A strategy for improving the MBE

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LawDawg2016

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby LawDawg2016 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:25 am

waxecstatic wrote:I recently failed the bar exam despite doing almost 70% of the Themis course and over 1,500 MBE questions.

I scored in the 54th percentile for essays, including a perfect score on one essay, but only the 6th percentile for the MBE. My MBE score was only 115.8. Like anyone else in this position, I'm pretty devastated and (frustrated)! But my problem is that while I have no issues with learning the law, I probably only got around 52% correct for the MBE.

What to do? Who here has a strategy for conquering the MBE? If I had only scored a 130 on the MBE, I would have passed. For anyone else out there in my position, I feel your pain. Hopefully, we'll all get through it.



I'm curious how you did next time around. Didn't get a 115...but didn't pass the MBE. :x Looking to improve for July. What worked, if anything, for you?

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anon sequitur

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby anon sequitur » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:58 pm

I'd be most curious about why your score didn't improve after so many MBE questions. Based on your essay grades, you have to have a pretty good handle on legal analysis and how to apply it to black letter law. So you have to figure out why you missed all those questions when you had the correct answer right there in front of you. After around 1000 questions, you should be able to look over your history and see what issues you are missing the most on, and that makes it much easier to study for. Instead of just studying a property outline in general, you can study the part about recognizing the differences between different types of future covenants. That will get you the detailed understanding to spot the trick in the answer choices that makes them wrong. You don't need that kind of detail for the essays, but you do if you want to do well on the MBE. Fortunately, you don't have to actually be able to articulate the differences, just remember them well enough so that when they are presented incorrectly they stick out.

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SilvermanBarPrep

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:09 pm

I know that the released questions are quite limited but be sure to work through all of the questions that the NCBE has released. There is also a book called Strategies and Tactics for the Multistate Method. I've noticed that many of my students have never heard of this book but I believe that as far as non-official MBE questions go, this is one of the best books available.

The key to doing well on the MBE is knowing the law well enough to see through the distractors! Eliminating all that is incorrect so that the last remaining choice is the correct answer. Being able to do this consistently requires a very thorough knowledge base and lots of practice!

Sean

9xSound

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby 9xSound » Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:59 pm

Two of my repeater friends who failed yet again pointed to the MBE as their downfall. I'm confident that it wasn't due to an inadequate knowledge of the law. When I asked them (separately) about their approach to selecting answers, each of them said that they had eliminated the wrong answers until they settled on the right one. Correct approach, but imperfect. As I questioned them further, they both admitted that their approach ultimately relied upon gut instinct instead of a methodical plan of attack. The fact is, depending upon instinct is a terrible game plan for passing the MBE.

The MBE requires a mechanical approach to consistently solving the problems. Many people will advise you to read the call of the question first and glance at the answer choices to get your bearings, then read the facts, re-read the call, and then start eliminating wrong answers. I agree with this approach. However, for study purposes, it's an incomplete strategy. After you have read the facts and re-read the call, but before you start trying to eliminate answer choices, you need to take a moment to identify and articulate (out loud is best) the following:

(1) What issue is this problem actually testing? (Is it negligence or an intentional tort, consideration, acceptance, relevance, a defense?)
(2) What is the law of the issue, i.e., what are all of the elements that are needed to prove this issue? Recount them aloud.
(3) Which single element is the determinative point of law given the call and these facts?

Once you have completed this analytical drill, you will be ready to start eliminating wrong answers. Ignore the clock. Take the time to make this drill a Habit with every MBE problem that you do. Being methodical in your approach must become second nature. Automatic. You can work on your speed as you get closer to the bar, knowing that you will naturally become faster as you continue to work through MBE problems.

As I reviewed and re-reviewed my wrong answers over and over (another important prep strategy), I studied why I had selected the wrong answer, in addition to reviewing the rules of law. In other words, WTF did I do wrong? As a tactic of studying the test itself, not just studying the law, I kept track of the underlying reason behind every incorrect answer that I selected. You need to do the same if you are having trouble with the MBE. The majority of my wrong answers involved a breakdown at one of the 3 steps outlined above. (An insignificant percentage involved going too fast or just stupid mistakes.) About 45% of my wrong answers resulted from not knowing the law and the elements well enough. Okay, predictable. But surprisingly, another 45% of my wrong answers turned on my failure to identify the precise, narrow issue that the problem was in fact testing. Sometimes this turns on a single word in the facts. I could see that it was a torts problem, duh. But winging it by instinct and the seat of my pants, I would misidentify the narrow issue on which the correct answer turned, even though I knew the elements cold otherwise. If the right answer turns on intent, and you're thinking about causation, you will be applying the wrong litmus test when eliminating answer choices, which will lead you to the wrong answer selection.

Scoring high on the MBE depends upon knowing all of the elements cold, but also recognizing which element that the problem is testing. During your prep, take the time to mechanically, logically figure out the right litmus test to apply using the 3-step process above before you stampede through the answer choices. You will get more of them right, making fewer dumb mistakes, and you'll condition yourself to bring a winning approach to the table on the bar.

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JazzOne

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby JazzOne » Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:23 pm

9xSound wrote:Two of my repeater friends who failed yet again pointed to the MBE as their downfall. I'm confident that it wasn't due to an inadequate knowledge of the law. When I asked them (separately) about their approach to selecting answers, each of them said that they had eliminated the wrong answers until they settled on the right one. Correct approach, but imperfect. As I questioned them further, they both admitted that their approach ultimately relied upon gut instinct instead of a methodical plan of attack. The fact is, depending upon instinct is a terrible game plan for passing the MBE.

The MBE requires a mechanical approach to consistently solving the problems. Many people will advise you to read the call of the question first and glance at the answer choices to get your bearings, then read the facts, re-read the call, and then start eliminating wrong answers. I agree with this approach. However, for study purposes, it's an incomplete strategy. After you have read the facts and re-read the call, but before you start trying to eliminate answer choices, you need to take a moment to identify and articulate (out loud is best) the following:

(1) What issue is this problem actually testing? (Is it negligence or an intentional tort, consideration, acceptance, relevance, a defense?)
(2) What is the law of the issue, i.e., what are all of the elements that are needed to prove this issue? Recount them aloud.
(3) Which single element is the determinative point of law given the call and these facts?

Once you have completed this analytical drill, you will be ready to start eliminating wrong answers. Ignore the clock. Take the time to make this drill a Habit with every MBE problem that you do. Being methodical in your approach must become second nature. Automatic. You can work on your speed as you get closer to the bar, knowing that you will naturally become faster as you continue to work through MBE problems.

As I reviewed and re-reviewed my wrong answers over and over (another important prep strategy), I studied why I had selected the wrong answer, in addition to reviewing the rules of law. In other words, WTF did I do wrong? As a tactic of studying the test itself, not just studying the law, I kept track of the underlying reason behind every incorrect answer that I selected. You need to do the same if you are having trouble with the MBE. The majority of my wrong answers involved a breakdown at one of the 3 steps outlined above. (An insignificant percentage involved going too fast or just stupid mistakes.) About 45% of my wrong answers resulted from not knowing the law and the elements well enough. Okay, predictable. But surprisingly, another 45% of my wrong answers turned on my failure to identify the precise, narrow issue that the problem was in fact testing. Sometimes this turns on a single word in the facts. I could see that it was a torts problem, duh. But winging it by instinct and the seat of my pants, I would misidentify the narrow issue on which the correct answer turned, even though I knew the elements cold otherwise. If the right answer turns on intent, and you're thinking about causation, you will be applying the wrong litmus test when eliminating answer choices, which will lead you to the wrong answer selection.

Scoring high on the MBE depends upon knowing all of the elements cold, but also recognizing which element that the problem is testing. During your prep, take the time to mechanically, logically figure out the right litmus test to apply using the 3-step process above before you stampede through the answer choices. You will get more of them right, making fewer dumb mistakes, and you'll condition yourself to bring a winning approach to the table on the bar.

Sound advice. Get it? Lol

Seriously though: +1 to this entire post

Nybar2015

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby Nybar2015 » Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:14 am

The key to MBE is practice, practice, practice. I am saying this becoz I failed twice and this is what did during my 3rd attempt.

Step -1: choose a course or courses and stick to it. You need to complete at least one course. I did kaplan mbe 6 day course. I liked the lectures because they were shorter and crisper. But i did not like the explanations compared to barbri mbe. I completed kaplan and then did roughly 200-300 barbri mbe as I had no time. But I liked barbri explanations than kaplan though it was too late to switch. A majority liked adaptibar, so you can try that too. Get NCBE qs too, bcos it looks like they are more accurate than kaplan or barbri.

Step - 2: read your outline for every subject thoroughly and then start doing the mbe. Take around 2-3 days for every subject and do the mbe for the next 2-3 days.

Step - 3: you might not be able to do a question in 1:45secs. I nearly took 5-7 mins in the beginning but as you practice you will improve.
Also do sets of 10 or 17 questions Talwar for the first 50qs, then increase it to 33 qs and then 60 or 70 depending on your comfort.

Step -4: as many said key is to read all the explanations even if you get the question correct. Honestly the ones we get correct may be becoz of luck . So read read read explanation and that is key.

Step - 5: again as many said make a mbe rules sheet either handwritten or on comp. I did write as I am not great at typing. But if you know typing it truly helps you to organise the rules. Write down all rules that you guessed or got wrong. You can then see what is most tested in mbe. So that would be helpful for your final review.

Step- 6: do take the simulated mbe at least 3-4 weeks before the exam. That score would give you an idea where you stand in mbe: I got 105 in kaplan and my actual mbe is 126, I know it's bad but guess that 10% improvement helped me. Do simulated mbe 3-4 weeks b4 exam because you improve your weak areas and increase final mbe by 10-50%.

Step - 7: revise the rules sheet that you prepared before the exam.

Step-8: lot of valuable information in this thread. So read through it :)

Good luck you can do it!!

Neve

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby Neve » Fri May 27, 2016 7:05 pm

9xSound wrote:As I reviewed and re-reviewed my wrong answers over and over (another important prep strategy), I studied why I had selected the wrong answer, in addition to reviewing the rules of law. In other words, WTF did I do wrong? As a tactic of studying the test itself, not just studying the law, I kept track of the underlying reason behind every incorrect answer that I selected. You need to do the same if you are having trouble with the MBE. The majority of my wrong answers involved a breakdown at one of the 3 steps outlined above. (An insignificant percentage involved going too fast or just stupid mistakes.) About 45% of my wrong answers resulted from not knowing the law and the elements well enough. Okay, predictable. But surprisingly, another 45% of my wrong answers turned on my failure to identify the precise, narrow issue that the problem was in fact testing. Sometimes this turns on a single word in the facts. I could see that it was a torts problem, duh. But winging it by instinct and the seat of my pants, I would misidentify the narrow issue on which the correct answer turned, even though I knew the elements cold otherwise. If the right answer turns on intent, and you're thinking about causation, you will be applying the wrong litmus test when eliminating answer choices, which will lead you to the wrong answer selection.


+1. Reviewing your mistakes, learning the elements, and practice, practice, practice is key to the MBE.

Law&coffee

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby Law&coffee » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:08 pm

prettylilmama wrote:100% - Adaptibar is the ONLY reason why I passed the MBE. Barbri's MBE practice was damn near worthless, as the questions were literally NOTHING like what I saw on the real deal.

Further, Adaptibar keeps track of your progress and it's extremely customizable in terms of number of questions you want to do, which subjects you want to do simultaneously, etc.

One of my best friends failed the July MBE and she was blaming it on how she did everything Barbri said but Barbri had NOT prepared her for the MBE and she told me about how she was planning to use Adaptibar this time around because the people she knew who passed in July used it. THANK GOD, she told me about it bc I would've failed too. Instead I ended up with a 139.3 - not stellar but better than the national scaled mean and was definitely enough for me to pass my state combined with my essay score.

Also, Adaptibar is awesome because their explanations are so helpful and you can print PDF copies of the exams you take so you can take them with you to review the stuff you are missing.

Obviously I can't say enough good things about Adaptibar, LOL! No, I am not an Adaptibar salesperson, but it is worth every penny because now I get to start working and making lawyer $ instead of paralegal/doc review $, AND I don't have to pay the fees to take that GD exam again.

Seriously, do yourselves a favor and get Adaptibar.


Has anyone used both Adaptibar and Barmax? I'm wondering what the difference is between those two. Barmax seems like a cheaper alternative to Adaptibar without all the bells and whistles.

L_William_W

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby L_William_W » Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:57 pm

SilvermanBarPrep wrote:I know that the released questions are quite limited but be sure to work through all of the questions that the NCBE has released. There is also a book called Strategies and Tactics for the Multistate Method. I've noticed that many of my students have never heard of this book but I believe that as far as non-official MBE questions go, this is one of the best books available.

The key to doing well on the MBE is knowing the law well enough to see through the distractors! Eliminating all that is incorrect so that the last remaining choice is the correct answer. Being able to do this consistently requires a very thorough knowledge base and lots of practice!

Sean


Coming from a repeater, the best book is Kaplan. It is roughly the same format and level of difficulty as the real exam. My MBE went from a 118.6 in July 2014 (NY, obviously failed) to a 123.2 in February 2015 (NJ, failed) to a 130.2 in July 2015 (NJ, barely passed).

After getting my ass handed to me, I realized that there are simply some subjects that I'm weak at and no matter how many times I review it, I won't get it (property, contracts, civ pro). With that in mind, I basically went through the motions in those subjects but studied EXTRA, EXTRA hard in my stronger subjects (torts, crim, con law, evidence). I figured that if I got 75% of the questions right in the big 4 subjects, I could pass, even with a mediocre performance in my 3 weakest subjects.

I looked for patterns in both the correct answers and the trap answers. I understood why an answer was correct and why a trap answer was incorrect. I didn't focus on the amount of time I took to complete each MBE. In the AM session of the July 2015 bar, there was 2 minutes left and I still had 7 MBE's to complete. I just said fuck it and guessed B on all of them. I had a fudge factor since during prep, I knew that I couldn't possibly complete all of them on time. Rather than to rush through each MBE, I figured that it was better to do the MBE's correctly, even if I run out of time than to rush and get them wrong. Of course, this was within reason- I couldn't take so long on each question that there would be 20 MBE's left to do.

jellybelly13

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby jellybelly13 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:51 am

waxecstatic wrote:
numbertwo88 wrote:I used Themis both times I took the bar exam. The first time I failed and completed about 76% of the course and of that 76% I only completed ~55% of the MBE questions. I scored a 124 on the MBE my first time. The second time I took it I'm not sure what my score was because MA doesn't release them if you pass but on practice sets I was getting 65% - 74% correct. Also, first time around I only had a top score on 1 essay too. My other essay scores weren't bad though - it's the MBE that fucked me over.

Second time around this is what I did differently (still using Themis though since it was offered for free after I failed)
1. Skipped *every* single lecture - they're useless. As long as you can read you don't need to watch them or fill out those dumbass handouts.
2. I spent about 1.5 months solely on MBE subjects. I gave myself 3 to 4 days for each MBE subject and I read critical pass flashcards on day 1 making notes as I went along and then I would Silverman's MBE Essentials on the same subject making notes as well, day 2 I read the outlines again including the notes I made and SIlverman's MBE Essentials again, day 3 I made my own MBE outline, and then on that same day or the next, I would do a single subject MBE set. I did 4 of the 5 single subject MBE sets, one every day, on top of the new MBE subjects I was learning. At the end of learning all of the MBE subjects, I completed the last remaining single subject MBE problem sets. Reading the outlines I wrote was essential because it explained everything succinctly and in my own words.
I also would read sections of the long outlines in areas where my MBE score was particularly week and tweak my outline (usually handwritten after I printed them) to clarify anything.
3. About 1.5 months on essays - I made a calendar and every day I did at least 3 practice essays. I'd outline them as opposed to writing them out for the sake of time because I still did MBE review every single day (reviewing either 1 or 2 outlines and doing mixed problem sets by this point). I also outlined all of the essay topics based on the most frequently tested areas of law under each individual subject [I took the information for these outlines from the "Essay" workshop handout provided by Themis for MA] - like for Family Law my outline emphasized divorce, annulment, pre-nups, child support, child custody, support/property division,and best interests of the child. I'd review the essay outlines based on which were most often tested and did the essay outlines without looking at my outline after I did a couple from each subject.
4. You have to make a schedule and stick with it (I literally printed out a blank calendar and filled it all in). Write the exact problem set you're going to do of the MBE subject you're working on that day, or the MBE multiple choice and essays you're doing that day ... however you plan it out. Planning is so important!
5. I wrote down rule statements for every single MBE question I got incorrect, broken down by subject, and reviewed it on occasion. You'll notice patterns in what you're getting wrong and eventually those areas will start to click with you.
7. Ignore the amount of hours other people are studying and what they're doing. I did maybe 6 to 8 hours Sunday - Friday and Saturdays I had a light day of about 4 hours or so. I also ignored advice of people who passed the first time they took the bar exam because they don't comprehend the struggle.
8. I definitely recommend starting early! Not everyone has the luxury of doing that or studying full-time but after I failed it the first time, I was pulling all the stops.
9. Didn't over invest in MBE questions. I bought Strategies & tactics because basically everyone recommends it and it was useful in that the strategies/tactics sections for each subject were useful but the practice MBE questions overlapped with Themis questions so much that I quit doing them. I completed all of the Themis MBE questions which was in the area of 2,500, give or take.

Hope anything I did differently helps :) I probably wrote too much as well so my apologies about that!

& I probably completed about ~55% of the course the second time (solely MBE questions, essays, graded essays, exams) - the lectures make up literally nearly 50% of the course.


One thing I've noticed through this experience is there isn't a direct correlation between hours spent studying and performance. Some people study 6 weeks and pass. The amount of studying you put in or are suggesting I put in is impossible for me. I would just lose my mind. "4 hours on a light day"? Plus, I'm poor. I can no longer afford to not have a job. Me writing outline after outline and making flashcards or this or that would be helpful for regurgitating the law but it won't improve my MBE performance. My essays reflect I know the law. That being said, spending a month and a half on essays would be a waste of time. Even if I improve my essays 10 points, I would still have failed. My weakness is the MBE and that should be much easier to improve given my shitty score. Everything else you said I agree with and congrats on passing.



Can it be done in one month and.21 days full time...i did my first set of contracts questions and got 5 out of 17.

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SilvermanBarPrep

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Re: A strategy for improving the MBE

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:52 pm

(1): Train yourself so that the entire purpose of any question is to eliminate the answers that you know to be wrong rather than pick the answer that you know to be correct. After teaching this test for many years, I am certain that it is easier to spot wrong answers than to pick the right answer. This is because the right answer isn't always entirely right (frustrating!!!) but rather it is more right than the others. Know the law well enough to know why answers are wrong and you are on your way to a better score.

(2): When implementing this strategy, you will still answer questions incorrectly. When that happens, note somewhere the rule of law that had you known you would have been able to answer the question correctly. The MBE is all about testing the same legal issues over and over again but hiding those issues in the different fact patterns. But regardless of the fact pattern the same rules are used to solve an identical issue. So your goal is to understand the rule that you needed to know so that next time the same issue is hidden in a new fact pattern you'll be able to use that rule to cross out wrong answers and ultimately pick the "correct" one.

(3): Work on endurance and speed in the month of the exam. There is more to performing well on this test than legal knowledge. Or in language you might remember from taking the LSAT, legal knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. If there is one problem with the big bar-review companies (and, for the most part I think they do a fine job), it's the percentage dedicated to legal knowledge as opposed to these other variables is slightly off. You wouldn't learn how to play chess by dedicating all of your time to reading the rule book to the game; the same applies to the MBE. You've got to practice playing the game to increase your skill level.

--Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)



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