NextGen Bar Exam:
Major Changes!

By Adam Balinski
Updated: October 25, 2023

Hey bar exam preppers!

Judith Gundersen, the President and CEO of the NCBE, just dropped some pivotal updates on the NextGen bar exam that you’ll want to get in on. So, buckle up and let’s dive straight in!

Family law is officially back on the bar exam menu

Starting July 2028, family law will be part of the foundational knowledge areas tested on the NextGen bar exam. And guess what? Even before that, from July 2026, you’ll find family law topics in NextGen performance task items and integrated question sets. The catch? These questions will be served with relevant legal resources, so you won’t have to bank solely on your memory of doctrinal knowledge to tackle them.

Extended grace period for the current UBE

Feeling attached to the current Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)? No worries! The NCBE is giving you a transition period. Both the NextGen bar exam and the current UBE will run side by side for a solid two years. This means you can take the current UBE up to February 2028. But remember, from July 2026 to July 2028, family law questions will shift from the MEE (the essay portion of the bar exam) to the performance task section (MPT) on the current UBE.

A little backstory for curious bar preppers

The journey to the NextGen bar exam started way back in January 2018. Why? To ensure that the bar exam remains aligned with what new lawyers actually need in their first three years of practice. And boy, did they get the numbers! With nearly 15,000 newly licensed lawyers surveyed and an extensive three-year research project, the NCBE is bringing a revolution with the NextGen bar exam.

The evolution journey 🌱➡️🌳

After gathering all that invaluable data from the survey, the NCBE collaborated with subject matter experts from all over the country to decipher it. The result? They outlined eight foundational knowledge areas and seven foundational skills areas that every competent lawyer should know.

Public feedback was vital. In the spring of 2022, the NCBE put out their preliminary content scope for public comment. They received input from almost 400 stakeholders, leading to the final content scope being released in May 2023.

What’s next on the bar prep horizon? 🌅

The NCBE has been busy creating content for the NextGen bar exam since early 2022. The pilot testing phase wrapped up with over 2,500 participants, and now they’re gearing up for field testing. Expect some large-scale, full-length prototype testing to kick off in the third quarter of 2024. And yes, the NCBE plans to keep us in the loop with the results of each phase.

Lastly, for all the trusts and estates enthusiasts, while it’s not in the foundational knowledge areas, you’ll still find it regularly on the exam, supported by legal resources.

Alright, aspiring attorneys, that’s the scoop for now! The NCBE remains devoted to ensuring that the bar exam reflects the skills and knowledge necessary for real-world lawyering. As always, keep your eyes peeled for more updates, and remember, the future of attorney licensure is bright and dynamic!

For the full detailed memo and more information, check out the NCBE’s official website.

Happy prepping, and until next time!

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About the author

Adam Balinski is a former TV reporter turned attorney entrepreneur. He founded Crushendo after graduating summa cum laude from BYU Law and scoring in the top 5% nationally on the Uniform Bar Exam. Adam is currently writing a book called, “The Law School Cheat Code: Everything You Never Knew You Needed to Know About Crushing Law School.”

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