I Failed The MBE. What Should I Do?
If you failed the MBE portion of the bar exam, you are certainly not alone. It is very common to fall short on the MBE, especially with recent MBE statistics which show the average MBE score is going down. Here, we discuss what to do if you failed the MBE portion of the bar exam.
I Failed The MBE. What Should I Do?
1. Determine how much you failed the MBE by and use percentiles to figure out how far you need to go.
The first step to determine the amount by which you failed the MBE is to figure out what a passing MBE score is in your jurisdiction. You can see that here.
The next step is to figure out how much off the mark you were. Don’t look at it only in terms of points because the MBE is graded on a bell curve, meaning that sometimes you are farther away or closer to passing than you think!
Here are MBE percentiles from February 2018. (You can also see them below.) If you scored a 110, on the MBE, you only scored better than 7% of examinees. If your state requires around a 135 to pass, you have to move this percentile up to the 60th percentile! In other words, you have a lot of work to do!
If you scored a 130, and need a 135, you still have to move up from the 45th percentile to the 60th percentile. In other words, you still need to work hard but you do not have as far of a leap as someone who scored much lower.
Don’t be discouraged, even if you are far from passing. We have helped hundreds of students who failed the MBE improve their score significantly.
2. See if your state gives any additional information about your MBE score.
Some states will tell you how well you scored on each subject by using percentiles. For example, they will say something like:
- Civil Procedure – 80
- Contracts – 50
- Constitutional Law – 50
- Criminal Law – 80
- Evidence – 10
- Torts – 10
- Real Property – 3
This tells you how well you scored in each subject. The lower the number, the more work you need to do. For example, the above student only scored in the third percentile for Real Property. This means, they only scored higher than three percent of examinees. They have a long way to go! They also need to work on Evidence and Torts. But they did okay in Constitutional Law and Contracts. And they did well in Civil Procedure and Criminal Law!
One cautionary note: Sometimes students’ score reports are not completely accurate in terms of their comfort level with the material. This is in part because (a) it is only based off of 175 scored questions, and (b) if other factors played a role (e.g., fatigue, running out of time, etc.) then you may not have a complete picture of how well you know each subject.
However, it can be helpful to see this information and it can be a wake-up call. Some students tell us how great they feel about Torts, then they see they only scored in the third percentile and they may have to rethink their comfort level with this subject.
3. Figure out how you need to change your approach.
You want to examine two things if you failed the MBE – first, how close you were to a passing MBE score and second, you need to examine any past attempts at the bar exam.
Look at how close you were to a passing score.
If you were close to passing, you may need less of a total “revamp” than if you were very far from passing. The exceptions to this are if you were very far away from a passing MBE score and (a) had extreme timing issues, (b) had extreme anxiety issues or (c) had extreme personal issues (e.g., you had the stomach flu on the day of the MBE) you may not need as much of a revamp. Instead, you need to confront that issue.
Look at past attempts at the bar exam.
If you have only taken the bar exam once, it may be easier to improve your score more on your own. If you have taken the bar exam more than once, however, and you have not seen substantial improvement on your score or you are still quite far from passing, you should invest your time, energy, and resources in a wholly new approach. The last thing you want to do is hover between say, a 130 (45th percentile) and a 135 (60th percentile) but yet never get a passing bar exam score.
An advantage of changing your approach to the MBE is it will often help you on other portions of the exam as well—e.g., the essay portion. The essay portion in many state bar exams, and the Uniform Bar Exam, overlaps quite a bit with the MBE. So studying for the MBE can really help you double.
4. Change your approach.
If you want a free, personal consultation on how you should change your approach, feel free to contact us.
Otherwise, here is a list of things you can consider doing:
- Consider our MBE course if you struggle a lot with the MBE or did not score high. It is specifically tailored to repeat takers and comes with a lot. Students who take a full-service MBE approach are likely to raise their MBE scores significantly if they do the work! (The MBE course also comes with real MBE questions, our MBE guide, MBE one-sheets, and MBE diagnostic, discussed below. In addition, it comes with outlines and 28 hours of small-group instruction.)
- Consider bar exam private tutoring if you want to cover specific subjects you struggle with or if you want to review all subjects with a private tutoring. We have helped students increase their MBE scores substantially with private tutoring.
- Make sure you use real MBE questions when you study for the bar exam. If you are using questions made up by a course, it is time to invest in some better resources. You will feel much better on test day.
- Consider purchasing our MBE Guide or MBE one-sheets for a tailored approach to the MBE.
- We also have a MBE Seminar that focuses specifically on strategy. If you do a thousand questions but never see your score improve, it is worth it to consider this seminar! We go through a step-by-step approach so you see your score improve.
- Lastly, we have an MBE diagnostic. This diagnostic tells you if you struggle with comprehension, application, or memorization. So many students just assume they struggle with application, but are surprised to see it is actually something else they struggle more with! The results of this diagnostic can help you tailor your studying to improving your score in the most efficient way possible.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
If you failed the MBE, do not worry! It is definitely possible to improve your score significantly with a new approach! We have helped students improve their MBE score 10, 20, 30, and 40+ points. And we have helped students pass on their first, second, third, fourth, fifth+ time taking the bar exam. (We recently helped a ninth-time taker pass!)
You made it through law school and you are definitely smart enough to conquer the MBE. You just have to change your approach so that you master the material and study for the tough exam you will be given.
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You can read more about our MBE services here.