An Overview of The Format of the MBE - JD Advising
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Format of the MBE

An Overview of The Format of the MBE

The Multistate Bar Exam (or MBE) is a component of nearly every jurisdiction’s bar exam.  Only Louisiana and Puerto Rico do not administer the MBE.  Additionally, the MBE is worth 50% of your final score on almost all of these bar exams.  Thus, it is very important that you seriously prepare for the MBE so that you can form a solid foundation for your score!  In this post, we present an overview and discuss the format of the MBE.

An Overview of The Format of the MBE


The MBE occurs on the second day of the bar exam.  It is composed of 200 multiple-choice questions.  Only 175 of those questions are scored – the remaining 25 are experimental questions that the NCBE is testing out for use in future bar exams.  In terms of the format of the MBE, you will have to complete the first 100 questions in 3 hours in the morning and then the second 100 questions in 3 hours in the afternoon.


Mastering your timing is very critical to success on the MBE!  In order to get through all 100 questions in 3 hours, you need to answer 1 question per 1 minute and 48 seconds on average.   This might seem like a lot of time for one question, but it goes by very quickly and you must practice repeatedly throughout your bar prep.  The format of the MBE questions can make getting through one question in that amount of time quite difficult.  Some questions have fact patterns that are multiple paragraphs long.  It can be challenging to read through the pattern, identify the issue, and answer the question all in the allotted time.  Thus, you need to make sure you practice and perfect your approach to MBE questions.

Subjects Tested

The MBE covers 7 different subjects, with 25 questions coming from each.  The subjects are:

  • Civil Procedure,
  • Constitutional Law,
  • Contracts and Sales,
  • Criminal Law and Procedure,
  • Evidence,
  • Real Property, and
  • Torts

Since all of these subjects are also fair game on the essay portion of nearly every bar exam, this means that these subjects are essentially “double tested.”  You can earn plenty more points towards your final score by knowing the nuances of Evidence really well as opposed to the nuances of something like Conflicts of Law.  As such, the MBE subjects should be strongly emphasized throughout your bar prep!

Testing Frequency

Further, not all topics within each MBE subject appear equally.  For example, about half of the 25 Torts questions are going to focus on negligence, with all of the other Torts topics making up the rest of the questions.  In addition, many of the other subjects have similar patterns.  Therefore, it is important to be emphasizing these highly tested topics when you study!  In this way, understanding the format of the MBE can really give you an advantage when it comes to planning out your studying.  If you know negligence really well, that is 12-13 points you can earn, compared to the 4-5 points by knowing strict liability really well.   Be sure to view our MBE frequency chart to learn more about what topics are highly tested!

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