Taking the Bar Exam in California?
ABOUT THE MBE
The Multistate Bar Examination is usually a six-hour test which has approximately 200 questions. There are usually two periods of three hours, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
The following topics are tested: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. There are 33 questions each in Contracts and Torts and 31 questions each in Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, and Real Property.
The Bar Examiners believes the questions can be answered by applying fundamental legal principles. A student should be able to analyze the legal relationships arising from a fact situation or to take a position as an advocate. Some questions call for suggestions about interpreting, drafting, or counseling that might lead to more effective structuring of a transaction.
All questions are multiple choice. Applicants are asked to choose the best answer from the four stated alternatives. The test is designed to give credit only when the applicant has selected the best answer.
Scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Applicants are therefore advised to answer every question. Time should be used effectively. Applicants should not hurry, but should work steadily and as quickly as possible without sacrificing accuracy. If a question seems too difficult, the applicant is advised to go on to the next one and come back to the skipped question later.
Answer sheets are centrally scored. Both raw scores and scaled scores are computed for each applicant. A raw score is the number of questions answered correctly. Raw scores on different forms of the test are not comparable primarily due to differences in the difficulty of the test forms. A statistical process called equating adjusts for variations in the difficulty of different forms of the examination so that any particular scaled score will represent the same level of performance from test to test.
States which require the MBE: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
PREPARATION FOR THE MBE
It is eight weeks before the bar exam. You have registered for the exam, begun your bar review course, and made your hotel reservations. Are you ready to do some MBES (multiple choice questions)? With our guidance, we will try and make it an easy process.
PENCILS, AND OTHER GOODIES
There are special unique items which bar exam candidates should bring specifically for the mbes. These are items which are allowed for the mbes by the bar examiners. The full list can be found in your instruction booklet provided for you once you've signed up for the exam. However, there are a few items we would like to highly recommend:
(1) Highlighters (at least 2-3 colors): A highlighter is a very helpful tool for the mbes. You should try and bring at least 2-3 bright colors. You can use them on different areas of the mbe questions. For example, you could use a pink highlighter to identify "Call of the Question" otherwise known as the question or a green highlighter to identify the issue and key facts of the question!
(2) Miniature Clock (not digital!): Yes, a clock. Not a watch. A clock is crucial to your test taking experience. It is nice that the bar examiners have approved this handy device. A clock is included in each of our survival kits. Now, you can use the clock to anchor you with attacking the mbes. For example, the clock can help remind you that you are halfway through the questions for that period and if you are taking too much time or rushing or vice versa. Time organization is key to doing well on this test!
(3) Ear Plugs: You may not realize it now but I'm sure you can recall how loud your classroom was during exams. Now multiply that by 1,000. Oh yeah, and add some loud bathroom doors! You get the point. Ear plugs are key to staying focused on this exam. A special set of ear plugs are included in each of our kits. Don't waste your money on the type that you can squeeze with two fingers! The firmer, the better!
(4) Study Materials: As soon as you decide you are taking the bar exam you need to get your study materials together. Here are a few items we recommend:
(1) The Law: Yes, that's right - the law. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? However, many students struggle with finding a good book or books to help them adequately prepare for the mbes. We at Bar Exam Doctor recommend a book thats been around for many years - The Barbri Conviser. This book is the best source and usually all you really need to do well on this exam! You can get this book online (Amazon, Craigslist, etc.) for usually under $100 - try and get the latest version if possible!
(2) Buzzwords: As you get closer to the bar exam you will need to start memorizing and noticing key phrases for the questions. The best way to do this to make a 1-2 sheet piece of pager (back/front) with the most frequently tested rules for each subject. You can even cherry pick some of the buzz words from the Barbri Conviser. Remember - you want to go with the group!
(3) Approaches: Another important study item is a good set of approaches for different mbe topics. Now remember, not every issue requires a full blown approach. However, the most commonly tested ones do. Once you've begun memorizing your rule statements and can see the bar exam fastly approaching you can start making these. A good technique is to go take past bar exam mbes and look at the model answers. Look for commonly tested issues. Those are usually issues that require lengthy approaches. Now, go and copy the approach. Do the same for the others. By days end you should be able to put all of your approaches on a two sided piece of paper.
TAKING THE TEST
Did you know there are several approaches to doing mbes? Some believe they must follow the approach taught to them in their bar review. Others believe they should use the approach they learned in law school because its all they know. We at Bar Exam Doctor believe in a combination approach - do what you feel comfortable doing but at the same time listen to your bar review instructors. They know what they are talking about!
(1) Facts then Question:The first approach is to read the facts first and then the question. This method usually leads a student down to disastererous path. What do we mean by this? Many students read the facts first and then become nervous that they don't know the issue so they read it again and start issue spotting and rush towards picking an answer. The next thing the know they've rushed through several questions and picked one wrong answer after another. This can hurt their performance. The California Bar Examiners know what they are doing. This method works for some students but not for most. The call of the question is designed to lead the student to the issues at hand. While a student may believe they are spotting issues in the fact sections and on the path to success, they may not be spotting the right issues the bar examiners are looking for!
(2) Question then Facts: The second approach is generally more favorable to students. We at Bar Exam Doctor and most Bar Review instructors prefer this method over the former because it leads a student to the issues the bar examiners are looking for. Even though this method is preferred by instructors more, it is actually similar to the first method (if a student has issue spotted past mbes and generally knows the issues the examiners continue to test they can still usually spot the right issues!)
AFTER THE TEST
Relax! Please? It's over. The hard work is done. You have done everything possible. Don't second guess your work. Everything will work out. Now, go take a swim at the beach or go see that movie you've been waiting to see!
*All information about the grading process has been taken directly from the National Bar Examiners website.