If you’re enrolled in a bar review course or if you’re studying on your own, by this point you may have already completed a simulated or mock MBE exam. You may have already received the score for this exam and depending on what that score is, you’re probably freaking out and already plotting a career change. Well, if you’re currently experiencing this fear, I’m here to tell you, STOP WORRYING! Much like you, I took a simulated MBE exam roughly a month before the bar exam. I got only about half of the questions right which placed me in the bottom 20th percentile. Of course, this reveal sent me into a frenzy. I considered whether it was reasonable to even sit for the exam. But after a few days of panic, I realized that I was putting all my energy into the fear of failing, as opposed to focusing on how I could improve my score before exam day. Once I changed my mindset and began proactively preparing for the MBE portion, I’m not going to lie, my scores didn’t drastically improve. However, I never lost momentum. I used the simulated MBE as a diagnostic for where I was in my preparation at that time and created a road map to improve over the next few weeks. Over time, I saw some improvement in my score and on the actual exam I received a score that was higher than what I needed to pass.
So how can you improve? I know you’re probably thinking how can I make any practical change to my score in just a few weeks or maybe just a few days depending on when you’re reading this. Well give these three tips a try and you’ll be surprised at your improvement:
1. Proactively Review Your Simulated MBE
Once you receive your simulated MBE score, it’s important to not fixate on this score and instead proactively review the practice exam. By proactive review, I don’t mean skipping over the answers you got correct and justifying why your incorrect answers should have been right. Instead, this means going over every question (yes, all 200 of them), and reading through the answer explanations even for the ones you got correct. Yes, this will take some time, but trust me it’s worth it. Reviewing the answer explanations will allow you to learn the law and show you why you missed specific questions. This review will also explain why you got an answer correct, because, let’s face it, many times you may get an answer correct based on sheer luck. Therefore, knowing the reason why will help you to consistently get this answer right.
2. Use Your Exam Results to Reformat Your Current Study Schedule
While proactively reviewing your practice exam, take note of your weaker areas and use this information to shape your study time for the remainder of bar prep.
- Determine what subjects are giving you the most problems,
- Determine what topics within this subject you’re constantly missing,
- Re-focus your time to improving on these subject areas.
If you’re in a prep course, it’s likely that they may have already tracked your problem areas for you. However, if you’re self-studying you can manually track your problem areas on your simulated/mock MBE yourself by reviewing the answer explanations. Usually, these explanations will provide the topic being tested. You can then use this information to review your scores and determine where you fell short. As you continue to practice, you could also take advantage of online exam programs such as Adaptibar that will track your problem areas and consistently test you on these topics.
However, as time dwindles down, it’s important to study smarter not harder, so here’s a key study tip:
When tracking your weaker topic areas, determine how frequently this topic is tested on the exam. This will help you to determine how much more time you need to invest in this topic. For example, if you realize that you struggle with Civil Procedure, and it’s mainly because you’re missing subject matter jurisdiction questions, then it’s crucial that you improve on these questions because they are very frequently tested on the MBE. However, if you find that you lost some points on Evidence because you missed one or two questions on judicial notice, then it may not be beneficial to spend too much time improving on this topic area because it’s not usually frequently tested on the MBE. Here’s a subject matter outline that could help you in determining where to shift your weight.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you’ve flagged the areas that need improvement, then there’s not much to do but practice, practice, practice! Get your hands on as many practice questions as you can, then work them, review the answer explanations, and repeat! During bar prep, I completed about 1500 practice questions and some of my peers completed even more. This may seem like a lot, but the more you practice, the more you will undoubtedly pick up on the nuances within the questions and ultimately master them.
Most importantly, make sure to complete some of your practice exams in a timed exam setting as opposed to locked away in a quiet study room. During bar prep, I made a point to complete a few of my practice exams in the library around other people. This was important because it trained me to focus in an environment where people were somewhat quiet but still moving around and making muffled noises. I figured this was the closest to what the exam room would be like. This practice prepared me to ignore the distractions around me and improve my efficiency and focus on the exam.
Give these tips a try and watch those MBE scores improve!