3 Steps To Improve Your MBE Score

Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising, a law school and bar exam prep company offering services ranging from LSAT tutoring and application assistance to bar exam tutoring, courses and seminars.


The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is a grueling six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice exam designed to assess your ability to apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to hypothetical fact patterns. Each jurisdiction determines its own policy regarding the weight given to MBE scores (in UBE jurisdictions, it’s 50 percent), but it is safe to say that your MBE score can make or break your overall performance on the bar.

After scoring a 180 on the MBE, I started my company, JD Advising, to help other students achieve similar success. Here is an overview of the 3 steps I recommend to improve your MBE score.


1 | Focus On Highly Tested Areas Of The Law.

Many students do not realize that legal topics are not tested equally on the MBE. It is true that the seven MBE subjects are tested equally (there are 25 scored questions on each subject), but the topics within each subjectare not.

For example, about half of the scored torts questions (12-13 questions) cover negligence. So, negligence is a very important area of law to know. On the contrary, only 2-3 questions test present and future interests. To study efficiently, it makes sense to allocate more time to studying negligence than present and future interests.

To see how the MBE topics are tested, check out the subject matter outlines provided by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.


2 | Memorize The Law.

The MBE portion of the bar exam tests the nuances of the law. It is crucial to know the rules well if you want to improve your MBE score.

Most students confuse having a general understanding of the overall law with memorizing the law. A general understanding of the law is not enough if you want to improve your MBE score.

If you are not sure that you have the law memorized, cover up portions of your outline and see if you can recite the elements that belong to specific rules. Can you list the elements of a dying declaration? Can you list the ways to sever a joint tenancy? Can you recite the different types of second-degree murder? If you have trouble stating these rules, you may need to spend more time with your outlines.

Here are some tips that will help you memorize the law:

 - Cover up and rewrite portions of your outline until you know them.

 - Quiz yourself on your outline or have others quiz you.

 - Make charts and diagrams to illustrate tricky concepts.

 - Invent mnemonics or rhymes to remember elements.

 - Learn the theory behind the law to make it more memorable.


3 | When You Answer An MBE Question Incorrectly, Write It Down.

If you listen to a lecture about the law, do you automatically know everything you just heard? Probably not. While you may understand it, you don’t have it memorized. You have to go back and review your outlines until you know them. Repetition is key. The same is true when you answer an MBE question.

If you answer an MBE question incorrectly and simply review the explanation, as many do, that is a good first step. But you need to do more. You are learning so much and doing so much that you will probably get the question wrong the next time you see it even if you carefully reviewed the answer explanation.

When you answer an MBE question incorrectly, don’t solely read the explanation. Instead, write down the rule you didn’t know, or the reason you answered it incorrectly on a notepad. Then regularly review those notes. Over time, you will start to memorize the rules that you struggled with and you will turn your weaknesses into strengths. 


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You can follow Ms. Heidemann and the JD Advising team on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn. Additional resources (including a blog which is updated daily) are available on JD Advising’s website at www.JDAdvising.com