What To Do If You Failed The MBE The First Time
You get your bar exam results back and look at your score. While your essay scores were solid, you did not attain a passing score on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), and therefore failed the bar exam. As disappointing as this is, it’s not the end of your legal career! You can learn from your mistakes. You can try again. And you can pass. This post lays out five things to do when you discover that you failed the MBE.
What To Do If You Failed The MBE The First Time
1. Rule out External Factors
First, go back and think about exam day. Did any external factor go wrong on the day of the bar exam, or just before, so that you just couldn’t focus on those multiple-choice questions? Be honest with yourself about whether you failed because of that big breakup you went through right before the test, you didn’t get enough sleep, you drank too much caffeine, or you simply have anxiety surrounding the bar exam. It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes life happens. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, just think about the things you can control and what you might do differently next time. Some things might be easy to fix, like making sure you get a good night’s sleep before you sit for the MBE. Other things, like test anxiety, are harder to address, but they can be overcome. If you have severe test anxiety that affected your performance, you might consider applying for testing accommodations or using a tutor for this upcoming administration.
2. Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice
Even if you can’t pinpoint the exact reason you did not pass the MBE, the solution is NOT to repeat your previous bar prep exactly. Something in your previous bar prep experience did not work for you the first time. Maybe you watched hours and hours of recorded lectures but didn’t spend enough time memorizing the law. Perhaps you studied with an enormous stack of flash cards, but you found that you still couldn’t quite apply those rules on test day.
Instead of just repeating your previous study plan, consider a course with a different approach from the last one you took or think about getting a tutor who can help you tailor your studying to your personal needs and learning style. Check out our MBE course for repeat takers.
3. Memorize the Relevant Law
As you prepared for the bar exam, you probably thought you knew the law, or at least enough of it to pass. However, when you sat down to take the MBE, you weren’t sure which rule to apply to the question. Many students struggle with this very issue! Often, students think they know enough about the law to recognize it when it appears as opposed to actually memorizing various concepts. Additionally, not only must you memorize the law, but you must understand the legal concepts behind it in order to score well on the MBE. Do you think you could explain a contingent remainder to your grandma? How about what constitutes an acceptance in contracts law? Could you come up with your own examples to illustrate these concepts?
Memorization is hard, but if you truly understand the concepts, the rule statements won’t be so difficult to pull out of your memory when you need them. If you’re still having trouble, consider using a private bar exam tutor to help you excel on the MBE.
Finally, be sure to focus on areas of law that are frequently tested on the MBE. Don’t waste time and energy on subjects and concepts that aren’t tested on the MBE. See the highly-tested MBE topics here!
4. Use Real MBE Questions
As you prepare for the MBE, pay attention to the type of questions you’re using! Our recommendation is to use MBE questions that previously appeared on the MBE and released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. These previously released questions are structured in a way that is most similar to what you’ll actually encounter on the MBE! This truly is best way to get used to MBE questions and understand how they work. See our bank of real MBE questions here!
5. Slow Down
So, if you complete five thousand MBE questions, that must be enough to pass, right? Not necessarily. Students who excel on the MBE balance the quantity of questions with quality studying. This means taking the time at the beginning of your studies to understand each question, reading the explanation to confirm you selected a correct answer based on the correct reasoning, and learning exactly why you chose the wrong answer so it doesn’t happen again. While you will eventually have to perfect your timing, it’s best to focus on the content and the reasoning of each question before practicing timing. Then, once you can recite the law and answer questions in your sleep, you can practice to make sure you’re within the time limit!
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