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Real MBE Questions And Your Bar Prep

Real MBE questions should be a major part of your bar exam study toolkit. But some bar prep companies don’t use real, licensed MBE questions in their courses. Instead, they create their own practice questions for students. Many students wonder whether they should be using real questions in place of, or in addition to, “practice” ones.  In this post, we discuss what real MBE questions are, where to find them, and why they should be part of your bar prep.

Real MBE Questions And Your Bar Prep

What are real MBE questions?

At the outset, it’s important to understand what we’re talking about when we refer to “real” MBE questions.  These are questions that were written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”) and were actually used on past bar exams.  Naturally, there’s a limited number of these questions available and even fewer from recent exams.

Where can I find real questions?

The NCBE periodically releases real MBE questions, with the most recent release in 2019.  You can also get access to them from our bar prep course—we provide over 1,600 real MBE questions—or from other question banks like Emanuel’s MBE Strategies & Tactics and Adaptibar.  If you decide to purchase real questions from one of these sources, remember to look for the most recent questions available.

If you’re interested in working with real questions, check out our real MBE question bank!

Are there any benefits to using practice MBE questions?

Yes! Well-crafted practice MBE questions can certainly come close to the real thing. In some cases, they can even be more challenging than the real thing.  This can be very helpful to identify any weak areas that need additional work.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that practice questions are simulated questions.  In other words, they’re never going to perfectly match the real thing.

Should I incorporate actual MBE questions into my bar prep?

Yes! Real MBE questions are an invaluable resource. Just be sure they are from a relatively recent exam and are purchased from a reliable source.  One of the largest benefits of working with real MBE questions is that you can acclimate yourself to the NCBE’s style of question writing.  This will help you avoid a common experience among exam-takers who work only with practice questions: feeling blindsided on exam day by an unfamiliar question style.

Another major benefit of working with real MBE questions is that you’ll find that the NCBE has their “favorite” areas of the law that they tend to test more than others.  You should take note of commonly tested areas and focus your studying accordingly.

An example helps illustrate the above points.  If you’re working on actual torts questions, pay attention to which principles are tested the most in a question bank.  If you notice, for example, that you’re seeing a lot of battery questions, take note of how the examiners like to test battery. Which aspects of the rule do they seem to focus on most? Are there any similarities in battery question fact patterns?  Asking yourself these types of questions will allow you to target your preparation on what you’re most likely to encounter on exam day.

We’ve also done a lot of that work for you in our MBE Subject Frequency Chart.

What should I look for if I’ve decided to use real questions?

First, as mentioned above, you should look for sources that use more recent questions.  These questions reflect the NCBE’s current format, style, and preference for testing certain areas of the law. (Questionsn from 1975 will not be as helpful as those from 2015.)

Second, you should keep in mind that civil procedure is a relatively new addition to the MBE, so there are fewer real civil procedure questions in circulation.  Unsurprisingly, even companies that publish books of real MBE questions may use some simulated civil procedure ones.

Third, you should choose sources that have solid explanations for each question.  Specifically, you want sources that specifically explain why a particular answer choice is correct and why the remaining answer choices are incorrect.  Be sure to take advantage of this!  One of the most effective ways of studying—and practicing—is to read the explanation for each question that you work through.  This helps you understand the logic of the question and enhances your ability to develop a “feel” for the questions more broadly.  After all, many of the questions have more than one technically “right” answer. But, your task is to choose the “best” answer.  When you work through as many real MBE questions as possible, you’ll get better and better and learning how to separate the best answer from the rest of them.

The big picture

If you’ve already committed to a bar prep course that does not use real questions, you should seriously consider purchasing them from one of the sources discussed above.  However, if you haven’t committed to a course yet, we recommend choosing one that does use them.  At the end of the day, there’s no harm working from well-crafted practice questions as long as you supplement your studying with the real MBE questions as well.

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