Earlier this month, the National Conference of Bar Examiners announced that pilot testing for the “Next Gen Bar Exam” will begin sometime in 2026. The new and improved test will do away with the Multistate Bar Exam, the Multistate Essay Exam, and the Multistate Performance Test to focus on — gasp! — knowledge and skills rather than rote memorization. This is truly shocking news for a profession that unnecessarily clings to tradition, but wait, that’s not all. There are more traditions to slay.
Would a Next Gen Bar Exam be truly considered “next gen” if it were still administered on paper? No, of course not. That’s why the bar exam of the future will be taken entirely on a computer. Reuters has additional details:
The next version of the bar exam, which could debut as early as 2026, will also be taken entirely on a computer — given either on examinees’ laptops or on computers in a testing center. That’s one of the few concrete details officials with the National Conference of Bar Examiners have released about the revamped test….
“Computer-based testing is more flexible than paper-based testing, and is more in line with the integrated assessment of knowledge and skills we will use for the new exam,” said national conference president Judith Gundersen.
Law school graduates who have been plagued by Scantron sheets amid multiple choice hellscapes for decades will finally be able to escape to a land where they’re tested on skills that are actually related to being a lawyer. This fairy-tale exam sounds great, and at this point, 2026 can’t come soon enough.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.