The Decline of the MBE Score and What You Can Do About It
The MBE is declining nationally, and now many students have to combat this issue. In order to improve their MBE scores, many students just dive into practicing thousands of MBE questions and focus on quantity. These students never see their score improve because they are just completing questions to complete questions, and they never actually get to the root of the problem.
The first thing you need is a solid foundation of the law. If you want to improve your MBE score significantly, you cannot just answer thousands of MBE questions – that is just skimming the surface. You have to build the foundation properly. After you build the foundation properly, it will be easier to improve your score. You should be working on your foundation in this course. Here’s what you should be doing.
1. Work on outline or study materials that work best for you.
You need to organize the information in a way that you are able to understand the law. If you do not understand your outlines, if they are poorly organized, or if they are too long or too short, you may need to rework your study materials. Having outlines and a source of study is critical and begins your foundation.
2. Work on understanding the law.
The next step to improving your MBE score is to make sure you understand the law. You need to have a basic understanding of what it means so that you can apply it. You understand the law if you can explain it. Ask yourself, for example, can you explain the different homicides? Or federal subject matter jurisdiction? Or the automobile exception to the warrant requirement? Try to explain some of these concepts out loud using your outline. If you are unable to, you have identified an important step you need to take: You need to understand the law better. You can do this through listening to lectures, reviewing hypotheticals, or asking your professor.
3. Work on memorizing the law.
The fastest way to improve your MBE score is to make sure you have the law memorized VERY well. Most students confuse having a general understanding of the overall law with having it memorized. A basic understanding is not enough. You need to have the law memorized. As we have witnessed, the MBE portion of the bar exam tests nuances of the law. It does not test a general overview of the law. You need to memorize the nuances. You can test whether you have something memorized in many ways. Get out a pen and write down the answers to questions.
• What are the elements of larceny?
• What are the elements of burglary?
• What are the elements of embezzlement?
4. Work on applying the law methodically.
Many students race through MBE questions. They make it a goal to answer so many questions a day. However, they are not getting enough out of the questions they answer. Instead of focusing on quantity, focus on quality. Spend time dissecting MBE questions. Examine each and every fact. Pay close attention to how the characters of the fact pattern are described. Jot out key dates or events. Make sure you are able to identify the issue. Then, figure out the exact rule that is being tested. Apply the rule. And come up with an answer. Go through every answer choice and figure out why one is right and the others are wrong. It can easily take 15 minutes to answer a question if you do it this way. But you will learn so much and you will improve your understanding of exactly how MBE questions are tested that it will be worth it. [Note: You still need to make sure you have your timing down and take timed exams. However, when you are practicing questions with the goal of getting BETTER at answering multiple choice questions, quality is key.]
5. Work on figuring out WHY you are getting MBE questions incorrect.
If you listen to a lecture about the law, do you automatically know everything you just heard? No. While you may understand it, you do not have it memorized. You have to go back and review your outlines until you know them. This is the same process you should be going through when you answer an MBE question.
6. Use Our Tracking Chart
If you answer an MBE question incorrectly, and you simply review the explanation, as many do, you are only HALFWAY there. In reality, you are learning so much and doing so much that you will probably get the question wrong the next time you see it. So, if you answer an MBE question incorrectly, don’t just read the explanation. Instead, write down WHY you answer it incorrectly (Use an MBE tracker chart like this one in our Free Resources).If you add this chart to your study materials, you will turn areas of law you do not know into strengths and you will be able to identify other reasons you are answering questions incorrectly, not making those mistakes again in your practice!