Topic 9: MBE Timing Tips, Including a Must-Use Scantron Strategy
MBE Timing Tips and Scantron Strategy
Perfecting your timing is critical to success on the MBE! It does not matter how well-versed you are in the law if you do not have time to actually answer the questions on exam day!
Here are a few tips to improve your timing on the MBE.
1. Memorize the law—starting with the highly tested areas.
While this may seem like an unusual tip to help with timing, it is highly effective. Many students struggle with timing because they take a long time trying to think of the applicable MBE rule when they answer an MBE question. They will ponder, for example, “Is it strict scrutiny or intermediate scrutiny that applies?” or “What is the rule about a state discriminating on the basis of alienage?” If you cannot remember a rule, then it will take even more time to come up with an educated guess.
So, one of the best MBE timing tips that we have is to make sure you have the rules memorized! Start this process of memorization right away! It is important to work on memorization from the beginning. If you do not know the law, you have nothing to apply when you answer questions!
Wondering how to learn your MBE outlines? Check out this post on how to memorize your bar exam outlines if you are looking for new ways to learn the law.
Want to see the fastest possible improvement in your MBE score? If you want to see fast improvement in both your MBE timing and your MBE score, you should also focus on the highly tested MBE areas we noted in topic 3 and as we discuss more in part two of this guide. By focusing on the highly tested items, you will be making the most of your study time. This is because the rules you are most likely to need on the MBE are the highly tested rules.
2. Slow down.
This is another one of our MBE timing tips that may seem counterintuitive, but it really works. While taking timed MBE exams is very important (see topic 4!), slowing down can go a long way in improving your MBE score.
Slowing down and “dissecting” an MBE question has a few great benefits:
- First, you will get quite fast at issue-spotting.
- You will be more likely to immediately recall the law if you have dissected the question and had time to think about it.
- You will get fast at dissecting and understanding fact patterns.
- You will not feel lost or like you are guessing when you answer MBE questions (making it less likely that you will change your answer).
- You will develop the strategy and technique necessary to see your MBE score improve.
If you are following along in this guide, instructions on how to slow down and dissect MBE questions are covered in topic 6.
3. Complete several timed exams before the actual exam and pay close attention to the timing that works best for you!
This is one of our MBE timing tips that should not come as any surprise! The best way to make sure you have mastered timing on the MBE is to complete MBE exams under timed conditions.
We recommend that you start by answering 33 MBE questions in one hour. When you feel comfortable with that, increase the number of questions and the time to answer 66 questions in two hours. Then move up to 100 questions in three hours.
Make sure that when you complete timed exams you are using real MBE questions! These will best prepare you for the MBE.
4. Determine how many questions you want to complete per hour so you can better track your time management on exam day.
Remember the general rule of answering about 33 questions per hour. If you do this, you will finish all questions on time (though you will not have time to go back to any questions).
If you would like some time at the end of the MBE to go back to some questions, aim to complete 35 to 38 questions per hour.
- Completing an average of 35 questions per hour will leave you about 8 minutes to review questions at the end.
- Completing an average of 36 questions per hour would leave you about 13 minutes to review questions at the end.
- Completing an average of 37 questions per hour would leave you about 18 minutes to review questions at the end.
- Completing an average of 38 questions per hour would leave you about 22 minutes to review questions at the end.
In general, we recommend doing what you find is best for you! Many students like to have a 15- to 20-minute cushion at the end to go back and review questions. If you would like this extra time at the end, then aim to complete 37 questions by the end of the first hour and 74 questions by the end of the second hour. That way, during the third hour, you will have only 26 questions to complete with about 18 minutes to spare.
Keep in mind that rushing through the MBE to have time at the end to go back and review questions can be counterproductive. If you like the idea of having time at the end and can accurately answer questions at the rate required to allow that time, that is great! However, if you are missing a lot of questions because you are answering questions at a rate faster than you can realistically handle, it is better for you to answer the questions more slowly and have less time at the end for review.
5. Think about the MBE in 15-minute increments rather than hour-long blocks.
If you struggle with timing on the MBE, rather than thinking about the MBE in hour-long blocks, think about it in 15-minute blocks. Aim to complete 9 questions every 15 minutes.
6. Combat MBE fatigue.
Some students run out of time on the MBE because they suffer from MBE fatigue. They get really tired, have trouble concentrating, and may find themselves zoning out.
If you struggle with MBE fatigue, you should know that there are a lot of ways to combat it! Some tips for combatting MBE fatigue include the following:
- Make sure you’re eating right, exercising, and taking breaks during bar prep. If you are physically exhausting yourself during bar prep, you will feel fatigued during the exam!
- Make sure you are sleeping enough. If you are sleep-deprived, it will be natural to feel fatigue when you are taking a timed multiple-choice exam!
- Plan on taking a bathroom break during the MBE. Sometimes just getting up and walking around for a minute or two can make a big difference. If you want to try this, make sure you also do this when you practice so that you can time it correctly (i.e., you can take a break at a time you feel the most fatigued) and make sure that you do not run out of time.
- Put your head down and rest for 30–60 seconds. Sometimes taking a mental break and focusing on something else—like your breathing—or even focusing on nothing at all, can reenergize examinees and help them reset their minds.
- Study during the same times you will be taking the exam. If you have been accustomed to studying all night and sleeping all day, you will probably feel fatigued when you take the real MBE! Get used to studying at the same times the MBE is administered.
We talk specifically about how to combat MBE fatigue in this article.
7. Use an MBE Scantron strategy
The MBE is still given on paper so make sure to develop a Scantron strategy for test day!
Note: Scantron is the name of the standardized testing method that is used on the MBE. A Scantron sheet is a scannable answer sheet used on the MBE for students to mark their answer choices.
A Scantron strategy basically allows you to tackle the MBE using an organized and efficient approach. There are a few decisions to make.
First, will you fill in each bubble as you go along or use some other method? Filling in the bubbles on the Scantron sheet as you go along is the preferred method because you are less likely to forget to fill in a bubble or to fill in the incorrect answer choices. However, some students prefer other methods, such as filling in every five bubbles at a time or some other system. It is important to determine which method you will use ahead of time.
Second, do you have a system you will use if you want to go back to a question? It is helpful to have a system, especially if you struggle with timing and need to motivate yourself to move on when you spend too much time on a question!
One system is the dot/dash system. Put a small “dot” next to every question you are not entirely sure about. And, put a “dash” next to every question that you skipped entirely or did not know the answer to at all. Then, if you have time at the end, you can review all the questions with dashes first, then all the questions with dots.
Having some kind of system for reviewing questions on the MBE can help give you confidence on exam day, so we recommend deciding on a system ahead of time. This will help you pass the MBE without having to worry about Scantron issues! Lastly, it can be a great way to help with timing, especially if you struggle with spending too much time on questions you are unsure about!
Here is an example of how your Scantron sheet may look if you use the dot/dash MBE Scantron strategy.
Tip: Practice ahead of time!
Print out the Scantron sheet here or see below so you can practice using a Scantron when you answer MBE questions!
Go to the next topic, Topic 10: Other Unique Ways to Boost Your Score and Pass the Bar
Seeking MBE Assistance?
Seeking MBE Assistance?
- 📘 MBE Guide: Equip yourself with our FREE expert-crafted bar exam and MBE guides.
- Free Bar Exam Resource Center: Discover top resources, articles, and free webinars led by renowned bar exam professionals.
Top Resources as Vouched by our Students:
- MBE One-Sheets: One of our most highly acclaimed bar exam supplements!
- MBE Private Tutoring: Opt for personalized, effective strategies.
- On Demand Bar Exam Course: Comprehensive bar exam preparation.
- Bar Exam Crash Course and Mini Outlines: Acclaimed and effective for a quick refresher.
- MBE Mastery Class, Real MBE Questions, and MBE Guide: Elevate your MBE preparation with these high-quality MBE supplements!