Everyone studying for the bar exam has had someone – a fellow student, a professor, a bar prep representative – tell them that the best way to prepare for the MBE is to complete a lot of practice questions, and I mean a lot! For most students, the MBE is the trickiest part of the bar exam. A six hour, 200 multiple-choice question test may not seem that intimidating to the uninitiated, but every bar prepper knows that these aren’t your average multiple choice questions. MBE questions are complex, nuanced, and frequently require you to pick the “best” answer among a selection that may all seem right in their own way. Since MBE-style multiple-choice questions are so unique, working through a lot of practice questions is a great way to familiarize yourself with the style of question and to see how they typically test certain legal concepts.
But simply taking mock MBE tests or completing practice sets isn’t the only way you can prepare for the MBE. While working through as many practice MBE questions as you can is beneficial, you’ll get even more out of this practice if you devote time to learning from the practice questions. Rather than just checking your answers to see what percentage you got right, make a point of reviewing each question and answer that you complete. Going over your answers, including the ones that were correct, can help you improve your performance in two extremely important ways.
Learn the Law
Thoroughly reviewing the answer explanations that go with your MBE practice questions is a great way to learn the law. First, the explanations may describe a legal concept to you in a different way than your outlines. If it’s a concept you’ve been struggling to grasp, a new explanation or definition may help you finally comprehend the concept. But even if it’s something you already understood, having the information presented to you in multiple formats will promote memorization and improve recall.
Second, reviewing your MBE answers, and particularly the questions you got wrong, can show you how to allocate your study time. Reading each answer explanation, as opposed to just checking to see if you got it right or wrong, will allow you to identify the rules, elements, or definitions that you know and that you don’t know. Thoroughly reviewing the explanations essentially allows you to identify your strengths and weakness in terms of subject comprehension and memorization. Armed with this information, you can then allocate additional study time to the subjects and topics that are giving you the most trouble rather than spending time studying things you already know. As you’re reviewing your answers, keep a running list of the rules involved in the questions you missed and be sure to devote a little extra study time to those specific rules. As the actual exam date gets closer, your list should get shorter and shorter as your comprehension and memorization of all the concepts improves.
In addition to learning the actual law, going over your right and wrong answers can also help you become a better test taker. Reviewing your answers consistently and thoroughly will make it possible for you to identify any patterns or common mistakes you make when completing tricky MBE questions. If you come across an answer you got wrong despite knowing the rule being tested, dig in to why you failed to pick the right answer choice: Did you confuse the parties or some other key detail? Did you skip over or not recognize some important facts? Did you make unwarranted assumptions instead of just doing a straightforward application based on the facts provided? Did you ignore a modifier or fail to answer the specific call of the question? Were you simply fatigued at the end of a long practice set or running out of time? There are many possible reasons that may have led you to pick a wrong answer despite knowing the rule at issue, but reviewing the answer explanations will likely help you identify that reason. Once you’ve isolated why you got the question wrong, you can start taking steps to avoid making the same mistake on the actual exam. And don’t forget to review your right answers too – it’s important to make sure that you chose the correct response because you knew the law and understood the question, not just because you made a lucky guess.
Completing lots (and lots!) of practice MBE questions is good preparation for the actual exam. It will give you exposure to what these type of questions look like and improve your stamina and focus. But practice questions can be more than just a dry run for the actual test. If you make a point of thoroughly reviewing your answers to each practice question, they can also help you learn the law and improve your general test taking skills. Don’t skimp on this critical step – make sure you go over the questions and answers every time you complete a practice set to make sure you’re getting the most you can out of your studying.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Top 5 Study Tips for Conquering the MBE
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- MBE Trouble? Tips for Studying Again
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