Published on February 20, 2024

NCBE Conducts Nationwide Field Test to Prepare for NextGen Bar Exam

Press Release

MADISON, WISCONSIN, February 20, 2024 — 4,124 participants from 88 law schools in 41 jurisdictions recently participated in a nationwide field test for the NextGen bar exam, providing exam developers and psychometric experts at the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) with key data and feedback on new question types that will appear on the exam. 

The data gathered from the field test will help NCBE ensure that the NextGen bar exam assesses the knowledge and skills needed by new lawyers fairly and accurately. The field test administration also helped confirm timing estimates, provided an opportunity to test computerized exam delivery and scoring systems, and gave jurisdiction graders an opportunity to practice grading new types of questions.

M. Florencia Cornu Laport, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at Florida’s St. Thomas University Benjamin L. Crump College of Law, said of that school’s participation in the field test, “It is important to us that our students and graduates have representation in the design of the new bar exam. Our participants report that what they saw on the field test aligned well with the knowledge and abilities they need in their future practice, leaving them feeling empowered and confident in their legal education and practical skills. The feedback we received from our students has been constructive in stimulating conversations on how we can better prepare them for the practice of law and the bar exam.”

“This field test was a crucial step for the development of the NextGen bar exam,” said Judith Gundersen, NCBE President and CEO. “The information we gathered will be instrumental as we prepare to launch the NextGen exam in 2026. We extend our sincere thanks to participating law schools, students, and graduates.”

The following law schools took part in the field test:

  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
  • Belmont University College of Law
  • Birmingham School of Law
  • Boston University School of Law
  • Capital University Law School
  • Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
  • Charleston School of Law
  • Cleveland State University College of Law
  • Columbia University Law School
  • Creighton University School of Law
  • DePaul University College of Law
  • Duquesne University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
  • Elon University School of Law
  • Emory University School of Law
  • Florida A&M University College of Law
  • Georgia State University College of Law
  • Gonzaga University School of Law
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
  • Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Liberty University School of Law
  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
  • Mercer University School of Law
  • Mississippi College School of Law
  • Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • New England Law | Boston
  • Northern Illinois University College of Law
  • Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law
  • Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law
  • Oklahoma City University School of Law
  • Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Saint Louis University School of Law
  • San Joaquin College of Law
  • South Texas College of Law Houston
  • Southern University Law Center
  • Southwestern Law School
  • St. Mary’s University School of Law
  • St. Thomas University College of Law
  • Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law
  • Texas Tech University School of Law
  • The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • University of Akron School of Law
  • University of Arkansas School of Law
  • University of Baltimore School of Law
  • University of California-Davis School of Law
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Cincinnati College of Law
  • University of Colorado Law School
  • University of Dayton School of Law
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
  • University of District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
  • University of Georgia School of Law
  • University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law
  • University of Idaho College of Law
  • University of Illinois Chicago School of Law
  • University of Kansas School of Law
  • University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law
  • University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth
  • University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
  • University of Minnesota Law School 
  • University of Mississippi School of Law
  • University of Missouri School of Law
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • University of Nebraska College of Law
  • University of New Mexico School of Law
  • University of North Dakota School of Law
  • University of Notre Dame Law School
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law
  • University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law
  • University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • University of Toledo College of Law
  • University of Tulsa College of Law
  • University of Wyoming College of Law
  • Vermont Law School
  • Washburn University School of Law
  • Washington University School of Law
  • West Virginia University College of Law
  • Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School
  • Western New England University School of Law
  • Widener University Commonwealth Law School
  • Widener University, Delaware Law School
     

The NextGen exam will have its first administration in July 2026; thirteen jurisdictions have already announced their intent to adopt the new exam.

Designed to reflect the work performed by newly licensed attorneys, the NextGen bar exam will test nine areas of legal doctrine (civil procedure, contract law, evidence, torts, business associations, constitutional law, criminal law, real property, family law) and seven foundational lawyering skills (legal research, legal writing, issue spotting and analysis, investigation and evaluation, client counseling and advising, negotiation and dispute resolution, client relationship and management). Tenets of attorney ethics will also be tested in conjunction with other topics and skills.

The new exam will balance the skills and knowledge needed in litigation and transactional legal practice and will reflect many of the key changes that law schools are making to their own curricula, building on the successes of clinical legal education programs, alternative dispute resolution programs, legal research, and legal writing and analysis programs. See https://www.ncbex.org/exams/nextgen/content-scope for detailed outlines of the legal doctrine and skills that will be tested on the exam.

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About the National Conference of Bar Examiners 

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1931. NCBE promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public, in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. Best known for developing bar exam content used by 54 US jurisdictions, NCBE serves admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. In 2026, NCBE will launch the next generation of the bar examination, ensuring that the exam continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in a changing profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at https://www.ncbex.org

About the Next Generation of the Bar Exam 

Set to debut in July 2026, the NextGen bar exam will test a broad range of foundational lawyering skills, utilizing a focused set of clearly identified fundamental legal concepts and principles needed in today’s practice of law. The skills and concepts to be tested were developed through a multi-year, nationwide legal practice analysis, focused on the most important knowledge and skills for newly licensed lawyers. Designed to balance the skills and knowledge needed in litigation and transactional legal practice, the exam will reflect many of the key changes that law schools are making today. NCBE is committed to ensuring a systematic, transparent, and collaborative implementation process, informed by input from and participation by stakeholders, and guided by best practices and the professional standards for high-stakes testing. For more information, visit https://nextgenbarexam.ncbex.org/ or https://www.ncbex.org/exams/nextgen