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“Fake” v. “Real” MBE Questions: Pros and Cons of Each

You may have heard something about “real” multistate bar exam (MBE) questions and wonder if they are worth it to purchase. In general, we think they are, but in this post, we will discuss the pros and cons of using fake v. real (or released) multiple-choice MBE questions.

What are “Real” MBE Questions? 

Before we continue, let’s define “real” MBE questions. “Real” questions are those written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). This is the organization that is responsible for writing the multiple-choice portion of the exam (as well as the written portion in Uniform Bar Exam states).

You may also see them written as:

  • actual, official MBE questions
  • released MBE questions
  • NCBE-released questions

These are all the same thing!

How many “Real” Questions Exist? 

The NCBE has released MBE questions periodically throughout the years. Questions from the 1990s through 2019 are available. The NCBE recently released a 210-question exam in 2019. Prior to that, it released four exams in the 2000s and has periodically updated those exams.

There are also several questions from the 1990s. The NCBE does not update these older questions so it is up to any company that provides released questions to update these questions from the 1990s to reflect the current style and law tested on the MBE. There are currently over 1500 NCBE-released questions in total.

What are the Pros and Cons of using “Real” MBE Questions? 

The pros of using actual, official, NCBE-released MBE questions are as follows:

  • By and large, these questions reflect the current format of the MBE. You should not be too surprised on MBE test day. The format and style will be very familiar to you if you used real multiple-choice questions when you practiced.
  • The same issues tend to be tested. There are certain “favorite” issues that the NCBE likes to test. (We cover these in our MBE favorites lectures!) The more of these MBE questions you complete, the more you will be exposed to these MBE “favorites.” Some students swear they see repeat questions on test day — that is, the same questions they practiced. They didn’t. They are just seeing the same issues. But still, the effect is the same — they know the right answer!
  • By practicing these questions, you will have a good idea of how you will perform on test day. Because these are released questions, they reflect the current difficulty of the exam. So, using released questions will help you gauge how you are performing on test day!

The cons of using real questions are as follows:

  • The main hurdle to most people using MBE questions is they don’t know the MBE questions exist. But the second hurdle is the price. Because the NCBE has a high licensing fee, companies necessarily have to charge a decent amount to make any kind of profit on selling released MBE questions! If the company is not selling these questions, but rather incorporating them in a bar review course, the price of the bar review course will likely be higher so the company can pay the licensing fee.

pass the bar exam, commercial bar review courseWhat are “Fake” MBE Questions?

“Fake” MBE questions are bar exam multiple-choice questions written by companies or bar review courses, rather than those questions drafted by the NCBE.

How many “Fake” MBE Questions Exist?

There are thousands of them! They vary in quality. Most courses provide fake (rather than real) multiple-questions. Hint: if the course doesn’t say it provides real questions, it probably doesn’t!

(Note: our course provides over 1,600 real questions, but we also offer “fake” questions for additional practice. For example, we offer 100 free questions — written by us — to students who want to test out our MBE Qbank! These 100 questions are 100% free — which is one of the benefits of using “fake” MBE questions, as we discuss below!)

What are the Pros and Cons of using “Fake” MBE Questions? 

The pros of using fake MBE questions are as follows:

  • There are so many options! You can use MBE questions written by Barbri, Kaplan, and a variety of companies. You should not have trouble finding questions to practice.
  • They are cheaper than real MBE questions. Companies do not have to pay a licensing fee on questions that they write. So you can find questions at a cheaper price.
  • Some are well written and pretty difficult. While some “fake” MBE questions are not the greatest, others are well written and difficult, which make them a good source of practice.

The cons of using fake MBE questions are as follows:

  • They don’t necessarily reflect the difficulty of the questions on the MBE. Some are too easy. Others are too hard. (This is especially true with Civil Procedure questions, as Civil Procedure was added to the MBE only five years ago.) So, it may be hard to gauge how you will perform on test day.
  • You will likely not see the same issues tested in similar ways. If you use real questions, you will likely see some similar issues on the MBE (see “MBE favorites” above). However, if a company is writing its own questions, it will have its own “favorite” issues to test — which are likely not the exact same as the NCBE’s favorite issues.
  • Some of the questions are of low quality. They are sloppily written and are not the pristine, well-written, well-thought-out questions you will see drafted by the NCBE.
  • You may be surprised on test day. Several examinees walk out of the MBE day sure that they failed and feeling unprepared by their commercial course. The more real questions you do, the less likely you are to feel this way.

Our ultimate suggestion?

We suggest you get real MBE questions. Real questions are the best source of practice. Even if you incorporate “fake” questions into your study routine, make sure to do at least some real questions.

Where to find real questions? 

  • If you just want to take the most recent 2019 MBE questions (a great source of practice), you can purchase them here. This is in a PDF format, so you can print it just like the real exam and take it under timed conditions!
  • If you want to access an electronic Qbank with over 1,600 MBE questions (an even better source of practice — you can see exactly which subject you are performing well in and which subjects you are struggling in!) — you can get access to these real questions here.
  • If you are looking for additional sources of MBE questions, check out this post on where to find real questions here.
  • Looking for MBE Help?

    We offer the following MBE products and services:

    • An MBE course, which comes with several MBE sessions, all 7 MBE outlines, our MBE diagnostic, MBE guide, and MBE one-sheets!
    • MBE private tutoring for those seeking one-on-one help to pass the MBE.
    • Real MBE questions! We offer the latest NCBE-released questions!
    • Our MBE favorites series, which dissects the “favorite” issues the MBE tests. You have instant access to them online!
    • An MBE Seminar for those looking for strategies to improve their MBE score.
    • An MBE guide, which has a guaranteed 7-point score increase.
    • An MBE diagnostic for those who are having trouble determining why their scores are not increasing.

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