My MBE Score Is Getting Worse! What Should I Do?
If your MBE score is getting worse, the first thing you need to do is not panic. When you’re overly stressing about your performance and your abilities, you will probably start doing even worse. Yes, the MBE is a critical portion of the bar exam, and a high MBE score can go a long way toward helping you achieve an overall passing score. But you can’t get yourself worked up about your practice scores. There is still plenty of time to change things up and raise those scores to give you confidence going into the actual exam! In this post, we cover a few things you can do if your MBE score is getting worse.
My MBE Score Is Getting Worse! What Should I Do?
What to do if your MBE score is getting worse:
Keep track of why you’re getting questions wrong (and review this list!).
If your MBE score is getting worse, one of the most important things to do is to evaluate why you are getting questions wrong. Did you not know the law? Run out of time? Rush through the question without reading it? When you get a question wrong, take a look at the reason for it and then write it down on a legal pad. If you missed a torts question because you didn’t know the standard of care owed to an invitee, write the rule down on your pad! If you skimmed the question too quickly and missed an important fact, write your mistake down on your pad! This will allow you to identify patterns as to your most common mistakes.
You should also review this pad frequently. After you’ve done a lot of questions, this pad will contain a whole list of rules you don’t know. Reviewing this pad is a great way to force you to work on learning exactly what you struggle with!
Take more time to memorize the law.
If you’ve identified that failure to be able to recall the law is one of your weaknesses (which is extremely common!), then you need to step back from answering so many questions and go back to memorizing the law. When your MBE score is getting worse, you might just not know the law well enough. You should be doing more than just reading and re-reading your outlines. You need to be interacting with them in a way that ensures you are able to produce and apply a rule on a whim.
Take a section of your outline and try to re-write it from memory. Have a friend or family quiz you on the elements of a rule. Whatever method you choose, you need to be doing something with the material that will cement it in your mind and allow you to recall it at will. Devote more time to memorizing the law, and then see if your success rate with MBE questions improves. For more advice on memorization see this post on how to memorize your outlines and this post for bar exam memorization tips!
Work through questions slowly and methodically.
It’s also possible that your MBE score is getting worse because you aren’t approaching questions in the best way. We advise our students to devote some of their MBE practice to working through questions very slowly. On the days that you utilize this strategy, you will not get through as many questions as you would by doing timed practice. This is okay though because you will be learning a lot from going through this approach. After you read a question, take a minute to identify the subject and the issue tested. Then try to call up the rule (this is where memorization come in handy!). Once you’ve identified the relevant rule, try to answer the question before you even look at the answer choices. When you think you have it figured out, then find the answer amongst the choices.
Too often we see students rush through the reading, skim through the choices (or even just the first few), pick an answer, and then move on. To further compound the problem, when you are doing a lot of questions in a row, you might not go back and thoroughly review each question to understand where the correct answer comes from. We want you to slowly go through each question, test your ability to recall the rule, and not allow yourself to fall into any of the NCBE’s traps or develop bad habits. Your practice shouldn’t solely consist of this method, but it is good to spend some time answering questions from every subject this way.
When you practice timing, start in smaller chunks.
Your MBE scores might be getting worse if you dive right into timing practice with 100 question sets. This is a very overwhelming exercise and it takes a lot of skill to be able to complete one of these, let alone complete it with a high score. You need to build up to 100 questions by starting smaller. On the MBE, you have 1 minute and 48 seconds to answer each question. That’s pretty awkward to time, so it is easier to take the questions in multiples of 5. You have 9 minutes to answer 5 questions. So if you want to do a set of 10 questions, try to complete them in 18 minutes. Then try completing 15 questions in 27 minutes, and then 30 questions in 54 minutes. By starting small, you can get the hang of the time frame and build confidence before slowly adding more questions.
Repeatedly trying to do sets of 100 (and failing to finish or score well) will cause you to get discouraged very quickly. You will also be less motivated to review all 100 questions to identify where you went wrong. By working in chunks you can work on your timing and still review your answers very efficiently in a shorter period of time before then trying another chunk. Once you make it up to 100 questions, you should feel good about your ability to finish all of them in 3 hours as well as your ability to answer them correctly!
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If you are looking for MBE help, read our 10 expert MBE tips here. Check out our step-by-step guide to improving your MBE score, please review this post for an overview of tips. If you would like to have the next MBE tip emailed to you when we come out with another one, please fill out the form below.
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Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.