Before we dive into bar prep tips to pass the big exam, you should get the basics on the UBE. The first thing you need to know is that the UBE is about three times longer than the LSAT. It takes two solid days and you only get scheduled breaks every three hours. It’s a mental marathon. But nothing that you can’t handle with strategic and diligent preparation.
Components. The UBE tests your understanding of generally applicable laws and attorney skills. That means you don’t need to know state-specific laws unless told otherwise. The UBE has three parts: the MEE, MPT, and MBE. The MEE is essays. The MPT is performance-based. The MBE is multiple choice.
Schedule. The first day you tackle the writing. Normally, six 30-minute essays in the morning, two 90-minute performance tests in the afternoon. But some states flip-flop it and slate the essays for after lunch, so double-check your first-day schedule. The second day, you get back-to-back, three-hour sessions of 100 multiple-choice questions.
Priorities. Most of your prep time should focus on the multiple choice. Some theories are floating around that graders are more lenient on the MEE and MPT when someone has a solid MBE score. Theories like that may or may not be complete bunk. Regardless, we do know three things that should make you focus on the MBE: the multiple choice is 50% of your total score, you’re guaranteed 25 graded questions on each MBE subject, and the topics tested can pop up on the essays. That means every MBE subject you crush, you’re guaranteed MBE points and maybe even some MEE points.
The MEE or essays are your next priority. They’re worth 30% of your score, but you have no guarantee which topics will pop up. Some test-takers will waste a ton of time analyzing which subjects were tested at different times in the past and speculating about what seems likely in the future. At the end of the day, all people can do is guess. The reality is twelve subjects are fair game and almost any combo is possible on the six essays. Prepare to conquer all the topics tested on the MEE.
You should normally spend the least amount of time prepping for the performance tests because they only count for 20% of your score and you don’t have to memorize any substantive law for them. We say normally because if the MPT is a major pain point for you—you struggle processing a lot of information and synthesizing and applying that information within tight time constraints—you may need to do a bunch of practice performance test questions to perform well. But remember, at the end of the day, the MPT is still only 20% of your score and, thankfully, you don’t have to memorize any laws to ace it.
Start early and pace yourself. Two foundational principles before we dive into the nitty-gritty: Start early and pace yourself. If you’re studying full-time or close to it, you should start about two months before the exam. If studying only part-time, you’ll need to start earlier. Regardless, take regular breaks and avoid studying more than 40 hours a week. The law of diminishing returns applies in studying as much as it does in economics. Be diligent but not manic.