Preparing for the MBE

The MBE is an all day multiple choice test that consists of 200 total questions - 100 in the morning and 100 after lunch. The number of correct answers you produce is scaled by the NCBE and this scaled score represents 50% of your overall bar score.

The NCBE does not strictly "curve" your performance against just the cohort you sit with; it also equates the exam to past administrations. Certain test questions are included on your exam as "equators"; these are questions that have been used on past exams and are utilized to assess how your cohort of takers performs relative to past cohorts -- see this article in the Bar Examiner. The testmaker is invested in making sure the UBE is a reliable exam and it ensures that the version of the bar exam you sit for is no more or less difficult than past bar exams have been, or, if it is, to adjust the scale so that the skill and effort it takes to pass your bar exam is no different than the amount of skill and effort it took on past administrations. The NCBE may also includes some questions on your test that are experimental and not scored, to test out new material and measure how valid the questions are in practice. All in all, only 175 of the 200 questions you answer contribute to your score.

You can rest assured that the NCBE is administering a test that demands the same amount of skill and knowledge for you as it has taken in the past. The questions you encounter may seem more difficult to you, but that is likely related to the test-day circumstances and not to their being actually, objectively speaking, more difficult. Knowing this might help your preparation if you can relax in the knowledge that your test is well understood by the test maker and by the commercial test prep companies that are trying to help you conquer it.

The best thing you can do with your MBE prep (in addition to learning and memorizing an enormous amount of substantive material) is to get to know the structure of the questions. Review the sample questions released by NCBE and try to set aside a significant portion of your study time to practice answering MBE questions under timed conditions.

Have a plan for how to approach the questions. Your commercial bar prep course will likely give you guidance on this. Even if it doesn't, you can develop a plan that works for you. Each MBE question consists of a set of facts (often a paragraph or two in length), followed by a specific question and four answer choices. Have a plan for your approach. Many students find it beneficial to begin with the call of the question so they can identify the area of the law involved and orient to their task before beginning with the facts. Practice different approaches, but, most importantly, gain familiarity with how these questions are structured.


Here are some resources to prepare for the MBE. You should always visit the NCBE for up-to-date information about the MBE, which includes but is not limited to the subject matter, study aids, & past questions and analyses.