College of Law

Ohio Bar Exam Information

General Information on Preparing for and Taking the Ohio Bar Exam

The information below is designed to assist you in preparing for the Ohio Bar Examination. It includes general information on the Ohio exam and its grading and some hints on coping with the stress of preparing for and taking such an exam.

The key to bar exam success is preparation.

You must take one of the available commercial bar review courses to help you recall material you may have learned up to three or more years ago and you should also consider taking a supplemental course which focuses solely on the multi-state. Remember that the multi-state subjects are tested in the essay portion as well, so studying multi-state subjects does double duty.

After you have signed up for your review course(s), do the practice essay and multiple choice questions over and over again. Time and test yourself, pick out the questions you have missed, read the explanations and see what you misunderstood; then test yourself again.

Bar review courses are designed as review material, not as original course material. It is less likely that you will be able to understand a subject sufficiently to pass the bar examination if you have not had a course in that subject and only rely on the bar review course.

The most important matter at this stage is to ensure that you allow adequate time for preparation. We strongly recommend that you devote at least ten weeks to study and, if at all possible, that you study full time for the last 6-8 weeks before the examination. Working eight or more hours a day at a job and then attending a bar review lecture at night is surely working hard. It is not, however, the same thing as working hard on preparing for the bar examination. If your review is to be productive, you must free up large blocks of time for study. You should prepare a detailed study schedule and stick to it.  Most bar review courses provide a suggested schedule of study.  

During the weeks of the bar review course, you should read ahead each day on material that will be covered the following day in the review course, and review material already covered. Although this study schedule may mean using up vacation time, not attending important social events, or other hardship, you want to do your best.  You do not want to have to do this again.



[Please note that the information below is subject to change based on the rules and requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court and Office of Bar Admissions.]

Format and Environment

The Ohio bar is a two and a half day comprehensive examination with one and a half days of essay examination "broken up" by one day of Multistate multiple choice questions on the second day.

The first two days consist of two three-hour sessions with a one-hour lunch break in between. The third day is a three-hour essay session. You may leave your seat for the restroom, but you cannot leave the hall and you cannot speak to anyone. There is no smoking, eating, or drinking allowed at the examination tables. Even if you finish early, you cannot leave the hall until the session is finished.

You may wish to bring a brown bag lunch to avoid problems caused by crowded lunch facilities.  Although there is a cafeteria and concession stand, expect long lines.  The College of Law has also traditionally provided lunch on the first two days of the examination, watch your e-mail for notices as the examination day approaches.  In addition, you may wish to bring a sweater. The examination room is sometimes chilly.  Where you will be placed in the hall will depend on whether you plan to take the examination by hand writing or by computer.

DAY 1: Try to arrive at the examination hall half an hour before starting time. You will have been sent an examination identification number. DON'T LOSE IT! You may not bring any books or materials into the examination hall with you. Be sure to bring pens even if you plan to take the essay portion by computer. Felt tip pens may not be used. You may use ONLY blue or black ink. Bring a form of identification which contains a photograph such as a driver's license. You must sit at the seat which is marked with your exam number.

Find your seat number. These numbers are taped on the tables, with two people per table, facing each other at opposite corners. Be seated with your pens ready and wait for instructions. The bar examiner will give complete directions. Listen carefully. Do not open any material or start reading until you are told to do so.

You will be given a bluebook and a question set. The question set will consist of two questions, and you will have one hour to complete both questions. Each answer will be limited to two sides of a bluebook page or by length through the computer program. When the examiner tells you to start, you may open the questions and begin.  A warning will be given when your time is almost up. When the examiner tells you to stop writing, stop immediately. You may be subject to disqualification if you continue working after time to stop has been called.

The next question and bluebook will have been placed on your table while you were completing the first. You will be instructed to go directly to the next question after time is called on the first set.

There will be a total of three question sets, six questions, in the morning session. At the end of the three hours, there will be a one hour lunch break. Make sure you use this time to relax, not to try to cram for the afternoon. Be back in your seat by the appointed time.

The afternoon format will be the Multistate Performance Test which consists of two 90-minute questions.

DAY 2: This is your Multistate day. You will be given a computer answer sheet and a question book. Make sure you have sharp #2 pencils and a pencil sharpener. This section MUST be done in pencil.

There are different question books with the same questions but in different sequences to keep anyone from copying from a neighbor. Make sure you match the numbers of the questions to the numbers on the answer sheet.

You will have one hundred questions in the morning, with three hours to complete them. After a lunch break, you will return for another three hours and another hundred questions.

DAY 3: Morning only. Same as the morning of Day 1. You will be mentally and physically exhausted and want only to end the ordeal and get home. THIRD DAY QUESTIONS ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS FIRST DAY QUESTIONS! Do your best.

Contents of the Ohio Bar Examination

MULTISTATE (Multiple Choice)
NOTE: Subject to Change

Contains 200 multiple choice questions, 190 of which are scored.  Ten unscored questions are included and indistinguishable from the scored questions.  Examinees should answer all 200 questions. 

Subjects # Questions
Civil Procedure 27
Contracts 28
Torts 27
Constitutional Law 27
Criminal Law & Procedure 27
Evidence 27
Real Property 27
Total 190

(12 total – 2 per hour – 2 sides of a page per question)

  • Business Associations
  • Civil Procedure
  • Commercial Transactions
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Legal Ethics
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Wills

The exam will contain a total of 12 essay questions. The Ohio Supreme Court Rules state that at least one question, and no more than two questions, shall be taken from the above list of subjects. The subject matter of the essay questions is not labeled on the exam.

(2 total – 90 minutes each)

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, is a 90-minute question that requires candidates to complete an assigned task using resource materials they are given. The MPT is designed to test the examinee's ability to use lawyering skills in specific, real-world situations. The MPT does not test substantive law knowledge, but rather the ability to complete an assigned task, sifting through all the important and unimportant details, and writing exactly what is required in an organized and understandable fashion. The task is described in a memorandum from a supervising attorney and may include a memorandum to a supervising attorney; a letter to a client; a persuasive memorandum or brief; a statement of facts; a contract provision; a will; a counseling plan; a proposal for settlement agreement; a discovery plan; a witness examination plan; a closing argument. The assignment may raise an ethical issue as well.

At the bar examination, the applicant is given a test packet, approximately 15 or 16 pages in length. The packet consists of a "file" and a "library." The file and the library are created to simulate the materials a supervising attorney might give to a new associate. Depending on the context of the problem, the file might contain invoices, shipping documents, transcripts of client interviews, excerpts from depositions, transcripts from depositions, transcripts of hearing, correspondence, contracts, medical records, newspaper articles, police reports and attorney notes. Relevant as well as irrelevant facts are included. Facts are sometimes ambiguous or even conflicting. As in practice, the client's or supervising attorney's version of events may be incomplete or unreliable. Applicants are expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing and are expected to identify sources of additional facts.

The library portion of the packet provides the applicant with all legal authorities necessary to accomplish the task. The library might contain, for example, case opinions, statutes, rules, regulations treatises or restatement sections, some of which may not be relevant to the assigned lawyering task. The applicant is expected to extract from the library the legal principles necessary to analyze the problem and perform the task.

Problems presented in the MPT may arise in a variety of fields of law. However, it is not necessary for applicants to be familiar with those fields of law, because the library materials alone will provide sufficient legal authority to complete the assigned task.


As indicated previously, the Ohio Bar Examination is a two and a half day test consisting of one and one-half days of essay questions and one day of Multistate multiple choice questions. The examination is administered as follows:

First day: AM
6 essay questions; each essay is graded on a 0-7 scale, with a maximum
possible raw score of 42.
  PM :
Multistate Performance Test – 90 minutes each. Each essay is graded on a
0-7 scale, multiplied by 1.5, with a maximum possible score of 21
Second Day: AM & PM
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) consisting of 200 objective questions.
Third day: AM :
6 essay questions; each essay is graded on a 0-7 scale, with a maximum
possible raw score of 42.
Go Home

The raw scores on the written portion of an examination shall be scaled to the MBE range of scores for that examination using the mean and standard deviation method.

Total score = (scaled score on written portion of the examination x 2) + (MBE scaled score)

Obviously, the essay questions and the Multistate objective questions are important in determining the overall performance of the individual examinee, but the essay questions are weighed twice as heavily as the MBE questions.

Again, you should note that the six Multistate subjects, i.e., Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Criminal Law and Procedure, and Evidence, are also covered on the essay portion of the Ohio Bar Examination. Because of this "double coverage" these six subjects warrant special attention in preparing for the examination.



Multiple Choice Testing Technique

The Multistate questions may range from a simple definition question to a long fact pattern on which several questions are based.

Past Multistate questions are on reserve in the library and are supplied through the bar review courses. It is very strongly suggested that you work through many of these sets, working under the same time restraints that you will encounter in the actual examination.

One advantage of review is that there are just so many ways to frame certain issues; therefore, there will be questions which are familiar to you on the exam if you have practiced sufficiently.

The instructions say to choose the BEST ANSWER. More than one may be correct, so choose the best. You can usually eliminate two answers quickly and then choose between two close choices.

Try to answer EVERY QUESTION. There is NO PENALTY FOR GUESSING and choosing a wrong answer.

If you SKIP A QUESTION, make sure you also SKIP AN ANSWER SPACE. Each time you mark an answer space check to make sure it corresponds with the number of the question.

If you are not finished and TIME IS RUNNING OUT, go down the rest of the sheet and MARK AN ANSWER FOR EACH QUESTION. Making a guess or marking an answer at random is better than leaving answers blank.

Essay Testing Technique

You have approximately one-half hour for each essay. Since you are given two essay questions at a time, look them both over before beginning to organize your answer. It may be that one is easier than the other and you can adjust your time accordingly.

You are limited to two sides of a page, so you do not need much actual writing time. Use the first few minutes preparing your answer. Read the question through completely. Make sure you know what the question is asking. Many times a bar examiner will have to give a long fact pattern that seems to be leading up to a question in a substantive area (e.g., Torts or Constitutional Law) in order to ask an Evidence or Civil Procedure question.

After reading the question through completely, read it again carefully. Spot the key words. Jot down the key concepts in the margin.

Analyze the question. Identify the legal concepts and relate them to the facts. Reason to a conclusion. Outline your answer in the margin on the question sheet. Make sure your answer is entirely clear in your mind and in your outline. (BE WELL ORGANIZED). Then start to write.

ANSWER THE QUESTION! Start your answer with a short answer to the question asked in the last sentence of the question. Then go on to state the law, relate it to the facts, and reason to a conclusion. Make sure you really write down what you mean to say. You will not get credit for something that was very clear in your mind but did not end up on the paper. Use paragraphs and complete sentences.

DON'T PSYCH YOURSELF OUT. Don't look at the question, say "I don't know anything about tax!"…and turn in a blank page. You do know something. Write down what you do know. Every point counts. Don't fall into the opposite trap. Don't be so relieved that you do know the subject that you forget to write the answer. After you have finished, reread your answer and look for obvious errors such as misplaced punctuation, wrong spelling, wrong words, key words left out.

GIVE BLACK LETTER LAW. Don't just discuss the facts or rewrite them. Don't sprinkle legal terms through your answer without defining and relating them to the facts. Tell how terms relate to the facts, how concepts relate to the facts.

WRITE LEGIBLY! A bar examiner cannot grade what cannot be read. If your handwriting is poor, practice to make it more clear or learn to print legibly. Read, think, analyze and organize carefully before you write your answer. Use sound English prose and complete sentences. Bar Examiners may ignore incomplete, fragmented sentences. Check your spelling and punctuation.

Multistate Performance Essay Testing Technique

You have 90 minutes for each MPT question. The techniques for answering a MPT question are similar to essay techniques. Carefully read the "file" and the "library" and make sure that you answer the question using the proper form for the assigned task.



Preparing for the Bar Examination can be a stressful situation for some people. Among the solutions are thorough preparation and believing in yourself.

Preparation, organization and execution are the necessary ingredients for success. Concentrate on what you can do now; not on the fear of failing. Do what you can do even if it's not everything you planned to do. The more you prepare and the earlier you start, the more your confidence will grow and your ultimate performance will improve.

To prepare well, you need to start early and study full time. Starting late and studying to exhaustion each day will not work. Be sure to schedule time during this preparation period for mental and physical relaxation, whether it's twice around the jogging track or an (very) occasional night out with friends after an evening review session. This will keep you fresh and alert.

When you are in Columbus, again, remember to relax. Sleep, if possible, the night before. Studying all night won't help if you're too tired to think when you see the question. Try to join friends for a relaxing dinner, free from all discussion of law.

As you enter the bar examination room, relax. Remember that you have had a lot of successes getting to this point. Remember, too, that you have worked very hard reviewing for the bar examination and are prepared.



The College of Law wants to help you study for the bar. If you have questions about the process or substantive areas of law, faculty or staff are happy to help.  We are also available to buoy your spirits, calm you down, or just talk. Please call or email any of us if you think we might be of assistance.




Last Updated: 4/3/20