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MBE timing tips, improve timing on the MBEMBE Timing Tips

If you are looking for MBE timing tips, you are not alone. It is very common to run out of time on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) portion of the exam. However, there also are several highly effective ways to improve timing on the MBE. Even if you have always struggled with timing, it is possible to complete both portions of the MBE on time using some of the techniques listed below. 

MBE Timing Tips

1. Memorize the law—and start by focusing on the highly tested areas.

While this may seem like an unusual tip to help with timing, it is highly effective. Many students struggle with timing because they take a long time trying to think of the applicable MBE rule when they answer an MBE question. They will ponder, for example, “Was it strict scrutiny or intermediate scrutiny that applied?” or “What is the rule about a state discriminating on the basis of alienage?” If you cannot remember a rule, then it will take even more time to come up with an educated guess.

So, one of the best MBE timing tips that we have is to make sure you have the rules memorized! Even if your bar review course has told you not to memorize MBE outlines yet, don’t listen! It is important to work on memorization from the beginning. If you do not know the law, you have nothing to apply when you answer questions!

Wondering how to learn your MBE outlines? Check out this post on how to memorize your bar exam outlines if you are looking for new ways to learn the law.

Want to see the fastest possible improvement in your MBE score? If you want to see fast improvement in both your MBE timing and your MBE score, you should also focus on the highly tested MBE areas as we noted here. By focusing on the “big ticket” items, you will be making the most of your study time.

2. Slow down.

This is another one of our MBE timing tips that may seem counterintuitive, but it really works. While taking timed MBE exams is very important (see tip #4!), slowing down can go a long way in improving your MBE score.

If you slow down and “dissect” an MBE question, this has a few great benefits:

  • First, you will get quite fast at issue-spotting.
  • You will be more likely to immediately recall the law if you have dissected it and thought about it.
  • You will get fast at dissecting and organizing fact patterns.
  • You will not feel “lost” or like you are “guessing” when you answer MBE questions (so you are less likely to change your answer choice).
  • You will develop the strategy and technique necessary to see your MBE score improve.

If you are following along in this Free MBE Guide, we have covered how to slow down and dissect MBE questions. We also tell you in this post how to speed up your MBE timing by slowing down when you answer questions.

3. Have an MBE scantron strategy.

This is one of our MBE timing tips that can be of great benefit to you if you find it hard to improve your MBE timing but want to make sure you answer all the questions you are most likely to get right. Here are a few MBE scantron strategies you can try:

  • Some students skip questions they instantly know they will struggle with (e.g., Real Property future interest problems). If you do this, you should fill in the bubble on your scantron and make a note that, if you have time, you should come back to it.
  • You may find it effective to use a “dot/dash” system. Put a dot on your scantron by any question you are not entirely sure on. Put a dash by questions you really do not know the answer to or questions you did not have time to read carefully. Then, when you are done completing the exam, review all of the questions with dashes first. If you have additional time, review all the questions that have dots next to them. This helps you prioritize (you answer all the questions you may know first, then you go back to answer the ones you did not know, and lastly you review the ones you were unsure of) and it helps you maximize your score.

The major advantage of having an MBE scantron strategy is that you will be able to answer the questions you are most likely to know the answers to. You will not just randomly be bubbling in 15 questions at the end (when those questions may have been easy questions for you!).

4. Complete several timed exams before the actual exam.

This is one of our MBE timing tips that should not come as any surprise! The best way to make sure you have mastered timing on the MBE is to complete MBE exams under timed conditions.

We recommend that you start by answering 33 questions in an hourWhen you feel comfortable with that, increase the time and answer 66 questions in two hours. Then move up to 100 questions in three hours.

You may also find it helpful to “divide” your time into 15-minute increments. Every 15 minutes, you should have answered 9 MBE questions. (If you do this, you will have 10 minutes to spare at the end of the exam.) If you want to try this, keep the following in mind:

  • After 15 minutes, you should have answered 9 questions
  • After 30 minutes, you should have answered 18 questions
  • After 45 minutes, you should have answered 27 questions
  • After 60 minutes, you should have answered 36 questions
  • Etc.

The advantage of thinking about your time in 15-minute increments rather than hour-increments is that it is easier to speed up if you fall behind after 15 minutes. Also, you may avoid the anxiety that comes with being not sure if you are answering questions too slowly.

Make sure that when you complete timed exams you are using real MBE questions as we note in Topic 12. These will best prepare you for the MBE.

5. Combat MBE fatigue.

Some students run out of time on the MBE because they suffer from MBE fatigue. They get really tired. Or can’t concentrate. Or find themselves zoning out.

If you struggle with MBE fatigue, you should know that there are a lot of ways to combat it! Some tips for combatting MBE fatigue include the following:

  • Make sure you’re eating right and exercising during bar prep.
  • Make sure you’re sleeping enough. If you are sleep-deprived, it will be natural to feel fatigue when you are taking a timed multiple-choice exam!
  • Plan on taking a bathroom break during the MBE. Sometimes just getting up and walking around for a minute or two can make a big difference. If you want to try this, make sure you also do this when you practice so that you can time it correctly (i.e., you can take a break at a time you feel the most fatigued) and make sure that you do not run out of time.
  • Put your head down and rest for 30–60 seconds. Sometimes taking a mental break and focusing on something else—like your breathing—or even focusing on nothing at all, can re-energize examinees and help them “re-set” their minds.
  • Study during the same times you will be taking the exam. If you have been accustomed to studying all night and sleep all day, you will probably feel fatigued when you take the real MBE! Get used to studying at the same times the MBE is administered.

We talk specifically about how to combat MBE fatigue in this article.

We hope you found these MBE timing tips helpful! Good luck studying for the MBE!

Go to the next topic, Topic 14: Is My MBE Score Passing?

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