If you’re looking into commercial bar prep companies, one great option is AdaptiBar. I used AdaptiBar to prepare for the Nevada bar exam after moving there from California, where I was admitted to practice in 2014. Because Nevada offers no reciprocity to attorneys licensed in other states, I had to sit for the entire three-day bar exam in Nevada and retake the MBE. AdaptiBar generously offered me complimentary access to its app to help me get ready for the exam. With six years having gone by since I first took and passed the bar exam, I was rusty on the MBE and knew I needed the help.
AdaptiBar is an online application that can help you prepare for the multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (or “MBE”) portion of the bar exam. In addition, rather than static sets of practice, MBE questions from a workbook, AdaptiBar uses a proprietary, adaptive algorithm to tailor sets of online practice questions to each user’s particular strengths and weaknesses.
About the Multistate Bar Examination
First, here’s a quick primer on the MBE. The MBE is part of the bar exam in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (although some states do not require certain applicants to take the MBE, such as licensed attorneys or repeat takers who achieved a certain MBE score). This 200-question multiple-choice exam covers the law in seven subject areas: Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. For applicants required to take the MBE, the MBE makes up a significant portion of their overall score in all states. Some states use the MBE to “cut” applicants who do not achieve a certain score, and others use the MBE to set the pass/fail curve. As such, performing well on the MBE is essential to your success on the bar exam.
On exam day, the MBE is broken into two three-hour sessions. You’ll need to answer 100 questions during each session. This gives you about one minute and 48 seconds to answer each question. Because you’re not penalized for wrong answers, it’s to your advantage to answer every question (even if you have to guess). Each MBE question is structured as follows: applicants are presented with a short fact pattern that presents a legal issue, followed by a question and four answer choices. You must select the correct answer and fill in the corresponding bubble on a Scantron sheet. There is little time to waste on the MBE and being able to move quickly through these questions is a critical skill that requires a lot of practice in the months leading up to the bar exam.
How AdaptiBar Works
AdaptiBar is an online program that can be accessed in your browser or through a mobile app available for iOS and Android. Your AdaptiBar profile syncs regardless of how you access it, which provides you with flexibility and the ability to study from your mobile device on-the-go. AdaptiBar’s core offering is its MBE Simulator & Prep Package. This includes access to nearly 2,000 MBE practice questions (which include more than 1,500 licensed NCBE question and 215 simulated questions). These include the NCBE’s Online Practice Exams from 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2013.
AdaptiBar recommends that you review your comprehensive outlines before you start answering practice questions. AdaptiBar does not offer these outlines, so you’ll need another source for these. Once you review your substantive outlines, you can start answering practice questions. AdaptiBar recommends that you answer 50 questions in each subject in “Practice Questions” mode (which shows you the correct answer and a detailed explanation after each question). At this stage, you should focus on one subject at a time. Once you complete 350 questions, you’ll be given access to a “Past Performance Table” that analyzes your performance in each of the seven MBE subjects. This will allow you to identify strong and weak subjects as well as sub-topics within those subjects where you need to focus additional attention.
For example, you may have answered 65 percent of Constitutional Law questions correctly but only 45 percent of Contracts questions correctly during this first round. This would show you that you need to revisit your Contracts Law materials and spend some extra time reviewing these concepts. In addition, you might notice other patterns in your Past Performance Table. AdaptiBar gives users such detailed performance feedback that you can pick out sub-topics like “Search and Seizure” or “Negligence” that require additional review. Given the volume of information you’ll be responsible on the bar exam, having this kind of granular and data-rich feedback is really helpful when it comes to time management and “studying smart.”
Once you’ve revisited your weaker areas, AdaptiBar recommends that you mix up the subjects and do sets of questions in Practice Questions mode at the rate of about 30 questions per day in in “stages” of 350 questions. Thanks to its proprietary technology, the AdaptiBar algorithm will feed you practice questions in your weaker areas without ignoring your areas of strength. After every set of 350 questions, your Past Performance Table will update and give you new insights into your performance, allowing you to reevaluate and fine-tune your study plans accordingly. This measurable, actionable feedback is what sets AdaptiBar apart from its competitors.
It’s important to use the program correctly: AdaptiBar emphasizes quality study and review over completing a high volume of questions. After every practice question, you should carefully review the answer explanation. These explanations are another area where AdaptiBar really shines. In addition to providing a short-form answer explanation for every question, many questions have an optional “Extended Explanation” that provides additional context and legal reasoning for the correct answer. The exercise of reviewing these explanations is crucial to solidifying your understanding of the law.
In addition to its core offering of MBE practice questions, AdaptiBar offers add-ons including video lectures and flashcards. I used both of these features and found them to be very helpful. The video lectures are no-nonsense lectures delivered by Jonathan Grossman, who focuses on the black letter law and strategies for success on particular types of MBE questions. These are much shorter than video lectures from other bar prep companies (no one subject takes longer than about 6 hours to complete) and are extremely useful. The digital flashcards have note-taking function and are another great way to memorize the law.
AdaptiBar is a Great Option for MBE Prep
This was my first time using AdaptiBar, and I highly recommend the program. I found the video lectures and practice questions to be so helpful, and it was easy for me to establish a routine around completing 30 practice questions a day. The feedback I received from the Past Performance Table informed my study plans and helped me use my time wisely. I also used “Practice Exam” mode to do a few timed sets of questions under exam-like conditions. Thanks to AdaptiBar, I felt very confident about the MBE on exam day and felt armed with special strategies that helped me analyze some of the toughest questions.