nextgen in 2026

NextGen Bar Exam: About the Exam Changes in 2026

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) has announced that a new Next Generation (NextGen) Bar exam will replace the current Bar exam in July of 2026. The NCBE has content scope outlines detailing topics tested on the new Bar exam, and will release more NextGen specifics in 2024. We will walk you through the specifics of when, why, and how the Bar exam is undergoing changes.

NextGen Bar Exam: All About The New Exam

What is the Next Generation Bar Exam?

The NextGen Bar exam is a new version of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®). The updated version of the exam is a response to years of NCBE research, including examinee feedback.

Video Workshop Series: Preparing for a New Bar Exam

In this video series, our Bar exam and law school experts discuss the latest news about the Bar exam changes.

Why is the Bar Exam Changing?

NextGen’s goal is to provide a practical exam that focuses more on testing examinees’ skills and abilities than the UBE does. While testing legal knowledge is still a focus, the recalibration is a direct response to concerns and research that showed the UBE focused too heavily on pure memorization.

NextGen Bar Exam’s Impact on Law School Curriculum

Many law schools have stuck with a heavily memorization-based doctrine to align with what’s tested on the UBE. There is a belief that all law schools will favor a more skills-based curriculum over time to better prepare students for the NextGen Bar exam.

When is the Transition to the NextGen Bar Exam?

The NextGen Bar exam will start being administered in July of 2026. The final administration of the current Uniform Bar Exam will be in February 2028. The NCBE has announced a thorough rollout timeline between then and now, including when NextGen Bar resources will be available.

NextGen Bar Exam Rollout Timeline

  • 2023 Bar Exam
    • New item type pilot testing
    • Publish content scope outlines
    • Begin assisting jurisdictions with changes
    • Begin operational field testing
    • Publish study guides featuring official sample items
  • 2024 Bar Exam
    • Publish exam’s content and design specifics
    • Administer and analyze prototype NextGen Bar exam
  • 2025 Bar Exam
    • Perform standard-setting exercise
    • Release recommended passing scores
  • 2026: First Administration of the NextGen Bar exam in July
  • 2028: Final Administration of the current UBE, and Family Law becomes a testable subject on the exam

Differences Between the Current and New Bar Exams

The NCBE  believes that examinees will find the NextGen Bar exam more modern than the UBE due to changes to delivery, format, content, and duration.

Delivery of the New NextGen Bar Exam

The NextGen Bar Exam will reduce the length of the bar exam from 12 hours to nine hours. The exam will be divided into three sessions of three hours each, administered over a day and a half. Each of the three exam sessions will consist of approximately 40 multiple-choice questions, 1 performance task, and two integrated question sets.

Integrated Format of the New NextGen Bar Exam

Currently, there are three separate components tested on the Uniform Bar Exam (the MBE®, MEE®, and MPT®). NextGen will shift away from test components, electing to feature an integrated testing format.

NextGen Bar Exam Question Types

The NextGen Bar exam will consist of three broad categories of question types. Almost half of the exam time will be devoted to standalone multiple-choice questions. Many of these questions will be similar to the current MBE questions, although they may have between four and six answer choices, and one or more correct answers. Additionally, nearly one-third of the NextGen Bar exam will be made up of item sets. Each integrated question set will be based on a common fact scenario and may include legal resources and/or supplemental documents. These question sets will include a mixture of short-answer items and multiple-choice items, and may also focus on drafting/editing legal documents or counseling/dispute resolution. Finally, approximately the final quarter of the exam time will be spent on three longer writing tasks that will be similar to the current MPT.

These 3 categories of question types will be tested on the NextGen Bar exam:

  1. Integrated question sets
  2. Multiple-choice questions
  3. Longer writing tasks

What’s Tested on the NextGen Bar Exam?

NextGen’s goal of focusing more on skills and less on memorization is most apparent through the topics and principles that the new item types will test. Currently, the Uniform Bar Exam tests 14 separate subjects. The new exam will test just 8 subjects, but will now also test 7 foundational skills. The 7 skills are grouped into four broad skill areas.

NextGen Bar Exam Subjects

These 9 subjects, as well as select ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, will be tested on the NextGen Bar Exam:

  1. Business Associations
  2. Civil Procedure
  3. Constitutional Law
  4. Contract Law
  5. Criminal Law
  6. Evidence
  7. Real Property
  8. Torts
  9. Family Law *

* Family law will be added as a testable subject on the NextGen Bar Exam as of July 2028

NextGen Bar Exam Skill Areas

These are the 7 foundational skills, grouped into 4 broad skill areas, that will be tested on the NextGen Bar exam:

  1. Issue spotting and analysis, Investigation and evaluation
  2. Client counseling and advising, Negotiation and dispute resolution, Client relationship and management
  3. Legal research
  4. Legal writing and drafting

What is Staying the Same on the NextGen Bar Exam?

Amidst all of the changes to the Bar exam, much about the exam and testing process will remain the same. Most notably, the NextGen Bar’s annual testing schedule and scoring system will remain unchanged.

The NextGen Bar exam will still be administered…

  • to law school graduates.
  • twice per year.
  • using a scaled scoring system.
  • requiring the MPRE.

Level of Difficulty: Is the New Bar Exam Easier or Harder?

If your preferred studying and testing style is memorization, then NextGen’s shift away from memorization-based items may mean the new exam will be more difficult for you. However, memorization will still play a significant role for the new exam.

As per feedback and research, the NCBE does expect that most examinees will feel that the NextGen Bar exam is easier than the UBE. While the items’ level of difficulty is not actually decreasing, the shorter, computer-based, and skills-based exam should yield a much more natural testing experience for most.

The NextGen Bar Exam in Your State

As more information and specifics about the NextGen Bar exam are released, be sure to stay up-to-date so you best prepare for the Bar in your state. The first states and territories to officially adopt the NextGen Bar exam are:

  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Oregon
  • Wyoming
  • Arizona
  • Vermont
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • Connecticut
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • Washington
  • Guam

Jurisdictions to Begin Administering NextGen in July 2026:

  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Guam

Jurisdictions to Begin Administering NextGen in July 2027:

  • Wyoming
  • Arizona
  • Kentucky
  • Vermont
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Minnesota

Jurisdictions to Begin Administering NextGen in July 2028:

  • Utah
  • Kansas
  • Colorado