How To Study For The Massachusetts Bar Exam
How To Study For The Massachusetts Bar Exam: Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) in July 2016. The UBE will be administered for the first time in Massachusetts in July 2018.
The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners has not yet determined what the minimum passing score will be, but passing scores in other UBE jurisdictions currently range from 260 to 284 points (out of a possible 400 points). However, they have set the admission on transferred UBE score at 270 points, which is a strong indicator that Massachusetts will set the minimum passing UBE score in the high 260s or low 270s. Update: Massachusetts set their UBE Minimum Passing Score to 270. Additionally, Massachusetts will have an additional jurisdiction-specific component that examinees must complete in order to become licensed. If you are wondering how to study for the Massachusetts bar exam now that the UBE is adopted, we have some tips for you!
How To Study For The Massachusetts Bar Exam
1. Create (or revise) your study schedule as needed.
Only you know what your day looks like. Maybe you are looking after your kids or parents. Maybe you are working part-time or full-time. Be realistic when you create your study schedule based on your other commitments. Not everyone will need to devote the same amount of time to each subject. Maybe you had a fantastic evidence professor and found yourself nodding off in your 8 AM contracts class in law school.
Do not be afraid to alter the schedule given to you by your commercial course. If you need to spend a few extra days on certain topics (e.g., mortgages, hearsay exceptions), do it! Once you begin studying, set aside ten to fifteen minutes each weekend to evaluate which study methods worked for you and which ones did not. Don’t waste your time by using ineffective study methods.
2. Review the explanations for every multiple-choice question that you do.
The MBE is worth 50% of your overall scaled score. Many students make the mistake of doing 40-50 questions a day and they never take the time to carefully review their answers. You will not see the score increases you are looking for if you practice this way. As you start studying, begin by doing 20-25 questions a day and reviewing your answers to every question the same day! Don’t assume you answered a question correctly for the right reasons. By reviewing your answers the same day it will take you less time because the fact patterns will still be fresh in your mind. There are only so many ways that the Examiners can test most of the issues, so the more time you spend reviewing the explanations the better you will become at identifying common testing patterns.
We also recommend that you do not just review what you get wrong, but that you also write down what law you didn’t know (or why you got a question wrong) on a legal pad. Then, constantly review this legal pad. The brain learns through repetition so if you merely read over the answer choices and fail to constantly review the area of law you did not know, you will not see your score improve much.
3. Read the Bar Examiners’ Analysis for every MEE question that you review.
The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) accounts for 30% of your overall scaled score. You will have 3 hours to answer six essay questions (30 minutes per question). Do not assume that certain subjects won’t show up! The Examiners are free to test any of the possible MEE subjects. Students often wonder if they spotted all of the issues or analyzed the issues correctly when they practice at home.
Luckily, there is no need to wonder! The NCBE releases Bar Examiners’ Analyses for each essay question! These are not model answers so don’t panic if your answer is not nearly as comprehensive (it shouldn’t be!). But it is an invaluable resource for reiterating the black letter law and understanding how to use the facts in your analysis. You can find the older MEE questions and analyses available for free on the NCBE website. Recent questions and analyses are available for purchase on the NCBE website.
4. Do not neglect the MPT!
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is worth 20% of your overall scaled score–or the same as 70 multiple choice questions! You will have three hours to complete two MPTs (90 minutes allotted for each MPT). This is the only portion of the exam for which you do not need to have any law memorized! You will be given a task memo (your assignment), file (facts of your case), and a library (case law, statutes, secondary sources, etc.). As you do practice MPTs, make sure that you familiarize yourself with objective memoranda and persuasive briefs (the most highly tested tasks). But don’t forget to look at other tasks such as opinion letters and demand letters. It is also a good idea to do a few uncommon tasks so you won’t feel thrown if you encounter one on exam day.
Once you feel comfortable with the various MPT tasks, this section can become one of your strongest ones! Keep in mind that each MPT is worth 10% of your overall score. Each MEE essay is worth 5% of your overall score. A well-written MPT can definitely give your score a boost if you do not perform as well as you would like on the MEE. If you are looking for free MPT questions check out our post.
5. Do not save timed practice exams for the last two weeks of bar study!
Do not make the mistake of not doing any timed exams or saving them all until the last two weeks of bar study. It is better to do timed practice exams throughout the course of bar study so you can build your stamina and avoid test fatigue. For example, you can start off with 33 timed MBEs and two timed MEEs. Gradually work your way up to doing a timed set of 100 MBEs, six timed MEEs, and two timed MPTs. You want know early on whether you struggle with timing so you can work on it gradually. If you are looking for ways to improve your timing on a particular portion of the exam (MBE, MEE, MPT) check out our posts.
We hope this post on how to study for the Massachusetts bar exam is helpful!
Christine, one of our bar exam tutors, wrote this post. She has passed three bar exams, including California, New York, and New Jersey. Christine scored in the 95 percentile on the MBE, and specializes in helping students raise their uniform bar exam scores!
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