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New York Will Hold Online Bar Exam in October
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New York will administer the state bar exam online on October 5 and 6 as an emergency, one-time option.

A week after canceling the September Bar without an alternative option, the New York Court of Appeals announced Thursday, the jurisdiction is moving forward with an online bar exam in October.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore greenlit a plan put forth the working group to be chaired by retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine to evaluate the future of the test and find the best solution.


The court-appointed working group looked trough multiple alternatives including postponing the examination until February 2021 and emergency diploma privilege that has been advocated by examinees in the last month.

However, despite all the lobbying and the public pressure by law graduates and law deans who urged the court to allow students to perform legal work without taking the exam, the working group rejected the temporary diploma privilege option, “noting that the bar exam provides critical assurance to the public that admitted attorneys meet minimum competency requirements.”

“Ultimately, in light of the exigencies presented by the pandemic, the Working Group recommended that New York administer, on a one-time basis, the emergency remote testing option to be offered by the (National Conference of Bar Examiners) on October 5-6,” according to a Court of Appeals statement.

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“While acknowledging the shortcomings of the remote exam—including its experimental nature—the Working Group, in consultation with technology, security, and psychometric experts, discussed proactive measures to ensure broad access, mitigate security risks, and establish a reliable grading methodology,” the statement said.

New York’s decision comes a week after the California Supreme Court had announced similar plans for going forward with an online NCBE October examination.

Additionally, a growing number of jurisdictions have canceled their in-person exams in lieu of an online of an abbreviated online version in October that’s being prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners including Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Vermont, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Several more jurisdictions are giving examinees the option to take the online October test, including Oregon, Texas, and Arizona.

For the online exam, the working group consulted with security, technology, and psychometric experts and “discussed proactive measures to ensure broad access, mitigate security risks and establish a reliable grading methodology,” the court said.

The group recommended that the court looks into allowing reciprocity to other states administering the online bar exam. Many other jurisdictions, including Washington D.C. and New Jersey, have entered into reciprocity agreements.

The court said applicants registered for the September exam would be automatically registered for the remote October test. Waiver-request consideration will be given to law grads who got their J.D.s in 2019 or later; previously took the exam in New York and failed no more than twice; and who wish to sit for the online examination.



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