Tennessee Cancels July Bar Exam, Keeps Fall 2020 Exam

Confused law student

The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners announced that the Tennessee Supreme Court had issued an order today canceling the July 28 -29, 2020 administration of the Uniform Bar Examination in Tennessee:

Although stringent public health and safety protocols were planned for the administration of the July 2020 examination, the potential benefits of administering the examination do not justify the risk of assembling groups of people in limited space for a multi-day examination, when another examination will be administered in Tennessee in two months.

The Court order cited the recent increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tennessee. Yesterday, Tennessee reported the largest single day increase in new COVID-19 cases. In the last week, all three locations for the July 2020 exam, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, posted their highest single day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Some of the largest increases statewide have been among people aged 22 – 35, the age group of the majority of those scheduled to take the bar examination. The Nashville mayor announced today a major reversal in the plans to reopen the city.

The Tennessee Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners are acutely aware of the toll the ongoing pandemic is taking on bar examination applicants and are committed to administering the Uniform Bar Examination in 2020, while making every effort to minimize the risks associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All applicants for the July 2020 examination who have not been determined ineligible for the examination or who have not already transferred their application to the February 2021 examination should expect to sit for the fall examination in Tennessee, to be conducted September 30 – October 1.

“Applicants to the Tennessee bar are afforded broad permissions to practice pending admission and can begin working immediately upon graduation, drafting documents, meeting with clients, and appearing in court. Applicants can continue to practice even if subsequent examinations are affected by the national healthcare crisis,” said Bill Harbison, President of the Board of Law Examiners.  “We understand that this has been a difficult time for recent law school graduates and the Board is committed to making the Uniform Bar Examination available to all July 2020 applicants before the end of the year, absent any new “safer at home” orders or other significant changes.” A copy of the order can be found here.   Complete COVID-19-related bar examination announcements can be found here.

Florida Cancels July Bar Exam, Will Hold Online Exam in August

In the ongoing saga of changes to this summer’s bar exams, Florida announced today that it will not administer its bar exam in July, as previously scheduled, but instead will administer an online bar exam in August. The July date is canceled.

The online August exam will take place on August 18, 2020. Among other details shared in its press release, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners has said:

The August 2020 Bar Examination will consist of 100 multiple-choice questions and three essay questions and may cover any subject that is traditionally tested on Part A or Part B of the General Bar Examination. Any subject may be tested by essay, multiple-choice, or both. • For the August 2020 Bar Examination cycle only, applicants will not be required to take the Multistate Bar Examination to establish technical competence. A scaled score of 136 on the August 2020 Bar Examination and a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination will be sufficient.

The Board also announced that it “will extend the deadline for applying for test accommodations under the ADA relating to the online format to July 10, 2020. Test accommodation petitions under the extended deadline must be received by July 10, 2020. No further extensions will be granted.”

If you plan to take the Florida bar exam, be sure to read the entire announcement and go to the website of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for details and updated logistics, including deadlines.

 

7, 13, or 16 Weeks To Go?

Like so many things this summer, bar readiness is confusing right now. You know it’s essential to plan ahead and stay focused on studying for the bar exam, but how to do that when 1) important public events are deeply disturbing and distracting; and 2) for the first time any of us can remember, there are at least three four different scheduled bar exam dates already; and 3) who knows what more might change? (Just as I published this post, the District of Columbia announced it was canceling its September bar exam date and would give a remote exam in October that would not provide a transferable score).

First, the crucial public events and protests. Many of you may have taken part already, more may take part in coming weeks. Please remember that you are already uniquely equipped to fight for justice, if you’re studying for a bar exam: you have a law degree. Only about .5% of the adult US population has that education. Meaning only about .5% of the adult US population has that kind of power to effect change through our legal system. To wield that power, you have to pass the bar. So your success this summer or fall on the bar exam may be one of the most valuable contributions you can make, long-term.

Second, whether you will take a bar exam in late July, early September, or late September, here are some things to keep in mind, at this point in the summer:

Here again is a recording of the MBE Overview program Professor Rich Freer did for us last year: MBE Overview-Prof. Freer 1-30-19. It’s a good reminder right now, as you continue to work in your commercial bar review courses, of his excellent advice. The MBE Subject Matter Powerpoint shown onscreen in this recording is also available on this blog, under Online Learning Resources (above), with the other MBE Subject Matter outline Powerpoints I created for these faculty-led sessions. They are drawn directly from the MBE Subject Matter Outline document on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

If you will take a bar in July, you now have seven weeks until the bar exam. It may be helpful to look again at those outlines occasionally, to see how the sub-topics within each major subject on the MBE relate to each other, while you continue to do practice MBE questions regularly in sets to test your knowledge. Don’t freak out if your results look worse when you do “mixed sets” of questions in different subject areas, as opposed to “blocks” of questions in one subject like Torts, or Contracts. That is normal, and part of the learning process! Don’t give up on doing the mixed sets — push through the challenge and keep doing them, knowing that you probably won’t score high for a while. Mixed question sets are a very effective way for most students to learn material, especially for an exam like the MBE where you won’t know what subject a given question is testing until you try to answer it. Doing them over an extended period of time, instead of cramming all the practice in at the end of your bar study, is also an effective learning strategy.

If you will take a bar in September, you have the opportunity to spread out practice questions even more, and use principles of “spaced repetition.” As we said two weeks ago in our first online “Bar Study Hall”, it is critical to be using this time wisely, and you should have in place now a written plan for how your personal study schedule will proceed, all summer. Use the gift of extra weeks to do more practice questions and better self-assessment on all parts of the bar exam: MBE, MPT, and essays.

Forced retrieval”, which is what you are doing when you give yourself practice questions and tests, is a highly effective learning technique. Remember that it’s not the initial results you get that matter, no one else is watching! What matters is the process of making yourself answer questions, over and over, and then reviewing your results to understand what you got wrong and how to answer correctly next time. Active learning, retrieval and practice always win over passive “recognition” (re-reading and re-watching material you’ve seen before, without then testing yourself on it). It is well-established that adult learners learn best when their activities are “meaningful, active, motivating, and significant.” Your effort to pass the bar is meaningful and significant, to yourself and to others. Keep it active and stay motivated!

Third, no one knows for sure what this summer may bring in terms of COVID-19. That’s just the reality of life right now, including for the jurisdictions and public officials who administer bar exams. So while it really is essential to have a written personal study plan and schedule, write it in pencil. You might have to change it because of personal circumstances unique to you, or because the jurisdiction where you plan to take the exam has had to change something. Stay up-to-date on your jurisdiction; the National Conference of Bar Examiners updates its summary of jurisdiction information at least weekly, if not more often.

Finally, keep taking good care of yourself. The ABA has provided some great online resources, including this video/audio recording: “Self-Care and Mindfulness in the Age of COVID-19.” The ABA Law Student Division also has lots of good resources and guidance for tackling the project of studying for the bar exam.

It has been a very challenging spring and this summer promises more challenges. Try to remember how important your ultimate goal is, for you and for others, and keep your eyes on that prize — a license to practice law. Stay safe, and stay well!

Featured image from www.law.com.

New York Bar Gives Priority to New York Law Schools

The New York Board of Law Examiners announced last night that its bar application and registration process will now give priority to applicants from the law schools located in New York:

Our efforts to seat as many candidates as possible remain ongoing. To that end, the Board of Law Examiners has been in contact with representatives of New York’s fifteen law schools, who have generously offered their facilities to accommodate test-takers. We remain hopeful that, with the assistance of these valued partners, it will be possible to administer the September exam in a safe and responsible manner.

However, given current conditions in New York – including ongoing public health concerns, social distancing guidelines, and limitations on large gatherings – it is clear that our seating capacity for the September exam will be sharply limited, and therefore the Board likely will not be able to seat all applicants who wish to take the exam. As a result, the application process for the September exam will proceed on a rolling basis as space permits. From Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 12:00 A.M. through Friday, May 15 at 11:59 P.M., applications will be accepted from any J.D. or LL.M. candidate who is sitting for the bar examination for the first time and who has graduated (or will graduate in Spring 2020) from one of the fifteen law schools located in New York State: Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Columbia Law School, CUNY School of Law, Cornell Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, St. John’s University School of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, or Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Registration will remain open for the duration of the May 5 to May 15 application period and priority will not be given based on the date a candidate registers within that period.At the close of the first application period, the Board will assess available seating in light of existing health and safety guidance. If seating remains available, the Board will then open the application period to a larger pool of candidates.

Given the constraints caused by the public health crisis, candidates are strongly encouraged to consider sitting for the UBE at a later date or in other jurisdictions that may be better positioned to accommodate test-takers. While our efforts to maximize seating are ongoing, the health and safety of all participants must remain our top priority.

Please continue to monitor this website for updates.

If this leaves you wondering where to take a bar exam instead of New York, you can consider taking it in other UBE jurisdictions, some of which offer “courtesy seating” for bar takers who won’t be applying for admission to that state’s bar. The NCBE Bar Admission Guide has a list of those states that was up to date at the time of publication several months ago. Given the rapid changes in jurisdictional processes recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vitally important that you check on a jurisdiction’s official bar website as to whether that option is still open and how to apply for it. The NCBE is also posting jurisdictional updates here: NCBE COVID-19 Updates. This blog is not designed to keep up with such rapid changes and does not purport to address all 50+ bar jurisdictions.

If you have a job offer that you have accepted or will accept, it is suggested that you contact that employer and ask if the employer has a preference for any particular alternative jurisdiction if you are unable to register for your first choice, presumably the jurisdiction where the employer is located.

California, Pennsylvania, D.C Bar Exams Postponed; New York Changes Requirements

More states announced changes to their bar exams and processes this week. California and Pennsylvania have canceled administration of their July 2020 bar exam and will administer it in September instead. The California announcement may be read here: California Supreme Court Bar Exam Letter. The announcement of the Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners, with links to other documents and including an announcement of a limited license to practice law for July 2020 bar applicants, is here: Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners.

The District of Columbia has cancelled its July 2020 bar exam but has not yet announced a rescheduled date. Its announcement can be read here: District of Columbia Court of Appeals Order.

The New York Board of Law Examiners, which had previously announced the rescheduling of its July 2020 bar exam to September of 2020, has changed or waived a number of its requirements, which are detailed here, also with links to the relevant official documents: New York Board of Law Examiners. As with all information from bar admissions offices, please read the information they provide with great care, and follow up directly with them, via your applicant portal or file analyst, if you have specific questions, as only those offices can give you accurate and authoritative answers.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

Georgia Bar Exam Delayed to September

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced today in a press release that the July 2020 bar exam in Georgia has been postponed to September 9 and 10, 2020, and that it will temporarily allow provisional admission to practice of law graduates within certain limitations: Supreme Court of Georgia Order. Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has posted a special FAQ page for questions about these new rules: GA Bar COVID-19 FAQ. Please read this new information carefully, as it has very specific details, together with the other bar examination information posted on the Bar Admissions website. If you are a current applicant to take the Georgia bar exam, make sure to check your applicant portal often for all communications.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

New York Announces Limits on Bar Takers

From the website of the New York Board of Law Examiners:

SEPTEMBER BAR EXAM: The New York Court of Appeals announced on March 27, 2020 that the New York State Bar Examination will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as previously scheduled. Click here to read the press release from the Court of Appeals.

The examination has been rescheduled to WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2020. The application period for the rescheduled examination is presently scheduled to open on May 5, 2020 at 12:00 AM and to close on May 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

HOWEVER, DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE BOARD DOES NOT EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO USE THE LARGE VENUES IT TYPICALLY USES TO ADMINISTER THE EXAM, THE BOARD WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TEST ALL THE CANDIDATES WHO WOULD TYPICALLY APPLY TO TAKE A JULY BAR EXAM. THE BOARD WILL BE REQUIRED TO PRIORITIZE GROUPS OF CANDIDATES AND EXPECTS TO ANNOUNCE A STAGGERED SCHEDULE FOR AND NECESSARY LIMITATIONS ON APPLICATIONS.

We are actively seeking details as to what the staggered schedule and limitations on applications will be, which have not yet been announced. Please keep checking your bar jurisdiction’s official website and read all communications from bar offices.

New York Bar Exam Rescheduled

NOTICES:

*NEW April 6, 2020*

COVID-19. UPDATE

The Board’s office is closed until further notice as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Staff members are not presently available to answer phone calls. However, the Board continues to closely monitor the situation. The health and safety of applicants, our staff and the proctors who administer the bar exam are of paramount importance to the Board.

Updated information will be posted on this website as it is available.

JULY 2020 BAR EXAM: The New York Court of Appeals announced on March 27, 2020 that the New York State Bar Examiation will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as previously scheduledClick here to read the press release from the Court of Appeals.


The examination will be rescheduled to WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2020. The application period for the rescheduled examination is presently scheduled to open on May 5, 2020 at 12:00 AM and to close on May 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

Additional information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the July 2020 bar exam is available on NCBE’s website at: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/

NCBE Will Support Two Fall Bar Exam Dates

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has announced that it will make its materials available for two separate bar exam administrations this fall, in addition to the usual July dates:

To provide needed flexibility for jurisdictions and candidates, in addition to preparing materials for a July bar exam, NCBE will make bar exam materials available for two fall administrations in 2020: September 9-10 and September 30-October 1. Each jurisdiction will determine whether to offer the exam in July, in early September, or in late September.

NCBE also continues to update jurisidiction-specific information on its website:

NCBE continues to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely. The health and safety of bar applicants and of our employees and volunteers are of paramount importance to us. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

Click below to see which jurisdictions have made announcements about the July 2020 bar exam. 

 July 2020 Bar Exam: Jurisdiction Information

For answers to frequently asked questions, see the FAQs below this statement.

For ongoing information, go here: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

Massachusetts Also Postpones July 2020 Bar Exam

From the Massachusetts bar officials:

“The Supreme Judicial Court and the Board of Bar Examiners announce today that, due to the ongoing public health emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts bar examination will not be administered on July 28 and July 29, 2020 as previously scheduled. The bar exam has been postponed until fall, on dates to be determined.”

“The Board of Bar Examiners, in consultation with the Supreme Judicial Court, will continue to closely monitor public health and safety guidelines, including prohibitions against large gatherings, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event that limitations on large gatherings continue to interfere with a fall administration of the Massachusetts bar examination, alternative means for testing of applicants for Massachusetts bar admission will be devised and announced.”

Graduating students:

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is working with all bar jurisdictions to decide about the administration of summer bar exams this July. They are posting frequent updates on their website: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/. You will find the most recent information there, not on this blog. Please check that website and the website of the jurisdiction where you plan to take a bar exam, as well as your NCBEX accounts and your bar-related portals, frequently.

If you were already enrolled in a commercial bar review course, your course provider will also be in contact with you about any changes in your chosen jurisdiction. In the meantime, please keep using your time wisely and well to prepare for a bar exam and assume you will take it in July until you are told otherwise through official information from a bar jurisdiction. Stay in touch with your career adviser about bar plans and job searches.