Underutilized Strategies for Fixing a Poor MBE Score

Someone wrote in to ask about improving his low MBE score:

“Hope all is well with you. It has been awhile since we last spoke. Unfortunately,  I was not able to pass the bar. It was quite a horrible moment.

If possible, I wanted to get your thoughts on how to effectively study for the MBE? I scored between 55%-60% [on practice sets]. However,  I did very poorly on the day of the exam. The questions were much harder than expected. I’ve come to realize the multiple choice is a weak spot for me more than the essays right now. Just needed a bit of your guidance on how to study for them. In addition, how should really repeaters now study for the bar?”

Here’s my pointed answer:

An underutilized strategy for MBE (and essays) is to REDO the questions. You can’t expect to understand a concept with one exposure.

It’s OK if you recognize the questions again. That’s the point of preparation, to see the pattern of what’s tested. When you’re on the hot seat, you will be falling to the level of your training, not rising to the level of your expectations.

For you, I would suggest that you keep doing them and mastering them (by reviewing explanations) to the point that you have memorized all the questions and answers

Sound extreme? I typically don’t suggest this, but extraordinary results require extraordinary acts. I don’t know what your MBE score is, but I’m taking your word about doing poorly this time… This requires significant changes.

While there isn’t a magic number, a good guideline is to be scoring 70%+ in practice before the actual MBE. Don’t stress if it’s not that high right now (or even right before the exam) because it does not necessarily translate to failing. Your failures now are fodder for your success. You might also be able to pull up your overall score with essays or PT.

AdaptiBar (discount code here) is an excellent platform for working with 1,600+ past exam questions and using their analytics to keep track of your overall score and scores by subtopics.

While I gave a general guidepost of 70%+ above, this doesn’t tell the whole story. You should break down your scores and attack your weakest subjects and topics. This will naturally increase your overall score.

As a repeater, generally, you’d be better off focusing less on reviewing the subject matter, and focusing more on testing yourself.

However, the MBE tests you on specific nuances. It would be helpful to brush up on the subject matter (issues and rules) with a comprehensive outline. That said, the MBE divides up the questions into predictable subjects and issues. For example, negligence and relevancy are just a couple of the big (highly tested) MBE topics to nail down.

If you have Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics for the MBE, there are primers for each subject that you may find helpful. They give you subject-specific strategies. If you don’t have it, get it:

Volume 1 (8th ed.)
Volume 2 (4th ed.)

Multiple choice is a skill in itself, so please take a look at the tips for the final month in Passer’s Playbook for test-day MBE strategies.

Some people are comfortable with the MBE and are weak at essays, and vice versa. It’s definitely possible for you to be one of those people who can do well on the MBE. Bar prep is a learnable skill.

To summarize, if you want to crank up the dial on your MBE score:

  1. Get the Strategies & Tactics book(s) + use AdaptiBar
  2. Redo the questions
  3. Review to the point you memorize the questions and answers
  4. Brush up on multiple-choice strategies

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