Bloomberg Law
Feb. 26, 2021, 10:02 PM

California Scraps In-Person July Bar Exams on Pandemic Concerns

Sam Skolnik
Sam Skolnik

California will hold its two-day bar exam remotely in late July, becoming the most recent state to change test-taking procedures as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on.

The California Supreme Court decision Friday follows the lead of high courts in the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Kentucky for the July 27-28 tests. Pennsylvania is holding a three-day test, from July 26-28.

“The circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in California continue to severely limit the State Bar’s ability to administer the General Bar Examination in the traditional mass, in-person format,” California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in an order.

California also held its previous two tests remotely. Before the pandemic, states typically held their bar exams in large, in-person settings.

Some smaller states did offer in-person tests earlier this week, and also last year—despite some test takers’ concerns about being in settings where the coronavirus could spread.

Remote exams have sparked worries over glitches and facial recognition software that some have alleged is biased against people of color and those with disabilities. California considered, and then dismissed, a large number of allegations that the remote tests involved rule breaking, including possible cheating.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at;
John Hughes in Washington at