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Guide FAQs Related to October 2020 Examination for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar

Frequently asked questions about filing for admission to the October 2020 bar, exam administration, and what happens post-examination.

Table of Contents

General questions

Is the remote exam being administered on Oct. 5 & 6, 2020 a UBE?

No. The summer/fall 2020 Massachusetts administration of the in-person Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) has been cancelled due to seating limitations and health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The October 5-6, 2020 remotely administered exam for Massachusetts bar admission is comprised of testing materials provided by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is the same in substantive content as the UBE.

Will I be able to transfer my Massachusetts October exam score to another jurisdiction that plans to administer the same remote exam?

The Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) is working with other jurisdictions that administer the same remote exam to explore possible reciprocity agreements.

Does the administration of a remote exam have any impact on the character and fitness process?

No. Character and fitness inquiries will not be impacted by the administration of a remote exam.

What content will be tested by this remote exam?

The content tested by the remote exam will be the same as the content of the Uniform Bar Exam. You should study the same topic areas that you would if you were preparing to take the UBE.

What is the format of the remote exam?

The remote exam will consist of four, 90-minute test sessions administered over two days, October 5 and 6. One session will consist of one Multistate Performance Test (MPT) item; another will consist of three Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) questions; and two other sessions on October 6 will each consist of 50 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) questions.

Is the Massachusetts Law Component (MLC) included as part of the remote exam?

No. The MLC is a requirement for admission separate and distinct from the examination.  All petitioners for admission are required to successfully complete the MLC. You will receive an email notice from the BBE providing information on accessing the MLC after the Court refers your petition to the Board of Bar Examiners. 

If I sit for the UBE in another jurisdiction, can I ALSO file a petition for admission by examination for the October 2020 Massachusetts remote exam?

Candidates for Massachusetts bar admission are permitted to sit for only one bar exam of those administered in July, September, or October 2020. The Board of Bar Examiners will cross-check examinee rosters from bar exams administered in other jurisdictions in July, September, and October 2020 in advance of the Massachusetts October 5 and 6, 2020 remotely-administered exam. Candidates found to have taken a bar exam in another jurisdiction will not be permitted to sit for the Massachusetts exam.

Filing questions

Petitioners who have already filed a petition for admission by examination (UBE):

If I have already filed a petition for admission by examination (UBE), is there anything I need to do to be eligible to sit for the remote exam in October?

No. So long as you have filed a Laptop Registration and Statement Form and already paid the required $75 Technology Fee, the petition for admission by examination (UBE) that you have already e-filed with the Court will be carried over as a petition for admission by examination for the October, 2020 remote exam.  

If I have already filed a petition for admission by examination, but did not register as a laptop examinee, must I do that in order to sit for the October remote exam?

Yes. Any petitioner who has already filed their petition for admission by examination, but did not submit a Laptop Registration and Statement of Compliance Form, will need to complete that form and mail it to the Clerk's Office, together with the $75 technology fee, in the form of a bank or certified check, made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by July 17, 2020. The form, with mailing instructions, can be found here: Laptop Registration and Statement of Compliance Form.

Can I defer my currently filed Petition for Admission by Examination (UBE) to the next available Uniform Bar Exam administered by the BBE?

Yes. The Clerk will allow a "one-time exception" for those who have already filed a petition for admission by examination (UBE) and paid the statutory filing and technology fees for the originally scheduled Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, 2020 UBE. This deferment will ONLY apply to the next available UBE administered by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. The deadline for requesting the deferment is August 14, 2020.

How do I request the deferment?

You may ask the Court to defer your petition until the next available UBE administered by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. To take advantage of this deferment option you must reply with an EMAIL to sjc.mass.bar.exam@jud.state.ma.us by August 14, 2020, that includes the following:

  • Name
  • Date
  • NCBE #
  • Envelope # of your submission or Case number; and
  • The following declarative statement:

"I filed a Petition for Admission by Examination to the Massachusetts Bar, originally scheduled as a UBE on Sept. 30 - Oct 1, 2020. I now request that I be granted the "one-time" exception due to the COVID-19 pandemic to defer my recently filed and accepted Petition for Admission by Examination and processed fees to the next available UBE administered by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners.  I understand and acknowledge that this is the only deferment that will be allowed for this petition."

Can I get my filing fee and technology fee refunded if I don't want to take the October, 2020 remote exam?

No. As previously stated in the posted FAQs on Mass.gov, a Petition for Admission to the Bar in Massachusetts, unlike in other jurisdictions, is a civil action at law.  The $815 fee paid by a petitioner is comprised of an $800 statutory civil case filing fee (GL c. 221, §37) and a $15 statutory surcharge fee (GL c. 262, §4C) that is required to be paid in all civil actions filed in the Commonwealth.  These fees are not a fee to sit for the exam, and as with all civil cases filed in the Commonwealth, the case filing fee and surcharge fees are not refundable.  Similarly, the $75 technology fee (GL c. 221, §37) is also statutorily mandated.

New petitioners filing for the remote, alternate exam on Oct. 5-6, 2020:

When can I file a petition for admission by examination for the October 2020 Massachusetts alternative, remote exam?

The filing period for new petitions for admission by examination expired on to July 17, 2020.

Exam administration questions

How is the new exam administered? What technology is required?

Examinees may take the remotely proctored exam at their home, law school, library or another location of their choice. The location must have Wi-Fi access to begin the exam and at the close of the exam. Additionally all examinees are required to have a built-in camera or a webcam for the check-in and for remote proctoring of the exam. Detailed technological requirements will be provided by the Board of Bar Examiners as soon as they are available.

I requested testing accommodations under the ADA. How are these accommodations impacted by the remote exam?

Examinees who have requested nonstandard testing accommodations for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) will be contacted directly by the Board of Bar Examiners regarding their accommodations. The deadline to apply for testing accommodations was July 17, 2020.

I have a health related condition requiring special arrangements. How will I be able to take the remote exam if I need to address these conditions during the 90-minute session?

Examinees with a health-related condition requiring special arrangements must complete and submit the Health-Related Conditions Form to the Board of Bar Examiners on or before August 31, 2020.

How does reciprocity work?

Reciprocity agreements are sought with only those jurisdictions that will administer the same remote exam, on the same dates, with the identical exam content and are transferable only for purposes of this specific exam.  A list of jurisdictions that have entered into this reciprocity agreement can be found here: Bar Exam and COVID-19.

Within five days of the release of results for the Massachusetts alternative remotely-administered exam for admission, the Board of Bar Examiners will provide the exam results for all examinees to each of the jurisdictions with which agreements for reciprocity were reached. Massachusetts examinees may opt out of having their results shared with other jurisdictions by completing the Opt-Out Form and submitting it by October 9, 2020.

Please note that by completing and submitting the opt-out form, examinees are opting out of the transfer of exam results to all reciprocal jurisdictions.  Your score will either be sent to all reciprocal jurisdictions or will not be sent to any jurisdictions if you opt out.  If you opt out of sharing your score, you will not be able to transfer this score at a later date.  Massachusetts will accept scores earned in a reciprocal jurisdiction from the alternative remotely-administered October 2020 remote exam for 36 months, or until October 2023.  Examinees must achieve a total scaled score of 270 or higher in order to seek admission to the Massachusetts bar.

What will examinees be able to do within the exam software?

Examinees will be required to complete a mock exam prior to October 5-6, and will have additional opportunities to familiarize themselves with the software. More information will be communicated to applicants once it is available.

Examinees will be able to:

  • Cut and paste or drag and drop text within their response.
  • View the question and their response at the same time. For the MPT, examinees will be able to open the MPT library attachments and view both the attachment and the exam response on the screen.
  • Highlight within the questions.
  • Use virtual scratch paper to outline their responses.

Examinees will not be able to:

  • Cut and paste or drag and drop text from the question to their response.
  • Use more than one monitor.
  • Underline or cross out within the questions or the MPT materials.
  • Use scratch paper, notes, or any other physical reference materials. Examinees determined to have used paper scratch or note paper at any time during the exam will be investigated for cheating, resulting in a potential negative impact on character and fitness for admission.

What testing conditions will be required?

Examinees must be alone in the room where they are taking the exam. Examinees must not have a phone in the room. This should be a quiet and distraction-free environment.

Examinees must remain seated with their face visible to the camera for the duration of each 90-minute test session. Examinees will have a break in between the 90-minute sessions, during which they will be allowed to step away from their computer to stretch, use the bathroom, take medications, etc.

Examinees will be required to submit a copy of a photo-ID prior to the administration of the exam. More detailed information will be communicated directly to applicants.

How does remote proctoring work?

Examinees must remain at their computer, with their face visible to their webcam, for the entirety of each 90-minute test session. When you submit your exam responses, this video is analyzed by ExamSoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) program that will flag any unusual behaviors, movements, or audio. All flagged footage is then reviewed by at least one human proctor to determine whether further analysis as to potential cheating is necessary. For example, a dog barking in the background may be initially flagged by AI, but cleared upon review. These proctors reviewing exam footage will not have access to any personally-identifying information for examinees; all exam materials, including exam footage, are connected only to an examinee ID number.

Additional Resources for Exam administration questions

Post examination questions

When will results be available?

The Board of Bar Examiners expects to release results by mid-December, 2020.

When will the formal, in-person admission ceremonies take place?

Formal in-person admission ceremonies at Faneuil Hall are tentatively scheduled for the week of January 11-15, 2021. 

Will a remote exam be the norm going forward (February 2021 and beyond)?

The remote administration of the October Massachusetts exam is in response to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The BBE plans to resume the administration of the in-person Uniform Bar Exam in February 2021, if it is safe to do so.

If I sat for the UBE in another jurisdiction and obtained a passing score of 270 or greater, will the Court accept a concurrent petition for admission by examination even if Massachusetts is not administering the UBE?

No. You should file a Petition for Admission by Transfer of UBE Score after you receive your results. You can find more information at Petition for Admission to the Massachusetts Bar by Transfer of Uniform Bar Examination Score

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