How to Study for the Multiple State Bar Exam: The MBE or Multiple Choice
MBE is what scared me the most. Like many law students, I am terrible with multiple options. Usually I can narrow it down to two, but I will always pick the wrong one. This is something I knew I had to do every day to be successful at the Bar. Here we go with some tricks I did that helped me pass (in California no less):
Get MBE every day. Aim to do at least 20-25, increase to 30-50 during the last two weeks of study. There are people who say that you should do 40 or 50 a day all the time. I think that is unnecessary. I think it’s better to do 15 or 20 and review them really well, then try to cram a bunch of MBE’s and not really review them.
Which brings me to, you have to review them all well. There is no use doing a bunch of MBEs and then not reviewing them or passively reviewing them. Check even the ones you got right. Yes, the ones you got right. Bar / Bri (the main bar review course) provides a detailed explanation of the correct answer to each question, as well as why the other options were wrong. Sometimes I got a correct answer for the wrong reasons, like I was just guessing, or it was just the best of the four. Actually, this happened to me in almost every MBE I got in the beginning. You have to review them to understand why the answer you chose is correct.
Do them one at a time. If you are bad at multiple choice, try doing the MBEs one at a time and then review them. It is laborious, but the question is fresh in your mind when you are reviewing it. You won’t be distracted by the other 10 you just did and how you did it with them. As we got closer to July, I very, very slowly increased my MBE to three at a time, then 5, then 10, then a high of 15 to 20. The only time I did large blocks over 20 was when he was taking mock practice exams. But make sure you practice doing 100 at a time at least twice. This is what the actual exam will be like. Also, practice the blended subjects so that you are used to a lot of different questions that come up and you don’t know the topic. There will be some questions on the bar where you are never completely sure you knew what topic you were talking about (Evidence? Or maybe that was Torts?). You have to be used to that when it happens.
Easy, Medium and Hard. Which ones to do? Bar / Bri divides most MBEs by difficulty. The easy ones were easy, the medium ones were difficult and the difficult ones were impossible. Bar / Bri does not assign an Easy. I guess they imagine you’re in trouble if you have to do that. I did a bunch of easy torts once accidentally because I got confused with the homework, and it was surprising, but it was actually helpful. They put the basic rules to the test, but you need to know them anyway, so I was learning something. And the explanations were good for writing flashcards. It also helped boost my confidence because I was scoring in the 80s on the easy ones. However, you don’t have much time to waste doing all the easy ones, so stick with the medium ones mixed with some difficult ones for most of your bar study. (If you can get your hands on them, maybe you could try doing the easy ones during the spring of your 3L year, just to start learning the rules and how the MBE works) I think the middle ones were where most of my learning was. . Bar / Bri has several extremely long questions that take forever. I found those free ones, because in the real bar I can’t remember an MBE that’s more than half a page long. However, it may have helped psychologically, because the actual questions from the Bar seemed super brief in comparison.
Teaching cards. As you go along, make flashcards for which ones you got wrong and which you got right, if you like, just in case. Put the rule you missed on one side and a keyword on the other. Organize by topic. Meticulous, but useful when the same rule reappears a month later. Don’t bother with a flash card for a ruler you’ve never heard of before that sounds dark, nuanced, and delicate. Don’t waste a flash memory card and your brain on it. Usually this only comes up occasionally for difficult questions. Go ahead with that question with confidence if it shows up on the bar, it’s okay to make a guess and move on.
Moment. Take a minute and a half for shorter or easier questions, and about two minutes for long or difficult questions. That’s. As a general rule, you should review evidence and criminal law questions more quickly than property or criminal procedure questions. Practice doing them under time pressure right from the start because time is where people fuck with the MBE. You absolutely HAVE to finish the MBE on the day of the bar exam, so always practice moving really fast.
Know the rules. The more COLD rules you memorize, the better your MBE scores. But since it shouldn’t be really hard memorizing the rules until the end of June, the MBE can seem really frustrating for a while. But MBEs are helping him build his bank of rules. It is okay to be wrong, because you are learning. Don’t be scared off by low percentages.
Take the practice test in class. Bar / Bri sets aside an entire day to take a mock exam and scores it for you. Then they review each question for two full days. Go to all of that, even the subjects you are good at. Sometimes it can be very boring, but it is worth it. Take note. Don’t go out when other students do. Bring lots of snacks and water. Don’t panic when your score is too low, because it was given to you before you’ve memorized many rules. I got a 103 out of 200, below average. But I passed the MBE.
Multiple choice techniques. There are many multiple choice techniques such as crossing out all wrong answers, circling, drawing pictures, highlighting, etc. If you like that, like me, read it and practice these techniques in practice MBE. I wrote down all my questions because it helps me feel like I’m in control. Most people benefit from drawing simple pictures of properties on property questions or graphs on mortgage questions. Just use your pencil because that is what you will have in your hand on the day of the test. I also had a teacher tell me that before reading the answers, I should scribble the ruler in the margins, if I knew or thought I knew. This is an amazing technique that saves you a lot of questions because it prevents you from being distracted by the wrong “tempting” answer. In fact, with this technique you can almost get away with not reading the wrong answers once you find the correct one, or just quickly skipping the wrong answers. I don’t remember many “all of the above” at the bar, so that’s not a concern. If option A. seems correct from the beginning, it is actually probably A. Choose the answer that best fits your rule, be confident, and move on.
Track your progress. I counted all the MBEs that I got right and wrote my percentage in red right on my Barbri calendar next to the assignment, so I could see where my weak subjects were and if I was improving. It was encouraging to see my Evidence and CrimPro scores go up dramatically. My scores stayed in the 50-60% range. 60% to 70% lower and about 70 higher are normal scores for July. Sometimes I was throwing in some weird 50s and 80s percentages. I think I hit 90 once in Torts. Unless you’re an MBE superstar, this is what most of the people I spoke to were getting, and we all passed the MBE. Keep in mind that harder subjects like Property are unlikely to see much of a difference in scores over the weeks. Maybe I’ve improved a few percentage points in my toughest subjects since the beginning of June. As BarBri will tell you, there is the damage control.
StudySmart. Barbri has a pretty decent MBE program called StudySmart that is included when you sign up and you can download it or just use it directly on their website. It has a bunch of MBEs organized by topic and tracks your progress in a very specific way, down to which specific area of Torts you suck. It seemed like most of the MBEs were just duplicates of what’s in the book, so do whatever feels best to you. I tracked my own progress manually and almost never used StudySmart because I like to write about the question, but if you don’t write about the question normally, you might like StudySmart. Look at the statistics they give you and answer more questions that you have doubts about.
PMBR This is an MBE course that they will try to sell you that you just don’t need. You will not run out of questions Bar / Bri. But some people feel like they have to because it seems like everyone else is or because their EBMs are unstable. If it makes you feel better, sign up. I still think it’s a waste of time, however if I had to do it again I might consider buying a few PMBR books in the spring and doing a few multiple choices a day. No intense studies, just little warm-ups.
Laughter. Some of the MBE questions are fun, quirky, and generally depressing. You are studying for the Bar and it is unpleasant, but you can console yourself that Jim has it much more difficult than you. His parachute did not open.
MBE is entirely possible even if you are a bad multiple choice taker, if you force yourself to dedicate yourself to learning how to beat it. After a while, you will realize that they can only ask a certain topic in many ways. However, be careful not to spend all your time on MBEs, even if your scores are low. Force yourself to put them aside after you’ve done a good deal and start working on essays or flashcards. Some students will disagree with me, but I found much of the actual MBE much easier than I expected. But much of it was also very difficult. Don’t be scared like me. You can miss a lot and still get through. In fact, in most states, you can miss out on much more than I was allowed to lose in California.