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Multistate Bar Exam

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.

MBE Score: To Look Or Not To Look

The Arizona Bar Exam has three sections.

  • Multistate Bar Exam (MBE): 200 multiple choice questions (6 hours), 50% of your score
  • Multistate Essay Exam (MEE): 6 essay questions (3 hours), 30% of your score
  • Multistate Performance Exam (MPE): 2 practical questions (3 hours), 20% of your score

This is my actual MBE score, still in its envelope.

You have to get a score of at least 410 out of 600 to pass the bar. The results of the exam will not be out until October; however, five weeks after the exam, we received our MBE scores in the mail. It is possible to bomb the MBE and still pass the bar, and it’s possible to ace the MBE and still fail. I decide the stress of not knowing anything was less than the stress I would feel if I opened my MBE score and I wasn’t happy with the result. So, when my score arrived, I put it in a drawer instead of opening it.

A lot of people heard about what I did and couldn’t believe that I had enough self-restraint to not open the envelope. Many of them asked if they could open it or at least hold it up to a light bulb so they could know what it says. These people are all banned from my home until after the final bar exam pass list is posted.

Fortunately, I have significant experience with being academically stubborn. During law school, I never checked my grades after the first semester. After each semester was over and final grades were posted, I emailed the assistant dean of the law school. He checked my grades for me and let me know that I passed and that I was in good academic standing. I never knew what my GPA or class rank were and it made me a happier law student.  My focus shifted to learning the material and my stress level dropped significantly. I have a copy of my final transcript on my computer in case a future employer wants to see it, but I’ve never looked at it.

I decided not to open my MBE score because knowing this information would not give me any definitive answers about my bar score. It’s a bit cruel that the powers that be tell us what 50% of our score is and make us sweat it for another 5 weeks. I’d rather take the bar exam and forget about it until the official pass list is posted.

To anyone who would not react well if they score below average on their MBE, I recommend not opening your MBE score when it arrives.  All that matters is that you get the total score you need to pass.