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Unsolicited Advice: Don’t Open Your MBE Score

This was my actual MBE score, still in its envelope. I did not open until after I found out I passed the bar exam.

It’s been about a month since the February 2012 Bar Exam. That means some people will be getting their multistate bar exam (MBE) results in the mail soon. My advice is do not open this envelope!

The MBE is the multiple choice section of the bar exam. Each state determines how much weight it will give to the multiple choice, essay, and performance test sections of their bar exam. In Arizona, the MBE counts for 50% of your score. It is still possible to fail the bar exam regardless of your MBE score. For some, learning that their score was above average on the MBE allows them to breathe a sigh of relief.

Arizona sends out MBE scores 5 weeks after the bar exam and posts the list of who passed 10 weeks after the bar exam. Do you want to find out that you’re in the lower half and have to wait another 5 weeks to see if your essay and performance test scores are high enough to give you a passing score?

If you get your MBE score before you find out if you passed the bar, I recommend that you take the unopened envelope, shove it in a drawer, and forget about it. That’s what I did, and I was a lot less stressed as a result. Opening the envelope would have increased my anxiety because it would have made me think more about my bar results and would have freaked me out if I was below the average.

My job was done when I turned my test in. There was nothing more I could do. Thinking about the results was not going to change anything.  After I learned I passed the bar, I did open my MBE envelope and saw that I performed above average. I still think I was less stressed and detached by not knowing any part of my score in advance. (I generally don’t talk about grades, but I thought I’d pre-answer this question.)

Making the commitment not to open my score was probably easier for me than most people because I didn’t look at my law school grades for my last 2.5 years of law school. I still don’t know how I did in law school except that I passed every class.

I made an offer to a friend of mine today who took the February Bar Exam. I told her if she didn’t want to see her MBE score when it arrives and she didn’t trust herself not to open it, she could give it to me and I would hold onto it for her.

I’d like to extend that offer to anyone who took the February 2012 Bar Exam or who is taking the July 2012 Bar Exam. If you don’t want to see your MBE score, but you don’t trust yourself to resist the temptation to look, feel free to give or send it to me. I will hold onto it for you until you tell me to return it. Send me an email if you’re interested.


  1. 2x Taker says:

    I tried to wait to open my results. In fact, I had made the decision to “drawer it” a few weeks before they arrived. In reality I opened the envelope before I got back to my house from the mailbox. It was devastating. I knew right then that had little chance of passing, even with 5’s for essays. So I began mourning my failure then and never really kept up with the anticipation of seeing the final results – although I certainly had enough hope to be crushed the day that those came out too.

    Anyway, I think that for first time takers, waiting is the better move. But the story is different for those of us doing this for the second GD time! The second time is 1000x worse. For me at least, the overwhelming anxiety and panic has been taking its toll since the day I started studying for the BAR the first time. It’s just never let up and since the results from BAR 1 it has only increased. So I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided that I have a choice to make. Is it worth the relief and incredible weight off my shoulders to risk the humility and depression that would certainly follow another defeat on the MBE section of the BAR? (In case you were wondering my MBE score was what destroyed me on the 1st exam. Its not the content, it’s my inability to test well on multiple choice tests… for a LAW exam!!! Is it just me or is the point of a law exam to show you know all avenues and options that you can take; it’s the argument and basis for ….. I am digressing, sorry).

    Where was I, oh yes, I feel like the potential for the relief of knowing I didn’t bomb the thing outweighs the potential defeat. So I say, first time takers hold off from opening it and, 2nd time takers, weight the options. If you are as miserable as I have been for the past year, you may decide it’s worth the risk to open it. Especially if it’s the MBE Bomb that has you running for cover.

    p.s. I hope the UNDENIABLERUTH does an update on this topic once the results are recieved. I’m sure you have a few friends who decide to wait and those who can’t help themselves.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks 2xT! I hope some test takers take me up on my offer to hold onto their results or just not open them themselves.

      My hat’s off to people like you who took the test again. That takes a lot of determination and dedication. If you change your mind and don’t want to see your MBE result’s early, feel free to send them my way.

      I hope you pass the second time around!

  2. ConservativeBaron says:

    I took the July 2008 Exam and I’m usually really bad at standardized tests. I got my MBE score in September – 124.2. I was devastated, I wasn’t sure at first whether that was the raw or scaled score. Nope, scaled score I think I was in the 16th percentile or something.

    I ended up passing with a 426.6 (passing is 410). I was really considering asking the Supreme Court of Arizona to stop this ridiculous practice.

    My friend got like a 147 on the MBE and she passed with a 410.6.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      I’ve heard they’ve stopped doing this. It was way too nerve-wracking to get half my score to look at it.

      1. ConservativeBaron says:

        Oh good, finally. Opening that envelope was the worst thing I could have done between mid-September to mid-October haha.

        1. Ruth Carter says:

          Agreed! I wasn’t going to torture myself by finding out what half my score is. I was happy to hear that they’ve stopped sending MBE scores in Arizona.

      2. ConservativeBaron says:

        Do you know if they have past Arizona Bar Exam questions? I just passed California and California releases both questions and model answers, and I wanted to know if they had the 2008 questions I took. Just for “milestone” sakes.

        1. Ruth Carter says:

          I have no idea. I suspect you’ll have to ask the Arizona Supreme Court about that.