Virginia Bar Exam Blog
Sunday, June 18, 2006
  MBE Tips

I saw this on another blog and thought that it might be helpful:

Many of the professional companies tell you to do fifty in a row. That would make sense if you knew the law, but starting out you probably don't, so that advice doesn't make sense. Micromash does a neat thing in that it tells you the answer instantly after you answer the question. The problem is that it keeps the clock running, so your time per question gets skewed. I conclude there are two good ways to approach the mbe practice: real time and study time

Study time means do one, two, or at most ten mbe's in a row and correct them. Look at the answer and UNDERSTAND why you got it wrong. There are a number of reasons for wrong answers. The best one is that you don't know the law, because you can learn the law by copying down the rule of law on a piece of paper each time you miss for that reason. Maybe even copy rules down on the ones you get right. Recitation is key. The second best reason to miss an MBE is because you didn't read carefully enough. Easy to fix; just read more carefully. You will note, for example that the torts mbe's don't always mention what the cause of action would be. They trip you up by throwing in negligence or strict liability because they know you will often answer by instinct. They will put an answer perfect for strict liability in there and it's about negligence, so you are wrong.

The worst reason of all is because the facts or too convoluted. Some MBE's are not answerable because there are too many parties and events. I counted in one PMBR question 7 parties, 5 events, and 11 dates. Great for math majors and chess players, bad for me. Cross them out and guess.

Try to do at least fifty. I have found that I do mbe's very quickly, and the longer I spend on them the worse I do. Sorting out which ones you should spend more time on is something I'm working on. I second-guess myself and get it wrong, or I read more carefully and avoid the trap-door. There is a delicate balance that perhaps comes with experience. Some experts say you should avoid guessing on instinct; this is true, but if your instinct is combined with a rule that you are stating in your head, this is probably the best you can get. Argue with yourself. Think about which area of law they are testing and which fucked-up little wrinkle they think they got you on. I have heard that the real mbe is easier than the practice ones in commercial products, although California's requires a higher score than most. Therefore, when you come across an mbe that doesn't really explain why an answer is wrong (and I gott a hand it to the bar examiners, it's very tough, almost an art form to write an mbe that is demonstrably incorrect on three answers, which is why sometimes their answers are complete arbitrary line drawn in the sand...kind of like a lot of SCOTUS decisions)ignore it. Go for the low-hanging fruit. Do NOT go into law school over-achiever mode. While it's my instinct too, and I've scored some 80's because of it, this test is about passing. Period.

So, for example, this morning I went over to the coffee shop and finished the last fifty mbe's from a PMBR sample exam. My overall score was about 109, which if you add the 31 raw score points to make it equivalent to the actual mbe, is 140, a passing score. I was nonetheless a little pissed off. I thought the afternoon questions were harder and it seems PMBR makes the questions unecessarily difficult for the dual purpose of training their customers as well as scaring the shit out of them so they buy their stuff...I'm kind of ambivalent about that tactic. Rigorous training is good, but that whole "sink or swim" Navy SEAL trial-by-fire school of education isn't the best way to approach things. Some poster on "GIRL WALKS INTO A BAR EXAM" said it well. "Your supposed to help us, not fuck us up!"I finished my badly made cappacino, tossed the PMBR exam into the trash, and went home....

So, in short
1. do a hundred a day, same subject unless you get so bored you want to stab yourself in the eye with a pencil...
2. Go slowly and understand why you got it wrong. If their answer makes sense.
3. If you are still reading the explanation ten minutes later, it isn't your fault. Move one.
4. Use different sources. Barpassers, Micromash, PMBR, Barbri all have mbe books you can get, and they are different. The one common thing is that they test the law.
5. Use the process of elimination.
6. scribble in the parties and important dates and facts. Don't get cheap. Just buy more books. You probably spent upwards of a hundred grand to get don't want to spend fifty bucks for a book?
7. Get addicted to them. Think of it as a game. And in a way, it's the best game, because mbe's are as objective as things get in the bar exam. No petty tyrants to fuck you up for not doing things stylistically the way they like it.

Love the mbe.
Hi I am an attorney in Virginia does anyone know where I can get an electronic copy of the outlines for UCC, Taxation, Sales and Evidence. I have a friend who is blind taking the Virginia Bar in July and she needs electronic copies of the outlines for those subjects. Any help would be appreciated. Please send email to
This section is from my blog. I appreciate the fact that you liked it but it would be nice if my blog was mentioned or linked....
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Location: New York, New York, United States
May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 /

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