Iowa Bar Exam: What You Need to Know

If you have already graduated from an American Bar Association approved law school, you are ethically responsible, and you have taken and passed the Multistate Professional Responsibilities Exam with a score of at least 80, then you are ready to start preparing to take the Iowa Bar Exam. To start with you will want to visit the Iowa Board of Law Examiner’s website for application materials and information about studying for this year’s bar exam.

Board of Law Examiners
State Capitol Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
(515) 281-5911 ext. 3 Telephone Number

After you have registered to sit for the Iowa Bar Exam you can then begin to prepare to take this challenging professional examination.


The Iowa Bar Exam is a two and a half day event that is given in February and in July. For test locations please visit

On the first day of the Iowa Bar Exam you will be given a four question state essay examination. On the second day you will take two Multistate Performance Tests, as well as four more state essay questions. On the third and final day of the Iowa Bar Examination you will take the Multistate Bar Exam, which consists of 200 multiple choice questions on general legal topics and issues.


There are three main segments of the Iowa Bar Exam. The first test that is given is the Iowa Essay Examination. It will cover the following topics:

1. Business associations
2. Civil procedure (Iowa and federal)
3. Constitutional law
4. Contracts
5. Real Property
6. Criminal law and procedures for Iowa
7. Family Law
8. Torts
9. Probate

The second test that will be administered during the Iowa Bar Examination is the Multistate Performance Test, also referred to as the MPT. It will consist of two ninety minute session and two performance questions. To perform well during this test you should review your writing skills and research skills. These tests will usually give you case information and you will be asked to prepare an appropriate legal document, such as legal briefs, pleadings, memos, etc.

The final test that is administered during the Iowa Bar Exam is the Multistate Bar Examination, also referred to as the MBE. This test will be divided into two three hour sessions, and will be made up of 200 multiple choice questions. The following topics will be covered in the MBE:

1. Constitutional law
2. Contracts
3. Criminal law
4. Evidence
5. Real Property
6. Torts

For a study materials please check out the following links:
1. Iowa Rules of Civil Procedures located at
2. Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedures located at
3. Iowa Rules of Evidence located at
4. For a study guide for the MBE you can visit the NCBE website at

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