COVID-19: Implications for 2020 Statistics

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most jurisdictions made modifications to their July 2020 bar exam administrations. The list of modifications below should be kept in mind when viewing the 2020 statistics.

July 2020 Exam Cycle

In addition to the July exam, NCBE offered three exams in September and October: September 9–10, September 30–October 1, and a remote testing option on October 5–6.

  • Five jurisdictions administered their own jurisdiction-drafted exams on alternative dates: Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico typically administers its exam on an alternative date in September, but its exam date was further delayed until November).
  • The jurisdiction-drafted exams in Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, and Nevada were remote exams; in addition, Michigan administered its own jurisdiction-drafted remote exam in July.
  • MBE administrations: Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, and Northern Mariana Islands, all of which would normally have administered the MBE, did not do so during the July 2020 exam cycle. Virginia, which administered two exams during the July 2020 exam cycle, administered the MBE only for its July exam and not for its jurisdiction-drafted exam in September.
  • Twelve jurisdictions administered two exams during the July 2020 exam cycle: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • Three jurisdictions canceled their July exams: Delaware, Guam, and Palau. Note that Delaware and Palau do not administer a February exam, so these two jurisdictions did not administer an exam in 2020 at all. (Puerto Rico, which typically administers its first exam in March, canceled its March 2020 exam but still administered its second exam, which occurred in November.)

October 5–6 Remote Testing Option

  • The remote testing option offered by NCBE on October 5–6 did not constitute the full bar exam or the UBE; scores earned on the remote test were used for local admission decisions only and did not qualify as UBE scores.
  • Twenty jurisdictions administered the remote test: Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virgin Islands. Seventeen of these jurisdictions were jurisdictions that had adopted or were already administering the UBE in 2020. Four of these 17 jurisdictions administered the remote test in addition to the July or alternative-date UBE administration.
  • The following 14 jurisdictions that (1) had adopted or were already administering the UBE in 2020 and (2) administered the October 2020 remote test entered into score transfer agreements to accept scores from other UBE jurisdictions administering the remote test: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont. These jurisdictions did not, however, separately report numbers for those admitted via remote test score transfer; these numbers are instead included in the numbers of admission via transferred UBE score. (Note that Kentucky, which had adopted the UBE in 2020 but whose first UBE administration was in February 2021, did not begin accepting either UBE score transfers or remote exam score transfers until 2021.)
  • Washington, which did not administer the remote test, issued an order on March 8, 2021, announcing that it would accept remote test score transfers, for certain qualified applicants, from other jurisdictions that were UBE jurisdictions at the time of the October remote test administration.

Temporarily Lowered Cut Scores

Four jurisdictions temporarily lowered their cut scores for the July 2020 exam cycle, three of which extended their modifications into 2021:

  • Hawaii (lowered from 134 to 133 for the September 9–10 2020 and February 2021 exams)
  • North Carolina (lowered from 270 to 268 for the July 2020 and February 2021 exams)
  • Oregon (lowered from 274 to 266 for the July 2020 exam)
  • Washington (lowered from 270 to 266 for the July 2020, September 9–10 2020, February 2021, and July 2021 exams)

Diploma Privilege/Examination Waiver

Five jurisdictions adopted emergency diploma privilege/examination waiver rules allowing certain qualified candidates to be eligible for admission to the bar in that jurisdiction without taking the bar examination: District of Columbia, Louisiana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

Temporary Supervised Practice Rules

Thirty-one jurisdictions expanded or adopted temporary supervised practice rules to allow qualified candidates to engage in the limited practice of law under the supervision of a licensed attorney until they were able to take the bar exam.

 

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