Bar Examinations and Bar Passage

Test Validity: Faster is Not Necessarily Better

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



bar exam design, psychometrics, health and psychological barriers, bar passage, physical disabilities


This article argues that we should change the default rule for standardized testing: Test developers should not be allowed to implement speeded exams that adversely impact individuals with disabilities unless they can validate the time limits. Applying principles developed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Americans with Disabilities Act, test developers should need to demonstrate that a speeded, standardized exam is a valid predictor of the desired skills and abilities, and that no less-impactful alternative, such as a non-speeded exam, is available to measure those skills and abilities. The shifting of the default rule to non-speeded exams would mark the implementation of a new universal design principle that would make standardized testing more equitable for a range of people, including racial minorities, women, people with low socio-economic status, older applicants, and individuals with disabilities. Testing entities should devise non-speeded exams that can validly measure the skills and abilities of the entire applicant pool rather than continue to place the burden on people with disabilities to meet onerous and expensive standards to request extended time. This solution is novel, simple and fair.