NextGen Bar Exam Updates

Key Findings of NextGen
Bar Exam Pilot Testing

By Adam Balinski
Updated: June 8, 2024

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has released a research brief on the pilot testing of the NextGen Bar Exam. Here are the key takeaways from their study, which spanned from August 2022 to April 2023 and included over 2,500 participants.

Feasibility and Engagement

The pilot testing focused on the practicality and engagement of new integrated and skills-based question formats. The results were promising, indicating that these new question types are both feasible and well-received by candidates. Participants found the questions to be engaging and relevant to real-world legal practice, which aligns with the goal of making the bar exam more reflective of actual legal work.

Time Management

One of the critical aspects tested was whether participants could effectively manage their time under the new format. Impressively, 85% of participants managed their time well, suggesting that the new exam structure is realistic and does not impose undue time pressure on candidates. This is crucial for ensuring that all candidates can complete the exam without feeling rushed.

Impact of Legal Resources

The pilot also evaluated the impact of providing access to legal resources, such as the Federal Rules of Evidence. The findings showed that access to these resources had minimal effect on participants’ scores. This suggests that the exam effectively tests understanding and application of legal principles rather than memorization, which is a significant step toward assessing practical competence.

Cognitive Processes and Relevance

A striking 91% of participants felt that the questions in the pilot tests mirrored the tasks they would encounter in real-world legal practice. This high percentage indicates that the NextGen Bar Exam successfully captures the practical aspects of legal work, making the test more relevant and beneficial for future lawyers. It would be interesting to see comparable data for the current UBE, but my guess is that that number would not be so high.

Fairness and Equity

A significant goal of the NextGen Bar Exam is to reduce performance disparities among different demographic groups. The pilot testing results showed a reduction in these disparities, indicating that the new format is more equitable and fair. This addresses long-standing concerns about bias in standardized testing and ensures a level playing field for all candidates.

Detailed Feedback and Future Improvements

The NCBE gathered extensive qualitative feedback from participants, which will be instrumental in refining and improving the exam further. Common suggestions included minor adjustments to question wording and clarity, which the NCBE will consider as they finalize the new exam format.

Implementation Timeline

The NextGen Bar Exam is set to be fully implemented by July 2026. This timeline allows ample opportunity for additional testing, feedback incorporation, and preparation for both candidates and legal education institutions.


The pilot testing of the NextGen Bar Exam marks a significant step forward in legal education and assessment. By focusing on practical skills, time management, and fairness, the NCBE is creating a more relevant, equitable, and effective bar exam. These changes promise to better prepare future lawyers for the demands of their profession.

For more detailed information, you can read the full report here.

Stay tuned for more updates as we approach the full implementation in 2026. Keep preparing, stay informed, and get ready to ace the NextGen Bar Exam!

The Uniform Bar Examination: A Historical Perspective

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) recently unveiled its plans to replace the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) with what it calls the “NextGen Bar Exam.” Unlike the traditional bar exam (which focuses predominantly on memorization and multiple-choice questions), the NextGen Bar Exam aims to focus most on skills and application. As former Chief Strategy Officer for the NCBE, Kellie Early, stated, “One of the goals is to make [the bar exam] more realistic to what lawyers do in practice.”

The NCBE’s goal is to roll out the NextGen Bar Exam in 2026 and shortly thereafter sunset the UBE and all of its component parts—the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT). More than 40 U.S. jurisdictions have adopted the UBE and will be directly and deeply impacted, but so will non-UBE jurisdictions which have adopted the MBE, like California and every other state except Louisiana.

This may cause some MBE states to commit completely to the NCBE bandwagon, adopting NextGen to avoid having to fill the 200-question void left by the disappearing MBE. Other MBE states may part ways with NextGen altogether, administering their own updated versions of the bar exam.

For more detailed information on the NextGen Bar Exam, visit NCBE’s official website.

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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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