10 MBE Bar Exam Tips

On your bar exam, you’ll spend an entire day taking multiple choice questions.  Here are 10 tips to get you prepared for that day.

1) Review all your answers

When taking practice exams, whether you get the right answer or not, it’s a good to idea to review all your answers so you know why or why not you got the right answer.  Sometimes, we might get the right answer for the wrong reasons.  A quick review will ensure accuracy on future questions.

2) Focus on the meat and potatoes

When preparing for the MBE of your bar exam, you don’t need to prepare like an essay and have an understanding of all the major rules that might show up on your exam.  Many of the MBE topics only cover specific portions.  For example, 75% of your Evidence portion will only cover Hearsay, Impeachment, and Character Evidence.  If you focus only on these and master them, you’ll pass Evidence with flying colors.  Bar exam prep programs will usually tell you what areas are most tested.

3) A 120 is passing

Depending on your jurisdiction, if you get about a 120/200 raw score, you should be able to pass.  To measure yourself, you should be getting about a 10 or 11 out of 17 on your short MBE practice tests.

4) Study MBE topics first

For most topics of the bar exam, you’ll probably need to make several passes to really ingrain the material in your brain.  It’s a good idea to start off your bar exam prep covering the MBE topics: Con Law, Torts, Evidence, Contracts, Crimes, and Real Property.  This way, you’re getting your first run-through of the MBE and half your essay topics when you’re fresh.  Good focus these first few weeks will set you up well for later on.

5) Get it down to two answers choices

In many MBE questions, you can eliminate two of the answer choices with relative ease (not necessarily easy).  The real trick is picking that last of the two remaining as the correct answer choice.  There is often only one or two words in the wrong answer choice that makes it the wrong selection.  Try to snake it out.  If not, at least you’ve already given yourself a 50-50 chance.  Make sure you mark your two remaining options when practicing.  Then when you review your answer, you’ll know if the right answer was one of the last two you picked or not.

6) Do timed MBE tests

Although, this usually doesn’t tend to be as much of an issue as the bar exam essays, it’s still a good idea to get into the timing mindset on the MBE questions.  Practicing under timed conditions will force you to think more quickly.

7) Don’t eat a heavy lunch on MBE test day

Rarely will you get sleepy during the essays, but staring at two hundred multiple choice questions for a period of six hours can make you a little drowsy.  During my bar exam, there must have been a period of about 30 minutes where I felt completely out of it and was guessing haphazardly on questions.  When the afternoon portion hits, you want to make sure you don’t fall asleep.  So avoid that big heavy lunch on MBE day.  Click here for more bar exam day food tips.

8 ) You get 1 minute and 48 seconds to answer each MBE question

200 questions divided by 6hours = 1minute and 48 seconds per question.  That may not seem like a lot; however, it’s plenty.  Rarely are there complaints about not having enough time to finish the MBE.

9) Roadmap your answer sheet

It can be hard to keep track of what question you should be on during the 100-question, three hour portion of your exam.  Before the exam begins, take your answer sheet and write in light pencil next to the following question numbers as follows:

Question 18 – 30minutes

Question 35 – 1 hour

Question 53 – 1hour and 30 minutes

Question 70 – 2 hours

Question 88 – 2hours and 30 minutes

This will give you a good roadmap of where you should be at each 30 minute mark.

10) Use outlines to look up what you don’t know

One of the biggest mistakes and waste of time for me on my bar exam was to spend three days reviewing my contract class notes and conviser outline.  It didn’t help me at all when taking the practice MBE (and essay) tests.  And frankly, I panicked a little because I fell so far behind.  However, it was in that moment I learned to use my outline only as supplemental guide to learning how to apply the rules in the MBE and essays.  So, when you get a question wrong and don’t know why, look up the rule to increase your understanding of the topic.  Then and only then, should you use the conviser.

I hope these help.

Best of luck with you bar exam prep!


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Dustin Saiidi, author of The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success, graduated in the bottom half of his class, but passed the bar exam on his 1st attempt. He shares how he overcame those challenges and gives tips, advice, and strategies so you can pass your bar exam, stress-free.

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