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Retaking The Bar Exam? 3 Things You Need To Know About The New Changes To The MBE

Posted by Marino Legal Academy on Nov 4, 2016 11:58:29 AM

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If you are retaking the bar exam this February, there is a significant change to the MBE (Multi-State Bar Exam) that you should know about.

Until now, 190 of the 200 questions on the MBE were scored; 10 questions were known as “pretest” questions. Much like in other standardized tests such as the SATs, these questions are unscored and are used in future tests if the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) determines that the questions are useful for assessing the examinee’s aptitude in the tested subjects. 

However, starting with the February 2017 Bar Exam, the MBE will now include 175 scored questions; 25 questions in each of the seven subjects and 25 unscored, pretest questions. 

The change reflects the NCBE’s attempt to strengthen the MBE, at a time when some have accused the MBE of being an unreliable indicator of an applicant’s abilities as a future lawyer. 

These accusations stem from the national decline in MBE scores and bar passage rates, and are a response to the NCBE’s assertions that the decline is due to increasingly lax admission standards by law schools, resulting in less qualified candidates.

The point of having pretest questions is to filter out questions that either nearly everyone gets correct or that nearly everyone gets wrong – such questions are not useful test questions.  By moving towards a test where all questions are pretested, the MBE will, so the argument goes, be a stronger, more effective test.

But for you, the individual having to retake the bar exam in February, how does it impact you?

Well, keep the following 3 factors in mind:

  1. The test will still be scored on a 200-point scale. As before, each question offers an opportunity to earn points; answering a question incorrectly will not cost any points, therefore, NEVER leave an MBE question blank!
  1. With fewer questions being scored, there will be fewer opportunities to score points. In other words, it will be even more important to answer each MBE question correctly. And do not make the mistake of trying to guess which questions are pretest and which are scored – you will not know, will waste valuable time and it will be impossible to guess!
  1. To pass the bar exam, you must receive a passing score on the MBE. In those jurisdictions that have adopted the UBE, the MBE is worth 50% of the exam; making it nearly impossible to pass the bar without passing the MBE. And now with fewer opportunities to score critical points, it is integral that students not only learn and understand the law tested, but develop their MBE test-taking skills. Timing and strategy are the keys to mastering the MBE. Remember, it is not enough to just know the law. You must be able to apply the law to the MBE fact pattern and choose the correct answer quickly and efficiently.

Especially if you are retaking the exam, make sure your bar preparation plan includes developing your MBE test-taking skills.  You should learn and practice a strategy for increasing your speed and maximizing your score. 

Our Marino Retaker Bar Review Course includes specific test-taking strategies to increase your MBE performance that have proven to be effective for thousands of retaker students and have helped significantly raise their scores through methodology focused on how to accurately, quickly, and effectively analyze an MBE question and how to improve timing and guessing techniques.

For more specific advice about how to improve your MBE score, email info@marinolegal.com or just submit your score report here for a free personalized score report evaluation.


Topics: Sponsored, Bar Exam, MBE, Marino