Important Changes To The MBE For 2017

The National Conference of Bar Examiners alerted law school deans yesterday about another change to the MBE starting in 2017 (they had previously announced an expansion of the scope of topics that might be tested in the category of Real Property). The 2017 MBE will still contain 200 questions, but unlike prior years, when 190 of those were actually scored and 10 were unscored experimental questions, the new MBE will only score 175 questions and 25 will be unscored experimental questions.

This means that each individual multiple choice question will count a bit more than in the past; and cumulatively, it will be more important for a bar taker to answer each one correctly. What this means for you, as an individual test-taker, is that test-taking skills and strategies will become even more important. In addition to paying attention to the added scope of Real Property topics and making sure you study the new topics, it will be more important than ever for you to do as many practice MBE questions as possible and review what strategies were most effective for you.

We will be offering (again) free MBE workshops for graduating students in the spring semester, so please plan to take advantage of at least one of those. You can come to all of them at no cost to you. Also, be sure to ask bar review course vendors for details about their MBE practice questions, such as how many of them are actual former MBE questions released by NCBEX, and how many will address the added subjects in Civil Procedure (added in 2015) and Real Property. Be aware that older MBE review materials will likely not include those new topics, including some that are on reserve for your use in the MacMillan Law Library.

More Practice MBE Questions On Reserve For You

As you shift more and more of your time toward doing practice questions and mock exams, it is useful to practice with sets of earlier, actual MBE questions which are released for that purpose by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. You can either buy sets of 100 as online practice exams (OPEs) at their website, www.ncbex.org, for your personal use, OR you can check out either or both of the Emanuel books “Strategies and Tactics for the MBE”, the fifth and sixth editions, which I’ve put on reserve at the law library circulation desk. The sixth edition has OPE Set 4 and the fifth edition has OPE Set 3, both with answer keys and explanations. You can also buy a personal hard copy of those books online through Amazon et al.

Do You Want Free Critical Pass MBE Flashcards?

Here’s something to lighten the mood a little on a stormy Friday five weeks before the bar exam and after a tough, sad week in Orlando. I have a complete, new set of “Critical Pass ” MBE flashcards that was sent to me by the company after I went to the annual conference for law school academic assistance. I understand that those of you who are taking commercial bar review courses (which I hope is all of you who will take a bar exam in July) can gauge your progress on completing assignments during the course, against the average for all others taking the same state course from that provider.

If you are an Emory Law grad, Class of 2016, taking a bar exam this July, email me a screen shot of whatever system your course uses; if it shows that you have done MORE assigned work than the average for your course, in your state, I will enter your name in a drawing for the set of MBE flashcards (I know, thrilling, right? But they’re not cheap and some 2015 grads really liked them). They cover all the MBE subjects, including the 2015 addition, Civil Procedure. You must be able to pick the set up from the law school in person and you must email me the screenshot before 5 pm on Monday, June 20. Good luck!

 

Image: www.criticalpass.com

Practice (Questions) Makes Perfect, or at Least a Pass

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend! By now, most of you have started your bar review classes. If you have NOT started yet, you need to start NOW. Eight weeks from tomorrow, you will be finished with the bar exam! Some of you will be finished eight weeks from today! To make sure you will succeed and pass on your first try, the next seven weeks are crucial and doing practice questions is an important key to success. One analysis last year showed that students who did 2000 practice MBE questions scored 13 percent higher on the MBE. That can mean the difference between passing and not, so why leave it to chance?

Similarly, practicing with essay questions (actually writing and submitting answers to your bar review company in time to get meaningful feedback) is very valuable. No amount of reading the material and model answers can prepare you, or show you where you have gaps, as well as writing out your own answers and getting feedback in time to adjust and improve your approach. By practicing, you will also build up familiarity with the format and the look and feel of bar exam questions, which will reduce mental stress and allow you to engage more quickly and effectively with real bar exam questions. It’s a little like riding a bike; doing it over and over makes it more automatic each time you try.

If you want to practice with actual MBE questions written and tested by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you can buy them directly here: MBE Online Practice Exams. But ask your bar review company first whether they have licensed use of those questions and will provide them to you as part of your course in addition to the ones they draft themselves.

Managing Your Time on a Multiple Choice Exam (MBE!)

As you may have found during law school, it can be very challenging to plan and manage your time on a long multiple choice exam over a few hours — and yet that is exactly what you will need to do to maximize your success on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). As a reminder, the MBE is the day-long, standardized, multiple-choice exam that you take in two sessions, morning and afternoon, of three hours each. Here is the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ description of the MBE:

The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions: 190 scored questions and 10 unscored pretest questions. The pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored, so examinees should answer all questions. The exam is divided into morning and afternoon testing sessions of three hours each, with 100 questions in each session. There are no scheduled breaks during either the morning or afternoon session.

Yike. And your MBE score is very important; a high score can compensate for some weakness on the essays, making the difference between passing first time or not; and it may be transferable to another jurisdiction if you need to be admitted in another state (note: not all jurisdictions accept transferred MBE scores; you must check with specific jurisdictions).

Law School Academic Support blog to the rescue! Here is a very clear and helpful blog post about how to use a “time chart” to manage your time on a long multiple choice exam: Time Management on Multiple Choice Exams. As you do practice MBE questions this summer, I recommend learning how to create and use this kind of time chart to stay on track.

Recordings of Bar Readiness Sessions with Faculty

Dear students: all audio-recordings of this spring’s “Bar Readiness” sessions led by our own faculty, which were overviews of the subjects that can be tested on the MBE based on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ detailed outline, have been gathered here: Bar Readiness Recordings 2016. You will have to log in using your Emory credentials and look for them under that title. All MBE subjects were covered except for Property.

Subjects Tested on the Georgia Bar Exam

The Georgia bar exam is a two-day exam. Some parts are written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners; the essay questions are written and graded by members of the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners and their attorney assistants. For details on the Georgia bar exam dates, deadlines and logistics, visit their website: www.gabaradmissions.org.

Day 1: Two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test (MPT) questions in the morning and four 45-minute essay questions in the afternoon.

Day 2: Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), a 200-question, multiple choice exam.

SUBJECTS TESTED

MBE Subjects: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, Torts.

Georgia Essay Subjects: Business Organizations; Commercial Paper; Family Law; Federal Practice and Procedure; Georgia Practice and Procedure; Non-Monetary Remedies; Professional Ethics; Trusts, Wills and Estates; plus all MBE subjects. More than one subject may be tested in a single essay question.

Multistate Performance Test: Practical questions using a file of instructions, factual data, cases, statutes and other reference material supplied by bar examiners. Examinees are asked to draft a written work product, such as: a memorandum to a partner; a judicial opinion; contract provisions; a letter agreement; a letter of advice to a client, etc.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam: The MPRE is taken separately from the bar exam and it is offered in March, August and November. A scaled score of 75 on the MPRE is required for admission to the Georgia bar.

MBE Scores Drop Again, to 33-Year Low

The ABA Journal reports:

The mean scaled score on the February administration of the Multistate Bar Examination fell to 135, down 1.2 points from the previous year and the lowest average score on a February administration of the test since 1983. The number of test-takers was up 4 percent from last year, from 22,396 in 2015 to 23,324 this year, according to Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which developed and scores the test.

February scores are typically lower than July scores, Moeser said, because July test-takers tend to be first-time test takers, who generally score higher on the exam than repeat takers. She said the results, while “a bit disappointing,” are not a surprise. “We believe we’re in the middle of a downward trend that is likely to continue for at least a couple more years,” she said.

The multistate bar exam, a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice test, is administered as part of the bar exam in every state except Louisiana. The July 2015 results were also down 1.6 points from the previous year, to 139.9, its lowest point since 1988.

Doing well enough on the MBE to pass the bar exam first time is a learned skill that improves with practice. If you didn’t do one of the practice MBE diagnostic tests and workshops we offered this spring, you can still come by the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success to pick up a test and administer it to yourself.

Upcoming Bar Readiness Programs — Save the Dates!

Emory Law students who will graduate and take a bar exam this summer should add these dates to their calendars. Make sure to attend one or more of the free MBE workshops (you can go to all three!) and the important meeting with Georgia bar officials on February 29 (see my earlier post for details and advance reading to do). To sign up for an MBE workshop and lunch, go here: Sign-up for MBE Workshops and Lunches.

Mark your calendars now for the following dates:
 
* February 22, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Civil Procedure with Professor Rich Freer
 
* February 24, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Torts with Professor Frank Vandall
 
* February 26, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test with BARBRI (follow-up BARBRI Lecture will be in March)
 
* February 27, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, 1C: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Themis (lunch provided)
 
* February 29, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, 1E: Bar Exam Introduction AND Review of Georgia Essay Question, by State Bar Officials (lunch provided)
 
* March 14, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Contracts with Professor Rafael Pardo
 
* March 16, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Criminal Law & Procedure with Prof. Morgan Cloud
 
* March 18, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Kaplan (lunch provided)
 
* March 21, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Evidence with Professors Julie Seaman and Mark Goldfeder
 
* March 23, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Introduction to Bar Exam Essays and the MPT with Assistant Dean Katherine Brokaw (lunch provided)
 
* March 25, 9:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: Follow-up MBE Workshop Live Lecture with BARBRI (lunch provided)
 
* March 28, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Constitutional Law with Professor Charles Shanor
 
* March 30, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull : Faculty session on Property Law with Professor Jim Hughes