Instructions for Handwriters

Read All Instructions

The Board expects all applicants to read and follow these instructions in full. Failure to follow these instructions may result in you being disqualified from the exam. Ignorance of these instructions or the Rules of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners (Rules) is not an acceptable defense.

COVID-19 Requirements

The Board’s top priority is the health and safety of the bar applicants, the Board, staff and all individuals involved in administering the exam. The Board remains committed to administering a July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam and will do so in accordance with guidance from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, and state and local restrictions. For a full list of Testing Conditions click here.

All applicants will be required to:
  • Respond to a COVID-19 Declaration Survey (to be emailed July 15, 2021) declaring you have not tested positive for COVID-19, have not had a fever (100.4 or higher), new cough, or shortness of breath within the last 14 days, etc. Click here for a sample of the survey questions that you must declare are true to take the July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam.
  • Reaffirm your COVID-19 Declarations remain true on each day of the exam.
  • Wear a mask while waiting in line for screening, inside the testing facility and during testing.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance from others while in line and at all times possible.
  • Remain in your seat unless authorized to use the restroom or to get water.

Date and Location for the July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam

The July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. 3rd St., Richmond, Virginia on July 27 & 28, 2021.

All applicants will receive an email on July 22, 2021 with your designated arrival time and assigned entrance location. Read and follow the instructions in the email precisely, as your entrance and arrival times may be different from other applicants.

General Instructions for Handwriters Only

All applicants who have timely filed an application are allowed to sit for the Virginia Bar Exam unless otherwise notified. Your Photo ID (e.g. driver's license, passport), matching the one you submitted with your application, is required for entry into the exam. Bring only one (1) Photo ID. No admission tickets are issued.

Communications

Most communications from the Board will be by email or posted on our website. It is your responsibility to inform the Board of any email change and to regularly check our website and your email.

All correspondence and phone calls should be directed to your assigned processor.

If you have Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail or any other email provider which detects unfamiliar emails as spam or junk, you should set your preferences to accept emails from the domain address barexam.virginia.gov.

Required and Allowed Items

For your health, safety and security, and for the integrity of the exam, the Board restricts what you may bring into the exam room. You will be disqualified from the exam if you bring any item into the exam room that is not on the Required and Allowed Items List.

Any items brought into the exam room are subject to search. Only the following items are allowed in the exam room. If an item is not on this list, you may not bring it into the exam room without prior written permission from the Board. To bring any item not on the Required and Allowed Items List, you must submit a Medical Accommodation Request Form by July 15, 2021. No exceptions will be made.

Required and Allowed Items List
Day One - Essay Sessions
ALL items MUST be packaged in a
clear (see-through) plastic bag so Board staff can easily see all items.
Maximum Number
Required Items
1
Photo ID (matching the ID submitted with your application)
3
Black or Blue Ink Pens
1
Cloth Face Mask (without exhalation valves or vents). Face mask covering your nose and mouth to be worn at all times.
Maximum Number
Allowed Items
1
Set of Soft Foam Earplugs (unpackaged)
1
Packet of Tissues
1
Car Key/Fob
Parking Receipt/Ticket
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Feminine Hygiene Products
1
Additional Cloth Face Mask (without exhalation valves or vents)
1
Pair of Disposable Gloves
1
Hand Sanitizer (3 oz. or less)*
   *Hand Sanitizer will be available at the test site
1
Travel Pack of Disposable Disinfecting Wipes (25 count or less)
Medical Items Pre-approved by the Board - Request Form
Required and Allowed Items List
Day Two - MBE Sessions
ALL items MUST be packaged in a
clear (see-through) plastic bag so Board staff can easily see all items.
Maximum Number
Required Items
1
Photo ID (matching the ID submitted with your application)
6
#2 Pencils with Erasers (no mechanical pencils)
1
Cloth Face Mask (without exhalation valves or vents). Face mask covering your nose and mouth to be worn at all times.
Maximum Number
Allowed Items
1
Additional Eraser
1
Handheld Manual Pencil Sharpener*
   *Due to COVID-19, pencil sharpeners will not be provided
1
Set of Soft Foam Earplugs (unpackaged)
1
Packet of Tissues
1
Car Key/Fob
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Feminine Hygiene Products
1
Additional Cloth Face Mask (without exhalation valves or vents)
1
Pair of Disposable Gloves
1
Hand Sanitizer (3 oz. or less)*
   *Hand Sanitizer will be available at the test site
1
Travel Pack of Disposable Disinfecting Wipes (25 count or less)
Medical Items Pre-approved by the Board - Request Form

Prohibited Items

Unless an item is on the Required and Allowed Items List, it is prohibited and not permitted in the exam. You will be disqualified from the exam if you bring any prohibited item into the exam without prior written approval.

Prohibited items specifically include, but are not limited to:

  • Study materials, outlines or other notes (including all bar review materials), in any form whatsoever
  • Cell phones or similar devices
  • Wristwatch, clock or other timekeeping device
  • Jewelry (wedding bands/rings are allowed)
  • Fitness trackers (such as Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin, Jawbone, etc.)
  • Food or drink
  • Briefcases, laptop cases, suitcases, pocketbooks (including handbags), wallets
  • Eyeglass cases
  • Highlighters
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Wite-Out
  • Medication

Violation of any of these restrictions will result in your disqualification from the Virginia Bar Exam. Any such items will be confiscated and you will be dismissed from the exam. The Board is not responsible for their loss, if that should occur. Leave them in your vehicle or in your hotel/motel room.

No Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in the examination rooms, the restrooms, or the lobbies and public areas outside the examination rooms.

Only Applicants May Enter

Family and friends may not enter the exam rooms or congregate in the lobby areas outside the exam rooms while the examination is in progress.

Mandatory Dress Code

Due to COVID-19, ties are not required for the July 2021 Exam.

The manner of dress for the examination shall conform to the standard of suitable attire for a lawyer appearing in a Virginia court of record; i.e., a suit or jacket, a dress, skirt and jacket or pant suit. Athletic wear of any kind is prohibited (i.e., no yoga pants, sweat pants, etc.). Due to the nature of the floors at the testing site, and as a courtesy to the other applicants, court-appropriate soft- or rubber-soled shoes are preferred, as are flat or low heels. No sandals, flip flops, athletic shoes, etc. are allowed. Violation of the mandatory dress code will result in your dismissal from the exam site and the disqualification of your exam. Click here for additional information.
FIRST DAY – July 27, 2021 – ESSAY SESSIONS

Security Screening and ID Check

All applicants taking the Virginia Bar Exam will be subject to security screening and ID verification before entering the testing facility/area and upon reentry if you exit the building at lunch. If you refuse to submit to such screenings, you will be denied entrance and/or disqualified from the exam.

All allowed items must be packaged in a clear (see-through) plastic bag so VBBE staff can easily see all items and for ease of security screening. Only items listed on the Required and Allowed Items List for Day One – Essay Sessions may be brought into the exam site.

You should be prepared to wait in line, wear your mask, and maintain a 6-foot distance between you and your fellow applicants.

Exam Information

The Virginia Essay portion will consist of two sessions, three hours each, held on the first day of the examination. The morning session of the first day of the exam will consist of five essay questions. The afternoon session will consist of four essay questions and ten multiple choice questions.

Assigned Seating

Unless otherwise notified, you will be grouped by your selected Option (1, 2A, 2B, and 3) and then seated alphabetically. Place Cards and Exam Photo ID Cards will be on the examination tables to designate your assigned seat. Find your seat as quickly and quietly as possible and be seated.

Once seated, your Photo ID and allowed items will be inspected. You must remain in your seat at all times.

Medical Accommodation Request Forms to request special seating in one of the main exam rooms due to a medical condition must be submitted by July 15, 2021.

Introduction of Board

The Board of Bar Examiners will be introduced, and one of the Board members will make brief introductory remarks. Please give the Board your undivided attention because these remarks will contain important instructions.

Applicant Identification Number

Following the introductory remarks, each applicant will be given the morning essay questions and a very important Pledge Card.

The preprinted number on the Pledge Card is your Applicant Identification Number for the entire exam. Because all grading is anonymous, this is the only form of identification used at the exam.

The Pledge Card contains your pledge to behave with honor and to report to the Board any indication of cheating or any violation of the rules by others during the examination. You will be instructed to read and sign the Pledge Card.

Exam Photo ID Card

You will be given an Exam Photo ID Card. You must retain the Exam Photo ID Card during the exam administration for identification purposes. You will be instructed to take your Exam Photo ID Card with you during the lunch break and to bring it with you to all remaining sessions of the examination. Your Exam Photo ID Card must be returned at the conclusion of your testing.

Instructions

The Board will indicate when you may look at the essay questions, and all applicants will begin each session at the same time. Official time remaining will be projected on the exam room wall. No one may leave the room during the examination except for bathroom breaks. A member of the Board or staff will be in or near the exam room at all times. If you have a problem during the session, you should seek the advice of the Board or staff.

Tips for Answering Essay Questions

The essay questions are intended to test not only an applicant's understanding of fundamental legal principles and rules, but also an applicant's ability to (1) identify legal issues raised by hypothetical facts; (2) separate material which is relevant from that which is not; (3) identify the legal rules applicable to the issues and facts; (4) present a reasoned analysis of the relevant issues in a clear, concise and well-organized composition resulting in (5) a conclusion that follows from your analysis.

Before you undertake to write an essay answer, read the question thoroughly, analyze the facts, and form in your mind what you think is an appropriate answer. Do not merely answer "Yes" or "No" to any essay question; state clearly your reasons, as the graders give great weight to your reasoning in evaluating the essay answers. Be sure you answer the question being asked. If a question has more than one part, be sure you answer all parts.

End of Essay Session

A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who marks an answer after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the examination. No one may leave until final time has been called and you have been instructed to turn in your exam materials. Please Note: As a courtesy to your fellow applicants, during the final 15 minutes of each examination session, you must remain seated.

Exam Photo ID Card Collection

All applicants who choose Option 2A, 2B, and 3 must return your Exam Photo ID Card at the conclusion of Day One of the exam. Instructions on collection of your Exam Photo ID Card will be given at the end of the afternoon Essay session.
SECOND DAY – July 28, 2021 – MULTISTATE (MBE) SESSIONS

Security Screening and ID Check

All applicants taking the Virginia Bar Exam will be subject to security screening and ID verification before entering the testing facility/area and upon reentry if you exit the building at lunch. If you refuse to submit to such screenings, you will be denied entrance and/or disqualified from the exam.

All allowed items must be packaged in a clear (see-through) plastic bag so Board staff can easily see all items and for ease of security screening. Only items listed on the Required and Allowed Items List for Day Two - MBE Sessions may be brought into the exam site.

You should be prepared to wait in line, wear your mask, and maintain a 6-foot distance between you and your fellow applicants.

Your Exam Photo ID Card must be worn for entry on Day Two.

Exam Information

The MBE portion will consist of two sessions, three hours each, held on the second day of the examination. Each session consists of 100 multiple choice questions.

Pencils

Examinees should bring a maximum of 6 sharpened #2 lead pencils to mark the answer sheets of the Multistate (MBE) portion of the examination. You may also bring one (1) additional eraser and one (1) handheld manual sharpener. Pencils, erasers and sharpeners will not be provided.

Instructions

In the morning and afternoon sessions of the MBE, follow all directions carefully in filling out the information required on the MBE answer sheet. No extra time will be given if the information on your MBE answer sheet is not gridded correctly. No extra paper is available during the MBE and none should be in the examination room. Examinees may make notes only in the margins of the Multistate question booklet, not on the answer sheet.

End of MBE Session

A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who writes or marks an answer after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the examination. No one may leave until final time has been called and all MBE answer sheets and booklets have been collected. Instructions on the collection of materials will be given at the end of each session. Please Note: As a courtesy to your fellow applicants, during the final 15 minutes of each examination session, you must remain seated.

Exam Photo ID Card Collection

At the conclusion of the final portion of the MBE, you must return your Exam Photo ID Card. Instructions on collection of your Photo ID will be given at the end of the final session.
EXAMINATION RESULTS

Name Changes

A certified copy of a marriage license or a certified copy of a name change order must accompany all requests for a name change. Click here to download the Name Change Form. Please note: No name changes will be made two (2) weeks before the exam or two (2) weeks before results are released.

Address Changes

Examination results will be mailed to the address indicated on your Place Card. Subsequent changes in address must be provided to the Office of the Secretary of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners in writing as soon as possible. A Change of Address Form is available on our website at barexam.virginia.gov. No address changes can be guaranteed to be made two (2) weeks before the exam or two (2) weeks before results are released. If you wait to change your address until immediately prior to the release of results, we may not be able to change your address, which will cause a delay in the receipt of your results and, should you pass, the very important registration materials required for attending the swearing in ceremony. Under these circumstances, make sure you have a forwarding order on file with the post office because we will not release results to anyone over the phone and we cannot resend registration materials due to the high postage cost. We will not accept address changes over the telephone.

Notification of Results

After all exams have been graded and results tabulated, each applicant will be notified in writing whether or not they passed this examination. Applicants, their families, friends and employers should not call the Office of the Secretary of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners inquiring about when results will be released. No information will be given out over the telephone, and calls of this nature only impede the processing of the scores.

Posting of Results

Names of the passing applicants will be posted on the Board's website at barexam.virginia.gov/bar/barresults.html. The list will be in alphabetical order. No results will be given over the telephone.

Procedures for Determining Scores for Option 1 Applicants

The July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of nine essay questions and ten multiple choice questions on Tuesday, and the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) on Wednesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the ten multiple choice questions is graded right or wrong. Each correct multiple choice question is worth 1 point. Thus, the maximum essay "raw" score is 100 points: (10 points x 9 essay questions) + (1 point x 10 multiple choice questions).

MBE Score: The MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions. Because questions at one administration of the MBE might prove to be more or less difficult than those at another administration, the MBE score is scaled for each administration of the exam.

The Virginia Essay raw scores are converted to the same scale of measurement as that used to report the MBE scaled scores. As a result, the average essay scaled score in Virginia will be equal to the average MBE scaled score. This method is designed to permit the passing standard to remain as constant as possible from one exam to the next, so that an applicant is neither rewarded nor penalized for having taken one exam or another.

Minimum Passing Score: The score for Option 1 applicants will be based on both the Virginia Essay and the MBE. Both parts of the exam will be weighted and combined to determine if the applicant has achieved a minimum overall passing score of 140. Such weighting shall be made by combining 60% of the Virginia Essay exam scaled score and 40% of the MBE scaled score.
Accordingly,

Total Scaled Score/CWT = (.60 x VA Essay scaled score) + (.40 x a MBE scaled score)

Procedures for Determining Scores for Option 2A & 2B Applicants

The July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of nine essay questions and ten multiple choice questions on Tuesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the ten multiple choice questions is graded right or wrong. Each correct multiple choice question is worth 1 point. Thus, the maximum essay "raw" score is 100 points: (10 points x 9 essay questions) + (1 point x 10 multiple choice questions).

The Virginia Essay raw scores are converted to the same scale of measurement as that used to report the MBE scaled scores. As a result, the average essay scaled score in Virginia will be equal to the average MBE scaled score. This method is designed to permit the passing standard to remain as constant as possible from one exam to the next, so that an applicant is neither rewarded nor penalized for having taken one exam or another.

Minimum Passing Score: The score for Option 2 applicants will be based on the Virginia Essay and the previous MBE score the applicant elected to use/transfer. Both parts of the exam will be weighted and combined to determine if the applicant has achieved a minimum overall passing score of 140. Such weighting shall be made by combining 60% of the Virginia Essay exam scaled score and 40% of the MBE scaled score.
Accordingly,

Total Scaled Score/CWT = (.60 x VA Essay scaled score) + (.40 x a previous MBE scaled score)

Procedures for Determining Scores for Option 3 Applicants

The July 2021 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of nine essay questions and ten multiple choice questions on Tuesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the ten multiple choice questions is graded right or wrong. Each correct multiple choice question is worth 1 point. Thus, the maximum essay "raw" score is 100 points: (10 points x 9 essay questions) + (1 point x 10 multiple choice questions).

Minimum Passing Score: The passing score for Option 3 will be based solely on the raw points awarded on the Virginia Essay exam. A minimum score of 64 raw points, out of a possible 100 raw points, is a passing score.

Regrade Policy

Regrade Policy For All Options: Prior to the release of the results, the Board meets to regrade the Virginia Essay papers of approximately ten percent of those applicants whose initial score is near but below the minimum passing score. The Board may determine that the overall quality of an applicant's answers may adequately demonstrate minimum competence, resulting in that applicant achieving the minimum passing score. After the regrading, all scores are final and not appealable. All grading is done anonymously.