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More Time to Study for the July 2020 Bar Exam

More Time to Study for the July 2020 Bar Exam

As the July 2020 Bar Exam approaches, nearly every one of our bar candidates says the same thing; “I wish I had more time to study.” This year, that wish will probably come true. According to a letter published by the State Bar of CA, dated April 15, 2020, the need for social distancing will likely require the Committee of Bar Examiners to postpone the July 2020 Bar Exam.

Two options are being considered for rescheduling the July 2020 Bar Exam.

Option #1

Option #1, which is the preferred option, is to postpone the July Bar Exam to September 9-10, 2020, when the examination can be administered in the traditional live group setting. However, if social distancing limitations in September still make onsite testing impossible or unwise, the Examiners will consider online testing. 

One problem with online testing is that the Bar Examination includes a Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) test administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The NCBE would have to cooperate in making its questions available for online delivery as part of the 2-day CA Bar Examination. With this in mind, on April 9, 2020, the NCBE initiated active consultation with outside testing, technology, and exam study experts to evaluate the potential for online MBE testing if the traditional group setting must be canceled or modified for the July 2020 Bar Exam. 

Option #2

Option #2 is to cancel the July 2020 Bar Examination altogether. In such an event, the CA Bar Examination would not be given again until February 2021. online testing would no longer be a consideration because the traditional live group setting would be used as the manner of administration as it has been in all past CA Bar Examinations.

Factors To Be Considered And Weighed In Selecting Which Option Is Best 

The State Bar of California and the Committee of Bar Examiners understand the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on their ability to administer the July 2020 Bar Examination, and the unique considerations it has raised for alternative July 2020 Bar Exam administration plans. The factors being considered to include:

  1. The difficulty many students face when preparing for the July 2020 Bar Exam due to conditions posed by the stay-at-home orders, which has negated all bar candidates’ ability to attend live bar review classes and other study sites, like libraries.

  2. The adverse impact of delaying the examination for many students to have undertaken substantial debt on the assumption they would take and pass the July 2020 Bar Examination.

  3. The economic need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for bar candidates and their families, which has accelerated the need for bar candidates to enter the workforce.

  4. The consumer need for new lawyers to enter the justice system to protect consumers from predatory practices that are running rampant due to unscrupulous individuals who are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  5. The need to ensure minimum competence of all new licensees for which the bar examination is an important component.

The State Bar of CA and The Committee of Bar Examiners are actively engaged in carefully assessing the above-identified factors together with the considerations and options available for administrating the July 2020 Bar Examination. A decision should be forthcoming within the next few weeks.

To access the letter issued by The State Bar of California as summarized above, please go to: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/News/COVID-19-Updates
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