Critical Points To Remember When Studying the MBE

A lot of people are likely giving you tips about your bar study right now. You’re hearing things from me, your bar review courses, your friends and family, and likely, the Internet. Although the advice you’re getting may vary, there are some pieces of advice that I think go without saying. As you begin to practice more MBE questions, there are three important points to keep in mind.

  1. Devote time to the most heavily tested areas of law. Get familiar with the NCBE subject matter outline. You want to be well-versed in the areas you will see the most on the MBE (i.e., negligence in torts, or individual rights in constitutional law). You want to be comfortable with the other areas of law, too, but starting with the heavily tested topics puts you in a good place.
  2. Understand why you get questions right or wrong. DO NOT just quickly read the correct or incorrect answer and move on. Do a critical reading of the answer explanations and understand why you get a question right or wrong. When you’re trying to increase your MBE scores, this is the critical first step – the understanding step.
  3. Write down and track your answers. This should be the practice you engage in next after you understand the question and its answers. Writing down rules you do not know, or writing down why you got a question wrong, can assist you in developing your learning and you can work on turning your problem areas into strengths. Further, if you track all of your questions, you can always go back to them and have a one-stop-place where you can see all of the law or issues that gave you trouble.

Why Are You Getting Questions Wrong?

When you’re trying to evaluate why you are getting questions wrong, it is important to articulate that reason. It likely may be one of the following reasons:

  • You don’t know the law well enough. If this is the case, go back into your materials and ACTIVELY engage with the law. Either write down rules, make charts or notes on the rules, or do flashcards. Actively engage with your materials to solidify your understanding of the law.
  • You understand the law, but don’t have details memorized. The devil is in the details. Always ask yourself: is there an exception to this general rule? If you find yourself simply applying the law generally. Go back and work on memorization of details.
  • You are making reading comprehension mistakes. Slow it down. Make sure you’re focused. You may be getting questions wrong because you’re breezing through them too quickly, or because you’re not focused and are missing important facts.
  • You aren’t recognizing common themes in questions. Doing a lot of MBE questions helps you not only learn the law better, but it also helps you learn patterns that the examiners may test. If you’re not doing enough MBE questions (not doing about 33 – 50 per day), then you need to increase your MBE performance. This will help you learn the law and help you get more questions correct.

In summary, we are looking to gain a better understanding of our answers, of the law, and our study habits. MBE questions can tell you a lot about your bar study – you just have to remember these key points to work with them correctly.

Stay focused, remember the goal, and keep moving.

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