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Should I answer MBE questions in preparation for the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam?

Some students are wondering if, or how many, Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) questions they should answer in preparation for the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam.

To answer this question, we will start with some background information on the July 2020 exam.

The July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam

As you are probably aware, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners (BLE) has announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam will be one day, essay only, and online. Please read more information about this new one-day exam here.

The essay portion will be 15 questions. These 15 questions are written by the five members of the BLE. These five board members are practicing judges and attorneys.

Ordinarily, there would be a second bar exam day, the MBE portion, which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). These MBE questions are not written by the Michigan Board. They are written by scholars and professors and undergo a lengthy review process before being scored on the MBE.

The July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam will no longer include the MBE portion, and will only include the essay portion of the bar exam.

The best preparation for the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam

The best way to prepare for the Michigan Bar Exam is to study for the test you will be given. So the absolute best way to maximize your score on the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam is to:

It is quite simple. Study for the test you will be given. You will be given 15 essay questions to answer over a period of five hours. So, the best way to boost your essay score will be to learn the law tested on the essay portion and practice essay questions.

To set yourself apart, make essay practice a regular part of your study routine. We’d recommend about 10 essays per week. Start with the most recent essays on the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ website and work your way backward. (We’ll be writing a post next week that covers, in more detail, why these recent essays are a better source of practice than older essays. But, in short, the most recent essays are most likely to contain topics that you will see tested on the upcoming exam.)

Make sure to take advantage of any essay grading your bar review course offers. And, if you see a law tested that is not in your bar review course’s outline, please add it in so you can consistently review the law you are most likely to see on exam day.

The essay portion is actually pretty predictable in terms of what is tested so you can see great improvements in your score by simply paying attention to the free essay questions at your disposal!

So, should I answer practice MBE questions?

You can pass the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam without answering MBE questions.

Why is this?

  • The MBE is a completely different testing format. The essay portion of the bar exam is in a free text form with no preexisting answer options. The MBE is not free text and only allows examinees to select preexisting options. Thus, the MBE does not at all mimic the test you will see on exam day.
  • The MBE is also written by a completely different entity. The essay portion of the Michigan Bar Exam is written by practicing attorneys and judges in Michigan, whereas the MBE is written by national scholars and professors. So, by answering MBE questions, you will not even really get a good feel for the types of issues that will be tested or the topics that the Examiners care about.

So, the point is, answering MBE questions is not the best way to study for the test you will be given. And, you could pass the Michigan Bar Exam exam without answering any MBE questions.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind! 

Some students find that answering multiple-choice questions helps them to understand or cement the law. It can bring some concepts to “life” for some students. (For other students, answering multiple-choice questions does not have this effect)! So, if you find it helpful to answer multiple-choice questions as a way of cementing the law you have reviewed, feel free to answer MBE questions. We recommend that our students try answering a very limited about of multiple-choice questions every week, as a different way of learning the law. (If students find this ineffective, they should not continue! If they find it effective, they can continue on in this manner!)


  • We would not recommend you answer thousands of multiple-choice questions however, as it will probably reduce the time you are able to learn the law and answer essay questions (which will more directly positively impact your score).
  • We also would not recommend you answer multiple-choice questions in a timed setting. There is no point in timing yourself on these given you will not be taking a timed multiple-choice exam. So if you do answer any multiple-choice questions, do them in an untimed fashion. The point is just to deepen your understanding of the law and often this takes time.

Multiple-choice questions are one of the many tools available

There are many tools for deepening your understanding or memorization of the law (besides multiple-choice). For example, you can accomplish this with charts, diagrams, mnemonics, flashcards, brief memorization quizzes, listening to lecture, joining a study group, practicing hypos in your outlines, answering short-answer questions, etc. The point is that multiple-choice is just one way that some students find effective to cement the law.

It is of critical importance to practice multiple-choice when multiple-choice questions are a component of the exam you will be given. But, this importance is greatly diminished when the exam does not include multiple-choice questions. So, the best way to view multiple-choice questions is as another potentially helpful tool to actively review the law; not as a necessity to pass the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam.

Looking for more guidance on the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam?

Attend our free webinar on how to pass the July 2020 Michigan Bar Exam! Read more here.

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