NCBE Testing Milestones

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This timeline highlights key milestones in NCBE’s testing program. It is not a complete list of every change that NCBE or its tests have undergone.

1931

1931

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) is founded with the aim of increasing the efficiency of state bar admission boards.

1969

1969

NCBE establishes a Committee on Bar Examinations to study the bar examining process. The committee discusses the possibility of creating a uniform multiple-choice bar examination that could help reduce the grading burden for jurisdictions.

1970

1970

NCBE’s Board of Managers establishes a standing bar examination committee to begin developing a six-hour multiple-choice bar examination. NCBE receives a grant from the American Bar Foundation to help cover the costs of developing the exam.
Boards of bar examiners, law school deans, and law school faculty are surveyed to gather suggestions for subject matter coverage. Drafting committees, made up of bar examiners and law school faculty, are formed, and NCBE contracts with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to provide technical support for the exam.

1971

1971

Meetings are held in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco to present the new multiple-choice bar examination to jurisdictions. Representatives from 42 jurisdictions attend.

1972

1972

The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is administered for the first time to a total of 4,955 examinees from nineteen jurisdictions. The exam contains 200 scored questions in five subject areas: Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. ETS scores and provides statistics on the exam.

1974

1974

The MBE is equated for the first time, using a linear model.

1975

1975

Constitutional Law is added as an MBE subject.

1976

1976

Discussions of a multistate professional responsibility examination begin. Development of the exam is supported by ACT.

1980

1980

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is administered for the first time to approximately 4,000 examinees from six jurisdictions. Questions are based on the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility.

1980

1980

NCBE begins studying performance testing, co-sponsoring studies by the California Committee of Bar Examiners.

1982

1982

An MBE content validity study is completed.

1982

1982

NCBE begins developing an essay examination.

1983

1983

MPRE questions are now based on both the ABA Model Code of Professional Responsibility and the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

1984

1984

MBE development, scoring, and equating moves from ETS to ACT.

1988

1988

The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is administered for the first time in six jurisdictions. It contains six questions (two 50-minute questions and four 20-minute questions) drawn from the six MBE subjects and three additional subjects (Civil Procedure; Corporations; and Wills, Estates, and Trusts). ACT provides technical support.

1990

1990

NCBE conducts surveys and holds meetings with jurisdictions about MEE subject coverage.

1992

1992

An MBE content validity study is completed.

1993

1993

MEE subject matter coverage is changed so that there is no overlap with the MBE. MEE subjects are now Business Organizations (Agency & Partnership and Corporations); Conflict of Laws; Commercial Transactions (Negotiable Instruments, Sales, and Secured Transactions); Family Law; Federal Civil Procedure; and Wills, Estates, and Trusts (Decedents’ Estates and Trusts & Future Interests). Seven 30-minute MEE questions are now offered to jurisdictions for each administration.

1993

1993

NCBE conducts a pilot study on performance testing. Based on the results of the study and jurisdiction input, NCBE’s Long Range Planning Committee recommends the creation of a performance test.

1997

1997

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is administered for the first time in four jurisdictions. ACT provides technical support.

1999

1999

MPRE questions are now based exclusively on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.

2002

2002

The American Bar Association (ABA), the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), and the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) discuss the feasibility and merit of a uniform bar exam. Representatives from the ABA, the AALS, the CCJ, and NCBE form a Joint Working Group on Legal Education and Bar Admissions.

2003

2003

NCBE surveys jurisdictions about MEE subject-matter coverage and begins studying the possibility of adding MBE subjects back to the MEE.

2005

2005

Equating for the MBE changes from a linear model to 3PL IRT.
 
NCBE takes over test development and production for the MEE and MPT from ACT.
 
Pretesting of MPRE questions begins.

2007

2007

Pretesting of MBE questions begins.
 
MEE subject matter coverage is changed to include MBE topics; Article 2 (Sales) is tested under the Contracts test specifications rather than the Uniform Commercial Code. Nine MEE questions are now offered to jurisdictions for each administration.
 
NCBE takes over MPRE test development from ACT.

2009

2009

NCBE takes over MPRE equating from ACT.
 
NCBE takes over MBE test development from ACT.

2011

2011

NCBE takes over MBE scoring and equating from ACT.
 
The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is administered for the first time in two jurisdictions.

2012

2012

A job analysis study is completed by AMP on behalf of NCBE to describe the job activities of newly licensed lawyers.

2013

2013

LSAC replaces ACT as the contractor for registration and administration of the MPRE. NCBE takes over ADA decisions, scoring, and score reporting for the MPRE.

2014

2014

The number of MEE questions offered is reduced from nine to six.

2015

2015

Civil Procedure is added as an MBE subject.
 
Negotiable Instruments is removed as an MEE subject.

2017

2017

The number of MBE pretest questions is increased from 10 to 25 of the 200 total questions on each form.

2018

2018

NCBE appoints a Testing Task Force charged with undertaking a three-year study to ensure that the bar examination continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in the 21st century.