Bar Exam Basics: The Multistate Bar Exam
The Multistate Bar Exam, aka MBE, is a six-hour standardized test that lasts for an entire day of the California Bar Exam. The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions that apply to hard skill courses such as Constitutional Law, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Property, and Torts. The content of exam questions is divided evenly among each of the MBE subjects at 25 questions per subject.
The test was originally formulated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which continues to administer the test today. Applicants are required to answer a set of 100 questions in the morning session and the second set of 100 questions in the afternoon session.
The California Desert Trial Academy prepares our students for the MBE with consistent studies through all four years of our curriculum and online learning platform.
In most jurisdictions, such as California, the MBE is worth 50% of an examinee’s total score on the bar exam. An MBE score is based on the total of questions for both sessions, which is 200. However, only 175 questions are scored while 25 questions, categorized as “test” questions, are not scored. An MBE score is a “scaled score,” which may range from 40 to 200, and is calculated based on a confidential “statistical process.”
This “statistical process” adjusts the score on the current MBE exam, to scale it to the difficulty of past MBE exams. Thus, MBE test takers cannot determine how many correct answers are needed to pass the MBE prior to taking the test.
An applicant’s performance on the MBE is based on the number of the 175 questions answered correctly. The formula for converting from the raw score to the scaled score is unique to each MBE and calculated based on previous examinees’ performance on the experimental questions.
The NCBE scores the test this way because a curve minimizes the effects of variations in test difficulty. Scaling based on the responses and performance of prior examinees allows consistent interpretation between tests. These prior responses help the NCBE develop an expected mean and standard deviation for the test and scale the raw scores to fit the expectations for the test based on the performance of prior examinees.
Course reviews for MBE-tested subjects are provided by CDTA to each student as part of their tuition. Every bar tested subject is condensed into a substantive review with complete outlines taught by bar review professor, Jeff Fleming. These video outlines are available 24/7 and offer an invaluable study aid for essay and Multistate Bar Exam preparation.
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