MBE: How low can you go? (and still pass!)

I finally forced myself to do a full practice MBE yesterday and it confirmed what all my other practice question sessions had already indicated: If I took the test today I’d get about 60% of the questions right. That seems awful, yet I’ve heard it’s usually a passing score for the MBE once everything is scaled. So my question:

Is it true that 60% on the MBE is usually a passing score? Can anyone fill me in anymore on how the “scaling” works? Do they scale the test according to all results nationwide, or do they scale each state independently?

I don’t really want to do just the bare minimum, but at the same time I don’t need a good score, I need a passing score. The MBE is worth 35% of the total exam score here so doing well on it can help cover mistakes on the essays and MPT. My hope was to be getting about 70-80% correct on the MBE by this point for just that purpose, but alas…

Aside from the score, the practice exam did seem valuable in that it showed just how very tiring it can be to sit for three hours straight doing question after question after question. (It’s especially hard if you’re getting almost half of them wrong; talk about discouraging!) A good night’s sleep before the real thing is going to be critical!

8 thoughts on “MBE: How low can you go? (and still pass!)”

  1. From what I understand, it depends on how your state weighs the MBE in accordance with the other portions. In CA, there is no required passing score — you just have to meet the overall point total btwn the MBE, essays, and PTs. Other states require you to pass it with x amt of scaled points.

  2. Barbri said of NY that you need to get sometihng like a 125-133 out of the 200 on the MBE to be ‘safe.’ Thats because there is really no minumum MBE score.

  3. 60 % is a fair score, of course the better you do the more points you can miss in the other areas. However, very few people obtain a raw of 80%. The normal scale is about 10 – 15 points but, is set to make the national median score 141. So a 60% raw score would typicaly become a scaled score of 130 – 135 but, it changes form year to year. For example the Scale in July 1991 was 21 points. I hope that this helps and good luck. Now back to my own Bar prep.

  4. I think the adjustment is national, but each state determines what percentage the MBE comprises of your overall score. And the scaling has diminishing returns — that is, the better your raw score on the MBE, the fewer additional scaled points you’ll get. I was told to shoot for 60% because the scale will generally add the 13-15 extra points you’ll need.

    And ditto the above comment about getting 80% right. It sounds like you’re right where you need to be with the MBE.

  5. Though, technically, I don’t *know* you, I thought about you and your studying today- you more than anyone I “know” are the person I most hope passes with flying colors- mostly because I’m jealous of your ability to take the leap and do what you want most. Good luck!

  6. pseudostoops: Thank you! I don’t *know* you either, but that just might be the nicest comment anyone has ever left me! Here’s hoping I pass so I will not become a lesson in the foolishness of doing what you most want to do….

    Everyone else: Thanks for the input on the scaling and scoring of the MBE. I’m feeling a bit more confident now. I hope to add at least 10 points to my score and I should be golden. I just have to remember that “notice to an offeree that the offeror has made an inconsistent contract w/a 3rd party operates as a revocation of the offer” and I should be fine. ;-)

  7. Here are 41 questions which I think I remembered correctly. Anyone with some inputs? Please advise!!
    1) A sets up with B a fraudulent scheme at a county fair by setting up a booth and defrauds a number of people who approach the booth. Another person, C, who notices this action sends a hated teacher of C’s to the booth in order to be defrauded. Also, a fourth person, D, merely sent another over to the booth and that person was defrauded for $50. The call of the question stated the four A, B, C, D and what each is liable for.
    2) Is D liable for fraud due to his sending a person over to the booth, even though he didn’t know of the scheme?
    a. Accessory after the fact for C, because he had the intent and knew about the scheme.
    b. No accessory after the fact for D ( was a two part question)
    3) A person throws a brick through a car windshield and four different circumstances attempt to nullify the voluntary act itself. One was a person who was sleepwalking and did this, one was on some medication while doing it, another was retaliating in some manner which was not the right answer, the final circumstance escapes me, but I picked the sleepwalker as negating the voluntary act.
    4) Something about the Federal Gov. regulating the licking of a glowing toad to get high. This was a federal question.
    5) May a mortgage be taken by a devisee (defesible) in vested fee simple then mortgage the interest to a church, during the time when the church is being used “for church purposes.” I thought one could not mortgage a future interest which is not vested? Dunno.
    6) Evidence question about the statement “the son of a bitch is a dead man” the witness is testifying as to whether this statement is an excited utterance- not b/c not for the truth of the matter asserted, but could have been a present sense impression. That is what I picked.
    7) Another evidentiary question about whom shall be excluded from the courtroom during the proceedings, including (or not) the witnesses’ representative. Rule 615 prohibits the exclusion of an employee or assistant to a witness from being prevented from presence but does not specifically preclude or allow an attorney of such witness from presence in the courtroom. This was a viscous question of little or no real value.
    8) Double jeopardy question was whether after the first trial for armed robbery, when found not guilty, may be tried again for assault, but the second trial had not begun because the jury had not been sworn in yet, but it is still double jeopardy. Because the same elements of the crime have already been tried in the first armed robbery trial.
    9) An office worker turns in another worker for possession of cocaine in the office. The worker is arrested and charged, but wins the trial for possession charge. Then, the worker that turned him in has her office subjected to civil forfeiture under the drug laws on which the underlying offense was apparently beaten on the first trial, thus this is a hybrid double jeopardy question, which would have made for an interesting essay question, but I answered it as being allowed due to the civil nature of the proceedings are not seemingly duplicative enough to be subject to a double jeopardy dismissal.
    10) In a requirements contract, the words “required” are mistakenly replaced with the word desired which subjects this contract to matters of mutual mistake, thereby allowing for this contract to be subject to reformation with the mutually reciprocating terms as desired as REQUIRED, thereby.
    11) One painter negotiates to paint for an amount which includes the trim, a valued amount of $400 less than the contract amount. The painter is allowed an opportunity to paint the trim, but does not, therefore, I believe that the owner is permitted to deduct the $400 from the value of the contract, as it appears they both intended for this to be inclusive of the trim. Therefore, I selected an amount of the contract which subtracted the $400. I think this was permissible because there was no question as to the inclusion of the trim.
    12) The teaching of evolution in school was, in my view invoking the establishment clause and therefore was applied the compelling interest test in order to permit the teaching of such a subject in a public school setting. The answers were either rational basis or compelling, and I picked compelling under establishment clause principles.
    13) There was an undercover cop who ‘participated’ in a conspiracy to purchase stolen guns. The seller of the stolen guns got away, thus the cop could not have completed the necessary elements for a conspiracy, thus whatever answer I picked did not have a conspiracy crime in it.
    14) Julia is staying in a hotel as a guest. A ‘federal’ police officer determines that she is alleged to have participated in a bank robbery two weeks prior. Without a warrant and without ‘required probable cause’ the officer uses the master key from the manager of the Hotel to enter Julia’s room, where he finds nothing except a diary on the bed, which Officer reads and learns that it was in fact, according to the diary, Julia who committed the crime. Question is whether this diary is admissible, or maybe whether her arrest based on the contents of the diary is permissible.
    15) Mother says to Sam, please give my son $1000, and “I will pay you back if he doesn’t” and sends the letter. Sam gets the letter and drafts a letter accepting the request, but does not mail the acceptance until Mother dies. Son gets the $1000, and question is whether mother’s estate is liable for the $1000.
    16) A company is contracted to produce a large number of unique metal placquards each custom made with the company’s logo on them. The contract is breached and the answers reflect what the damages are and the only two that are possibly right are, the “full value of the contract” or the cost to the company for producing the products.
    17) Congress passes a law which effectively makes a portion of contracts with the government invalid, one of the answers mentions ex post facto law violation, another answer states that ex post facto laws only pertain to criminal actions not civil ones.
    18) Congress passes a law which full states that it will regulate in every manner the sounds emanating from everywhere, stating the protection of human’s hearing and ‘noise pollution’ being the reason for Congress’ entry into this field of regulation. It also states that “any city or state government which has not passed such regulation will be subject to a noise decibel level of 80 db as the standard for all. Then, three weeks later a city passes a law which sets the db level at 70 db. The question choices ask whether the city law is constitutional, or unconstitutional because, “Congress sought to fully occupy this field of regulation-“sound”, or that the city may pass laws which are more restrictive than the Congressional version.
    19) In a certain state, based upon the new census, re-districting was begun. Due to the political wrangling which went on while attempting to implement the redistricting, the Federal Courts were petitioned to come to a decision on the correct apportionment of people in each district. The answers were sometimes three sentences long, one stating that the Eleventh Amendment did not allow the Federal Courts to decide states issues; another stated that members in those districts have one- person, one-vote rights which make this a Federally justifiable, matter.
    20) A plaintiff files an action to sue in a diversity action in federal court when the amount in controversy is $60,000, which at the time was in the process of being amended to be higher than the $50,000 which is was at the time of his filing the case. Then, the amount in controversy was changed by Congress to be $100,000, making his case not valuable enough for a diversity action. Does this change make his case fail on the merits or is it saved by the prior filing if there was no mention of a sunset provision, etc. The answers were time of injury, time of filing and time of change in the amount of controversy.
    21) Mortgage priority question had to do with whether in a race notice jurisdiction, a “purchase money mortgage” has higher priority than a “homeowner’s mortgage” as opposed to a “commercial mortgage.” One of the answers outright stated, because homeowner’s mortgages have first priority over commercial mortgages.
    22) An owner sells her home to Buyer and gives him a mortgage for $40,000 in order to complete the deal. Buyer uses another ‘commercial mortgage’ in order to obtain money for his ‘home business’ and this mortgage is around $80,000, again Buyer defaults, neither mortgage is recorded, and one answer again states that homeowner mortgages are higher priority than a commercial lease. Another answer states because the homeowners’ mortgages have priority over commercial mortgages? Never heard of such a thing.
    23) Two part question, Clara finds out from her boyfriend that there is a gift of an expensive jacket in her closet at home. Clara has an idea to “steal” jacket by giving it to Margaret, then after ‘stealing’ her own gift, calls Margaret to tell her that it would be funny to her boyfriend when she finds out that her gift was stolen. The two questions asked what crime is Clara guilty of, and because she had ‘stolen’ her own possession, she could only be guilty of conspiracy and solicitation. Margaret, on the other question, can be guilty of only conspiracy and larceny because solicitation merges and cannot be charged. Tough!
    24) A woman hires a hit man for $10,000 to kill, a boyfriend / spouse? And pays him the $10,000, however the hit man shoots and misses, but the boyfriend? Then falls and dies because of the fall, hitting a rock, and not by the shot. The question is whether she is guilty of murder or only attempted murder and or solicitation. The real question had to do with whether criminal impossibility as opposed to legal impossibility will negate the attempt part.
    25) Then there was a parent who discovered on the breath of her son alcohol, yet still gave him the keys to her newer car, because the son convinced her that his car was less safe. An accident occurs in which no one is killed, but the question has to do whether the mother can be successfully charged with “attempted murder” “attempted involuntary manslaughter” attempted voluntary manslaughter” or no attempt crime. I struggled with this one, because I knew there was no such thing as an attempted negligence based crime, nor an attempted reckless based crime, thus I really have no idea what they were looking for here.
    26) May two contracting parties specifically draft “a specific performance clause” into a contract in order to force a court to order SP on the construction of a building to be completed when only 60% of is was completed? Here, one reasonable answer which I picked stated that a contract cannot impose a court to order specific performance in a contract. The other answers were not sound, and did not address the issue of forcing a party to complete performance on a contract when damages may suffice as compensation for a breach.
    27) When an architect purposely and lacking good faith delays the issuance of a specific element of a contract, here it was the certification from the architect, thereby forcing a breach for which a condition precedent was not fulfilled due to the parties failure to certify, thereby lacking good faith dealing. I steered clear from any enforceability issues in answering this one, because each element of the contract was fulfilled save the architect cert. clause which thereby breached the contract. This was unclear and unfair as a question.
    28) Sarah wanted an attorney appointed due to her indigent status, but she requested a “Johnny Concran” type defense attorney, and was otherwise appointed a public defender. The judge appointed this public defender on the stated basis that Sarah “could not defend herself, competently.” Later, Sarah fires her public defender and completes her trial on her own, only to be found guilty of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison. On appeal, may she be successful in overturning her guilty finding due to failure of competent counsel, due to the fact that early on the judge stated on the record that she was “incompetent to defend herself.” I found none of the answers addressing the issue how may a defendant competently waive her right to counsel. Tough one.
    29) One element of sentencing guidelines in a trial for stealing books is whether the book stolen was a book on the “NY Times Best Seller top Ten” list, which if so found to be on that list, would be mandatory sentence of one year, where normally, the sentence for regular books would be 0-5 years. One man was reluctantly sentenced to 1 year because the book was found to on that list. I forgot the answers but it was whether the sentencing guidelines are constitutional or not. I thought that the question would be about judicial notice.
    30) A judge took judicial notice of the important fact as to whether the bank robbed was an FDIC bank or not, and this led to jury instructions which stated that a jury “may” find this fact irrefutable because it was a criminal trial. Nailed that one
    31) If a change in the contributory negligence statutes of a state was initiated which one of the following would least be impacted: assumption of the risk, last clear chance, contribution and reimbursement, comparative negligence. I picked assumption of the risk.
    32) Another x the gasoline prices strange con law question had to do with whether a state may fix the prices for gas based upon the prices of the adjoining four states. I stated the commerce clause answer whatever that was.
    33) There is a generator sold in a sealed package from a store. The store from which it was sold, sells the item sealed, in an “as is” condition. On the outside, states it handles 1000 watts but in reality, it is only 500 watts. The breach of merchantability is something that cannot be waived, at least that is what I put.
    34) A person is speeding way over the speed limit when one of the brakes on a car cause a crash, but no injury, the defective brakes caused only damage to the car. The answers all had to do with whether the jurisdiction allows for fixing defective products, after found defective, or whether the damage is not something that a jurisdiction would allow to be fixed as a remedy.
    35) Two questions tried to determine whether a government report is an exception to the hearsay rule, like a business records type of exception. Yet, all the answers pointed to the “government report” as being an exception to the hearsay rule out-right. I am thinking this was a trick. Both times.
    36) Can the growing of crops on a farm which is not yours be the evidence necessary for adverse possession? There was no notice to the true owner of the land, and owner of the adjacent plot was using it to grow crops. Does this act amount to a hostile undertaking for purposes of adverse possession?
    37) Is burning hot oil next to a high school considered an abnormally dangerous activity when a plane crashes into the oil burning plant, causing harm to several students? Here, I think this was an unforeseeable act and due to the fact that the plant had adequate security and was only on a hill was the only real reason for finding them negligent, if not found to be an abnormally dangerous activity.
    38) Man in a plane parachutes to safety, causing no damage, but the owners want to “sue him” anyway for an undisclosed cause of action. This is most likely testing private necessity, and I put that they could not have a cause of action unless he caused damage.
    39) Is a forest ranger on Federal land subject to state taxes for her income? This was one strange question which I thought to be a federalism question which would not allow a state to tax a federal land worker. I may be wrong.
    40) A judge gave two extremely narrowly written reasonable doubt jury instructions which at most favored the defendant in the sense that it characterized reasonable doubt in very specific terms, but the Defendant was found guilty anyway and was sentenced to many years. The question is whether this question is appeal able if the jury instructions are more favorable to the defendant than the prosecution.
    41) Whether the evidence standard is was “outweighed” or “substantially outweighed” I know that one was substantially outweighed.

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