the remote exam?

Examinees who have submitted an application to request nonstandard testing accommodations for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) will be contacted directly by the Board of Bar Examiners regarding their accommodations.

I have a health related condition requiring special arrangements. How will I be able to take the remote exam if I need to address these conditions during the 90-minute session?

Examinees with a health-related condition requiring special arrangements must complete and submit the Health-Related Conditions Form to the Board of Bar Examiners on or before January 31, 2021.

 

If I sit for the UBE in another jurisdiction in February 2021 or sat for the October 2020 n a reciprocal jurisdiction and obtained a passing score of 270 or greater, will the Court accept a concurrent petition for admission by examination?

 Yes if you are taking the UBE in February 2021, but you must be sure to confirm where you are sitting February 2021 exam in your petition. You must request the official score transfer to Massachusetts from the NCBE as soon as results are released from the jurisdiction in which you sat. 

If you sat for the October 2020 remote exam, you must file a Petition for Admission by Transfer of UBE Score after you receive your October 2020 results. You can find more information at Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar by Transfer of Uniform Bar Examination Score. October 2020 exam reciprocal jurisdictions will transfer the scores directly to Massachusetts.

Additional Resources for Exam administration questions

Post examination questions

When will results be available?

The Board of Bar Examiners expects to release October 2020 results by mid-December, 2020.

When will the admission ceremonies take place?

The admission ceremonies will be offered virtually and are scheduled for the week of January 11-15, 2021. All petitioners reported qualified by the Court will receive information from the Court sometime in mid-December. Please be sure that your contact information on file with the Court is current.

Will future Massachusetts bar examinations be administered remotely?

The remote administration of the October 2020 and February 2021 Massachusetts exams are in response to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Bar Examiners will continue to monitor plans for future bar exam administrations to determine to safest and most effective and efficient Uniform Bar Exam administration moving forward.

If I previously sat for the UBE in another jurisdiction and obtained a passing score of 270 or greater, will the Court accept a concurrent petition for admission by examination even if Massachusetts is not administering the UBE?

No. You should file a Petition for Admission by Transfer of UBE Score after you receive your results. You can find more information at Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar by Transfer of Uniform Bar Examination Score

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