It is with great pride that the Testing Task Force presents this Final Report, marking the conclusion of an intensive three-year research study undertaken to identify the legal knowledge and skills entry-level attorneys are expected to have or learn within the first three years of practice, and to determine whether, how, and when those identified competencies should be assessed on a bar examination.
The Testing Task Force undertook this substantial research project beginning in January 2018, consistent with the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ commitment to providing high quality, valid, reliable licensure exam materials to jurisdictions that require passage of a bar examination for bar admission. Licensure exam requirements are certainly not unique to the legal profession. All such requirements possess as a common thread the recognition that public protection and confidence in a profession warrant coupling satisfactory performance on a licensure exam with relevant education as conditions of licensure. High-stakes licensure exams are thus an integral part of a professional licensure system that recognizes the important and varied roles played by professional education, post-education assessment, and post-licensure training and continuing education in producing competent licensed professionals to practice in their profession consistent with public protection.
This report marks both an ending and a beginning. The report represents the end of the TTF’s work—a substantial research project that produced scientifically supported recommendations for the content, timing, scoring, format, and delivery mode of the bar examination of the future. The TTF’s recommendations are exciting and transformative. Most importantly, they are responsive to input gathered through listening sessions, focus groups, scientific surveys, and intensive deliberations. This report will afford the reader with a high-level summary of three years of exhaustive work and should be read collectively with the far more detailed reports published by the TTF along the way (and referenced below).
But this report also marks the beginning of the next chapter: implementation. The TTF’s recommendations have been approved by NCBE’s Board of Trustees, and over the next four to five years, NCBE will be working diligently to develop the next generation of the bar exam—the NextGen Bar Exam. Implementation of the TTF’s recommendations will employ the same transparent, unencumbered, collaborative, empirical methodology that served as the hallmarks of the TTF’s study. It will require an enormous amount of work, as is summarized in the closing portions of this report. You can be assured that NCBE’s demonstrated dedication to the provision of products and services of unparalleled quality to jurisdictions will continue through the implementation phase of this important project.
It is no casual undertaking, producing licensing exam products that validly and reliably measure whether an entry-level lawyer, who will be afforded a general license to practice, possesses the foundational knowledge and skills required to help ensure public protection. But NCBE has demonstrated time and again its commitment to that objective in the services and products it has provided to jurisdictions. The work of the TTF, and the important work that will be required over the next few years to implement the TTF’s recommendations, add to the long history of proactive efforts undertaken by NCBE to capably and professionally serve bar admitting authorities, mindful of the fundamental fairness to which applicants are entitled.