Tag Archives: bar review

5 Tips for Making the Most of MBE Practice Exams

One of the most dreaded parts of the bar exam is the Multistate Bar Exam, or MBE. Everyone who takes the bar exam takes the MBE on the Wednesday of their exam period, except bar takers in Puerto Rico and Louisiana. By this point in your bar exam preparations, you know that the MBE consists of 200 multiple choice questions, and 190 of those questions are actually scored.

Many law students and bar takers find multiple choice questions more intimidating than essay questions. Here are five suggestions for make the most out of your MBE studies:

First, it is impossible to do well on the MBE if you do not know the underlying law. Although it is important to practice taking MBE questions, if you do not know the law upon which the questions are based you will have limited success. You need to study your bar prep materials for each subject, review your outlines, and memorize the black letter law (maybe by creating flashcards, as I’ve discussed previously). Only after you feel like you have a good basic grasp of the material should you start doing practice MBE questions on that topic.

Second, you need to think about your approach to each question. MBE questions are like many of the multiple choice questions you were exposed to during law school. The questions instruct you to choose the best answer—which means that there technically might be more than one correct answer. As I’ve discussed before, there are specific techniques you can use to help you narrow down the best answer to multiple choice questions. Develop a strategy for how you will tackle the MBE.

Third, numbers matter—it is important to practice MBE questions over and over. The more questions you do over time, the more you will understand how the bar examiners have constructed the questions. You will become more proficient at reading questions because of that understanding. You also will be able to gauge your progress in your studies based upon your degree of success on each set of practice questions.

Fourth, it is important to simulate the actual conditions for the exam. You don’t have to do this every time you take practice questions, but it is a very different thing to take a 20-question practice exam versus spending an entire day taking 200 multiple choice questions. Part of what makes the bar exam challenging is the physical side of taking it—you will be sitting hunched at a table all day filling in bubble sheets with a pencil, and that can be physically taxing. You should also keep in mind the amount of time you will have per question. You will have about 1.8 minutes per multiple choice question on the bar exam—try to apply that standard to your practice questions so that you train yourself to manage your time on the MBE.

Finally, you need to remember that answering the practice MBE questions is only half of the process. To get the most out of your practice sessions, you should review carefully the answers and explanations that go along with those questions. I recommend allowing at least the same amount of time to review the answers and explanations as you devote to taking the practice exam in the first place. As you review your results, take note of why you missed each question. If it is a matter of not knowing the law well enough, then make studying that legal issue a priority in your studies. If you chose a correct answer but not the best answer, then determine what made the other answer better. If you missed key facts in the question, that may be a sign that you are reading the question too quickly and need to slow down. The key is to learn from wrong answers so that you do not make the same mistakes again in the future.

Ultimately, one of the keys to success on the MBE is practice, practice, practice. Set aside the time to do it right, and you will reap the results of your efforts.

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Accountability Creates Motivation: Studying for the Bar Exam, Part 3

It’s now only two months before the July Bar Exam, and everyone should be busy studying at this point. At times, it can be hard to find the motivation to study, especially when the exam date still feels like it’s far away. Your commercial bar prep program may seem a little monotonous, as you seem to do the same thing every day: watch a lecture (whether in person or online), study the outlines and supplemental materials, complete the practice questions, repeat. It can be tempting to watch TV, play computer games, or do something else when you should really be studying. Keeping yourself motivated at this time is key, and one way to motivate yourself is to establish some type of accountability system.

What do I mean by accountability? Sometimes it is easier to not focus on what we need to be doing when we feel that no one will know about our lack of progress on our studies. If your bar review course gives you the option of attending lectures in person or watching them online, attending them in person may help you to be more accountable for your studies—the people around you will notice if you are missing. It can also help to set up some type of accountability system with a friend who’s also studying for the bar exam. It may be that you just touch base with each other every couple of days to make sure you are each on track with your study goals, or you may actually schedule study sessions where you quiz each other on material that you have just finished reviewing. Another way to create accountability would be to reach out to someone in charge of Academic Success or Bar Skills programs at your law school. Explain what your study goals are and that you want to create some type of accountability system to keep you on track.

When you know that someone cares about your achieving your study goals and will know if you don’t achieve them, you will be more motivated to stay on focused on your studies. Accountability creates motivation!

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