MBE Study Tips – Part 2

Let’s pick up where we left off with more tips on how to study for the MBE. If you have not already, take a look at my prior posts to help lay the foundation for these tips. 

  • Practice at different times of the day: Try to simulate the exam as best as you can when doing your practice so that you know what it will actually feel like on exam day. True, you cannot ever completely recreate the stress that only a room full of thousands of stressed out, caffeine overloaded law school graduates produce, but you can get close. One way to recreate what it will feel like on Exam Day is to vary the times you do your MBE practice questions each day. If you are not a morning person, get some MBE practice questions done right at 9am and give yourself a morning routine. Try out some questions right after lunch to see how tired you will be after eating certain foods so you know what to avoid on exam day. Get some practice questions done at 2/3pm when that afternoon lull sets in to see what you need to do to maintain your focus. 
  • Review your practice set answers: Practice does not just include doing the practice questions but reviewing the practice questions as well. You should review all the questions you got wrong AND the questions that you got correct but are not sure why you got them correct. Reviewing your answers will help you reinforce the law and study the tricks that the Bar Examiners love to throw at you throughout MBE questions. 

You should also take your MBE practice set review to the next level by defining the types of wrong answers you are getting. Is it wrong due to a “Substantive” reason or “Skills.” A “Substantive” wrong answer may occur when you did not know the law, did not know the exception, did not apply the proper rule to the proper facts, etc. A “Skills” based wrong answer can be that you did not read the modifier in the call of the question properly, did not spot the proper subject matter, etc. When you have your wrong answers defined, you will be more likely to recognize any patterns in your wrong answer choices then develop a plan to fix those patterns.

  • Review your answers ACTIVELY: Just like most of your studying, you want to keep your answer review active. Avoid passively reading the correct answer explanation then move onto the next one. You should actively work with the material as you review. Go back to your outline for that area of law and actually write the rule into your outline from that particular question. Create flash cards with the main rules of law from each of your wrong answer choices. Verbally discuss this rule with another friend who is taking the bar exam or even yourself if there is no one around. Do whatever you can to reinforce this rule so you can actively recall it later in future questions.

  • Add more MBE practice daily: During Bar prep, your Bar review company will have you on a steady diet of substantive lectures, practice questions, and substantive review each day. It has always been my opinion that no student is assigned enough MBE questions to do each day, especially if you want to get to that 3,000-3,500 question bench mark I mentioned in my last post. So, add more practice questions each day. I know what you are thinking, “I can barely finish the work they assign, now you are asking me to add more work?!” Yes, yes I am asking you to do that. After the first week of Bar prep you will start to get an idea of what you need to get done each day and where you may be able to fit in some extra practice. I know it’s a lot to ask, but this will be one of the most beneficial types of practice you can do during Bar prep. 
  • Vary your MBE practice: While the NCBE has released sets of actual MBE questions from actual Bar Exams, it’s not many so each Bar company writes their own questions. While most companies do a great job creating these questions to simulate actual Bar Exam questions and constantly updating these questions, every company will inevitably have a different “feel” to their questions. This is not a bad thing, but just something to think about. One way you can vary your practice is by getting a good MBE supplement that gives you their company-created MBE questions just to change it up a bit as you do your daily practice questions. This also gets you prepared for the “these questions seem slightly different than what I am used to” feeling that every person feels on exam day. There are some great reasonably priced MBE supplements like Adaptibar, the PMBR 3-Day Course, and the Emanuel Strategies and Tactics book. 
  • Do as many practice questions as possible: Yes, you’re right. I’ve already said this, but it is worth mentioning twice. Practice questions are essential. Do as many as you can without ignoring all your other course work for your Bar prep company. And if you run out of MBE questions, you can find supplements (like the ones I mentioned above) that will give you even more fun questions! 

There you have it! Now you can get started on your MBE preparations with a solid plan of action. But it is crucial to remember that each student will need to find their own comfort zone. These tips are great1If I do say so myself. but everyone will have their own plan that works for them, so do not be afraid to make necessary adjustments that will help you.

Meet the Author
Stephen Iannacone is Director of Academic Success at Cardozo School of Law and a Bar Exam Coach at Vinco. Prior to joining Cardozo School of Law, Stephen was a trial attorney at the law firm of Spiegel & Barbato, LLP. He specialized in civil litigation in all New York venues and argued several appeals in the First Department. He was also an adjunct professor at Pace Law School where he taught classes to third-year students preparing for the Bar Exam as well as classes to second-year students focusing on legal writing and analysis. Read more about Stephen >