NCBE COVID-19 Updates
Last updated March 30, 2020, 5:22 pm (CDT)
NCBE continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely. The health and safety of bar applicants and of our employees and volunteers are of paramount importance to us. We will update this page as new information becomes available.
Click below to see which jurisdictions have made announcements about the July 2020 bar exam.
We are all facing an unprecedented set of challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At NCBE, we understand the concerns candidates have about the July bar exam, and we have been working diligently with jurisdiction bar admission offices to devise solutions that will protect the health and safety of examinees and jurisdiction staff, as well as the integrity of the licensure process.
Each jurisdiction will make its own decision about whether it is able to administer the July bar exam, based on factors including ongoing office closures, state and local restrictions on gatherings, and test venue availability. NCBE stands ready to support jurisdictions in their decisions. Specifically, as a result of consultation with jurisdictions, NCBE is offering the following options to US jurisdictions that administer the MBE, the MEE, and the MPT, including all UBE jurisdictions.
NCBE’s Decision-Making Timeline
NCBE will make its decision about whether to deploy the MBE, the MEE, and the MPT for a July administration on or about Tuesday, May 5. NCBE’s decision will be based on whether there would be a sufficient number of jurisdictions and examinees to support equating of scores and all the scoring support and grader training associated with the exam.
By that time—roughly six weeks from now—each jurisdiction should be in a better position to determine whether administering a July exam is possible. While this is not the immediate answer some are seeking, it does provide a definite timeline for NCBE’s decision about whether to make our tests available for July. Our decision will depend on jurisdiction decisions about administration as well as the status on May 5 of federal, state, and local health orders for isolation/distancing.
Jurisdictions are at varying points on a decision about a July administration. Some have felt the impact of COVID-19 more severely than others. The goal is that by May 5 we will all know more and can have more confidence in our decision about whether there will be a July exam anywhere.
Given the uncertainty about whether a July exam can take place, it is prudent to plan now for an additional administration of the exam before the February 2021 exam.
NCBE will offer another set of bar exam materials—MBE, MEE, and MPT—for an administration in the fall. If there is in fact a July exam, the fall exam materials will be a different set of questions. Scores earned in UBE jurisdictions in the fall administration would constitute UBE scores. We are currently working closely with jurisdictions all across the country to find a fall date that works for the most examinees and jurisdictions.
Jurisdictions that cannot administer in July, or cannot administer at normal seating capacity, will have the fall administration date as an alternative or additional option. It would delay admission, but only by about two months, which examinees should find preferable to waiting until February 2021.
We will monitor the COVID-19 crisis in the weeks and months ahead and develop additional solutions if the situation changes.
We recognize that this is a very stressful time for law school graduates who want the opportunity to take the bar exam. To those graduates, we offer our support and the assurance that we are working hard to find solutions that permit them to sit for a bar exam and become licensed.
There are no simple answers and no great solutions in this situation. We are trying to provide some certainty in truly uncertain times, while maintaining the integrity of the bar admissions process for the benefit and protection of the public.
Last updated March 30, 2020, 5:22 pm (CDT)
Will the July bar exam be administered as scheduled?
See the statement above.
Which jurisdictions have made announcements about the July 2020 bar exam?
Does NCBE decide if/when the bar exam will be held in July? If not, who makes that decision?
Each jurisdiction will decide whether to hold the bar exam in July. NCBE’s role is to provide tests for the jurisdictions to use.
If my jurisdiction offers an exam in both July and the fall, can I sit for both exams?
Check with your jurisdiction, since individual jurisdictions handle their own registrations for the exam. NCBE cannot make registration decisions on behalf of the jurisdictions.
What if I can’t take the bar exam in the fall?
We understand that a fall administration date adds complications and could affect your housing, employment, and personal commitments. There is unfortunately not a one-size-fits-all solution as we navigate these unprecedented times. The UBE may provide solutions for some of these complications. We’re working with the UBE jurisdictions on these questions.
Can I get a refund if I’ve already registered for the July exam?
Candidates pay exam fees directly to jurisdictions. NCBE cannot issue a refund for the bar exam on behalf of any jurisdiction; candidates are encouraged to contact the jurisdiction in which they applied to take the bar exam.
Should I register for the bar exam even if there’s a chance it will be delayed or postponed?
Contact the jurisdiction in which you were planning to sit for the bar exam for instructions. Decisions about extension of deadlines, transfer of registration to alternative dates, and refunds are all decisions made by the jurisdictions.
What is the relationship between NCBE and the jurisdictions?
Jurisdictions determine licensure requirements and handle registration for and administration of the bar exam. NCBE is a nonprofit that creates the tests used by most of the jurisdictions for their bar exam.
My jurisdiction is no longer administering the bar exam in July. Can I take it in another jurisdiction?
If you originally applied in a UBE jurisdiction and that jurisdiction cancels its July administration, you can apply in another UBE jurisdiction and earn a portable score that will qualify you to seek admission in all the UBE jurisdictions.
Have any NCBE services been disrupted?
At this time, all NCBE services, including character and fitness services, NCBE Accounts, MPRE registration, MPRE test accommodations, and Score Services, are functioning normally.
What is the best way to contact NCBE?
If you need to contact NCBE, we encourage you to use email or the form on the Contact Us page of our website. Responses to telephone calls may be delayed. Answers to many frequently asked questions about our exams and services can be accessed by clicking Help & Support at the bottom of any page on our website.
What is NCBE doing to prepare for additional disruptions due to COVID-19?
NCBE has implemented business continuity procedures to help ensure that we can keep providing the services that candidates and jurisdictions rely upon. Should the situation change drastically, we will make all efforts to continue to provide core services.
Will February MBE results be released to jurisdictions as scheduled?
There will not be any delay in providing February MBE scores to jurisdictions.
Will March MPRE scores be reported as scheduled?
At this time, we do not anticipate any delay in March MPRE score reporting. Scores are scheduled to be posted in candidates’ NCBE Account File Cabinets on April 9.
If I requested a voucher to use for the August or October 2020 MPRE, when will I receive it?
NCBE is currently processing all MPRE voucher requests. Watch this page for more information about when to expect your voucher.
Will the August MPRE be administered as scheduled?
The MPRE is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers. The administration of the August 11 and 12 MPRE is dependent on the availability of Pearson VUE testing centers, which are currently closed in the US until at least April 16. Any changes will be posted on our website. Pearson VUE is posting related updates to its website.
At this time, we recommend that candidates who intend to take the MPRE in August proceed with registering and scheduling a test appointment as soon as they are able. If the August MPRE cannot be administered as scheduled, we will work with candidates to ensure that their test fees can be applied to a future test administration.