In order to successfully study for and pass the bar exam, understanding how to use bar exam practice questions effectively is crucial. You can’t just do fifty bar exam practice questions a day and then pass the bar. You need to have a strategy in mind when you incorporate practice questions into you bar exam prep.
Let’s take a look at your overall bar exam prep approach, and then dive into how to use bar exam practice questions effectively to prepare for each section of the uniform bar exam.
Bar Exam Prep Schedule Snapshot
Typically, students follow a three month study plan for the bar exam and take the bar after graduation. However, there are some students who study while working full time or during the final semester of school—they usually study over six months. Either way, you’ll start with reviewing the substantive areas of law and then build in practice questions to test your knowledge.
Let’s look at how using bar exam questions effectively differs among the different sections of the bar exam, starting with the MBE.
Using MBE Practice Questions
You’ll complete more practice MBE questions than you can possibly imagine over the next couple of months. Since the MBE is made up of 200 multiple choice questions on seven core legal areas, you’re going to have to practice a lot to pass. Oh, and did I mention these questions make up half your bar exam score and you’ll have less than two minutes per question? Yeah, the MBE is kind of a beast—that’s why it’s essential to practice MBE questions effectively!
The best approach will be to incorporate MBE practice questions early during your prep so you become familiar with how the questions are structured. About two weeks into your studying, start completing MBE practice questions—start without a timer to get familiar with the structure of the questions and to test base knowledge. Be sure to spend time reviewing your answers to get the most out of your time spent completing loads of MBE problems.
After a month or so of studying and completing small sets of MBE practice questions, you’ll want to complete a full-length MBE test under test-like conditions. Set aside a full day, reserve a room at the law library, set a timer, and dive in. Approach the problems just like you will on test day—calmly and efficiently—and don’t get bogged down on any one question.
Take a day off after this grueling exercise and then review all of your answers, including the ones you got right. Your goal is to understand why the right answer was right for each question. Well, as much as possible—does anyone really understand the rule against perpetuities?
This exercise will build your stamina and help you power through on test day. You’ll know going in that you can handle six hours of multiple choice questions, which I think qualifies as some sort of superpower.
Using MEE Practice Questions Effectively
Luckily the MEE only consists of six questions, not 200! The MEE is also different from the MBE because it only makes up 30% of your bar exam score. While the MEE is a little less daunting than the MBE, it still requires a great deal of preparation. Let’s look at how to make the most of your MEE prep time.
On the MEE, you have 30 minutes to answer each essay question, so practicing how to efficiently and effectively respond will mean setting a timer and learning to organize your thoughts quickly. Follow a solid bar exam essay template on each practice essay so that the template will be second nature on the day of the actual exam.
Plan to incorporate MEE practice questions after a month of studying so that you’ve already built a solid knowledge base. If you start any earlier, it’ll probably be a waste of time—you’ll be spending all of your time trying to recall the rules of law from your first year Torts class!
After you complete each practice MEE question, thoroughly review the sample answers provided by the NCBE and note any points you missed. This approach will help you get the most points possible on every essay on the bar exam. And be sure to test yourself on a wide range of MEE topics by working through all of the past questions available from the NCBE.
Using MPT Questions Effectively
This section is worth only 20% of your overall bar exam score. Unlike the other two sections of the UBE, you’re given all the law you need to answer the MPT prompt on the bar exam. But don’t make the mistake so many law students make and not prepare for the MPT. To do well and get as many points as possible on the MPT, you have to practice MPT questions.
You should wait to start studying for the MPT until your final month of bar prep, because you have to memorize a considerable amount of substantive law for the MEE and MBE. Those topics should be your main focus during your first month of study.
In your final month, plan to complete a couple of MPTs each week. Your goal is to become familiar with the MPT structure—the format of the questions, the types of writings you’ll be asked to prepare—and practice responding within the 90 minute timeframe.
Just like with the MEE, be sure to review sample answers and understand how you could have improved your response. These sample answers are critical to using bar exam practice questions effectively. They provide an invaluable insight into what the graders are looking for in your response, so be sure to take advantage and get the most MPT points possible!
Using the bar exam practice questions effectively consists of incorporating them into your study plan at the right time and thoroughly reviewing the correct answers. If you do these two things and put in the time to complete the practice questions, you’ll be more than ready for the bar exam!
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