The secret to MBE success: Does “X” really mark the spot?

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Samuel Farkas, BARBRI Vice President Instruction

How many MBE practice questions should I work to pass the bar exam?

Perhaps you’ve heard that you need to work “X” number of MBE practice questions each week to pass the exam. Or, maybe you’ve heard there is some magic number of total MBE questions that you have to answer throughout bar prep to earn a passing score. This “drill and kill” formula emphasizes quantity over quality and speed over deliberation, which may not improve your MBE score.

Make no mistake, it’s critically important to work MBE practice questions. After all, it takes practice to improve. The key to success, however, is to use practice questions effectively.

The specific questions you answer, and the order in which you answer them, impacts learning and retention

Ideally, you should work questions in a deliberate and methodical manner that systematically unfolds rule nuances and increases in difficulty as you progress. Work easier questions that test core rules and concepts first to build a strong contextual framework in the subject.

Layer the more difficult questions testing finer points, those dreaded exceptions to the exceptions, once you have built a foundation. Consistent mixed-subject practice that continuously cycles you through previously reviewed subjects maximizes your learning.


ISAAC, the engine that runs your BARBRI bar prep course and creates your Personal Study Plan (PSP), accelerates learning by incrementally building your MBE skills and substantive knowledge.

ISAAC curates multiple-choice question sets to provide a strong understanding of the most frequently tested rules before you encounter more difficult questions. As soon as you complete your third MBE subject, ISAAC will begin assigning short mixed-subject question sets. In the weeks following, ISAAC deliberately spaces question sets to leverage the benefits of spaced repetition and interleaves practice between subjects, two strategies that are scientifically shown to boost learning and retention.

All said, you will encounter more than 2,500 MBE practice questions throughout your BARBRI bar prep course.

Side note: We don’t recommend spending too much time with “real” released MBE questions. Learn why.

Learn from each multiple-choice practice question you work

You will get a full explanatory answer for each multiple-choice practice question you encounter during your BARBRI bar prep course. Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” We say, “the unexamined multiple-choice question is not worth working.”

There is so much to unpack in a well-written multiple-choice explanatory answer. Don’t rob yourself of a great learning opportunity by glossing over them. For each question, carefully and thoroughly review the explanatory answer to:

  • Determine whether you got the question right or wrong
  • Determine whether your analysis of the question was on-point
  • Determine whether you identified and understood the narrow rule being tested in the question
  • Identify why the wrong answer choices are incorrect
  • Review the other rules discussed in the explanation

Once you ingrain these skills as habits, you will no longer agonize and worry over the magic number of MBE questions you need to work.  Following the BARBRI path will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to pass the exam.

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