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By Tania N. Shah and Melissa A. Gill
Condensed from LawTutors’ Bar Preparation Materials

I.    DO NOT PANIC

Panicking only makes you lose your memory. No seriously, it does. Stay calm, and you will do much better overall. Easier said than done, right? Well, you have gotten through law school, and presumably schooling prior to that, so you know what calms your stress. Use that to your advantage. Now is not the time to change your habits. If running every day is a stress reliever for you, or if the way you deal with stress is taking bubble baths, KEEP doing that. Even if there are certain “bad” habits that you have been doing, now is not the time to change that either. If you are a smoker or drink eight cans of diet cola a day, now is not the time to make any drastic life-changing changes. You can do this after the exam is over.

II.    Study Details, not General Concepts

Since the MBE will never say “please define battery”, you need to be able to apply the general concepts to specific facts and nuances. To do this, practice more and more MBE questions, so you can gather more and more examples. This will be far more effective than reviewing the same outline since outlines only have general concepts.  However, on the issue of how many MBE questions you should so, see Section “X.”

III.    Read the Call of the Question First

When reading a question, read the call of the question first, so that you know what you’re reading for when you read the fact pattern, and can read more carefully. Remember that the topics will be mixed up on the MBE, so even knowing what area of law you are in can be beneficial.

IV.    Pay Attention to Facts

While it IS sound advice to not second guess yourself, as your instincts and the legal knowledge you already have can sometimes be beneficial, do NOT let this override obvious facts. In addition, do NOT doubt facts. If the MBE tells you something – believe it, even if it seems absurd! In addition, only rely on facts that are in the test, do not make up new ones as you go along.

While paying attention to the facts in the fact pattern, be careful when the examiners repeat facts in the answer choices. Are they simply restating what was in the fact pattern? Most likely, a simple repetition of the facts is not the correct answer.

V.    Pay Attention to Language

Pay attention to what the bar examiners are giving you, such as a statute or special fact. In addition, do not make things more complex. If the question seems easy, it probably is. Bear in mind, the bar examiners are not giving you statues and facts you do not need, so be sure that if you notice them, you think about why they are there.

In addition, pay attention to the language of answer choices. A single word can have a HUGE impact on what an answer choice means. For example, but, since, if and unless.

But, Since: the examiners are telling you that you can answer the question based on what is given to you in the fact pattern.
If, Unless: the examiner is qualifying the answer with additional information that you are required to have to make that statement true.

VI.    Use the Process of Elimination

This is standard for any multiple-choice question, however, it is even more important with the MBE. In this instance, the wrong answers will not be quite so obvious, but you can start with eliminating answers that are in ANY way incorrect. Remember that for an answer choice to be correct, it has to be 100% correct. Do not choose an answer that uses incorrect legal reasoning, or mischaracterizes the facts, or doesn’t actually answer the question. Be wary of any of these answers.

VII.    Self Check and Review

When practicing questions, self check them. This does not mean that you should do 50 questions and then check, but rather closer to 5. This is so that you can remember the question, both the fact pattern and the reasons you chose the answer. You cannot properly understand the question, and why you got it wrong, without understanding or remembering why you chose the answer you did. It is not worth your time to do questions at all if you are not going to take the time to understand the correct answer.

VIII.  Code

As you self check and review, create a code for yourself, detailing what types of questions you are getting wrong. Pay attention to whether you got the question wrong because of substance (and then keep track of whether it was property or contracts, and within that, was it offer or damages?) or reading comprehension? What was it that made you get that question wrong? This will aid you in using your time more effectively since you will be pinpointing your trouble spots.

IX.    Re-Review

Don’t be afraid to go back to questions you’ve already done once, or even twice. You need to ensure that you completely understand the question since the subject matter and structure of MBE questions are often repeated. Students are often reluctant to redo questions they have already done, but trust us when we say that it truly is a benefit.

X.    Quality over quantity

We have often heard students say “I did over 2000 questions and I still didn’t pass the exam!” We want you to practice more MBE questions in particular topics and sub-topics that you may be having trouble with, while still keeping up with the topics and sub-topics you are strong in. For example, if you are weak in battery but strong with respect to the other intentional torts, practice a host of different kind of battery questions and, since you are in the subject of intentional torts, go ahead and so some questions on assault, IIED, trespass, etc. to keep up your strength in those areas.

Doing 50 questions and TRULY understanding the questions is always better than doing 500 questions and not remembering or understanding any of them.

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