The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) has standardized bar exams to test on “majority law.” While states still have their own bar exams, many states are also offering this exam as an option.
Currently, 38 states are “UBE states.” The only states that do not offer the UBE are California, Nevada, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Hawaii.
Alabama, Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico, and North Dakota all have the lowest minimum passing score for the Uniform Bar Exam, at 260. While these states enjoy the lowest grade to pass, it does not reflect their difficulty or challenges. The state with the highest number of passing lawyers was South Dakota, as of 2021. Similarly, New Mexico is one of the toughest landscapes for lawyers to compete with, notably being mentioned in the popular Netflix series "Better Call Saul" and "Breaking Bad". It gave some insight into the issues plaguing New Mexico, especially in the criminal landscape and the drug trade.
However, Alabama and Missouri are among the lowest (if not, the lowest) states in terms of literacy and economic development. As such, the bar exam is both made to be more simple and more inviting for up-and-coming lawyers to add more professional talent to their pool of candidates. Missouri is often ranked 50th in many regards to the economy and quality of life, and it would be a poor decision to increase the difficulty.
Alaska is the state with the highest minimum UBE score, at 280. This is followed by Colorado (276), Arizona (273), Idaho (272), and Pennsylvania (272). Alaska is in an extremely unique situation, being separated from the rest of the continental United States. Their closest countries are Canada and Russia and they enjoy some of the lowest tax rates and restrictions in the country. As such, trade and international travel is frequent, bringing to it one of the most challenging environments for lawyers to practice in. Some barristers have been compensated extremely well for moving to Alaska from other countries, and even domestically from the continental U.S.
Colorado and Arizona prove that having a high minimum score does not necessarily prove the exam’s difficulty, as they are located within the same region as NM, which has one of the lowest minimum scores. In general, the mid-west to the west region holds some pronounced competition and challenges that are related to the environment and nature of the legal problems that a licensed state lawyer would need to be competent in their regard.
The United States has some of the most difficult exams in the world for becoming a licensed lawyer. With this being said, the difficulty of each state varies from one to the other, often denoted by "Bonus Percentages", which generally denote difficulty.
South Dakota is considered one of the easiest exams, with California's exam being the most difficult. It also has one of the lowest passing rates, below Wyoming. Louisiana is considered the state with the 2nd most difficult exam, but consequently, also has the lowest passing rate of 68.23%. This denotes that although California leads the market in difficulty, it has some of the brightest minds to rise to the occasion.
UBE Passing Score
|District of Columbia||266|