How Many Practice Bar Exam MBE Questions is Enough?
There's no getting around the fact that you have to take countless multiple choice questions to pass the Bar Exam. Well, countless doesn't really help. So let's put a number on it, shall we?
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE and administered by user jurisdictions as part of the bar examination on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July of each year. The MBE takes place on Day 2 of the Bar Exam consists of taking 200 multiple choice questions spanning 7 subjects. The MBE subjects are Contracts, Property, Evidence, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts and Civil Procedure.
There's also a time factor to consider and you'll have roughly 1.8 minutes (200 questions over 360 hours) per question to read, analyze and find the correct answer. The purpose of the MBE is to assess the extent to which an examinee can apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to analyze given fact patterns.
It's a straight numbers game. The MBE will represent about 35% of your total opportunity to amass points towards passing the exam. The best part of this test section is that the answer is given to you and you just have to find it.
To find the answer within 1.8 minutes, you have to know where, how and what the question is asking right away. To do this, you should immediately take your eyes and read the question being asked at the end of the paragraph - What is defendant's best defense? or Will the buyer be in breach? or Can a prime facie case for defamation be found? Next, skim the answers quickly to focus your attention towards facts you should be looking for when reading the question fact pattern. When you read the fact pattern, find the parties and circle them first. The parties' names usually have the same first letter as their legal party description - Betty and Bruce are buyers, Dave and Derrick are defendants, Sally and Steve are sellers, etc.
With 1.8 minutes per question, you have to move through the question quickly and smartly. If you do enough practice questions, you will identify exactly what the question fact pattern is asking you to answer. Since there are only so many ways to ask the same question and test your legal knowledge, if you do enough practice questions, you will identify and recognize the pattern and tricks over time. The names change, the locations change, the subjects change, and while extra facts are thrown in for confusion, the underlining principles and testing subjects do not change. You have to find these patterns and the only way you can find these patterns within the allotted 1.8 minutes is to take practice questions, more practice questions and even more practice questions.
But how many questions do I have to take?
I have read different numbers to be prepared. In my experience, I think 3,000 is the minimum amount of MBE questions you should take to feel prepared. 3,000 questions, followed by analysis of the answers - both the right answers and wrong answers. Don't skip on reading and understanding why the wrong answer is wrong. There will be times where you disagree with the answers, but your focus should be on circling the right answer (according to NCBE), because you will be that much closer to passing the Bar Exam.
In a 75 day study schedule, 3,000 practice questions comes out to 40 questions per day to hone your testing skills. Hone on, playa. Hone on.
Read the Question at the end to identify the Subject and sub-topic
Skim the answers for clues on how to read the fact pattern
Read the fact pattern quickly, circling the parties' names and getting the big picture
Re-Read the fact pattern to analyze the specific item being tested
Eliminate the wrong answers with reasons why they are wrong
Circle the remaining answer - the correct answer
Feel smug and confident and take that confidence into your next question