MBE Success: X Marks the Spot?

Samuel Farkas, BARBRI Director of Legal Learning and Lecturer

What’s the Magic Number of MBE Practice Questions You Should Answer to Pass the Bar Exam?

Perhaps you’ve heard that you need to work “X” number of practice MBE questions each week to pass the exam. Or, maybe you’ve heard there is some magic number of total questions that you have to answer throughout your preparation to earn a passing score on the MBE. 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.

MBE success is not about how many questions you answer each day or throughout your preparation; it’s about how much you learn from each question you answer.

The specific questions you answer and the order in which you answer them impacts your learning. Ideally, you should be assigned questions in a deliberate and methodical manner that systematically unfolds rule nuances and increases question difficulties as you go. Easier questions testing core rules and concepts come first to help you build a strong contextual framework in the subject. More difficult questions testing the finer points—those dreaded exceptions to the exceptions— should be layered in once you have built this foundation. Consistent mixed-subject practice that continuously cycles you through previously reviewed subjects helps maximize your learning.

BARBRI’s MBE success learning path, which is built into your Personal Study Plan (PSP), accelerates your learning by incrementally building your substantive knowledge and your MBE skills. We’ve curated each question set and have strategically assigned the Learning Sets and Mixed Question Sets to ensure that you have a strong understanding of the most frequently tested rules before you encounter the more difficult questions. As soon as you complete your third MBE subject, your PSP will assign short mixed-subject question sets. In the weeks ahead, your PSP 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, your PSP will provide more than 2,500 MBE practice questions, as well as an MBE final prep comprised of 100 carefully selected MBE questions recently released by the National Conference of Bar Examiner (NCBE) that best align to areas of the law most likely to be tested on the MBE. If needed, you will have the opportunity to work even more to hone your test-taking skills before the exam.

Note: As a general rule, we don’t recommend spending a lot of time with “real” released MBE questions. Click here to learn why.

Practice questions are excellent learning tools to help you identify knowledge gaps, strengthen your knowledge of the rules and sharpen your MBE test-taking skills.

Working questions is important, but engaging in a careful and thorough review of the explanatory answer for each question that you work is vital to your success. For each question you work, you should determine whether you got the question right or wrong, whether your analysis of the question was on-point, and whether you identified and understood the narrow rule being tested in the question. In addition, identify why the wrong answer choices are incorrect and review the other rules discussed in the explanation. You will get a full explanatory answer for all the MBE questions during the course—including the recently released MBE questions for which the bar examiners have not provided an explanatory answer. 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.

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” We say, “the unexamined multiple-choice question is not worth working.” In MBE Immersion, you learned BARBRI’s Systematic Problem-Solving approach to maximize your MBE study, including how to effectively use explanatory answers to drive learning and improvement. Rest assured—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.  Simply put, you’ll come to know there is no magic “X” to mark your spot for MBE success.