What Do I Do With Spare Time On The MBE?
When thinking about the MBE, time is always a major consideration. How long should it take to answer an essay question? How much time should I spend on a multiple-choice question if I don’t know the answer? What if I run out of time on the MBE? There is, however, another question many students don’t consider, and that question is what to do if a student has spare time on the MBE.
What Do I Do With Spare Time On The MBE?
First, stating the obvious, a student will likely have spare time on the MBE if the student is well prepared (although there are a few other circumstances in which this can occur as well). In a previous post, Four Tips to Improve your Timing on the MBE, we outlined best practices for getting your pace and timing right on the MBE. Doing MBE questions in timed conditions (check out this post for more information), and then reviewing approximately how much time it takes you to do each question, will give you a better sense of how you move through the MBE. Here, details matter.
Looking at how long it takes you to go through the multiple-choice questions and identifying areas where you may get hung up (Property can be particularly vexing), can help you to focus on the areas of law in which you need improvement. It can also serve as a means to address any personal issues that may arise when faced with those areas, such as anxiety and self-doubt. The same is also true for the essays. So, just what can you do if you find yourself with spare time on the MBE?
1. Revisit Second Guesses
This can be seen as controversial advice. Many people advise students to make a choice, move on, and never look back. While it is true that this works for many students, it is also true that other students may actually have a different, more informed answer after having worked through other multiple-choice questions.
With spare time on the MBE, students are in a position to take a breath, refocus, and review. Return to the question and start over. Read it again, identify the issue the question is testing, then identify the rule. After you’ve applied the rule to the fact pattern, then look at the answer choices again to find the best match. Using IRAC on multiple-choice questions can be just as useful as using IRAC on an essay. Plus, the fact patterns are much shorter. If you find yourself struggling, move on—it is one question and it is better to conserve your energy.
It’s helpful to read the fact pattern and question first and determine the correct answer before even looking at the multiple-choice answer options. This helps to ensure you have a firm understanding of the question and that you won’t get thrown off by answer choices that are intended to distract or trick you.
2. Check your Work.
Make sure all of your bubbles on the scantron are filled in correctly. Because the MBE is multiple choice and administered on a scantron, it is so important that the machine can pick up what you put down. Ensure that your bubbles are all properly filled in (you don’t just want a light line through a circle, you want a fully colored bubble). Also, make sure you didn’t scribble outside the lines. We know you can color inside the lines but things get messy when you’re moving through the MBE and trying to go as quickly as possible. Erase any marks made outside of the bubbled answer.
3. Relax and Recharge.
If you’ve done all the above and still find yourself with spare time on the MBE, then the best use of that spare time is to re-charge. Whatever amount of time that is left can be used to practice stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing exercises and positive visualization. (In a previous post, we introduced six mental health exercises for the day before the bar exam and many of those practices can be adapted to test day.) Focusing your breath, getting centered, and staying the course will help you to conserve precious energy and keep you on track (and on task) for the remainder of the exam. Finally, spare time on the MBE can be used as a personal moment to sit quietly and acknowledge all the hard work you’ve done. Getting to the bar exam in and of itself is a feat, one worth recognizing.
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