Why Am I So Nervous About The MBE? - JD Advising
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nervous about the MBE

Why Am I So Nervous About The MBE?

When studying for the bar exam, many students find themselves asking, why am I so nervous about the MBE?  As a reminder, the Multistate Bar Exam, or more commonly known as the “MBE,” is the portion of the bar exam that contains 200 multiple-choice questions.  Students tackle the MBE in two three-hour chunks, usually on the second day of the bar exam.  (For an MBE primer, check out What is the Multistate Bar Exam?) If you are one of those folks questioning the fortitude of your nervous system, let’s just say at the outset—it’s perfectly normal to be nervous about the MBE.  This post explores some of the reasons why the MBE can prove so challenging.

Why Am I So Nervous About The MBE?

1. The MBE is a standardized test.

While this may seem obvious, it’s worth remembering that the MBE is a standardized test.  Why is that important?  Well, it’s likely that throughout law school, most of your exams have been a combination of essay, multiple-choice, and/or short answer.  Most law school faculty do not give final exams that consist of only multiple-choice questions.  Even if your law school career regularly incorporated multiple-choice questions, it’s unlikely that you completed 200 multiple-choice questions in one exam period.  This makes the MBE not only challenging but also nerve-wracking for those who do not excel at this type of testing.

2. The MBE tests a lot of law.

Not only does the MBE force students to work in high-pressure conditions as it relates to timing, but the MBE also covers a lot of law.  (For a helpful post on the most tested areas, check out Highly Tested MBE Topics).  In other words, students aren’t tested on one or two subjects—quite the contrary.  Students need to know multiple topics in seven subject areas.  Thinking about the timing of MBE questions can certainly make students nervous.  However, coupling that nervousness with a concern about the actual content only serves to amplify that fear.  Finally, throw in that the MBE tests material using a method that many students are not familiar with, it’s no wonder why many students find the MBE to be stressful!

3. The MBE takes an entire day.

The fact that the MBE takes the entire day sort of goes hand in hand with the whole “the MBE has 200 questions” concept.  Students are expected to complete 100 multiple choice questions, eat lunch, and then go back to answer 100 more multiple-choice questions.  There are those students who find the MBE appealing for its consistency and predictability.  For others, however, consistency and predictability are restrictive and confining.  Focusing too much on one question can disrupt your time management for the remainder of the exam!  Moving too quickly could mean missing an important detail or two.  The MBE challenges students to not only focus but move quickly.  Students are forced to pay close attention to detail but must make relatively fast decisions in order to excel on the MBE.

In closing, the MBE tests not only a student’s legal aptitude but also a student’s ability to persevere and succeed under time constraints. Moreover, many students have not taken an exam like the MBE since the LSAT (and even that is not analogous!).  The format is different from what most students experienced while in law school, requiring students to utilize different skill sets (namely staying focused and calm).  Asking why am I so nervous about the MBE is a part of the bar prep process!  Stick to your course of study, stay on task, and you will find that even if you are nervous, you are capable, competent, and able to pass the MBE.  As always, JD Advising is here to help.  Check out our MBE app here.

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