Topic 1: What is the MBE? (Format and Overview)
Q&A on the Format of the Multistate Bar Exam
Here, we discuss some of basic components of the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) in a helpful Q&A format.
How many questions are on the MBE?
The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is a 200 multiple-choice question exam that is administered on the second day of the bar exam. It is written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The NCBE is a national organization.
The first set of 100 questions are given in the morning. The second set of 100 questions are given in the afternoon after a lunch break.
Does the MBE test state law?
The MBE exam tests national (or majority) law. It does not test a specific state’s law. Every jurisdiction administers the same MBE exam.
How much is my MBE score worth?
In most jurisdictions, the MBE portion is worth 50% of an examinee’s score. Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) jurisdictions weigh the MBE at 50%. In some states, the MBE is worth less. Below, we give you an overview of how much the MBE portion is worth in your state:
States where MBE score worth is 33%
States where MBE score worth is 40%
States where MBE score worth is 50%
- All other states
You can read more here about how much your MBE score is worth.
How long is the MBE?
If you take the MBE under standard timing, you will have three hours in the morning to answer 100 questions and three hours in the afternoon to answer 100 questions.
Which jurisdictions administer the MBE?
The Multistate Bar Exam is administered by every U.S. jurisdiction with two exceptions: Louisiana and Puerto Rico.
What subjects are on the MBE?
There are seven subjects tested on the MBE. The subjects themselves are tested equally, with 25 scored questions on each subject. The seven subjects tested are:
- Civil Procedure
- Constitutional Law
- Contracts and Sales
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Real Property
Tip: Be aware of the unscored test questions!
If you do the math, you will see that there are only 175 questions that are scored. The other 25 questions are unscored “test” questions that are do not count for any part of your score. They are being “tested” for use in future administrations of the MBE (and the NCBE will study whether they are fair questions based on how students perform). You should not concern yourself with identifying the test questions during an exam since you will likely not be able to differentiate between “test” questions and “real” MBE questions. However, it is important to remember that the test questions are there because you might feel very unsure about your answers to these questions. They are truly test questions. Some are really quite strange or test recently enacted law. Some students seem to ONLY remember the test questions after they leave the exam. Then, after the exam they worry incessantly about these unscored test questions and feel sure that they failed (despite the fact that the unscored test questions are unscored!) Or even worse, some students get so anxious during the exam that test questions actually end up affecting their overall exam score in a negative way.
So, remember, there are going to be 25 odd questions that you might not know how to answer. And that is okay! Do not let that throw you off your game on test day! The 25 unscored test questions do not count toward your score on the exam!
Go to the next topic, Topic 2: How Is the MBE Scored (And Why Does It Matter?)
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