General Testmanship Tips – Part 4

Here is another test taking tip from Colonel Hugh Reed‘s book Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) Primer. Check back weekly for new installments or register for a free account at to get the entire PDF ebook free.


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.

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General Testmanship Tips – Part 3

Here is another test taking tip from Colonel Hugh Reed‘s book Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) Primer. Check back weekly for new installments or register for a free account at to get the entire PDF ebook free.


Test Each Answer Choice Factually, Legally, and Application Accuracy

You must first test each answer choice to see whether it is factually correct. If not, draw a line through it and you’re finished with this answer choice. If it is factually correct, then see if it is legally correct. If not, draw a line through it and you’re finished with this answer choice. If it is both factually and legally correct, then see if the answer choice is responsive to the call of the question (interrogatory). If not, draw a line through it and you’re finished with the answer choice. If it is responsive, it’s possibly the correct answer. You must follow this process for each of the four answer choices.

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Bar Exam Scores Drop, Students Risk MBE Fail

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You Will Succeed

As bar exam scores drop, it is crucial for law students approaching their bar exams to study with experienced tutors who take the MBE regularly and understand it’s workings. A recent Wall Street Journal posting says that 2014 bar exam pass rates fell dramatically across the nation. Can you afford to fail the bar exam?

If you research the Wall Street Journal article, and the resulting cyber furor about low scores, interesting ideas come to light. Law school deans suggest that NCBEX (the National Conference of Bar Examiners), which designs and administers the bar exam, has allowed test questions to become progressively less understandable and scoring may be flawed.

Erica Moser, NCBEX president, countered, “[W]e redoubled our efforts to satisfy ourselves that no error occurred in scoring the examination or in equating the test with its predecessors,” she wrote. “The results are correct. . . All point to the fact that the group that sat in July 2014 was less able than the group that sat in July 2013.”

Unattributed comments, as bar exam scores drop, fly back and forth in forums and social media:

  • “Students are presently more committed to devices, social media, and spare time activities.”
  • “Students who began studying in the recession were less motivated. Did it seem better to many to take on the burden of law school loans than to starve in another field where hiring was stagnant?”
  • “There was a major snafu with ExamSoft downloads, and that made everyone feel unprepared.”
  • “In Ohio, the bar exam venue was a convention center where a music convention took place down the hall, distracting test-takers and causing a lower pass rate.”
  • “Students are just not as smart as they once were. The best minds go into fields where jobs are more abundant, like engineering—the others go to law school.”
  • “Many students probably struggled with the exam because it does not contain sections on tweeting, Facebooking, and video gaming.”
  • “Decades of decline inculcating critical thinking skills and academic integrity; combined with twin entitlements of, on the one hand—tenure for the established, and on the other, instant rewards due the millennial.”

One responder put a fine point on the topic of bar exam effectiveness in general:

“The multi-state bar exam has been a crock for as long as it has been around. It does not and has never tested knowledge of legal study. It only creates an arbitrary bar to entry by using trick question based largely on grammar mixed in with some questions about law. The only part of the bar exam that has any merit is any written essay portion the individual states might impose. The question then becomes did the applicants fail the multi-state exam or essay component of the exams? If the essay questioning held true to past performance, but the multi-state dropped off, then I would be very, very wary of blaming the applicants, and I would blame the test makers and their grammar games.

Does the Bar Exam Pass Rate Problem Lie with Law Schools?

Some say yes, the quality of education has declined as costs escalate year-by-year and financial bottom lines become priorities.

Another reader agrees, “I’m not surprised by the Deans’ thin-skinned reaction(s). Each year’s crop of lawyers are indeed “less able” than the prior year’s crop. This has been trending since the middle of the last century when law schools began slowly but surely converting into profit centers for the universities to which they were attached. In my estimation, law schools today are only a quarter step above the for profits schools such as U of Phoenix. The revenue in tuition and alum donations that law school deans must generate to keep their jobs are strong incentive to bully the MBE folks.”

High-Quality Bar Exam Preparation Spells Success

If you page back through this blog, you’ll find a series of posts in which we debunk bar exam myths. Note, in particular, the one that wonders if students get dumber,  while the bar exam gets easier. The answer, on both fronts is no, and the question becomes—does it make any sense to revise bar exams to suit declining expectations of student preparedness?

We, at Reed Bar Review, again say no, and we dispute both allegations. Students are no dumber and the test is emphatically not getting easier. Here’s the problem, as we see it.

In any field where your career jumps off from passing a qualifying exam, those sitting for the exam absolutely must prepare effectively and thoroughly. Those types of exams, whether for burgeoning attorneys, architects, medical people, or any other specialized professional field, are long, intimidating, and difficult.

Cramming for a week, or trying to review years of lessons and texts just will not bring about successful results. No school curriculum offers the extensive preparation, drills, and personal one-on-one attention needed for the average student to be prepared for the MBE. Period.

Listen to what one graduate in particular, and many in general say about the bar exam experience:

“(I am) someone who did not pass the July 2014 California Bar Exam….My essays and performance tests were very good and despite the significant preparation I did for the MBEs, these questions were unlike anything I had prepared for. It was utterly confusing and unnecessarily complicated. The MBEs are always meant to be difficult (hence the significant preparation) but this was on another level.  I found, however, that to pass it requires nothing more then, as Richard Nixon would put it, an iron butt. Preparation is the key to the exam. Everyone who sits for the exam has already passed one or two exams within the tested subject matter to advance in school. I find it difficult to believe anyone who had a commercial preparation course and stuck to the guidelines of that course wouldn’t pass with flying colors. I don’t have much sympathy for people that failed this bar in part because it wasn’t like they were testing subjects way out of left field.”

Now you have to ask, what enables some groups of students, such as those who work with Reed Bar Review, to pass with high marks and in large numbers? Emphatically, we say, and we’ll back it up with real facts and numbers, that while scores and pass rates continue to decline across the nation, our students enjoy the highest pass rates in the country. Why?

Our founder and CEO, Hugh Reed, and his staff, know the inner workings of the MBE cold. They understand the language, the concepts, the twists, the red herrings, and the philosophy behind the makeup of those dreaded bar exams. There is one, single, indisputable reason this is true.

Hugh Reed sits for a bar exam twice each year, in different jurisdictions—so you only have to take it once! He takes the entire test—every six months—and passes it. Then he makes sure his tutoring and coaching curriculums, exercises, drills, counseling, and mentoring go hand-in-hand with the very most current iteration of the bar exam.

The MBE Truth Will Out

Here’s another truth—no one else makes a habit of taking a bar exam everytime they are offered. No one else understands the exam process in the same way Colonel Reed and his team do. No one else can give you the edge his students gain. Bottom line—it doesn’t matter what caused the recent decline in pass rates. Let others bicker about that. For the foreseeable future, the MBE is the only way to qualify for your law career.

If you don’t give yourself every edge, you may fail the bar exam, and you may fail it more than once. But—you can get a guarantee that you will pass. Is that a tough decision? Register for a free account at Reed Bar Review, or pick up the phone right now and call us to enroll before it’s too late. (312) 595-9601.

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General Testmanship Tips – Part 2

Here is another test taking tip from Colonel Hugh Reed‘s book Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) Primer. Check back weekly for new installments or register for a free account at to get the entire PDF ebook free.


Never Look for Right Answers But ALWAYS Eliminate Worse Answer Choices

The MBE is like other standardized tests in one very important respect — the best, and sometimes only, way to arrive at the correct answer is to use a process of elimination. Simply put, you arrive at the correct answer by eliminating from contention answers that cannot be correct.
If you employ a process of elimination on every question, the result is a fascinating theoretical possibility. You will know three answers in each question are definitely wrong and get a perfect score on the MBE — without knowing any answer was definitely correct! Of course, this would never happen in reality, but it does indicate the value of knowing how to eliminate incorrect responses. Knowing how to recognize a bad response is your most valuable analytical skill on the MBE.


Most importantly — do not get bogged down with questions you do not know! Instead, eliminate answer choices that cannot be correct!

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General Testmanship Tips – Part 1

Here is a pair of test taking tips from Colonel Hugh Reed‘s book Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) Primer. Check back weekly for new installments or register for a free account at to get the entire PDF ebook free.


Under the time constraints of the MBE, you will only have time to read a factual setting once, in detail. Make it count! You have to read carefully in order to answer correctly. Many wrong answers, or “distractors,” are for people who skipped over an important fact. As you read a question, you may want to highlight important points and read the question actively, i.e., underline, draw yourself timelines, circle dates, parties, events, etc.

Do not become lazy, particularly in the afternoon of the exam, and let your mind wander. YOU MUST FIGHT FOR EVERY POINT!


Focus on the Call of the Question (Interrogatory)
The call of the question is the last few lines of the question. You must read the call before you look at the fact pattern in order to find out what they are asking you. Read the question from the “bottom up.” Accept implausible results. E.g., If the question tells you “…the jury believes Macho the Pig….” accept the result and find him not guilty regardless of what you think the outcome ought to be.

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2015 Bar Exam—How to Score High on Contracts

By now, you should have your preparation strategy fully in place for the February 2015 bar exam (Multistate Bar Exam). If you don’t, visit and browse our site for study aids, opportunities to win a free bar prep course, and free lectures.

While you get your strategy together, spend a few minutes with this video—you’ll see what you’ve been missing. Visit today and give yourself the best possible tools to pass your bar exam.

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MBE Gets Easier, Applicants Dumber?

After all the hard work you’ve put into law school and your law career, how does it feel to think the MBE is getting easier while applicants are getting dumber? Well, it’s simply not true, and anyone who has taken the Multistate Bar Exam can attest to that.

Read on for the facts about whether the MBE gets easier every year.

Bar Exam Myth: The MBE is getting easier; scores keep increasing while applicants are getting less able.

The fact is short and sweet—the MBE is a reliable measure of applicant ability. If you need proof, ask Hugh Reed, our founder and CEO, who has prepared for, taken, and passed bar exams almost thirty times, in thiry jurisdictions. The MBR is no picnic. It’s far from easy for anyone, no matte rhow many times it is taken, and effective preparation, based on REAL bar exam content is EVERYTHING.

The average scaled score on the MBE has varied by less than two points from year to year, indicating that the ability level of the candidate pool has been fairly stable. Changes in MBE scores follow closely the variations in average scores on other measures of candidate ability, such as the LSAT. This correlation between changes in MBE and LSAT scores indicates that increases in the average score mirror increases in the general ability level of the group being tested rather than a decline in the difficulty of the test.  

Protect your future, your law career, and your sanity. Develop and implement a bar exam strategy that includes Reed Bar Review bar exam preparation. 

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Does MBE Discriminate Against Minorities?

There’s a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding the bar exam process. That can only impede your success, so we do our best to make sure bar exam candidates understand the myths and realities of the entire MBE/bar exam process. We present the facts, based on years of research and fact-finding by the authorities behind the bar exam process, the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Here’s the myth: Does The MBE Discriminate Against Minorities

The facts look like this:

The MBE neither widens nor narrows the gap in performance level between minority and majority applicants.

Research indicates that differences in mean scores among racial and ethnic groups correspond closely to differences in those groups’ mean LSAT scores, law school gradepoint averages, and scores on other measures of ability to practice law, such as bar examination essay scores or performance test scores.

Individual items on the MBE that are relatively difficult for one group are relatively difficult for all groups; the relative difficulty of the items within a subtest (e.g., the Constitutional Law items versus the Torts items) does not differ from group to group.

Finally, total MBE scores are not higher or lower from group to group than they are on other test formats. All items on the MBE are reviewed for potential bias. Men and women serve on each drafting committee, and members of ethnic minority groups assist in the preparation and review of items at both the drafting committee level and at the level of MBE Committee and state Board review. The National Conference of Bar Examiners is committed to diverse representation on all its drafting and policy committees.

This should be very good news to schools like BSOL, where passrates are typically very low, below 50%. What you need to know is this: If you are worried about passing your bar exam, you must have a strategy for passing.

Does the Multistate Bar Exam discriminate against minorities? A resounding “NO.” Preparation, not demographics, is the catalyst of success. ReedBarReview’s passrate is near 100%. Contact ReedBarReview and ensure your passing score.

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Pass your bar exam

More About Bar Exam Myths—Read This!

Pass your bar exam

It’s really important for law students to know the truth about the bar exam, so we continue our discussion of MBE myths and truths. These facts, fueled by questions and concerns from law students, resulted from years of exploration by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Law school is a challenge, but the law career ahead of you is worth the effort. Be sure you’re ready to move forward.

Bar Exam Myths—Not enough time is allotted to answer MBE questions.

We’d all like to think there’s a plot to make sure we trip, stumble, or fall—that would mean it isn’t your responsibility to prepare thoroughly for that bar exam, including the Multistate Bar Exam. But the truth is cruel. Research shows that the time allotted to take the MBE is sufficient for 99 percent of applicants.

The MBE is designed to be answered by a reasonably competent applicant in the amount of time available. The rate of correct responses at the end of three-hour sessions is not significantly different than the rate of correct answers at other, earlier points in the test.
A research project in which applicants were given virtually unlimited time to answer the MBE resulted in an average increase in score of about 6 raw (unscaled) points.

Since all groups benefit from an increase in time to the same degree, and since the test is scaled to account for differences in difficulty, an increase in average score would be offset in the scaling process and additional time would not increase applicants’ scaled scores.

You MUST Prepare Thoroughly and Properly for Your Bar Exam

Another major truth is that who you choose as a bar exam tutor can mean the difference between success and failure. Having a lecturer or tutor who does not take bar exams regularly is like going to a corporate attorney for a criminal matter. A tutor who doesn’t keep current with annual bar exams simply cannot know what has been tested on recent bar exams, particularly the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).

Here’s an intimidating fact—some of the largest bar review companies have lecturers who have never taken and passed the MBE! Hard to believe, but some students’ law careers depend upon uninformed tutoring. You can imagine how tough it is to pass a test that you’re not properly prepared for.

Here’s the most important fact! Reed Bar Review’s Hugh Reed has taken and passed almost 30 MBEs…and counting!   We are bar exam specialists because we teach you what YOU need to know to PASS! And those are emphatically not bar exam myths!

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Myth 2 About the MBE Multistate Bar Exam

MBE MYTHS The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) tells us that bar examiners everywhere field questions and concerns from examinees who worry about the real truth of bar exams. Since the MBE is a crucial component of their test of minimum competence for licensure to practice law, the NCBE has conducted in depth research over years to dispel such myths. So we give you Myth 2 About the MBE Multistate Bar Exam and the truth about it.

Myth 2 — MBE questions are needlessly difficult, arcane, and tricky.

The fact is that MBE questions are designed to be a fair index of whether an applicant has the ability to practice law. MBE questions are written by drafting committees composed of men and women who are law teachers and practitioners. Before it is administered, every MBE question is reviewed at several levels:

  1. at least twice as it is edited by the drafting committee
  2. by psychometric experts to insure that it is fair and unbiased
  3. by the practitioner members of the MBE Policy Committee and their academic consultants
  4. by the members of boards of bar examiners across the country.

After a form of the MBE is administered, any question that performs in an unanticipated manner—is very difficult or is missed by applicants who did well on the rest of the test—is flagged by psychometric experts and reviewed again by content experts on the drafting committees to ensure that no ambiguity exists in the question and that the key is unequivocally correct. Should an error be detected even after this thorough scrutiny, two or more ans wers may be deemed correct in order to ensure that no applicant is disadvantaged by having a particular question appear on the form of the MBE he or she took. In a 1992 study, expert panelists reported that they believed MBE items were generally easy, correctly estimating that about 66 percent of candidates would select the right answer to a typical item. A study is underway to review the MBE test specifications (subject matter outlines) in order to make certain that the questions asked on the examination continue to relate to knowledge that is important to the practice of law. Therefore, you can rest assured that the test is probably as fair as an exam can be and that the questions relate directly to what you shoud know in order to pass your bar exam and practise law. There is not much element of the needlessly difficult, arcane, or tricky. The most important thing for an MBE candidate to realize long before taking the exam is that the way one takes approaches the exam is important. You must absolutlely be comfortable with critical thinking, recognizing facts, and expressing what you have learned—those skills that enable a successful law career. Thus, engaging with a tutor, skilled in bar exam questions, means the difference between pass and fail for a huge number of students. Remember, Hugh Reed, our founder and CEO has taken and passed nearly thirty bar exams in different jurisdictions. We don’t know anyone else who can say that, and it’s not to be taken lightly. All MBEs are different and passing one is as complicated as passing another. If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming MBE, contact Colonel Reed or access the free study aids on our website.

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