Your approach to answering MBE questions is a key part of your bar exam strategy. How you tackle MBE questions can matter almost as much as how well you know the substantive law.
So how should you structure your approach? Here are five tips to help you tackle any MBE question.
1. Read the Call of the Question First
One major reason MBE questions are challenging is because all seven subjects are mixed together among the 200 test questions. Your first step, then, should be to go to the end of the question and read the call of the question first. The call is the statement or question following the fact pattern in most MBE questions.
Although it may seem counterintuitive to start answering a question by looking somewhere other than the beginning, more often than not the call of the question will help you identify the subject from the get-go.
2. Read the Answers to the Question
If you’ve looked at the call and can’t figure out the subject, your next step should be to look at the answer choices. Together with the call of the question, answer choices will give you enough information to identify the subject, or maybe even the topic within the subject. Once you’ve identified the subject matter, you can read the entire question from the beginning with the relevant subject matter in mind.
3. Read the Question and Answers Carefully
You don’t need us to tell you that reading carefully is critical with MBE questions--but it’s difficult to stay focused when you’re actually in the exam, under time pressure.
The way to address this problem? Start slow. It’s better to spend time reading a question slowly and carefully than to double back to reread parts of the question that you breezed through the first time.
The same applies for answer choices--and remember to read them all! Many test takers get through choices A and B and think they’ve found the answer, so they stop reading. Big mistake. Read all the answer choices as there may very well be a better option.
4. Keep a Good Pace
Reading carefully is important, but you have to balance the time you spend reading carefully with the need to get through all of the questions. Because the MBE is known for giving you two answers that both seem correct, most test takers get bogged down trying to decide between the two. This will happen to you. We guarantee it.
The key in these situations is to pick one and keep moving. Statistically speaking, if you can eliminate at least one answer choice, your best bet is to make a guess and keep going. You should flag these question and return to them if you have time at the end of the test.
5. Actively Read and Mark Up Your Test BookletFinally, make sure you're marking up and underlining your test booklet. This kind of marking helps you stay active as a reader, which is a critical tool for processing and understanding MBE questions. Spoiler alert: the MBE isn’t a page turner. It’s easy to check out. So mark up your page to stay checked in.