What Qualifies As A Good MBE Score?
If you’re wondering, what qualifies as a good MBE score, the simple answer is: whatever score you need to pass. This can change depending on your jurisdiction. It also depends on how well you do on other portions of the bar exam. Remember, the bar exam is graded. However, it is ultimately only passed/fail. Of course, you should try to get the highest score you can, but a passing score (no matter how low) is a good score!
What Qualifies As A Good MBE Score?
What is the MBE?
Obtaining a good MBE score starts with understanding what the MBE actually is. First, you should know that “MBE” stands for the Multi-state Bar Exam. It is drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The MBE is a six-hour exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions. Of those 200 multiple-choice questions, 25 are experimental. This portion of the bar exam is broken down into two, three-hour sessions separated by a break. The MBE tests Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. Check out this post for a further breakdown of tested MBE topics. In many jurisdictions, the MBE is just one component of the bar exam.
Every bar exam in the United States, except Louisiana, includes the MBE. It is also administered in the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In jurisdictions where the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is administered, the MBE is one of three components of the exam and is weighted as 50% of examinees’ scores. Irrespective of where you take the exam, the same true remains: getting a high MBE score dramatically improves your chances of passing the bar exam.
How does the NCBE score the MBE?
MBE Examinees are initially scored on a “raw score” scale. Essentially, the NCBE will calculate the number of questions you answered correctly out of the 175 scored questions (remember 25 are experimental). That raw score is converted into a scaled score. Typically a scaled score involves the NCBE adding points to your raw score because of the curve. Your scaled score is what you will see on your bar exam report. Learn more about calculating an MBE scaled score here. That scaled score will be combined with other sections of your jurisdiction’s bar exam to determine if you passed. Again, that’s why we say a good MBE score is one that is high enough for you to pass!
Is there a minimum passing MBE score?
There is no minimum required MBE score in most jurisdictions. That means, even if you have a low MBE score, you can pass the bar so long as you receive an overall passing score combined with the other portions of the bar exam. However, exceptions to this include Kentucky, South Dakota, and Palau, which all have minimum MBE scores. If you want to know what MBE score you need to pass in your own jurisdiction, check out our blog post.
Even if you don’t have to worry about hitting a required minimum MBE score, a good MBE score can make up for any points you miss on other sections of the bar exam. For example, in Michigan, a passing bar exam score is 135. Getting a 135 on the MBE means you will be on track to pass the bar exam, but just barely. Say you scored a 155 on the MBE in Michigan, you’ve given yourself more of a cushion. That way, missing points on the essay portion of the exam won’t be as harmful. In July 2019 the mean MBE score was 141.1. Scoring above the mean can put you one step ahead!
How should I study for the MBE?
Our biggest piece of advice for examinees looking to get a good MBE score is to practice using real MBE questions from the past. The NCBE releases a limited number of MBE questions for free. We provide a question bank of tons of former, real MBE questions for purchase on our website. Many bar prep companies draft their own questions, and these can be very helpful! However, knowing the format of MBE questions and answers will set you apart from the rest of the examinees.
Additionally, remember that the MBE tests you on nuances of the law. It isn’t enough to have a general understanding of a concept. You can only achieve a good MBE score by memorizing the law. That means reviewing outlines, quizzing yourself, creating mnemonic devices, or doing whatever else is necessary to commit the law to memory.
For many examinees, the MBE is daunting. Just make sure to dedicate adequate time to practicing and studying. Remember you don’t need to be at the top of the pack to pass the bar exam. You should aim high, but a good MBE score is one that ensures you pass the bar!
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