How Important Is MBE Review During Bar Prep?
If you’ve made it through law school, you’ve likely survived more multiple-choice tests than you can count. You’re probably not thrilled at the prospect of studying for one more, especially since written exams are the norm in law school. You may be wondering how much time you need to spend studying for the MBE. How important is the MBE to your overall bar exam score? The short answer is that the MBE is an important component of your bar exam score. This post will provide a brief overview of the MBE and explain why scoring well on the MBE is so critical to passing the bar exam.
How Important Is MBE Review During Bar Prep?
What is the MBE?
The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam. The questions are created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Every state and territory in the U.S. except Louisiana and Puerto Rico uses the MBE, so there is almost no way to avoid taking the MBE. The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, administered in two three-hour sessions of 100 questions each. It takes up a full day of testing.
Now that you know the basics, here’s why the MBE (and studying for the MBE) is really important.
1. It Tests Important Subjects
The MBE covers seven foundational subjects: contracts, torts, constitutional law, evidence, real property, criminal law and procedure, and civil procedure. The MBE tests all seven subjects equally. Here’s a breakdown of the most frequently-tested subtopics. Not only will you have to answer multiple-choice questions on these subjects, but these subjects are also fair game on the essay portion of the bar exam. So, knowing the MBE subjects is necessary not just to get a good score on the MBE, but also to get a good score on the bar exam.
2. It’s a Big Percentage of Your Score
In the 36 states and territories that administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), the MBE accounts for 50 percent of the total bar exam score. Even in non-UBE states, it often still comprises 50 percent of your score, though in a few states it makes up only 40 percent or 33 percent of the total score. Regardless of whether the MBE makes up 50 percent or 33 percent of your total score on the bar exam, the MBE certainly has the ability to determine whether you pass or fail the bar exam. We explain how MBE scores are calculated in a prior blog post.
3. They Don’t Make it Easy
The National Conference of Bar Examiners purposely makes some questions very difficult, and it can be difficult to eliminate the incorrect answer choices. It’s important to learn how to spot and avoid those tempting red herrings. Memorizing and understanding the underlying law in the subjects tested on the MBE is the best way to identify a correct answer.
Additionally, out of 200 questions, only 175 are actually scored. The NCBE includes twenty-five “experimental” questions on the bar exam. The experimental questions are not identified so you won’t know which questions do not count toward your final score.
4. You Could Skip it When Taking Another State’s Bar
If you passed one state’s bar exam, you might not have to re-take the MBE again if you seek to get licensed in another state. Some non-UBE states still require attorneys who passed the UBE to take the essay portion of that state’s bar exam. Since the MBE is the same across jurisdictions, these states sometimes let you skip the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam. After all, you already passed that part of the test to get licensed in your current state!
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