If you are looking to pass the Uniform Bar Exam, there are three key things that you should keep in mind about the exam. These are things that a lot of bar exam takers do not necessarily know going into bar prep. (Or, perhaps they know these things but do not really reflect on how they should impact their studying!) Then they end up studying inefficiently because of it. Here, we give you some great advice and some excellent tips to keep in mind so that you can pass the Uniform Bar Exam.
Three things you need to know to pass the Uniform Bar Exam
Here are three key things you need to know to pass the Uniform Bar Exam.
1. The MBE is worth 50% of your score—and the written portion is also worth 50% of your score.
The first thing you need to be aware of if you want to pass the Uniform bar exam is scoring. It sounds basic but a lot of examinees do not know how the Uniform Bar Exam is scored.
The Uniform Bar Exam is scored as follows:
- 50% of your total score is your MBE score.
- 30% of your total score is your MEE score.
- 20% of your total score is your MPT score.
Some students fall into the trap of only focusing on the multistate bar exam (MBE). They tell themselves “I am a good writer” and they convince themselves that they can BS the essay portion and MPT portion.
This is a mistake! The MBE is worth 50% of your score—and that means the written part is also worth 50% of your score.
You have to make sure you are focusing on both portions of the exam!
If writing is your strength, turn it into a super strength! There is no reason to spend a lot of time trying to move your MBE score up a few points when it may be much easier for you to significantly increase your writing score with less practice! (This is discussed more below!)
2. There is no minimum score you need on any specific portion of the exam to pass the Uniform Bar Exam.
Because students don’t know exactly how the bar exam is scored, many go into the exam thinking that they need to achieve a certain score on each portion of the bar exam. For example, a student in New York may believe that because they need an overall score of 266, they are required to get a 133 on the MBE portion and a 133 on the written portion. This isn’t true!
It is helpful to be aware of this going into bar exam preparation because you can focus your time on areas where you are most likely to succeed.
For example, let’s say that you have three weeks before the bar exam. You are scoring about a 125 (scaled score) on the MBE. You are scoring about a 135 on the essay portion. A 270 is considered passing in your jurisdiction. You are worried about the MBE and have dedicated a lot of time to it yet your score has remained the same. You have not dedicated much time to the essay portion yet. What should you do?
You may be inclined to spend a lot of time on the MBE, hoping to improve your score so that you are also scoring a 135 on the MBE. However, that may not be the best approach.
If you look at a percentile chart, moving from a 125 to a 135 on the MBE would require you move up about 28 percentiles. (You would have to move from about 32nd percentile—meaning you are scoring higher than 32% of takers—to 60th percentile—meaning you are scoring higher than 60% of test takers.) This is a huge feat to accomplish in a few weeks, especially if you have been working diligently on the MBE up until this point.
It may be much easier for you to move from a 135 to a 145 on the essay portion—especially if essay writing is your strength. (A 135 to a 145 requires a 24-percentile jump –from 57 to 81 – but this is much more realistic for someone who (a) is a strong writer; (b) has not focused a lot on the written portion; and (c) is already in a pretty high percentile).
This is not to say you should ignore the MBE, but ultimately your goal is to get that 270—however you end up getting it!
3. Remember to focus on (a) learning the law and (b) applying it.
A lot of students focus their time on going to lecture and then practicing MBE/essay problems. However, this is inefficient. If you go right from lecture to answering MBE questions, you will quickly get frustrated because you will not answer them right!
Your two primary focuses should be (1) learning the law (this means memorizing your bar exam outlines! If you struggle with this, see this post on memorize your bar exam outlines); and (2) applying what you know to practice problems—you should be using real essay questions and real MBE questions. Do not use course-invented questions. There is nothing better than actual official bar exam questions.
By focusing on learning the law and applying it, you will be focusing on the two things the bar exam tests—that is, how well you know the law and how well you are able to apply it to fact patterns. Make sure that the bulk of your time is spent on these two activities.
If you keep these three things in mind, you will be more likely to pass the Uniform Bar Exam the first (or next!) time you take it.
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