New NextGen bar exam option is gaining steam
The first reimagining of the bar exam in 25 years moved closer to becoming a reality this year, as nine jurisdictions have committed to using the NextGen bar exam.
To ensure that new graduates are practice ready, the exam mimics what newly licensed attorneys encounter day to day, including skills for litigation and transactions, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
About 15,000 U.S attorneys, jurists and legal educators gave input on the new test in a multiyear, nationwide legal practice analysis, according to NCBE.
While the NextGen exam will have some similarities to the current exam, such as multiple-choice questions and performance tasks like those in the Multistate Performance Test section, the new exam will include a new type of question requiring the selection of two correct answers.
There was some push back on content. This fall, family law was initially pulled from the list of foundational concepts and principles covered in the exam but was added back after objections from jurists.
While the NextGen exam rolls out, the current bar exam will remain available to jurisdictions through February 2028 administration, the NCBE also announced. Previously, plans were to sunset the current exam in July 2027.
Meanwhile, some states are considering experiential education as a path to the bar, with the ABA’s council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar calling for comment.
States that are committed to using the NextGen exam include:
- Maryland (July 2026)
- Missouri (July 2026)
- Oregon (July 2026)
- Arizona (July 2027)
- Iowa (July 2027)
- Kentucky (July 2027)
- Nebraska (July 2027)
- Wyoming (July 2027)
- Connecticut (date to be announced)