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Friday, December 10, 2021

Sponsored Post: Beating the Licensure Game with MBEs for the MBE

The following post is by O.J. Salinas (,Clinical Professor of Law and Direct of Academic Excellence at University of North Carolina Schol of Law, and is sponsored by West Academic.

As bar results from New York, D.C., and California trickle in, we are getting a more complete picture of the passage rates for the July 2021 bar examination. Passage rates for first time takers are far from great. And passage rates for repeaters remain dismal.

The passage rates confirm something that all of us who have taken the bar exam know: the bar exam is hard.

The bar exam is a high-stakes, pressured-filled exam that covers *a lot* of law. This is particularly true for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which, in most jurisdictions, is valued at 50% of a test taker’s overall score. This post focuses on a new resource for preparing for the MBE.

Never Say Never

I have been working in law school academia since 2011. If you would have asked me, back then, whether I envisioned writing a 700+ book on the MBE, I would have absolutely laughed in your face.

I did not enjoy studying for the bar exam. Who does? There’s just so much law to review for the exam and so little time to review it. And there is so much pressure to try to pass the bar on the first try. Careers. Finances. Livelihood. All (and more) are often tied to passing this closed-book exam that is only offered twice a year.

I initially didn’t think that I had anything worthwhile to say about bar preparation and the MBE. But as I started to engage more and more with bar support, including teaching for-credit bar preparation courses, I began to feel like there was a bit of a disconnect between the typical bar vendor materials and the experience and struggle that our test takers face. While the traditional bar vendor materials are super helpful, they are also super comprehensive. There are outlines, and outlines, and outlines of law to review. But there often is not a lot of direct focus and practice on the most commonly tested topics on the MBE.

I found that test takers were not studying smart. I found students were spending just as much time trying to learn the law for privacy torts as they were on negligence. They were spending just as much time on the presidential veto power as they were on the First Amendment. They were also struggling to remember the law that they most needed to remember. And they were not answering enough practice questions on the topics that they were most likely going to see on the MBE.

I wanted to try to find a way to get test takers to study more effectively and efficiently. I wanted to try to find a way to get test takers to focus on studying and practicing what they most needed to study and practice. And I wanted to find a way for them to be able to better recall and understand the law.

And that (plus COVID) is what lead me to write my book, MBEs for the MBE: Mnemonics, Blueprints, and Examples for the Multistate Bar Examination.

Working with Blueprints

A large part of my book includes summaries (or “Blueprints”) of the seven substantive areas of law tested on the MBE. The Blueprints are the outlines of the law and the foundation for the book.

Within each Blueprint, I highlight certain black letter rules or fact patterns that I want test takers to focus their studying on. I include all the highlighted rules and fact patterns in the Appendix of the book so test takers have an easy-to-read summary they can review. This can be particularly helpful during the last few days before the bar exam—when test takers are looking for something concise to focus their attention on right before the exam.

Working with Mnemonics

Many test takers rightfully find it particularly challenging having to deal with the tension and pressure of having to remember so much black letter law under such a high-stakes exam, like the bar exam. We need tools to help us categorize the information that we want to remember. And we need tools to help us recall that information when we need to remember that information. The mnemonics in my book can be those tools for us.

Working with Examples

I am especially excited about my partnership with AdaptiBar®.

AdaptiBar® is a user-friendly online program that has helped thousands and thousands of bar takers increase their MBE scores. I have selected 150 AdaptiBar® questions for my book that assess the most commonly tested topics tested on the MBE.

Almost all of the questions on the AdaptiBar® platform are licensed MBE questions. They are not simulated MBE questions. They are questions that actually appeared on prior bar exams. And when you are studying for one of the biggest exams in your life, it’s helpful and super important to practice answering the type of questions that you will be expected to answer on the exam. The AdaptiBar® questions for my book provide that practice.


There are legitimate criticisms as to whether the bar exam tests too much law and whether the bar exam is an appropriate assessment of a test taker’s minimum competency to practice law. These criticisms predate the (still unexplained) technological problems that plagued the July 2021 bar exam.

Test takers may complain that the many mnemonics and highlighted rules in my book prove that the bar exam is flawed and hyper-focused on memory and not on skills and competency. They may be right, and that is (hopefully) going to change with the update to the bar exam—which we are told may arrive in 2025 or 2026. However, until the exam is changed, test takers who want to get licensed will have to play the game that is presented to them.

MBEs for the MBE is my way of helping folks to better play (and hopefully beat) the licensure game.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on December 10, 2021 at 09:31 AM in Sponsored Announcements | Permalink


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