This is part two of Hugh Reed’s Multistate Bar Exam Primer “Testmanship Tips.” Bookmark this and also mark part one of the bar exam testmanship tips. Refer to them at least once a week as you prepare for your MBE.
RULE 5. When in Doubt, Stick to Basics and Majority Rules
Stick to the Basics. Always follow the majority view. Don’t worry about minority views, unless
the question quotes a statute or tells you your jurisdiction follows a particular view. Remember,
this is an objective test. They have to have one answer that everybody agrees is the best one.
That means they have to test majority views, unless they tell you different. So if the question
doesn’t quote any statutes or tell you your jurisdiction follows a particular view stick with the
basics, the majority view. Now, if on the other, the question does quote a statute or tells you your jurisdiction follows a
particular view, forget what your bar review told you, forget what you learned in law school, and
apply the statute or the law the question gives you. Read it carefully and apply it.
RULE 6. Beware of Terms of Art, Strange Facts, Statutes, and Quotation Marks
A term of art is a term that has a legal meaning different from its dictionary meaning.
a. Malice aforethought is a term of art
i. It has nothing to do with hatred or ill will beforehand.
ii. Its legal meaning is an intent to kill, or an intent to do grievous bodily
harm or the knowing creation of a high risk of death or that grievous
bodily harm will occur.
b. They love to test these, this is a legal test. So use the legal meaning, not the
c. When you see malice aforethought don’t think hatred beforehand. Think intent to
kill, intent to do grievous bodily harm or the knowing creation of a high risk of
death or that grievous bodily harm will occur.
RULE 7. Do Not Become Emotionally Involved
Unlike the real world, where the equities of the case may lead the court to reach a particular
result, on fantasy island MBE they like to use the equities to lead you down the primrose path to a wrong answer.
1) Example: Macho Pig is in a bar. Another costumer grabs a barmaid and starts to rape her
on a pool table. Macho Pig thinks that’s neat. He likes watching and he doesn’t lift a
finger to help the barmaid, but he doesn’t say or do anything to encourage the costumer.
He’s just there and he likes it.
a. Don’t get mad at Macho Pig, don’t try and get him because he’s a jerk.
i. The people in this question aren’t real. This is all make-believe.
ii. If he’s just there, and he doesn’t say or do anything, he’s not legally
guilty of anything.
iii. Don’t pick the answer that makes you feel good. Don’t try to satisfy your
sense of justice. The MBE has nothing to do with justice. Pick the
answer that is technically, legally correct.
iv. Say Macho Pig is not guilty, and don’t feel bad about letting him go.
2) Don’t get emotionally involved in the question.
RULE 8. Always Know What Sub-Topic is Being Tested and Answer Accordingly
If you get an off-the-wall question about something you know nothing about, don’t panic. Think
general principles. Understand what part of the forest you’re in. Certainly you’ll know you’re
being tested in one particular subject. However, it’s key to understand what part of the forest
you’re in, i.e., what sub-topic of that subject is being tested. Don’t panic. Apply general
principles. Don’t let them break your stride.
RULE 9. Keep Moving at a Steady Pace and Observe Time Management
Whatever you do, keep moving at a steady pace. Do not get bogged down with any one question. Keep moving at a steady pace. If you get a mental block or don’t understand the question, put down an answer on the answer sheet, mark the question with a question mark in the question booklet, and move on and come back to it later if you have time. And, you will have time, assuming you’ve followed the time management techniques discussed supra.
RULE 10. Keep the Status Quo
During your time of preparation for the bar exam, it would be wise not to make any drastic
changes in your life, get rid of distractions that will affect you physically or emotionally. If you
smoke, keep smoking. If you don’t, don’t start. Keep the status quo; whatever got you here, should get you through the bar exam.
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