Percentage of MBE questions to pass the MBE? - JD Advising
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Percentage of MBE Questions to pass the MBE: What should I aim for?

If you are wondering what your score you should aim for to pass the MBE, you are not alone! Many students take their first real practice test and freak out, worried that they are way behind! The good news is: you do not need to score an “A” “B” or “C” to pass the MBE. You can get a “D-” in many states and still pass. If you are scoring between 60 and 66% you are passing (or close to it!), depending on what your jurisdiction considers passing.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Determining the Percentage of MBE Questions you need to Pass the MBE

First, figure out what a passing MBE score is in your jurisdiction.

If you are in a state that scores on a 200-point scale, then usually a passing score is whatever the overall score is. (For example, a passing bar exam score in Michigan is 135. A 135 is considered to be “passing on the MBE”.)

If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) state, then divide the score you need to pass by two. For example, New York requires a 266 to pass. 266/2 = 133. A 133 is considered a “passing” score because if you scored a 133 on the essays and a 133 on the multiple-choice, you would pass the bar exam. (Note: You do not need a 133 on either portion – a higher essay score could make up for a lower MBE score. This is an important point to keep in mind if you struggle with the MBE!) If you are not sure what a passing score is in your state, check out this post.

Next, figure out the score you need to get there.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE), which is the organization that writes the exam, does not reveal “raw” versus “converted” scores any more. So mostly what we use is speculation. You can read this post for real data on raw scores versus scaled scores, but you can also look at a short synopsis here:

  • Depending on the curve used, generally between 14 and 19 points are added to your “raw” score.
  • A 118 out of 190 scored questions (62.1%) has led to a scaled score of 136 – 138 in the past (+18-20 points).
  • If you scored 120 out of 190 scored questions (63%), this has lead to a scaled score of 137 to 139 in the past (+17-19 points).
  • Note, as of February 2017, only 175 questions are scored. However, the scale the NCBE uses should make up for the fact that less questions are scored and if you are scoring about 60-66% correct, you may very well be in the “passing zone” depending on your state’s passage rate.

If you are answering about 60-66% correct on the MBE, you are likely in the “safe zone.” A higher score than that is, of course, even better! If you are scoring lower than that, see below for tips. But also, make sure that you work on the written portion of the exam. In almost every state, a higher essay score can make up for a lower MBE score.

Third, make sure you are using real MBE questions.

This means you are not taking a Barbri or Kaplan “simulated MBE” test. For some students, those tend to be harder than the real thing and do not reflect their MBE scores.

Read this post or check out our real MBE questions here—we have the MOST recently released questions by the NCBE—the organization that writes the MBE. We also have them compiled into a 200-question exam so you can see how you perform on real MBE questions. This will mean more than how you perform on an exam invented by a commercial course! (We also highly recommend you check out our MBE Favorites series, which will give you an upper edge on the bar exam. We cover five highly tested topics in each MBE subject to help you quickly boost your MBE score! And the recently released MBE questions come FREE with the subscription to the series!)

The real MBE questions will be the best source to determine how high you are scoring.

My MBE score is too low! Help!

If you find you are not near the percentage of MBE questions needed to pass the MBE, don’t panic! There are still some things you can do:

  • First, read this post on how to improve your MBE score. So many students freak out and try to answer 100 MBE questions a day. They sacrifice quality for quantity. Don’t make this mistake!
  • Second, read our past MBE tips (or subscribe to our MBE tips). We generally email out MBE tips twice a week during bar season.  You can read our latest MBE tip (and see links to our past ones) here. We also have tons of free MBE blog posts here.
  • Third, even though it sounds silly, do not ignore the written part of your exam! So many students freak out about the MBE and they do not realize that in most states, the written portion is worth half your score and is easier to improve on than the MBE! Check out essay tips here and if you are in a UBE state, check out our guide to passing the UBE here (as this will reemphasize this point!).  We have students who are very good at writing, but not so great at the MBE, score 120 on the MBE and 150 on the essay portion and pass the bar exam with a 270! Do not ignore the written portion!