What Subjects Does The MBE Test?
The MBE is the multiple-choice portion of the bar exam and consists of 200 total questions. But, what subject areas does it test? In this post, we provide an overview of the MBE, a breakdown of the subjects tested, as well as the concepts you can expect to encounter from each.
What Subjects Does The MBE Test?
Breakdown of the MBE
The first 100 questions are administered during a 3-hour morning session. As you might have guessed, the remaining 100 questions are administered over a 3-hour afternoon session. Although there are 200 total questions, only 175 are actually scored and count towards your overall result. The 25 unscored questions are experimental and do not factor into your overall score on the exam. The 175 questions are divided evenly between seven different subject areas. We get it, you went to law school to avoid doing math. That’s 25 questions from seven different subject areas
Questions focused on civil procedure will include important big-ticket concepts that you learned during your time in law school. Remember International Shoe? Minimum contacts? You can expect all of that and more. Specifically, you will encounter questions that test:
- Jurisdiction and venue;
- Federal civil procedure;
- Pre-trial procedures (joinder of parties, etc.…);
- Jury trials;
- Verdicts and judgements; and
- The appeal process.
Approximately 2/3 of the civil procedure questions will be based on jurisdiction and venue, pre-trial procedures, and motions. Approximately 1/3 will be based on the remaining categories.
Constitutional law MBE questions are generally all over the place given just how broad the subject is. The powers of the president, due process, equal protection – Constitutional law is a vast subject area. From the First Amendment to the Fourteenth Amendment, here are the constitutional law concepts you should be familiar with:
- Judicial review;
- Separation of powers;
- The relationship between the federal government and the states; and
- Individual rights.
Approximately 1/2 of the constitutional law questions will be based on individual rights, and approximately 1/2 will be based on the remaining categories.
By now you’ve probably had the terms “offer, acceptance, and consideration” drilled into your skull (hopefully). If so, that’s great news! If not, it’s definitely time for a refresher on contract formation. The contracts portion of the MBE will cover:
- Contract formation;
- Content/meaning of contracts;
- Performance, breach, and contract discharge;
- Remedies; and
- Third-party rights.
Approximately 1/2 of the contracts questions on the MBE will be based on contract formation and performance, breach and contract discharge. About 1/2 of the questions will be based on the remaining topics listed above. Of the total questions asked, you can expect approximately 1/4 to be based on the Official Text of Articles 1 and 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.
Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure
Criminal law and criminal procedure go hand in hand. Murder, manslaughter, burglary, search and seizure, the right to counsel – All of your favorite concepts (kidding) will be scattered throughout the MBE. Between both criminal law and criminal procedure, here’s what you can expect to be tested on:
- Other crimes (Arson, kidnapping, etc.…);
- Inchoate crimes and parties to crimes;
- General principals of a crime (state of mind, etc.…); and
- Constitutional protections of accused persons.
Approximately 1/2 of the questions will cover the first four categories listed above. The second 1/2 will focus exclusively on the fifth category, constitutional protections of accused persons.
The Federal Rules of Evidence. A phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of examinees. Ok, that’s being dramatic, but evidence is tested throughout the MBE portion of the Bar Exam. There is a lot to remember when studying and preparing for the evidence portion of the MBE. Here are the subjects you will be tested on:
- Presentation of evidence;
- Relevancy and reasons for excluding evidence;
- Privileged evidence;
- Writings, recordings, and photographs; and
- Hearsay and its admissibility.
A 1/4 of the questions will be based on the presentation of evidence. About 1/3 of the questions will focus on the relevancy and reasons for excluding evidence. Expect 1/4 of the questions will focus on hearsay and its admissibility. The remainder will be allocated between the privileged evidence and writings, recordings and photographs.
Remember the bundle of sticks? The rights an owner possesses in relation to the land he or she owns? Let’s hope so! Here are the concepts you will be tested on in connection with real property:
- Ownership of real property;
- Rights in real property;
- Real estate contracts;
- Mortgages/securities; and
- Titles to real property.
Approximately 1/5 of the questions will be based on each of the five categories listed above.
Last but not least is torts. Duty, breach, causation, damages, and defenses. Just remember that and you should be fine. On second thought, you should remember more than that. A lot more. Here are the concepts you will be tested on:
- Intentional torts;
- Strict liability and products liability; and
- Other torts (nuisance, defamation, etc.…)
From this list, approximately 1/2 of the questions will be based on negligence and approximately 1/2 will be based on the remaining categories.
PRO TIP – Remember, joint and several liability with pure comparative negligence is the relevant rule unless otherwise indicated!
We hope this post “What does the MBE test?” is helpful in your bar prep!
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