Should My MBE Practice Be Quality or Quantity?
Many students studying for the bar exam find themselves inculcated by advice. Study eight to ten hours a day. Focus on the multiple-choice questions, only. Practice all parts of the exam equally. The advice is never-ending and almost always conflicting. One particularly intense debate is this: should MBE practice be quality or quantity? We are here to first tell you that the answer is unequivocally both.
Should My MBE Practice Be Quality or Quantity?
Quantity alone is not enough.
There is a school of thought out there that as long as you are doing as many MBE questions as possible, you are bound to pass. While this idea is somewhat attractive, once given some thought, the idea quickly collapses. Some students spend their days firing through multiple-choice question after multiple-choice question. There are several reasons not to do this. First, running through questions without spending the time going through the answers is, in short, futile. If a student does not learn why the answer is wrong, then the student is likely to make the same mistake again. Likewise, if a student does not understand why an answer is correct, they might fail to recognize a correct answer on exam day.
Without thoughtful reflection on the student’s answer choice, students may miss invaluable information. Perhaps a student is excelling in torts but floundering in civil procedure. This is good information to have in order to make corrections or reevaluate a study schedule. Continuing to barrel through the areas in which a student is already strong eats up invaluable time that could be used to improve a student’s weaker areas. Additionally, it’s also about getting to know and work with the flow of each question. MBE questions are written in a very specific manner. Paying close attention to that manner and recognizing the nuances and subtleties of the questions is all a part of succeeding on the bar exam. Moving too quickly in an effort to prioritize quantity may compromise a student’s ability to pick up on those details—a very unwanted result.
Quality alone is not enough.
Practicing large numbers of questions in one sitting is critical to success on the bar exam. The reality is that there are 200 MBE questions, and ideally, you will complete all of them on exam day. Being able to navigate the exam under pressure is critical. A student may know a lot of law but if that student spends three minutes per question, the student will never have the opportunity to demonstrate that knowledge.
It is also important to note that bar prep courses provide students with a certain number of MBE questions. If a student finds that after practicing a number of questions (in a thoughtful but expedient way) that there is an area in which the student needs further practice, it makes sense to increase the number of practice questions. Some students may supplement their bar prep course MBE questions with additional MBE questions (for access to MBE questions, check out JD Advising’s MBE bank here).
Doing more questions than what might be suggested can be very useful, as long as it is done in a strategic manner. For example, it can be a good practice to give yourself a “mini-bar exam” consisting of 100 questions two or three times throughout bar prep. Putting boundaries around the experience is a smart way to get more practice under the requisite time restraints.
Quality Quantity is ideal.
To optimize your studying, it is imperative that you practice both frequently and thoughtfully. To do this, a student may consider working with a bar prep coach or an advisor to get a sense of what number of MBE questions makes sense for that student to complete. For some students, it may be 1200. For others, it may be 800. Once a student has set the numerical goal, then the next step is figuring out how the student will meet that goal. 25 questions a day? 200 a week?
After that plan has been set, then the qualitative goal process kicks in. As we mentioned earlier, this means committing to complete the questions under actual bar exam time constraints. Pick one answer only (no hedging!). Then read the answers to all of the questions, including the ones you got right. Sometimes students get lucky and get the answer correct but for the wrong reasons. Knowing why something is wrong—or right—is all part of bar prep.
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