Bar Prep Practice Exams


Practice — To perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient; to train by repeated exercises.”

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary


I’m back again with another post on bar prep!  Today, my post is on simulated exams for the bar and how to get the most out of those exams.  This is coming pretty late in the bar prep process, but I think a lot of this information is great to apply in the last few weeks of bar prep.  I know that this year’s exam is a little different (okay, a lot different) than normal bar exams, but a lot of what I found to be helpful could still be helpful to you and for future years of exams.


In the bar prep process, there are two official simulated exams through Barbri (one for the MBE and one for the essays).  However, I used a lot of my time in the last two weeks working through my own “simulated exams;” like extra 100 question practice MBE exams and the full essay exams not assigned during the course.  I found the simulated exams to be a great way to work on my timing for the exams in addition to making sure I know the law in a time crunch.  Honestly, there’s no one perfect way to utilize the simulated exams but this is the way I found them to be helpful during my bar prep so I thought I’d share!


Simulated MBE Exam


The simulated MBE exam is a legit version of the MBE (including 200 questions in six hours that comprise a normal year’s exam).  I prepped for the simulated MBE the night before similarly to how I ended up prepping for the MBE the night before the actual MBE.  I think the best way to review for the MBE is to review the rules tested for the MBE using the Barbri StudyKeys.  Honestly, I found them to be really helpful to reinforce the main issues tested on the MBE (and the MEE), especially the story card which shows how the rule would come into play on a question on the bar exam.  When taking the simulated MBE and follow up MBE exams, I put myself into exam mode and even used ear plugs just like I did for the actual exam.  That way, on the day of the exam, I was comfortable with the circumstances under which I was taking the actual exam.


Now on to the results!  Barbri’s Simulated MBE allows you to take the exam through their website or to take the exam on paper and enter the results afterward.  Some of the best information that you can get from the exam is the breakdown of your answers and what topics you need to review and work on mastering.  It also shows you roughly what your percentage right would be if you did the same on the real bar exam; this information is nice but don’t really dwell on it too much.  It’s just a snapshot and you can definitely improve from when the simulated exam is administered.  After the exam, there is a series of lectures that review the questions from the simulated exam question by question.  I utilized this resource in a similar manner to how I used the question answers for the learning questions.  I would write down the rule of law for each question as I listened to the lectures (some of the lectures were really cringey but very useful for the law).  Barbri bases a lot of their questions on actual bar exam MBE questions so you can pick up some great tips on how to approach the different trick questions MBE question writers put on the exam.  In addition, Barbri also has extra 100 question practice MBE exams that come complete with their own question review videos.  If you need more practice, I definitely suggest turning to those!


Here's an example of what the scoring sheet looks like.

Simulated Essay Exam


The Simulated Essay Exam occurs during the lecture portion of the exam, Barbri schedules a practice essay exam that includes ~4 essays that teaches you how to write an essay answer and how to manage your time when writing them.  In my last post, I really focused on the way I utilized Barbri’s essay assignments to help me learn the law, which you can find here.  So when I took the simulated essay exam, I didn’t focus on it as much for the purpose of testing how well I knew the law, which isn’t really the purpose of it either.  I really focused on preparing myself to focus on writing essays for four hours and how to format my answers, especially since they go over the answers at the end of the exam.  Honestly, I didn’t find that to be the most helpful portion of the course.


What I did find was really helpful was to take a practice essay exam (it was the most recent PA exam I found on the bar examiners’ website) the weekend prior to the bar exam over the course of two days.  I took the first half of the exam (one MPT and two essays, at least for PA) on Saturday and the other half (four essays) on Sunday.  I really focused on my timing of answering questions and almost as a last minute review of how bar exam questions are structured.  Similarly to the practice MBE, I mimicked what it would be like to take the exam, i.e. giving myself exactly three hours, and having no distractions, i.e. no music, no checking my phone.  (Trust me, I didn’t do that when I was writing out essay answers during the course.)  Because of software issues, I had to use a computer for the bar exam that was different than the computer I used for college and law school.  So I took that time to really learn how the computer worked. 


Hopefully, some of this was helpful for you!  Good luck in the final stretch of the bar exam and feel free to reach out with any questions about my processes and the actual exam!  A final disclaimer:  I’m not getting paid for writing this review, but I did receive a free Barbri course in exchange for being a rep all three years of law school.  That being said, this review includes my unbiased opinions on the course.


All of these pictures are of copyrighted material not owned by me.  They are included for review purposes only.

1 comment:

  1. The practice exams really are incredibly important. I thought Barbri's simulated MBEs did a good job, but the MBE ended up getting dropped in my jurisdiction.


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