NCBE Announces Update to NextGen Exam Content, Extends Availability of Current Bar Exam
MADISON, WISCONSIN, October 25, 2023 — The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) announced today two important changes to plans for the NextGen bar exam, which is currently under development and will launch in July 2026.
In response to feedback from jurisdiction high courts, and after careful consideration by the NCBE Board of Trustees, NCBE has determined that family law will be added to the list of foundational concepts and principles to be tested on the NextGen exam beginning with the July 2028 administration. NCBE has begun the process of developing a subject matter outline for family law, which will be added to the NextGen Content Outlines currently available online. Doctrinal knowledge of family law will not be tested on the NextGen exam prior to the July 2028 administration.
NCBE is also announcing that, to help ensure a smooth transition for all jurisdictions, the current bar exam will remain available to jurisdictions through the February 2028 administration. The current exam and the NextGen exam will be offered concurrently for two full years, making the current UBE and its components—the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and Multistate Performance Test (MPT)—available through February 2028.
“In line with NCBE’s mission of service to jurisdiction high courts, law schools, candidates, and the public for almost a century, we are committed to responsiveness to the courts and fairness and transparency to candidates and law schools,” said NCBE President Judith Gundersen.
“We seek to provide a bar exam that all jurisdictions will administer with confidence, on a timeline that is sensitive to the decision-making processes of each high court and the work that each jurisdiction will need to undertake as part of the transition to the NextGen exam. Consistent with NCBE’s adherence to best practices, NCBE will continue to conduct periodic review of our content specifications, to ensure continued alignment with the legal knowledge and skills that should be possessed by an applicant securing a general license to practice law,” Gundersen said.
As previously announced, starting in July 2026, conflict of laws, family law, trusts and estates, and secured transactions will not appear on the MEE component of the current bar exam but may still appear on the MPT.
NextGen exam questions may also feature areas of law beyond those included in the foundational concepts and principles, including trusts and estates, which some courts also prioritized in their feedback. Any such questions will be accompanied by legal resources; examinees will not be required to rely on recalled doctrinal knowledge.
Several jurisdictions will soon announce plans to administer the NextGen exam beginning in July 2026.
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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/.