Bar Exam Instructions

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.

Date and Location for the February 2023 Virginia Bar Exam

All applicants who have timely filed an application are allowed to sit for the Virginia Bar Exam unless otherwise notified.

The February 2023 Virginia Bar Exam will be held at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 on February 21 & 22, 2023. Unless otherwise notified, this is your testing location.

All applicants will receive an email after 5:00 pm on Thursday, February 16, 2023, with your designated arrival time and assigned entrance. Read and follow the instructions in the email precisely as your entrance and arrival times may be different from other applicants.

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 1 Photo ID. No admission tickets are issued.

Laptop Registration Instructions

To use your laptop for the essay portion of the bar exam, you must register and pay the applicable fee. Registration begins January 11 through January 20, 2023. Late registration will extend from January 21 to January 31, 2023, with an additional fee.

Click here to review laptop requirements and registration information.

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.

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.

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

Required and Allowed Items

For your 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, including your laptop, 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 February 15, 2023. No exceptions will be made.

Required and Allowed Items List
Day One - Essay Sessions
Other than your laptop, ALL items MUST be packaged in a
clear (see-through) plastic bag so Board staff can easily see all items.
Maximum Number
Required Items - All Applicants
1
Photo ID (matching the ID submitted with your application)
3
Black or Blue Ink Pens
Required Items - Laptop Users (Day One Only)
1
Laptop (All study materials, USB flash drives, CDs, and DVDs must be removed prior to entering the exam site.)
1
Laptop Electrical Plug
1
8+ Ft. Extension Cord
Maximum Number
Allowed Items - All Applicants
1
Set of Soft Foam Earplugs (unpackaged)
1
Packet of Tissues
1
Car Key/Fob Only (i.e., no additonal keys, keychains, etc.)
1
Hotel Room Key and/or Luggage Claim Ticket
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Menstrual Products
1
Face Mask*
   *On or about February 10, 2023, COVID protocols, if any are required, will be posted to our website.
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)
Items pre-approved by the Board - Medical Accommodation 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.
*Day Two - Do not bring your laptop to the exam.
Maximum Number
Required Items - All Applicants
1
Photo ID (matching the ID submitted with your application)
1
Exam Photo ID (issued on Day One)
6
#2 Pencils with Erasers (no mechanical pencils)
Maximum Number
Allowed Items - All Applicants
1
Additional Eraser
1
Handheld Manual Pencil Sharpener
1
Set of Soft Foam Earplugs (unpackaged)
1
Packet of Tissues
1
Car Key/Fob Only (i.e., no additonal keys, keychains, etc.)
1
Hotel Room Key and/or Luggage Claim Ticket
Eyeglasses (without case)
Cash/Credit Card
Menstrual Products
1
Face Mask*
   *On or about February 10, 2023, COVID protocols, if any are required, will be posted to our website.
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)
Items pre-approved by the Board - Medical Accommodation Request Form

Prohibited Items

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

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  • Study materials, outlines or other notes (including all bar review materials), in any form whatsoever. Prior to entering the exam site, you must remove all study materials from any drive on the laptop you will use for the exam.
  • External mouse, keyboard, laptop sleeve/protector, etc.
  • Cell phones or similar devices
  • Wristwatch, clock or other timekeeping device
  • Jewelry (prohibited jewelry includes: rings*, earrings, piercings, necklaces, braclets, pins, etc.) *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 exam rooms, the restrooms, or the lobbies and public areas outside the exam rooms.

Only Applicants May Enter

Family and friends may not enter the exam site or testing facility while the exam is in progress.

Dress Code

The manner of dress for the exam shall conform to the standard of suitable attire for a lawyer appearing in a Virginia court of record; i.e., a suit or jacket, with collared shirt, dress pants, or a dress, skirt and jacket or pant suit. A necktie is optional. Jeans, mini-skirts, tee-shirts or other casual attire are not permitted. Hats and other head coverings may not be worn in the testing room, unless required by generally accepted religious observances. Anyone wearing anything that is profane or otherwise indecent may not be permitted into the testing room.

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 dress code will result in your dismissal from the exam site and the disqualification of your exam. Click here for additional information.
FIRST DAY – February 21, 2023 – 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 after lunch. If you refuse to submit to such screenings, you will be denied entrance and/or disqualified from the exam.

Other than your laptop, all allowed items must be packaged in a clear (see-through) plastic bag so Board staff can easily see all items. Without prior permission, only items listed on the Required and Allowed Items List for Day One – Essay Sessions are allowed.

Exam Information

The Virginia Essay portion will consist of two sessions, three hours each, held on the first day of the exam. The morning session of the first day of the exam will consist of 5 essay questions. The afternoon session will consist of 4 essay questions and 10 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 exam 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 during this process.

To request special seating in one of the main exam rooms due to a medical condition, a Medical Accommodation Request Forms must be submitted by February 15, 2023.

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 for 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 exam. 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 exam. 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. No one may leave the room during the exam 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.

Additonal Information for Laptop Users Only

No paper is available during the Essay portion of the exam (unless your laptop crashes and you have to handwrite any portion of the exam) and none should be brought into the exam room. You may make notes on the margins of your essay questions.

End of Essay Session

Everyone must stay until the completion of the exam. A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who continues working after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the exam. No one may leave until all exam materials have been collected and you have received final instructions. Please note: As a courtesy to your fellow applicants, you must remain seated during the final 15 minutes of each exam session.

Exam Photo ID Card Collection for Option 2A, 2B, and 3 Applicants Only

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 – February 22, 2023 – 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 after 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. Without prior permission, only items listed on the Required and Allowed Items List for Day Two - MBE Sessions are allowed.

Your Exam Photo Identification 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 exam. Each session consists of 100 multiple choice questions.

Instructions

Follow all instructions carefully in filling out the information required on the MBE answer sheet. Do not get ahead of the instructions as they are given to you by the Board. 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 exam room. Examinees may make notes only in the margins of the MBE question booklet, not on the answer sheet.

Pencils

Examinees should bring a maximum of 6 sharpened #2 lead pencils to mark the MBE answer sheet. You may bring 1 additional eraser and 1 handheld manual sharpener. Pencils, erasers and sharpeners will not be provided.

End of MBE Session

Everyone must stay until the completion of the exam. A stop writing announcement will be made at the end of each session. Anyone who continues working after the stop writing announcement has been made will be disqualified from the exam. 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, you must remain seated during the final 15 minutes of each exam session.

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.
EXAM 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 2 weeks before the exam or 2 weeks before results are released.

Address Changes

Exam results will be mailed to the address indicated on your exam 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 2 weeks before the exam or 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 the exam. 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 February 2023 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of 9 essay questions and 10 multiple choice questions on Tuesday, and the MBE on Wednesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the 10 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 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 February 2023 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of 9 essay questions and 10 multiple choice questions on Tuesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the 10 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 2A & 2B 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 February 2023 Virginia Bar Exam will consist of 9 essay questions and 10 multiple choice questions on Tuesday.

Essay Score: Each essay answer is graded on a 10-point scale, and each of the 10 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 For All Options

Prior to the release of the results, the Board meets to regrade the Virginia Essay papers 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.