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Hit the High Score on the MBE
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The NCBE has recently published its 2013 information booklet for the MBE. To learn more on the exam’s instructions and scoring, and to get sample test questions and outlines, download the latest information booklet from the NCBE website.
When preparing for the MBE, focus on practicing rather than studying. The MBE is like a video game. Play it every day with 34 questions for 10 weeks before the exam. It is a test that tests how well you can take a test, not just how well you can learn the laws.
You cannot study your way to good performance. Practice under timed conditions to improve reactivity and gain points. The exam consists of two 3-hour (180 minutes) sessions – one in the morning (9 am – 12 pm), another in the afternoon (1 pm – 4 pm). There are 100 questions in each session. Do 34 questions per day. In a spreadsheet, track your progress by writing down the number of questions you answered correctly (e.g. 10/34 = 29%). The goal is to get to 17 questions in 30 minutes with 70% (24/34) or better accuracy. Love your mistakes and make them now while preparing, not during the exam.
The NCBE information booklet outlines frequently tested issues for each of the 6 subjects. Keep in mind the exam is national so ignore local laws, but learn prevailing majority and minority views. Practice one subject per day. The questions are drafted by 6 separate subject matter committees so practice each subject separately.
The important part of practicing is reading the answers, not doing as many questions as possible. Read the answers to every question to learn the law and see patterns. Focus on the reasons why you miss the question. Read the answers even when you get a question correct to make sure you got the right answer because you understood the question, not because of guessing luck. Ask yourself – Why did you choose the answer? Why did you get the question wrong? You did not know the law? You improperly assumed facts? You did not read carefully?
Many times, bar applicants fail the MBE when they do not read each word in the questions carefully. If a candidate misses a key word, or does not understand the context, a candidate will not recognize the right answer no matter how well he or she knows the law. Words to watch out for in questions: and, or, but, not, best, worst, least, only if.
Get addicted to the MBE as any other video game, and a person will have more fun preparing for the bar exam, and more likely pass.