The Illinois Supreme Court announced today that, given continuing public health concerns related to COVID-19, the in-person Illinois bar exam scheduled for Sept. 9-10, 2020, has been canceled. Instead, the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar (IBAB) will administer the exam remotely on October 5-6, 2020, using questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). This exam will satisfy the requirements of Illinois Supreme Court Rules 701 and 704.
The remote exam will cover the same topics as the in-person test and will qualify applicants for admission in Illinois only, IBAB said in the announcement. It will not result in a Uniform Bar Exam score. However, IBAB may consult with other jurisdictions administering the NCBE remote exam to arrange for reciprocity.
All test takers who were scheduled to take the September exam have been automatically registered for October’s remote exam. Registrants have until August 7, 2020, to withdraw or defer the exam until February 2021. Additionally, IBAB will open applications for the remote exam to others who seek admission in Illinois.
Administering the bar exam in a pandemic
Safely gathering hundreds of people in an enclosed space during a global pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for administrators and test–takers, who say a choice between their career and their health has had a significant impact on their well-being.
IBAB worked to identify multiple venues across the state that met federal, state, and local social distancing guidelines. However, given the rise in COVID-19 infection rates in Illinois, IBAB ultimately recommended that the Illinois Supreme Court consider a remote exam.
Illinois is one of several states that has adapted its plans for the bar exam to meet ever-evolving health guidelines. New York, New Jersey, and Florida will host an online bar exam in place of in-person testing. Oregon and Utah have canceled their exams and granted temporary diploma privilege, which allows qualified law school graduates to practice under supervision without taking the exam. Updated bar exam information by jurisdiction is being maintained by the NCBE.
The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision followed a letter sent by the deans of the state’s nine law schools calling for the September in–person exam to be replaced with a remote exam and a separate petition signed by law school graduates and others requesting that 2020 law school graduates be granted diploma privilege in Illinois.
For additional information on the Illinois bar exam, please visit www.ilbaradmissions.org.
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