The most frequent question I receive from examinees is which MBE questions are the best. In my opinion, there is no better way of knowing the exam than the exam itself. Accordingly, the most important MBE questions to know are the ones released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). To date, there are approximately 2,000 released NCBE MBE questions. Of these 2,000+ questions, the most important questions are the ones released from 2006 to present. I refer to these 860 questions as the “OPE” questions because the bulk of the questions (400) are from the NCBE Online Practice (OPE) exams from 2006-2013. For example, according to a recent short article entitled Pedagogical Advice On Studying For The MBE by Susan M. Case, Ph.D. of NCBE, “learning the material presented in the four OPEs should put you in a very good position to do well on the MBE.” Likewise, I find that the MBE Study Aid questions (released by NCBE in 2019) and MBE3 Civil Procedure questions (released by NCBE in 2020) and MBE Complete Practice exam (released by NCBE in Dec 2021) are very relevant to the current MBE and I expect examinees to see similar variants of these questions on the upcoming MBE exam.
Since the OPE questions are by far the most important MBE questions you need to know, I created an exam based on these questions which I refer to as the OPE 860 MBE exam. The easiest way to recognize the benefits of this OPE 860 exam is to look at the samples. Click here to view a sample of the OPE 860 MBE Questions in PDF format. Even if you are not interested in this module, you should read the explanation section of the PDF sample to better understand why practicing with the NCBE OPE MBE questions is so important. This OPE 860 MBE Questions module also includes an MP3 version of the exam (based on each question and the correct answer only) which is also broken down into 36 MP3s ranked by each MBE category’s importance for the upcoming exam (total of 32 hours of audio). Click here to listen to a sample of the OPE 860 MBE Questions in MP3 format. These MP3s are tremendously helpful to audio learners. I find that many examinees who never listened to MP3s as a method of bar study are surprised to discover they are audio learners. Even if you aren’t an audio learner, MP3s allow you to study in places you normally couldn’t study while also enabling you to form alternate memory impressions (e.g. if you have a 30 minute drive to and from your bar review, you can listen to about 25 OPE MBE questions). For example, while I don’t regard myself as an audio learner, this is exactly how I studied for the MBE in 2005. At the time, I created rudimentary MP3s of the NBCE MBE questions where the question was read followed by a pause to give me time to think of my choice and then a recitation of the correct answer choice. I attribute a good part of my MBE score of 162 to listening to these MP3s on a daily basis while driving to and from bar review.
OPE 860 Benefits
- Contains the 860 most important MBE questions you need to know for the upcoming MBE exam
- Contains the 2021 MBE Complet Practice exam questions with explanations for all 200 answers.
- Contains the 2020 MBE3 Civil Procedure questions with explanations for all answers.
- Contains the 2019 MBE Study Aid questions with explanations for the correct answers.
- The questions sorted by subject and category to enable testing of each legal theory at a time and make connections more quickly.
- There is one question per page with the answer immediately following each question (each separated by a page) so you don’t have to hunt for each answer explanation.
- There is an accompanying Excel Spreadsheet to track your scoring by subject and category along with other information including your MBE rules for the questions
- These questions best represent the length and difficulty of the exam MBE questions to assess whether you will have timing problems
- MP3s of the OPE 860 are available to allow for extra study while forming alternate memory impressions.
- MP3s consist of each question followed by explanation of the correct answer only for efficient MP3 study (32 hours of audio)
- Additional MP3s available which are broken down by area (36 categories) and prioritized.
OPE 860 Caveats
- The MBE subject of Civil Procedure is under-represented in the OPE 860 exam (it is just 12% of the questions while all the other subjects represent 15% of the questions).
- About 70% of the most recent NCBE questions from 2019 only contain an explanation for the correct answers (for every other MBE practice question contained in this exam, there are explanations for all the choices).
- The MP3s are based on a computer generated voice (listen to the samples to see if this is a problem).
- The MP3s only contain an answer explanation for the correct answer for purposes of brevity.
- The PDF version is printable and searchable, but you cannot copy/paste content from it.
- The PDF version has a watermark on every page for security purposes.
- I do not identify the original MBE question number as a cross-reference.
I regard the OPE questions as the most important because NCBE also regards them as the most important – it costs five times more to license these 860 questions from NCBE than to license the remaining 1,181 questions from the 1991, 1992 and 1998 exams. You can see the much higher value NCBE attributes to these recent questions as compared to their older questions, so I place the same value on them. Put simply, any of the legal concepts in the 860 “OPE” MBE questions can be tested on the upcoming MBE (and therefore very important), while a number of legal concepts in the 1,181 “NON-OPE” MBE questions are no longer tested on the current MBE (making this older set of questions much less important). For example, NCBE provides the following warning with their MBE 1992 questions:
“The 581 questions contained in this document appeared on MBEs administered between 1972 and 1991. Because of their dated nature, many of the questions may test principles that have been altered by changes in the law and thus are no longer suitable topics to be tested. As a result, some of the answers shown in the answer key may be incorrect under currently accepted principles of law. Further, many of these questions do not reflect the current style of MBE questions, and a number of the questions appear in formats that are no longer used on the MBE. The questions and answers in this document are provided only for the purpose of providing applicants with a sample of the range and general format of questions that appeared on previously administered MBEs, not as examples of the content currently tested or of the material to be studied for the substance of the examination. Many of these questions are currently in use, sometimes with alteration, by commercial bar review courses under a licensing arrangement with NCBE. Because these questions are available in the marketplace, NCBE is choosing to make them available online. DO NOT USE THESE QUESTIONS TO STUDY CONTENT FOR THE MULTISTATE BAR EXAMINATION!!”
Since these 581 questions represent a major portion of the released NCBE MBE questions (about 33%), NCBE requires licensees of the MBE 1992 questions to inform examinees that “NCBE believes that many of these questions may no longer be representative of the MBE’s content.” According to an August 2019 NCBE memo to licensees, the 1992 questions (581 questions representing about 1/3 of the released NCBE questions) are being removed from the NCBE licensing program in 2022 because they “may no longer reflect the current law, the style is not consistent with current questions on the MBE, and their continued availability reflects poorly on NCBE.” Accordingly, examinees who spend time on these NON-OPE questions without first mastering the OPE questions are simply hurting themselves. For example, many first-time examinees don’t review the released NCBE MBE questions because they are not a part of their bar review course. In contrast, the majority of repeaters will practice with the released NCBE questions after realizing the MBE questions from their bar review weren’t reflective of the actual MBE. For these examinees, there is no better way of understanding the current MBE than by looking at prior released MBE questions, especially the most recent OPE questions.
To provide examinees (both first-timers and repeaters) with a very efficient way to test on these OPE questions in the least amount of time, I created this OPE 860 MBE exam. This exam is a 1,700+ page PDF containing the 860 OPE questions. There is one question per page with the answer following each question (each separated by a page). For each answer, the heading tells you the NCBE category the question is based on and then the answer explanation. Please note that about 70% of the MBE Study Aid questions from 2019 only contain an explanation for the correct answers (I am in the process of writing explanations for the incorrect answers). For every other MBE practice question contained in this exam, there are explanations for all the choices. The exam is arranged with the answers immediately after each question so your practice is geared towards learning/review rather than exam simulation. The idea is to answer a single question, check the answer, and then make/update your notes regarding any problems/misunderstandings.
The questions sorted by subject (Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contracts, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts) and then by category. By looking at one legal theory at a time, you will be able to make connections more quickly leading to a better grasp of the concept. For example, when you read 10 impeachment fact patterns together, you will begin to see what an impeachment fact pattern can look like. This will help you to spot the issue in the future (on both the MBE and essays). Grouping the questions also enables you to better compartmentalize your MBE mistakes (e.g. by answering all the MBE Torts Negligence questions together and then examining your mistakes you can efficiently identify the gaps in your knowledge).
For the MP3s, there is one 32 hour long MP3 which contains all 860 MBE questions + correct answer explanations. The MP3 version of the OPE 860 questions is different from the PDF version because I only give the correct answer to each question (rather than the explanations for all the answers). This reduced the length of the MP3s by 33%. There are also 36 individual MP3s based on each MBE category which are sorted based on priority. For example, the MP3 of “01-Conlaw-Cat IV-Individual rights (54 questions).mp3” is the most important MP3 because the content from this category should contribute the most to your upcoming MBE score. In contrast, the MP3 of “36-Evidence-Cat IV-Writings recordings and photographs (2 questions).mp3” is the least important MP3 because the content from this category is expected to contribute the least to your upcoming MBE score.
Please look at and listen to the samples before you purchase this module. For example, to prevent copying/sharing, each page is watermarked and I do not identify the original MBE question numbers. In addition, while many examinees love the MP3 voice, others hate it, so please do your due diligence prior to subscribing since I do not offer refunds due to the open nature of my work.
All examinees, especially repeaters, need to know these 860 OPE questions very well. As a broad generalization, examinees who consistently score about 70%-75% correct on these questions just prior to the exam typically end up in the 130-140 range on the MBE. Please keep in mind this is assuming your practice scores reflect your knowledge and are not a result of memorizing the answers. Although most examinees won’t have the time to do this, you want to get to the point where you are answering these questions correctly almost 100% of the time. Again, this doesn’t mean you memorize the answers – it means you understand the law behind these questions well enough that you can find the correct answer for these questions almost every time. If you are a repeater who is planning to answer less than 1,000 MBE questions in practice, you are making a mistake if these OPE questions are not the bulk of your practice.
If you plan to answer these questions in blocks rather than one at a time, you should always time yourself. This is because these questions are the best representation of how your timing will be on the actual MBE. This doesn’t mean that you force yourself to answer each question in 1.8 minutes – it simply means you always check to see how many questions you would have missed based on your timing and whether you would have received a passing score (about 65% correct) despite any missed questions.
There is an accompanying Excel Spreadsheet to track your scoring by subject and category along with other information including your MBE rules for the questions. This spreadsheet allows you to track your MBE progress with the OPE860 and CPE200 as you work. If you look at the Overview Tab, it will explain how to use the spreadsheet and will also tell you how you are doing overall and by MBE Category along with other information. This will help you identify your trouble areas where you need to spend more time learning. Please read the instructions in full to learn how to use the sheet. You will use this spreadsheet to track your scores and rules. You should enter your choices and additional information as explained on the Instructions tab. For each MBE practice question session, examinees should track not only their answer choices, but also their confidence level on each question by entering codes for each answer. This sheet also enables you to track your MBE Rules/Mistakes for each question when you are reviewing your answers. You should enter your “MBE Rule” in the MBE RULE/KEY POINTS/THINGS TO REMEMBER NEXT TIME column and then put an X in any cell that applies (i.e. DID NOT KNOW, MIS-APPLIED, or MIS-READ). For example, if you did not know the law or the rule (e.g. there was an element or nuance of the rule you weren’t aware of) for a question, you would put an X in the DID NOT KNOW column. This will help you find what exactly are your problems with each category by using the CATEGORY FILTER tab. You can also later go to the Category Filter Tab to examine your average score based on the MBE subcategory. Your best categories will be highlighted in GREEN while your worst categories will be highlighted in RED. If you categorize each question using the NCBE Subject Matter Outline category hierarchy, you can also Sort the categories using Excel Filtering on the Category Filter Tab. Understanding the framework of the NCBE Subject Matter Outline categories will help you on the exam. At some point you will have the categories and subcategories memorized fairly well simply from referring to it every day when classifying MBE rules. For example, suppose you encounter a Contracts question. In your mind, you will first visualize Category I of Contracts which deals with Formation. You will think about the first subcategory (Mutual Assent) and then ask yourself whether mutual assent is an issue at play in the question. You may then think about further subcategories (e.g. Consideration) and then ask yourself whether consideration is an issue to talk about. You will then visualize the other categories such as Category II of Contracts – Defenses to Enforceability. You will ask yourself whether there are any possible defenses from the list you now know so well (Incapacity to contract, Duress and undue influence, etc). You will then visualize Category III of Contracts – Contract Content and Meaning and ask yourself whether anything from this category needs to be discussed. You would then do the same for the Categories of Performance, Breach, and Remedies. Finally, you would consider whether there are any Third Party Rights issues (e.g. assignment or delegation), which is the final category for Contracts. Accordingly, intimately learning these NCBE Subject Matter Outline categories/subcategories not only helps you classify your MBE rules (which will help you immensely in pinpointing your problem MBE areas), but will also serve as an excellent checklist for exam issues on the exam itself. For instance, one high scoring MBE examinee (consistently 155-160 on the MBE but kept failing the CA exam due to his essays) told me that he memorized the BARBRI Conviser Table of Contents to rely on for issue spotting purposes.
Please note that practicing with these questions is only one part of your overall MBE study. While the law behind past NCBE questions will give you insight into some of the legal concepts you can expect to see on the upcoming MBE, they are not always representative of the expected proportioning on the upcoming MBE. Some subjects/categories are under-represented while others are over-represented. Accordingly, do not assume that these questions cover the full scope of the MBE exam. For example, for the subject of Real Property, the new areas the MBE currently tests (e.g. Fair Housing Act, broker’s commissions, title insurance, zoning/non-conforming uses, and many more) are essentially absent from these questions. Thus, if your MBE study is based only on the law behind these released NCBE MBE questions, you will be under-prepared for some areas and over-prepared for others. Accordingly, I strongly recommend that examinees use my MBE Outline in tandem with these questions as it is intended to contextually and proportionally reflect the upcoming MBE.
If you already have the OPE questions (or you are extremely limited in time and won’t be able to answer them), I also offer an MBE Rules Module which consists of black letter law rules I wrote rules for all the 1,800+ released NCBE MBE questions. These rules are an excellent alternative method to acquire the black letter law behind what NCBE has tested in the past in a very efficient way. If you answer the released NCBE questions, this serves as a great second perspective and if you don’t answer all the released NCBE questions, this serves as an excellent hedge.
If you are interested in both the MBE Outline and the MBE Rules, I offer a Combined MBE Outline module which combines my MBE Outline with my MBE Rules. As the MBE tests both new topics (based on their current MBE questions) and past topics (based on their released MBE questions), this outline is designed to help with both by merging my MBE Black Letter Law Outline with my MBE NCBE Rules Outline. As one subscriber told me: “I would like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to create such an awesome outline for the MBE. The notion of having the law followed by examples that were once tested truly helps me to comprehend the material a lot better.“
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