Does your answer reflect all of your knowledge of the cause of action, the applicable counterarguments and defenses? Have you told the reader all of the relevant law and facts needed to properly assess the issues? Does your answer indicate you saw the "big picture"?
Understand what question the examiners want you to answer and respond accordingly.
What role is the test-taker asked to play (judge, advocate for a party, etc )?
Some questions tell you not to consider certain causes of action or defenses.
Each bar question has multiple issues and a test-taker can miss issues in a question and still pass.
80% of test-takers pass with a 60-75% score.
Don't "find" issues that are not there.
Ex.: P can allege a claim for battery against the D when the D knocked P's glasses off.
D's conversation with P regarding the potential free newspaper ads constituted a valid offer. The objection to the introduction of the photograph into evidence should be overruled because its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect.
A good answer not only states the rules, but uses the right legal phrases like "probative value", "res judicata" and "collateral estoppel".
Examiners want to know that you know the substance of the law as well as how lawyers speak about legal standards and set forth the rules that are to be followed.
Many examiners are looking for these legal "buzzwords" and you may lose points if the phrases are not in the answer, even if the concept is correctly explained.
A good rule statement includes all elements or prongs of a test to be satisfied, or factors to be considered, even if only one element or factor is in dispute.
Most points on an issue will be awarded for analysis - a thoughtful explanation of why the facts presented in the question do/do not satisfy a stated legal rule or standard.
If only one element or prong of a test is at issue, a good answer explains in a sentence or two why the facts clearly establish the undisputed elements or prong. Then, the answer focuses on the disputed elements and illustrates what facts from the question are dispositive of the claim.
Don't take excessive time to answer one question and rush the others.
A different examiner reads each question, so the quality of your "good" answer is not transferable to your "bad" answer.
The materials used are from a panel presentation on supplemental bar review assistance programs by Professors Kevin Hopkins, Angela Passalacqua, and Teresa Wallace, at the 1997 Law School Admissions Council Academic Assistance Training Workshop; and a presentation by Professors Ruth Gordon and Frederick P. Rothman, and Sheilah Vance, former Assistant Dean of Academic Support, at a Villanova School of Law study skills workshop on "Successful Exam-Taking Strategies" on November 19, 1998.
The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) consists of 200 multiple choice questions in six hours. You take 100 questions in the morning, and 100 in the afternoon. Timing is everything. So is practice. The more questions you do, the better you will perform.
The exam covers general principles of law in six areas - Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts.
You've already learned much of the material. You have to move it from your long-term to short-term memory. Read each question carefully. Know exactly what you're asked to answer. Answer every question. There's no penalty for guessing.
Go to the end of the problem and first read the question you're being asked to answer. This allows you to match the facts in the problem to the issues raised in the question. Then read the entire problem - carefully! Next read the answer options (a, b, c, d).
How distractors and foils can trip you up:
The problem with distractors and foils is that all answer options look plausible on the surface. You must read carefully.
If it reads: It means:
What is the most likely outcome? What will be the results and why? Which claim is most likely to Which is the only claim that can succeed on succeed? these facts and why? What is D's best defense? Why won't D be guilty on these facts? If X loses, the most likely X lost because... basis is...
Ex.: If John sues Mary for battery, the court should find in favor of... The correct option is the one based on accurate statements of law and fact and is consistent with its conclusion - even if you don't like the result. Start out with no particular conclusion in mind. Do not decide questions of fact. Be alert for misstatements about facts in either party's arguments. Don't select an answer until you've considered all the arguments presented in the answer options. Examine each option and ask yourself: a) are the facts and the law stated accurately? B) Is the conclusion offered consistent with the argument?
Ex.: Which of the following is the most effective argument in favor of Mary's position? The correct answer is based on accurate statements of fact and law and is consistent with its conclusion - even if you don't believe that your client can win. Examine each answer option and ask yourself:
Ex.: The interest in Blackacre which John had on the day after Testatrix's death is best described as... Resolve the issue in your mind and then examine each of the answer options carefully; select the one that comes closest to the rule that you have already formulated - even if you don't believe that it is just. Don't try to decide or influence the outcome. Use your knowledge of the law to recognize the legal significance of a particular fact or to select the most applicable rule. Focus on a specific and limited issue.
If the answer option does any of the following, stop your analysis, eliminate it and move on. For an answer to be correct, it must be correct in every respect.
Sometimes, the only way to arrive at the correct answer is to eliminate the incorrect ones. Issue-spotting is important. Be meticulous in reading the answer options. Glance quickly at the modifier, study the reasoning, and then the result. If the reasoning is not correct, the response cannot be correct.
There's no penalty for guessing, but make a best guess. Don't guess until you've eliminated all the definitely wrong responses. Consider the following factors that should influence your guess:
Prepared by Sheilah Vance, former Assistant Dean for Academic Support, Villanova University School of Law. This material is adapted from Passing the Bar, by Professor Vernellia Randall, University of Dayton School of Law (1993), which is based on Evaluation and Grading in Law School, Michael Josepheson, American Association of Law Schools Section on Teaching (1984).