MBE Raw Score versus Scaled Score: What Score Should I Aim for? - JD Advising
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MBE Raw Score versus Scaled Score: What Score Should I Aim for?

Many students ask us what “raw” MBE score they should be aiming for–and what it will actually scale to on the real bar exam. It is difficult to tell students what MBE raw score they should be aiming for, since the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ stopped releasing all statistical data on the MBE raw-to-scaled score “conversion” a few years ago.

We sifted through a lot of forums from previous years to see if we could find any set patterns, and basically we found that the NCBE adds between 14 and 20 points if you are in “passing score” range. A few things to note:

  • First, all of these scores are based on self-reporting (on bar exam forums!), so they may not all be accurate (although we did see a lot of the same numbers or consistent trends, which makes us believe that most of them are!)
  • Also, the MBE has since taken on a new subject (civil procedure) and the “mean” scaled score has since dropped in the past few years (which means that they could be adding less points, the questions could be harder, or, according to Erica Moeser, the takers are “less able”).

However, the data from past years still means something and many students are curious about what raw score they should be aiming for. If you are aiming for a 135 mbe scaled score (what is considered to be a “passing score” in many jurisdictions, you should be aiming for a 116 to 120 “raw” mbe score.  Keep in mind that this is 116/190 or 120/190 questions (61% – 63%). This is because there are ten “test” questions that are not counted in your raw score.

A raw score of 120 – 125 (63% – 66%) score should put you in a relatively “safe” zone.  *If you are getting around this number on your practice MBE’s (and I hope you are using real MBE questions, not some Barbri test) you should be in good shape! We have a 200-question exam that is composed of MBE questions that were just released from the National Conference of Bar Examiners at the end of 2017! This is a GREAT gauge of how you are performing on the MBE. You can buy these MBE questions here.

MBE Raw Score Versus Scaled Score—Samples from 2008 – 2013:

  • 108 mbe raw – 129  mbe scaled (July 2010), 108 mbe raw – 128 mbe scaled (July 2011), 108 mbe raw – 128 mbe scaled (Feb 2013)  (plus 20-21 pts)
  • 113 mbe raw – 128 mbe scaled (Feb 2011)  (+ 15 points)
  • 114 mbe raw – 134 mbe scaled (July 2009) (+20 points)
  • 116 mbe raw – 136 mbe scaled (Feb 2009) (+ 20 points)
  • 117 mbe raw – 135 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 17 points)
  • 120 mbe raw – 139 mbe scaled (July 2008), 120 mbe raw -137 mbe scaled (Feb 2011), 120 mbe raw – 138 mbe scaled (unknown) (+ 17-19 points)
  • 118 mbe raw – 138 mbe scaled (Feb 2009), 118 mbe raw-136  mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 18-20 points)
  • 119 mbe raw – 136 mbe scaled (Feb 2008), 119 mbe raw – 136 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 17 points)
  • 127 mbe raw – 141 mbe scaled (July 2012)  (+ 14 points)
  • 135 mbe raw– 150 mbe scaled (Feb 2011)  (+ 15 points)
  • 136 mbe raw-150 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 14 points)
  • 139 mbe raw – 153 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 14 points)
  • 145 mbe raw – 158  mbe scaled (Feb 2011), 145-158 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 13 points)
  • 148 mbe raw – 161 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 13 points)
  • 151 mbe raw – 163 mbe scaled (July 2012) (+ 12 points) 
  • 158 mbe raw – 169 mbe scaled (July 2012) (+ 11 points) 
  • 161 mbe raw-172 mbe scaled (Feb 2011) (+ 11 points)

If you have any additional data that we can add, please email us (info@jdadvising.com). If you are finding self-reported numbers online other than the ones above,  please post below and link to the information you find!

We know the data is not perfect, but hopefully it is of some use if you are trying to determine the approximate raw score necessary to pass.