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Understanding and Overcoming Multiple Choice Exams for the MPRE and in preparation for the MultistateBar Exam

3L, Whittier Law School

Multiple choice tests have been the bane of my existence for as long as I have been in school.

By nature, I am absolutely terrible at it. Throughout law school, I have been able to dodge a few bullets with the saving grace of professors incorporating essays as portions of the exams. However, even by scoring the highest grade on my real property essay in the final examination, my disappointing 8 correct out of 25 multiple choice questions brought my grade down significantly to barely passing.

It was not until this past year when I was faced with having to study for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) that I sought out help to pass this multiple choice-only test, and eventually, to be prepared for the second-day Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) portion of the California Bar Exam in July.

Luckily, my school offered a class that taught students MBE strategies and together with the help of outside resources, my score improved on an average of 60%. Although I am still learning, I found the following methods helpful:

  1. Understanding the root of the problem. I learned that I was not scoring well on multiple choice questions because I had trouble understanding the call of the question. One of the main problems was that after reading a long fact pattern, my brain would be muddled with the excess information the fact pattern provided. I had trouble concentrating on what was actually being asked. To solve this issue, I turned to the next step…
  1. Reading the question first. It is human nature to read from top to bottom when given material to analyze. However, because fact patterns are often filled with irrelevant information to confuse the readers, it is best to read the question first before anything else, so that a clear understanding of the issue is established before reading the rest of the prompt. After understanding the question, and before moving on to the fact pattern…
  1. Read the answer-choices second. This will further frame the issue and direct your focus to the relevant facts you will need to look for. If you know the law, sometimes, just by looking at the possible answers, it is possible to narrow down your choices.
  1. Read the fact pattern last. Now that you know the issue, and the possible answers to choose from, you will recognize the relevant information to sift out for that correct answer.
  1. Practice makes perfect.

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