How To Study For The Bar Exam

The MBE is about practice and memorization. You can't beat the MBE if you haven't memorized the material. However, in addition to pure memorization, practice bar exam questions are important and you should do as many as possible. If you don't review your answers, particularly wrong answers, you won't get nearly as much out of the practice questions. For topics you have trouble with on practice questions, make a note on the corresponding Critical Pass flashcard.

Finally, you should do at least one full MBE exam under timed conditions. But that's not it. Before the full simulated exam, do at least two or three half-day, three-hour exams. You should also do regular one-hour sets of 33 or 34 questions .

When using the Critical Pass flashcards, you might want to make notes in pencil. As you start mastering the material, you can erase and make more relevant notes as you get more familiar with the material. Most importantly, do what works best for you and trust yourself.

Test-Taking Tips

Approaching a question
There are different schools of thought on how to tackle any given question. MBE questions are interspersed and the examiners don't identify questions by subject. As a result, you don't know which subject you're dealing with at first blush.

The questions are easier, however, if you have some idea of what you're looking for while you're reading. Therefore, try looking at the call of the question first. It will usually give away the subject, and might even indicate what you're looking for within the subject. After quickly glancing at the call of the question, carefully read the entire question from the beginning with the subject in mind.

It's also important to mark up and underline every question. This helps tremendously with staying active as a reader, which, as discussed below, is a critical tool for MBE success.

Common MBE Tricks

We've noticed some tricks that have appeared on the MBE. Keep in mind that the MBE is a reading comprehension exam and a lot of questions are designed to trick you into the wrong answer if you're not reading carefully. Therefore, stay alert and engaged as a reader.

  • Unfamiliar answer choices or questions
    A couple times throughout the exam, you're going to come across a word or phrase you've never heard of, most likely in an answer choice. We're guessing it will be a latin phrase or some antiquated common law concept that nobody teaches anymore. When you see this, remember two things: 1) don't freak out, and 2) don't pick that answer choice. If you've studied for the bar exam and an answer choice comes up that you've never heard of, it's unlikely to be right.
  • Word tricks
    Aside from testing memorization, the MBE is a reading comprehension exam. Many answer choices are written to be almost correct. In other words, a lot of answer choices would be right if not for some word or phrase somewhere in the question or the answer choice itself. An example is the use of the word "until" versus "unless." We've seen questions that use the word "until." But if you're reading quickly and your brain somehow reads "unless," the question is completely different. Even worse, there will be an incorrect answer choice that would be correct if the word actually was "unless." The point here is that you should read each word carefully. Don't skim. If you're getting tired or you notice your attention slipping, take a quick break.
  • Question distribution
    Sometimes it will seem like the questions are distributed in a strange order. Occasionally it will seem like you've gotten five easy questions in a row, or ten impossible questions in a row. Sometimes you'll feel like you haven't seen a question on a particular subject in the last 20 or 30 questions. Or you may notice that you're getting a lot of questions in just one or two subjects. Don't get tripped up by this. In fact, it's best if you try not to pay attention to question ordering. The best approach is to take one question at a time.
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