Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Bar Exam is Undergoing Extreme Makeover

Future bar exam takers will be spared having to learn the intricacies of the Uniform Commercial Code.

They’ll also be given actual pleadings and contracts to work on, and they’ll be allowed to use library materials for short-answer questions.

Those are some of the changes recommended by the National Conference of Bar Examiners in their January 2022 meeting.

“The NCBE announced plans in 2021 to redesign the bar exam,” according to the ABA Journal. “Previously, the NCBE has said the redesigned bar exam will be delivered online and administered at test centers or jurisdiction-managed sites. Both options would have in-person proctors.” 

The proposed changes – made partly in response to a myriad of technical glitches with remote exams in 2020 and 2021will be pilot-tested this year, with a targeted implementation date of 2026.

A draft version of the revamped test is expected to soon be made public.

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This is Not Your Grandparents’ Bar Exam

  • The proposed changes are intended to more accurately gauge applicants’ proficiency in performing real-life research and writing tasks faced by new lawyers.
  • New lawyers and managing attorneys were polled about the changes.
  • One NCBE member said the new test was meant to replicate “the inbox of a new lawyer working through a series of client problems throughout the day.”
  • Multiple-choice questions will not be limited to four answers and might include a variety of responses.
  • “The Multistate Performance Test could have questions in which candidates complete certain sections of a pleading or a contract,” according to the ABA Journal. “And, consistent with the current MPT format, the NCBE is considering adding a section of a short-answer questions to be completed with provided case files and library materials.”
  • Forget having to memorize arcana on family law, estates and trusts, UCC and conflicts of law. “Some questions could center on provided scenarios, with queries about those topics, but resource materials would be provided during the exam,” per the ABA Journal. “Additionally, some test content will require knowledge without source materials.”
  • It hasn’t been decided whether to retain the two-day testing format.

Source: Draft version of redesigned bar exam will be shared by NCBE soon (


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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