Have you ever had that sinking feeling develop in your stomach as you realize you are running out of time on a multiple choice exam? You check the clock to find that there are 15 minutes to go but you still have 30 questions left! You know that you can’t read and intelligently answer each question in that time span, so… like any test-taker would, you skim through them quickly and take your best guess at each one. That’s about your only option if this happens to you on the bar exam, BUT – there is a better way!
The key to making sure you have enough time on the Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE) is to pace yourself and watch the clock very closely every half hour. One of the best pieces of information I got from a bar prep blog post was from Dustin Saiidi of I Passed My Bar Exam where he wrote about using these 5 time intervals.
When writing the 3-hour MBE Session:
At 30 minutes, you should be on question #18
At 1 hour, you should be on #35 (you will again complete 18 questions in this interval)
At 1 ½ hours, #53 (complete 18)
At 2 hours, #70 (complete 17)
At 2 ½ hours, #88 (complete 18)
At 3 hours – finished at #100 (complete 12)
Just memorize these five numbers: 18, 35, 53, 70, 88
As soon as the proctor says “start,” the first thing you do is jot down on the first page of your book, a chart with these 5 question numbers corresponding to the time on the clock that you should reach for each interval. For example, if your start time is 9:00 am, your chart will read:
18 – 9:30 am
35 – 10:00 am
53 – 10:30 am
70 – 11:00 am
88 – 11:30 am
For the afternoon session, add a “1” in front of each question number so that your chart becomes questions 118, 135, 153, 170, 188 with the afternoon time intervals from the clock.
As you are answering the questions, check yourself at each ½ hour to see what question number you are on. If you are ahead, great – that means you will have some time to review at the end or maybe you want to take the next segment a bit slower to more carefully read the question for better comprehension, and if you are behind, take the next interval to work faster.
Practice doing this now, before exam day
You will get a feel for the pace you need to be at in order to not run out of time. The beauty of this formula is that for the required 100 questions in 3 hours, these time intervals force you to work just a tiny bit faster than if you had broken up the slots into 16 and 17 question segments (divide 100 by 6 and you get 16.6 questions for each half hour). You will notice that by the last segment which is from 2 ½ – 3 hours, you are only doing 12 questions. This is a built-in cushion to give you the edge just in case some segments take you a bit longer or to give you 5-10 minutes for a review.
Feel confident going into the MBE with your attack plan
If you are like me, you need every minute on this test, but if you are like some lucky folks who can write the MBE with tons of time to spare, then you don’t need this method at all! A law student I know who sat for the last exam told me that on MBE day he was finished and back at the hotel gym working out by the time the other students were getting out. He admitted that either he is a genius or a total idiot! I sure hope for his sake that it’s the genius.
Try this out and let us know how it works for you, or, if you have some other timing methods that you have used successfully, we would love to hear about them.