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Illinois signs up for NextGen bar exam, test details to be announced

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Illinois signs up for NextGen bar exam, test details to be announced

On the same day that Illinois announced it would become the 19th jurisdiction to commit to administering the NextGen bar exam, the National Conference of Bar Examiners released additional information on two knowledge areas of the new test. (Image from Shutterstock)

On the same day that Illinois announced it would become the 19th state to commit to administering the NextGen Bar Exam, the National Conference of Bar Examiners released additional information on two knowledge areas of the new test.

“The NextGen exam represents a step forward in the ongoing effort to ensure that new lawyers have the knowledge and legal skills to meet the legal needs here in Illinois,” Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis said in a statement.

The state has ten ABA-accredited law schools.

Illinois, where 2,751 candidates took the bar exam in 2023, will introduce the NextGen exam starting in 2028 but has not yet decided whether the new test will be first used in February or July of this year, according to a May 29 NCBE press release.

The NCBE has now released further information on what content the Family Law, Trust and Estate Administration knowledge areas will include in the first four examination rounds.

Questions on family law and trust and estate law will appear in one performance question each and possibly in integrated question sets with legal resources provided in each exam from July 2026 to February 2028, the press release said.

Additionally, beginning in July 2028, family law will be among the fundamental concepts and principles tested on the NextGen Bar Exam, in the same manner as the other fundamental concepts and principles. No additional information was provided regarding questions regarding trusts and estates.

Some states are considering alternatives to the NextGen exam, following the lead of Oregon and Washington. Nevada is considering a three-step process for bar admission, and California has postponed a decision on ending its relationship with the NCBE and partnering with Kaplan Test Prep to create its own bar exam.

This month, the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education and Bar Admissions approved a policy change allowing states to use methods of admission beyond the bar examination.

Anna Harden

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