2020 Bar Exam Process Comes to an End: Approximately 38,000 Applicants Took Bar Exam in July, September, or October

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) today announced the completion of the July 2020 bar exam process by jurisdictions nationwide that administered its exams. That process included three alternative exam opportunities in September and October.

Together, NCBE and the jurisdictions have taken unprecedented steps during COVID-19 to provide the opportunity for approximately 38,000 recent law school graduates to become licensed to practice law upon passage of the bar exam and meeting any other state admission requirements. 

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, NCBE announced its plan in April to provide test materials for two additional fall administrations of the bar exam/UBE (September 9–10 and September 30–October 1) in addition to the July 28–29 exam. 

Then in June, NCBE announced that it would make available a remote testing option if a jurisdiction concluded that administration of the in-person bar exam would not be feasible due to local and state health and safety restrictions.

“I am proud of the commitment from the jurisdictions NCBE serves to quickly respond to the historic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic and to provide applicants the opportunity to take the bar exam under safe conditions,” said NCBE CEO and President Judith Gundersen. 

“Overall, the remote exam was a success,” Gundersen said.  

Here are some facts related to the administration of the July 2020 bar exam process for consideration:

  • Approximately 38,000 recent law school graduates who participated in one of the three in-person administrations of the July 2020 bar exam and the remote exam in October have the opportunity to be licensed to practice law with a passing score.
  • In July, 23 jurisdictions administered the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) in accordance with state and local health guidelines to 5,678 examinees.
  • On September 9-10, eight jurisdictions administered the MBE in accordance with state and local health guidelines to 1,811 examinees. 
  • The third and final in-person MBE was administered in five jurisdictions on September 30-October 1 to approximately 500 examinees. 
  • The first-ever remote bar exam using NCBE materials was successfully administered on October 5–6 by 20 jurisdictions to approximately  30,000 examinees. As data are still coming in from day two of the two-day test, the results so far are very encouraging. Here are some facts about day one that were reported to NCBE by ExamSoft, the technology vendor assisting jurisdictions with delivery of the remote exam:
    • 98% of applicants who had downloaded the exam files started their exams as planned. Of the 2% who did not start the exam, less than 0.3% had technical issues that required additional action, with the most common technical issue being user devices that did not meet the published minimum system requirements. The other 1.7% were either “no-shows” (didn’t attempt to launch the exam), chose not to take the exam prior to test day, or were determined to be ineligible to test by their jurisdiction. 
    • ExamSoft reports that most of the requests from applicants to customer support were educational in nature, such as verifying the automated confirmation that their answer files had uploaded after the exam; those actually dealing with technical issues were proportionately low.  
    • NCBE will provide additional updates as more relevant information becomes available. 

NCBE’s mission is to promote fairness, integrity, and best practices in admission to the legal profession for the benefit and protection of the public. The bar exam serves the public interest and is supported by judges, state bar associations, practicing legal professionals, and the public