Topic 8: Released MBE Questions—The Pros, the Cons, and Where to Get Them
You may have heard about “released” or “real” MBE questions. We are big believers in real MBE questions and we will tell you why. (However, they also have some drawbacks which we will explain as well!)
The Pros of Using Real MBE Questions
The primary advantages of using released MBE questions are:
1. First, you will become familiar with the style of MBE questions. Real MBE questions are written in a very specific style that is different than questions invented by commercial courses. Real MBE questions are very well written and they go through a multi-stage “testing process” to make sure they are fair. Some students who only use commercial, course-invented MBE questions are unpleasantly surprised when they walk into the MBE and see questions that are written in a completely different style than they are used to practicing.
A few notes on basic MBE-question style:
- Real names are not used (only identifiers like “a woman,” “a man,” “a neighbor,” etc.).
- The call of the question is clearly stated for examinees.
- There are four answer choices, typically two “yes” answers and two “no” answers.
- There is only one question per fact pattern (rather than multiple).
2. You will see how the NCBE tests specific areas of law. Becoming familiar with how the NCBE tests specific areas of law is one of the most important reasons to practice using real MBE questions. The NCBE likes to test certain issues in certain ways. Some issues appear on the MBE in the same way repeatedly. By being exposed to how issues are tested ahead of time, you are more likely to answer similar questions correctly on the MBE. We have seen patterns in MBE questions. For example, some questions released in 1992 are very similar to questions written in 2020! (Check out our MBE Mastery Class to learn more on that!)
3. They are well written. Some questions written by commercial courses are written in a confusing manner. NCBE questions tend to be clearly written and articulated. In other words, they are “good” practice questions.
4. You will know what level of difficulty to expect on the exam. The MBE is difficult and tests the nuances of the law. Some course-invented questions are too easy. Others are not well written or are overly difficult. By practicing with real MBE questions, you will be prepared for the level of difficulty to expect on test day.
5. You will feel more confident and prepared for the MBE. You will walk into the MBE knowing that you have prepared in the best way possible. A positive outlook is crucial to passing the bar exam! Knowing that you have practiced using released MBE questions will help to approach the MBE with confidence so you can conquer the exam.
6. You are more likely to pass the bar exam. Virtually every student we talk to who uses released MBE questions has only positive things to say. These students often attribute their passing score to practicing with real MBE questions. Conversely, students that use course-invented MBE questions often complain that the questions on the MBE did not reflect the style of questions that they practiced.
The Cons of Using Real MBE Questions
Here are a few disadvantages of released MBE questions:
1. You have to pay for them. The licensing fee that any bar prep company pays to actually purchase these questions from the NCBE is high! That means that even if a bar prep company charges a few hundred dollars for the questions, likely they are not making a big profit. To make things worse, the recently released questions are even more expensive. So, you have to pay more for the most recent (and best) questions. (Note you can also get the questions directly from the NCBE, but they also charge a high price.)
2. Some older released MBE questions may be outdated. There are released MBE questions that were written 50 years ago that are, thankfully, being removed from the NCBE’s database. However, even questions written after that (in the early 2000s, for example) may still be outdated. For example, older released MBE questions do not contain Civil Procedure questions. (Civil Procedure was not added as a tested subject on the MBE until 2015.)
With that said, real MBE questions are definitely worth paying for. It is a relatively small investment that can make a big difference in your score. And even if it is only a one-point difference, that could be the difference between passing and failing!
Where to get Released MBE Questions
- If you are taking a bar review course, check to see if your course offers them! (Also make sure they offer recently released questions, including the most recent NCBE exam from 2022.)
- Check out JD Advising’s released MBE questions in PDF format! We sell 200 MBE question sets, either by subject or mixed, to help you in your study. Also, we sell the 2022 NCBE exam! And, 30 Civil Procedure questions!
- The NCBE releases 21 questions for you to practice, free of charge! At the very least, you should use these free questions! (Unfortunately, these 21 questions do not have answer explanations. We are working on creating answer explanations for these questions and will update this guide when they are available.) The NCBE also sells MBE questions in its online platform.
- There are other online resources similar to the above ones—AdaptiBar, UWorld, and more.
- Strategies & Tactics for the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) by Emanuel (Commissions earned if you click the link. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.) is a resource for those looking to spend less for released MBE questions. The advantage of using a book like this is that it is printed on paper (like the actual MBE). The disadvantage is that this book is big and a bit cumbersome. And this resource has only 635 released questions. So, while there are a few advantages to this resource, we generally do not recommend it!
Go to the next topic, Topic 9: MBE Timing Tips, Including a Must-Use Scantron Strategy
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