On the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) portion, you will have a three-hour timeframe to answer 200 multiple-choice questions. Of the MBE portion, 175 questions are scored and 25 are experimental and unscored questions. You will see 25 questions across the following topics: Evidence, Real Property, Torts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure. While it can sometimes feel like there is no way to prepare for the curveballs on the MBE, there actually is a lot in your control to increase your chances of success.
Learn the Law
Before tackling tons of questions, be sure to learn the law. It can be a major misconception to review and get every topic down cold before diving into any practice questions. Instead, approach the material in chunks, then immediately and frequently test your knowledge and application of the rules. For example, learn Hearsay under the Federal Rules of Evidence, then practice a series of real, licensed MBE questions, and review the answers. Your understanding of this material would be further solidified by practicing a Hearsay essay.
Apply the Law
Create simulated testing conditions such as using a timer and a quiet test-taking setting to test your knowledge with real practice questions. Be sure to confirm that the questions you are using were released from the National Conference of Board Law Examiners. Importantly, review your answers so that you can correct misunderstandings early on, and adjust your outlines and approach accordingly. Be sure to not spend too much of your time listening to lectures and reading lengthy outlines. The heart of bar prep lies in practice and review.
Don’t go Outside the Facts
As you are issue-spotting, it may be tempting to anticipate what is coming next to the extent that you misinterpret the written facts altogether. A fatal error is leaning on facts that are not present, reading facts into the hypothetical or making inferences that are not supported by the facts presented.
You want to show the exam graders that you are ready to practice law. You know how to critically read the facts, how to stick to the facts provided and accurately analyze and utilize them to make your point.
Improve Reading Comprehension Skills
Strong reading comprehension skills are essential to succeed on the MBE. On test day, you will have several multiple-choice questions coming your way, which are testing various issues. As you practice MBE questions, focus on mastering reading with accuracy while also managing your time. As you review your answers, be sure to take note of signs indicating to you that you may need to improve your reading comprehension skills. For example, are you skimming critical facts?
Some ways you can improve reading comprehension would be to summarize what you just read and check if this is consistent with the facts presented. Another common approach is reading the facts and imagining the story that is playing out. For example, if the MBE Evidence question is a Hearsay objection playing out in the courtroom, then try to imagine the prosecutor and defense attorneys going head-to-head, and the facts will be easier to keep in mind as you read through the answer choices.
Have a Strategy
Have a plan for how you will study daily. Drill down on that time management plan to include how you will practice and utilize your time on the MBE. Such a plan includes preparing for how to analyze the presented facts. Additionally, have a strategy for how you will arrive at the best answer choice. For example, eliminating answer choices can be a great tool to help you narrow it down and get to the best answer choice.
MEE and MPT Practice
Often the MPT covers areas of the law that provide you an additional opportunity to familiarize with and apply a highly tested MBE topic. For example, the MPT from July 2019 covers a claim for negligence. Practicing MPTs early on and regularly, instead of leaving it on the backburner, can truly serve as an in-depth illustration of how the rules work while preparing you for the MPT portion. Further, this practice can serve you on the MEE and MBE.
Thankfully you are not on your own! There are resources available to help you get the practice you need to improve your MBE performance. Some resources can help you with features that mimic testing conditions such as creating a question set, using a timer, and the ability to hold off on reading answer explanations until the end of your question set. Additionally, resources can help you to track your progress and identify areas you need more practice.
For example, try Adaptibar and the NCBE study aids, both of which contain hundreds of actual MBE questions. In my personal experience, I enjoy using both resources, and find the Adaptibar explanations to be very clear and concise
The Bar Exam Toolbox is here to support you and root you on so you can succeed on the MBE. Check out the Practice of the Week workshop for more resources for MBE study!