Bloomberg Law
July 23, 2020, 8:57 PMUpdated: July 23, 2020, 9:46 PM

New York Moves Bar Exam Online After Axing In-Person Test (1)

Sam Skolnik
Sam Skolnik

New York will hold its upcoming bar exam online in October.

The Thursday announcement comes one week after the state canceled the in-person exam set for September out of public health concerns stemming from Covid-19.

New York joins several other large states that are moving their tests online because of health concerns, including Illinois, which also announced similar news on Thursday. The Ohio Supreme Court issued its own statement on Wednesday.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DeFiore approved a plan put forth by a working group chaired by retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine to study the future of the bar exam in New York.

“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.

“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.

California last week made a similar announcement. The California Supreme Court said it was trying “to avoid the need for, and dangers posed by, mass in-person testing.”

Each of these moves has come in the wake of growing advocacy from recent law school graduates and others, who have expressed grave concerns about in-person tests that involve potentially putting test takers’ health at risk by sitting in large exam rooms with scores or hundreds of others.

(Adds context throughout on how different states have altered their bar exam plans.)

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at