Should I Take a Break During the MBE?
The MBE consists of three hours of testing during the morning and three hours during the afternoon. During each of those sessions, you will be tasked with answering 100 multiple choice questions. This is understandable a very taxing experience, both mentally and physically. Many bar exam takers wonder it is beneficial to take a short break during the MBE, or whether the risk is greater than the reward. In this post, we discuss some factors to consider before you decide if it is worth it to take a break during the MBE.
The more you practice timing, the more you will be able to afford a break.
Your desire to take a break during the MBE certainly gives you a heightened incentive to practice your timing during bar prep. The more confident you are in your ability to finish 100 questions in under three hours, the easier it will be to take a break during the MBE. You could try to train yourself to be able to consistently complete a set of questions in under the allotted time. For example, ordinarily you have 1.8 minutes to complete one question in order to do 100 in 180 minutes. This would mean that you should complete 20 question in about 36 minutes, or 25 questions in 45 minutes, or approximately 33 questions in one hour. But maybe you work on finishing 20 questions in 34 minutes, or 25 questions in 42 minutes. Maybe you can complete 36 questions in one hour. If you can consistently beat the pace of 1.8 minutes per question, you will be able to comfortably complete 100 in less than three hours, thereby allowing time for a quick break. The more you practice your timing, the more likely you will be able to take a break during the MBE and still finish.
Being uncomfortable will not help your performance.
If you really have to go to the bathroom, it’s probably not wise to hold it. Your level of comfort is going to be tied to your performance on the bar exam. If you are sitting there incredibly uncomfortable, you are going to be distracted and fidgety. Neither of those are conducive to being able to accurately answer questions in an already tense environment. Thus, the benefits of alleviating that discomfort might outweigh the risks that taking a break during the MBE poses. You should have already familiarized yourself with the location of the bathrooms before the exam. Therefore, hopefully you can make the trip relatively quickly and not cost yourself much time.
A break can calm you down if you panic.
The MBE is very stressful. It is understandable that you might become overwhelmed at some point. What you want to prevent is a level of panic that affects your performance. Taking a brief break during the MBE to just breathe can be very beneficial to bring yourself back. Even if you just close your eyes for 30 seconds, you can re-center yourself and find that level of confidence that might have trickled away. You know you are ready for this moment, and you can’t let it get to you. Thus, if you need to take a short pause to gather your thoughts and focus on your knowledge, it could help you in the long run.
But evaluate where you are so that you know you can finish.
Your awareness of time is going to be important throughout the bar exam. You never want to spend too long on any one question. It is always important to know when to move on and to understand what you are on pace for. If you have fallen behind and are at risk of not finishing, then taking a break on the MBE might not be the best idea. Make sure you have a strategy set up for if you are short on time to ensure that every bubble is filled in when time is called. If you feel good about your status, then taking a brief break is much more feasible. If not, then you really need to weigh how much you need the break. Perhaps you do some practice tests during your prep where you take a break and some where you don’t, thereafter evaluating your success and how you felt. Your prep is the time to take risks – you don’t want to be taking any unnecessary risks on the day of the exam!
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