Are You Struggling With the MBE?

Struggling with stressIf you are gearing up to study again for the bar exam this next season, you are likely going through the process of determining what went wrong. And perhaps you are finding that your Multistate Bar Exam scores (the multiple choice part of the bar exam) are really bringing you down. Don’t worry; you are not alone! There are tons of folks out there who struggle with multiple choice (I know I am not a fan myself). But if your MBE scores need work, you’ll want to come up with a plan to raise the scores the next time you take the bar exam.

What do your scores even mean? If you have taken the bar exam multiple times, it is possible that in the past you got a raw total MBE score as well as a subject breakdown (the sum of the items answered correctly within each separate subject area). For various reasons, the National Conference of Bar Examiners is no longer releasing this information—only the scaled scores (if you are a bar exam geek, you can read more about it here in this NCBE publication). This is frustrating for many bar takers because they aren’t sure what these scores actually mean. The scaled scores may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so you might want to carefully read communications from your state bar about your score report. But, basically, the reality is that going into studying this time you will have less information about how you did the last time around. We can argue about whether this is fair, but it is what it is. The important thing is to realize that you still need to regroup and study again.

Evaluate how you studied in the past. Did you do a bunch of MBE questions when you studied the last time? Or did you spend all of your time reviewing the law instead? Did you have trouble focusing during the MBE portion of the exam? Did you struggle with time management? These are just some of the questions to ask yourself about your past MBE experience. The answers to these questions will help you determine what you need to do to prepare correctly for your next bar exam attempt.

If you didn’t practice enough, brainstorm how you are going to practice more. If you didn’t put in the hours of practice (and review questions you got wrong), then you need to develop a plan for increasing your MBE study time. That can mean purchasing books on the MBE or using an electronic MBE study program like AdaptiBar (which many of my students like). You can even purchase practice tests directly from the NCBE. Whatever you decide, be sure to come up with a plan so you can spend a significant amount of time practicing and reviewing questions (you need know why you got a question right and/or why you go it wrong).

If you didn’t know enough substantive law, make sure you get materials to review the substantive law that is heavily tested on the MBE. It is no secret as to the substantive law that is tested on the MBE (the NCBE publishes subject matter outlines and even gives hints about the most heavily tested subject areas). If you don’t have quality materials to review the substantive law, it is time to get some! You can check out books of bar review outlines or if you are an auditory learner even check out some MBE targeted substantive lectures. But before you start studying again, make sure you have considered how you are going to learn the substantive law before the next exam (and then make sure you practice enough).

If you have no idea what went wrong, but you know you need help, there is help out there! Lucky for you there are MBE experts out there who can help you study for the exam and get past your MBE issues. There are also bootcamps (if you like that approach better). The important thing is not to spend time struggling on your own without guidance. There is no time to waste when studying for the bar exam—and getting an expert to help you determine what went wrong (and how to fix it) can be the difference between passing and failing this exam.

Have you overcome a struggle with the MBE? If so, share your story in the comments.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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