As you may have heard, the bar exam is getting an overhaul! The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) is developing a new bar exam to eventually replace the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), aptly named the NextGen bar exam. This revamped test aims to better assess candidates’ lawyering skills while requiring less rote memorization of legal rules.
There are lots of open questions around the NextGen exam, so we’re going to be talking about it all month. (Other states that don’t use the UBE now are planning their own revamps, but we won’t be focusing on these non-UBE jurisdictions right now.)
Some frequently asked questions on the NextGen exam:
When will this new exam roll out?
The first administration is scheduled for July 2026, with the UBE likely phased out completely by 2028. States are already announcing their planned adoption timelines, and you can sign up to be notified when new states make announcements.
What’s going to be tested?
The NextGen will focus on “foundational concepts and principles” in core legal topics like Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Law. It removes a few niche subjects, like Secured Transactions, but overall still covers a significant amount of substantive law. Within the tested topics, some sub-topics will require memorization and some won’t, so you’ll need to be familiar with the content scope to understand what’s required within each topic.
How will they test skills?
The NextGen incorporates new question formats to evaluate legal skills like legal writing, drafting documents, client counseling, and negotiation. Test takers can expect a mix of multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, and longer written assignments based on realistic legal scenarios. Some questions will resemble the existing MBE and MPT question types, but others – including the “integrated question sets” – will be entirely new.
Key open questions
Many questions remain! Portability of scores during the transition period, the availability of study resources, and how law schools will shift their curriculums are all still unclear. Students set to take this exam (some of whom may be members of the Class of 2026!) will need to closely monitor developments from the NCBE and their own law schools to ensure they’re ready for the new test.
Although the transition to the NextGen bar exam raises many questions, one thing seems predictable – it will likely remain a significant licensing hurdle for aspiring lawyers.
Join us this month on the Bar Exam Toolbox, as we dive deeper into the NextGen exam and talk about what’s to come!