How to Improve Your Timing on the MBE: During each administration there are who fail the bar exam because they run out of time. Once they look at their watches, panic sets in. They start racing through fact patterns without reading them carefully, missing questions that they otherwise would have answered correctly. Or they are forced to guess on the last ten or fifteen questions. Maybe they leave answers blank. Or they are tired and their eyes glaze over as they read the fact patterns. This is not how you want MBE day to go. It is quite frustrating to feel that the main reason you failed the bar exam is because you ran out of time.
Below are four techniques to help you work on your time management skills before you take the bar exam. Try all of these techniques and see which ones work best for you.
Four Tips to Improve your Timing on the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam)
1. Do MBE questions under timed conditions.
The goal is to be able to complete 100 questions in three hours. Ideally, you want to approach the last 25 questions with the same focus and intensity that you had for the first 25 questions. This cannot be accomplished in one day or even a week. Gradually build up to this during the course of your review. For example, do 25 questions in a row the first day, then 50 a few days later, then 75 the following week, and finally 100. Set aside time to do at least one full-length practice MBE (e.g., 100 questions in the morning, an hour break for lunch, followed by 100 questions in the afternoon).
Practice makes perfect! You will not regret beginning timing your MBE questions early on.
2. Bring a watch to the bar exam (if your state allows it).
If you are allowed to bring a watch to the bar exam, set your watch to noon when the exam begins so it will be easier for you to time yourself. The last thing you want to do is make a silly mistake while timing (which is more likely to happen if your exam starts at 9:13 AM)! No one wants to stress about the math.
Some jurisdictions, such as Michigan and Illinois, do not allow you to bring a watch into the exam room. At such testing centers, clocks or timers are located in the exam room.
If you are not allowed to bring a watch to the bar exam, practice timing yourself with clocks well ahead of the test. This will help you get used to taking exams under the timed conditions that you will be in on exam day.
3. As you practice, divide your time into increments.
To answer 100 questions in three hours, students should try to answer approximately 33 questions per hour. However, this may be too daunting a task as you start. You could try to keep track of your time in smaller increments. It is helpful for many students to aim to answer nine questions every 15 minutes. If you do that, you will even have an extra ten minutes at the end!
Get in the habit of checking the clock every fifteen minutes as you work on timing.
You can put a dash or dot by questions that you do not feel comfortable with, as a reminder to go back to them if you have time. Then, if you have any time left over, you can revisit these questions.
Keep in mind that contracts and real property fact patterns are generally longer than questions for other subjects, such as evidence. Many people complain that they are unable to get through real property questions quickly enough – this is not a problem if you are able to make up the time by answering other types of questions more quickly.
4. Do practice questions in less than the allotted amount of time.
While this may seem difficult at first, it is a good strategy to employ during some of your practice sessions. For example, try answering 110 multiple-choice questions in three hours, instead of 100 questions. Even if you are only able to answer 104 or 105 questions, you will still be ahead on time.
Knowing that you have worked out your timing issues will give you some confidence as you walk into the testing center on MBE day. You can stay focused on the task at hand — answering one question at a time.
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