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.
The NCBE has bumped back its target date for the overhaul of the exam before, so the actual release date of the new exam remains unclear. Further, it is unclear when jurisdictions will have to begin administering the NextGen Bar Exam because the NCBE has announced that it will maintain both the UBE and its parts (MBE, MEE, and MPT), along with the new NextGen Bar Exam for some unknown transitional period of time.
Brief history of the Uniform Bar Exam
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE)—a 200-hundred question, closed-book, multiple-choice, six-hour exam—has been a rite of passage for the vast majority of law school graduates since 1972. Every state but Louisiana has adopted the MBE, normally supplementing it with essays and performance tests of some kind.
In 1988, the NCBE began offering the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE)—a three-hour, closed-book, six-essay exam.
In 1997, the NCBE began offering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)—a three-hour, open but limited library, two-task performance exam.
In 2011, the NCBE bundled the MBE, MEE, and MPT together into the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which was first administered in North Dakota and Missouri.
How will the NextGen Bar Exam look
While the NextGen Bar Exam is being built from the ground up, it won’t be completely unrecognizable. Despite throwing out the old bar exam’s three prior components—the MBE, MEE, and MPT—eight of the twelve previously tested subjects will remain:
criminal law and constitutional protections of accused persons
You may have noticed, with the exception of business associations, all of the to-be-tested subjects are those currently tested on the MBE. That means you can say goodbye to the other MEE-only subjects, i.e., family law, conflict of laws, secured transactions, and trusts and estates.
You can also say goodbye to pen and paper, as the NextGen Bar will be taken entirely online.
Keeping you current with the latest NextGen updates
The NCBE recently hosted a webcast, which Crushendo’s founder attended. With permission, we have shared the webcast recording on our YouTube channel. You can learn more about the NextGen Bar Exam by watching that recording here.
What may be of most interest to future test takers are the examples of new types of questions that the NCBE is considering (watch 36:30 to 49:30 in the video above). The NCBE also spent more than an hour answering questions from those in attendance.
Crushendo is currently planning an exclusive one-on-one with the NCBE to answer further questions.
Crushendo’s commitment to your success
At Crushendo, we value innovation and our partnership with the NCBE. We celebrate the efforts to modernize the bar exam and move more toward an exam which better helps identify graduates prepared to succeed as attorneys. Though we take pride in our study aids and bar prep packages to help students pass the UBE, we look forward to adapting our content to help students best crush the NextGen Bar Exam.
Carson King is a content writer, author, and globetrotter. He’s volunteered internationally through various organizations and written for numerous corporations. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.