“I’m worried about my MBE score!“ For many law students, the MBE portion of the bar examination is a source of anxiety.
During bar exam preparation, many students find that they struggle with this portion over the essay portion.
Since your MBE score is about 50% of your passing grade depending on what jurisdiction you are in, it is imperative to strengthen your MBE muscle as much as possible prior to taking the bar exam. If you are discouraged because you repeatedly get MBE questions incorrect, this post is dedicated to you!
I’m Worried about My MBE Score: 5 Foolproof Tips & Trick For Mastering the MBE
1. Practice, Practice, Practice!
One thing I (Lauren) was habitual about when practicing for the MBE was repeating the questions I answered incorrectly over and over until I got all the questions correct. It may seem tedious and repetitive, but you have to remember that these questions all have similar fact patterns. Most likely, you will see a version of the same questions on the actual MBE. If you get familiar with the patterns and how to correctly assess and answer them, you will be able to spot the correct answer more quickly.
Additionally, do not only go over the questions you answered incorrectly. It is also equally important to go over the questions you answered CORRECTLY as well. Sometimes, you may answer the question correctly just because you guessed. Going over questions you got correct AND incorrect helps you get a full spectrum of comprehension.
2. Read the Explanations.
In addition to going over the questions you got correct and incorrect, do not just go over the answers! Make sure to read and review the explanations. It is important to understand WHY the answer is correct. The explanations also point out why the other options are incorrect
These explanations also give rise to many questions you may ask in terms of your answer. Did you get the question correct because you understood the law? Did you miss the question because you missed the legal issue? By reflecting on your correct and incorrect answers you will be able to sit back and ask, “Do I need to re-review this part of the law?” Oftentimes we answer the question incorrectly because we missed a small, but important part of the law. Getting these questions incorrect may be a signal that you need to go over your outline a few more times.
We highly recommend either utilizing a legal pad while going through these questions. By making a note of issues that you are struggling with, you will be able to adequately assess your weaknesses and pinpoint which subjects to concentrate on. Please read this post (how to improve MBE score post) for a detailed guide on how to do this.
3. Time Yourself.
I cannot stress the importance of your timing during this exam. On the bar exam, you have roughly a minute and a half to answer each question. Therefore, you should utilize your time wisely. If you are having a hard time with a question and are spending quite a bit of time on it, our advice is to MOVE ON. Answer as best as you can, and go on to the next question. You can also mark the questions with an asterisk, so that if you have the opportunity to go back and review it you’d be able to after you have completed the test.
Personally, when I (Lauren) was taking practice exams during bar prep I would always finish early (sometimes even an hour ahead of schedule!) This was NOT the case on the actual bar exam. I barely had any time to spare. Many students do not properly prepare for this important aspect of the exam.
The testing conditions during the bar exam are stressful. With the timing restraint, it is easy to get stuck on or stressed about a question. Additionally, many students run out of time and leave questions unanswered which is so unfortunate since every question counts. While practicing, keep an eye on the time. I recommend keeping a stopwatch handy. By using this technique, you will be mindful of how much time you spend on questions and will able to make decisions in a timely fashion. If you are looking to improve your timing on the MBE, read this post.
4. Practice with the Actual MBE Questions.
he National Conference of Bar Examiners website offers four 100-question, annotated online practice exams. These questions are ACTUAL MBE questions that appeared on previous exams! The annotations provide explanations about why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. What better way to adequately gauge your performance? By taking these exams, you will be able to get a feel for how you will score on the actual MBE. Additionally, you can take these exams timed or untimed (I highly recommend you time yourself). You also receive feedback on your answers and a customized score report that assesses your progress in each individual subject.
These exams, however, do not include real Civil Procedure questions, which was introduced as a tested subject area in February 2015. Instead, they have Civil Procedure questions that are made up by the author. You will be able to access a free set of sample Civil Procedure Questions here.
The Strategies and Tactics Sixth Edition by Steven L. Emmanuel is a great resource. The newest version, just released, includes Civil Procedure. However, these are not released Civil Procedure questions (there have been no released Civil Procedure questions by the NCBE and that is why!)
Reasons why we love this book:
- The explanations are wonderful!
- It includes all seven subjects!
- It provides about 60 questions per subject!
- There’s a test included at the end of the book!
We are not affiliated with Amazon in any fashion. We just like to recommend materials that are helpful and useful and the cheapest price (as of now) is on Amazon. It is worth it to check eBay as well or to ask classmates if they have a book!
Other commercial bar prep courses, like Kaplan and Barbri do not use actual MBE Questions for most of their questions. If you are registered in a course, we recommend utilizing the resources as a supplement to your course’s multiple-choice questions.
We also offer an MBE Strategies workshop if you are looking for more practice! Sign up for our workshop by clicking here.
5. Don’t Stress!
Keep in mind that there are 200 question MBE portion of the bar exam. 25 of these 200 questions are not counted in your raw score. That is because these 25 questions are “test” questions. Therefore, in order to receive a “passing score” in most jurisdictions, you need to receive a 135-scaled score. Therefore, you should be aiming for a 116 to 120 “raw” MBE score.
*Note, since the NCBE just recently changed from 10 unscored questions to 25 unscored questions, your “raw” score required to pass may be even lower than it was if they increase their scaling to adjust for the change. This is all pretty convoluted, and you can read more about it here if you are interested. However, the takeaway is that the NCBE provides a curve, which means you do not need an average score of 67.5% — you can get an even lower score and pass the bar exam.
You do not need to get a perfect score, just a passing one! For a more in-depth analysis of what score you should aim for and a comparison of your MBE Raw Score versus your scaled score, take a look at our previous blog post on this topic!
I hope you find our tips and tricks for mastering the MBE helpful. Remember, there is always, always room for improvement! With continuous practice, and an eagerness to learn from your mistakes, you can and will increase your score!
Lauren, an essay grader and JD Advising associate, wrote this post!
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