FAQ-UBE Study Tips
As we delve deeper into the UBE, it’s important to grasp the specific laws that are being tested. The UBE, prepared by the NCBE, evaluates candidates’ knowledge of both federal law and the commonly accepted laws across the majority of states. In this FAQ, we will explore the subjects tested, the distinction between federal and majority state law, and how NCBE determines the majority position.
Federal Law Subjects:
Certain subjects within the UBE predominantly focus on federal law, rather than state law. These subjects include Constitutional Law, Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Procedure. As these laws are essentially codified in the Constitution or federal statutes, you can consider them as “Federal Law Subjects.” If the NCBE syllabus specifies that only federal law is tested for a particular subject, there is no need to study state law in that context.
For instance, let’s take Constitutional Law as an example for a New York Bar Exam candidate. You need to concentrate on understanding the U.S. federal Constitution, disregarding the New York state constitution. Similarly, focus on major case law decided in federal court, even if New York state court decisions differ from those of federal court.
Majority State Law Subjects:
Other subjects within the UBE are governed primarily at the state level, making them “Majority State Law Subjects.” In these areas, it is crucial to comprehend the broad principles of the majority states’ laws without getting lost in intricate technicalities, as each state may have variations.
Let’s consider Family Law (marriage) as an example for a New York Bar Exam candidate. Your knowledge should encompass the basic requirements for couples to get married in most states, such as obtaining a marriage license and conducting a solemnized marriage ceremony. Technicalities related to these requirements, like the specific documents to be submitted for a marriage license or the precise definition of “solemnized” in each state, need not be memorized.
Determining the Majority Position:
It’s natural to question how NCBE determines whether a legal position is considered the majority or minority view. While the concept of “majority” or “minority” can be abstract, NCBE relies on other national legal organizations that publish influential “model laws” to ascertain the prevailing positions. For example, the American Law Institute’s “Restatements of the Law” cover subjects such as Agency, Contract, Tort, Conflict of Laws, Property, Trust, and the “Model Penal Code” for Criminal Law. The Uniform Law Commission has published the “Uniform Commercial Code” (Contract, Secured Transactions), “Uniform Probate Code” (Estates), and “Uniform Trust Code” (Trusts).
By now, you should have gained a basic understanding of the laws tested in the Bar Exam. Remember that the UBE encompasses both federal law and the commonly accepted laws of the majority of states. Focus on mastering the key principles and concepts, paying attention to the specific subjects that primarily emphasize federal law or majority state law.
When it comes to preparing for the UBE, selecting the right bar review course is crucial. However, not all courses are created equal, and it’s important to be aware of common problems that may hinder your preparation.
Problem 1: Lack of Coherence in Teaching Approach: Many bar review courses employ multiple teachers, leading to a lack of coordination in terms of content and teaching styles. This can become problematic as some subjects in the UBE, such as tort and agency law, are interconnected. Conflicting information and teaching methods may create confusion and hinder your understanding of the subjects.
Problem 2: Misalignment with NCBE Syllabus: Some bar review courses deviate from the official NCBE syllabus and focus on what they perceive as relevant topics. This approach may result in over or underinclusive materials, leaving you ill-prepared for the actual exam. NCBE intentionally designs the exam to be unpredictable, making it essential to prioritize a course that adheres closely to the syllabus and provides a comprehensive understanding of the subjects.
Problem 3: Inclusion of State-Specific Content: Courses taught by “expert” teachers from different states may inadvertently include state-specific ideas that are not relevant to the UBE. This can lead to confusion and waste valuable study time on unnecessary information. Ensure that the course you choose focuses on the core concepts applicable to the majority of states.
Problem 4: Unrealistic Simulated Questions: Some bar review courses offer simulated questions to mimic the exam experience. However, these questions can be unrealistic in terms of content, style, and length. Additionally, the explanations provided may be inadequate, leaving students without proper guidance.
Problem 5: Mixing Real and Simulated Questions: Certain courses claim to provide real NCBE-licensed questions but fail to separate them from simulated questions. This mixing of question types can create confusion and make it difficult to gauge your preparedness accurately.
Problem 6: Outdated Questions: Beware of courses that include outdated questions that are no longer relevant to the current exam. The NCBE continuously evolves its question bank, rendering older questions obsolete. Ensure that the course you choose offers up-to-date materials to align with the current exam format and content.
Problem 7: Information Overload: Some bar review courses overwhelm students with excessive study materials, including textbooks, notes, flashcards, and counseling sessions. While support is essential, it’s crucial to consider your capacity to absorb the vast amount of information provided. Attempting to memorize thousands of pages may prove overwhelming and counterproductive.
Problem 8: Complex Language and Sentence Structure: Traditional and self-study bar review courses often present materials in long, complex sentences filled with legal jargon. This can hinder comprehension and retention. Opt for courses that utilize plain language and provide explanations in layman’s terms, ensuring a better understanding of the concepts.
Problem 9: Useless Features and Distractors: Some highly commercialized bar review course companies focus on incorporating numerous features to attract customers. However, these features may not contribute significantly to your exam performance and can distract you from the essential learning materials. Be mindful of the course’s core offerings and prioritize substance over flashy distractions.
Selecting the right bar review course is vital to your success in the UBE. By being aware of the common problems associated with certain courses, such as lack of coherence, misalignment with the NCBE syllabus, inclusion of state-specific content, and unrealistic or outdated materials, you can make an informed decision.
Utilizing the right resources can significantly enhance your chances of success. In this FAQ, I will share my personal recommendations based on my experience, focusing on real past paper questions and specific study aids that have proven beneficial.
Focus on Real Past Paper Questions: Working on real past paper questions is essential for UBE preparation. It is recommended to focus on questions from the past five years. While UBE questions are intentionally designed to be tricky, familiarizing yourself with past paper question formats can provide valuable insights. Expect initial difficulty and don’t be discouraged by mistakes, as they are part of the learning process.
Avoid Simulated Questions: It is advisable to avoid wasting time on simulated questions offered by various Bar Prep courses. Simulated questions can often be distracting and may not accurately reflect the nuances and intricacies of the actual exam. Instead, prioritize real past paper questions to ensure a more authentic preparation experience.
Utilize Reliable Study Resources: To supplement your preparation, I highly recommend two specific resources:
MBE Preparation: “Strategies & Tactics for the MBE (Bar Review)” by Steven Emanuel. This comprehensive guide offers a wide range of practice questions and invaluable explanations. It is an excellent resource for honing your skills and understanding the intricacies of the MBE section.
MEE and MPT Preparation: The “Everything Bar Exam Value Pack” from NCBEX study aids is highly recommended. This resource provides access to the real marking scheme, which offers valuable insights into the expectations and requirements of the MEE (Multistate Essay Examination) and MPT (Multistate Performance Test) sections.
Preparing for the UBE can be a challenging endeavor, requiring strategic planning and effective study techniques. In this FAQ, we will explore valuable tips that can help you navigate the UBE more efficiently and improve your chances of success.
Tip 1: Study MBE and MEE Together:
While the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) cover different subjects and require distinct skill sets, it is important to recognize the overlap between them. Many MEE concepts are interconnected with the MBE subjects. By studying all MBE and MEE subjects concurrently, you can save time and avoid duplicating efforts. Referring to the NCBE syllabus will reveal the overlapping ideas. For instance:
- Tort Law and Agency Law: When a customer is attacked by a supermarket staff member, can the supermarket be held liable for the staff’s actions?
- Real Property Law and Trusts Estates Law: Transferring future interests in land as a landlord or creating future interests through trusts or wills involves similar rules and concepts.
- Conflict of Law and Civil Procedure: When a contract designates a specific state’s law, but a lawsuit arises in a different state, determining the applicable law becomes crucial. Understanding both subjects is necessary to navigate such scenarios effectively.
Tip 2: Follow a Strategic Sequence of Study:
To optimize your studying process, it is advisable to follow a preferred sequence of subjects. Begin with Constitutional Law, as it lays the foundation for other subjects. Skipping it initially may result in confusion later. Additionally, studying Real Property first and then immediately transitioning to Trusts and Estates can solidify your understanding of future interests. If you encounter topics that seem incomplete, don’t panic. They may be covered in more detail in subsequent subjects. You can also conduct quick Google searches for additional clarification.
My personally recommended sequence is as follows: Constitutional Law; Evidence; Civil Procedure; Conflict of Laws; Criminal Law and Procedure; Tort; Contract; Real Property; Trusts and Estates; Secured Transactions; Family Law; Business Associations.
Tip 3: Understand Flexibly and in a Practical Sense:
Law is meant to be understood by individuals without legal expertise. Instead of treating it as an abstract concept, try to grasp the broader rationale behind each law. Seek practical examples and real-life scenarios that illustrate how the law functions. Familiarize yourself with the NCBE syllabus, which takes precedence over any previous legal education. Be open to discovering new information or refreshing your understanding of certain topics.
Tip 4: Utilize Concise Study Notes:
Remember that the UBE is a closed-book exam, and extensive memorization is necessary. However, you are not required to cite case law or use precise legal terminology. Focus on understanding the core concepts and utilize concise study notes for efficient memorization. Attempting to memorize hundreds of pages of detailed material is unrealistic. Create condensed notes that capture the essential information and review them repeatedly for better retention.
The MBE is a critical component of the Uniform Bar Exam, requiring candidates to demonstrate their analytical skills rather than relying solely on rote memorization. Let’s explore some valuable tips to enhance your MBE performance.
Tip 1: Recognize the Question Types in the MBE
It’s crucial to grasp the question types that frequently appear in the exam. Rather than focusing on rigid memorization, the MBE tests your ability to analyze situations flexibly. Let’s compare two example questions to illustrate this distinction:
Example of a ‘memorize rigidly’ question that would not typically appear in the MBE:
“An adult may be found liable in a tort negligence action if that adult has breached the standard of:
(a) an ordinary reasonable person in the circumstance
(b) an ordinary reasonable person of that adult’s age
(c) an ordinary reasonable person of that adult’s gender
(d) an ordinary reasonable person of that adult’s intelligence”
Example of an ‘analyze flexibly’ question that aligns with the MBE format:
“Like many of his neighbors, Smith has trained a dog for guard duty. Smith has put ‘Beware of Dogs’ signs clearly posted around a fenced-in yard where he keeps the dogs. Smith’s next-door neighbor, John, frequently walks past Smith’s house and knows about the dogs’ ferocity. One summer day, John entered Smith’s fenced-in yard to retrieve a snow shovel that Smith had borrowed during the past winter. John was attacked by the dog and was severely injured. In a tort lawsuit against Smith, is John likely to prevail?
(A) No, because John knew that there was a dangerous dog in the fenced-in yard.
(B) No, because John was trespassing when he entered Smith’s property.
(C) Yes, because John was an invitee for the purpose of retrieving the shovel.
(D) Yes, because Smith was engaged in an abnormally dangerous activity.”
Tip 2: Carefully Analyze the Last Sentence of the Question
The last sentence of an MBE question often indicates the cause of action being tested. It is crucial to pay close attention to this key information. Using the example question above, the last sentence is: “In a tort lawsuit against Smith (here, the wrongdoer), is John (here, the victim) likely to prevail?”
Since a tort lawsuit can involve both strict liability and negligence, it’s important to analyze both potential causes of action without omitting either one. Let’s break down the analysis:
- Legal Framework:
- Strict Liability: A wrongdoer does not owe liability to a trespassing victim.
- Negligence: A wrongdoer may owe liability to a trespassing victim, except when the victim voluntarily assumes the risk of their own conduct.
- The victim in this case is a trespasser, which eliminates the possibility of strict liability.
- Moreover, the victim was aware of the dog’s dangerous nature but still chose to trespass. This voluntary assumption of risk precludes a negligence claim.
- Conclusion: There is no viable tort lawsuit against the wrongdoer in this scenario.
Tip 3: Employ the Elimination Strategy
One crucial strategy to enhance your MBE performance is the elimination method. Always review all four choices and eliminate the weaker options before selecting your answer. Many candidates lose marks by relying on preconceived notions or assumptions. Each choice may have some correct aspects but also contain flaws. The MBE assesses your ability to identify the better answer. Let’s apply the elimination strategy to the example question:
- Eliminate Choice B:
- “Correct” aspect:
- A wrongdoer does not owe strict liability to a trespassing victim.
- The victim here is a trespasser, so strict liability is not applicable.
- “Incorrect” aspect:
- A tort lawsuit can include both strict liability and negligence.
- Whether the victim is a trespasser or not does not determine negligence liability.
- Eliminate Choice C:
- “Correct” aspect:
- “Invitee” refers to someone who enters the land to provide an economic benefit to the landowner.
- Landowners are generally liable to invitees in a tort lawsuit.
- “Incorrect” aspect:
- The victim here attempted to retrieve a shovel from the land instead of providing anything of value to the wrongdoer.
- The victim does not qualify as an invitee, rendering this choice inapplicable.
- Eliminate Choice D:
- “Correct” aspect:
- “Abnormally dangerous activity” refers to an activity that deviates from common usage and poses a foreseeable and significant risk of physical harm, even with reasonable care.
- Landowners are typically liable for their abnormally dangerous activities in a tort lawsuit.
- “Incorrect” aspect:
- Many of the wrongdoer’s neighbors also keep dogs for guard duty, making it a common practice.
- Keeping dogs in this case does not constitute an abnormally dangerous activity, making this choice inapplicable.
- Choose Choice A as the correct answer:
- Strict liability: The victim knew that the yard was fenced-in, indicating awareness of trespassing, thereby eliminating the possibility of succeeding in a strict liability action.
- Negligence: Despite knowing the dog was dangerous, the victim still decided to enter the yard, voluntarily assuming the risk of their own conduct. Therefore, they cannot succeed in a negligence action.
By employing the elimination strategy, you can confidently select the most appropriate answer choice.
Each MEE question provides a factual scenario similar to that in the MBE. However, MEE factual scenario tend to be more lengthy, breaking down into distinctive sub-questions. Below please find sample question and answer to MEE:
“Smith has put a big and colorful “Beware of Dog with sharp teeth – it always bites cruelly!!!” sign clearly posted around a fenced-in yard where he keeps the dog. One summer day, John (Smith’s neighbor) entered Smith’s fenced-in yard to retrieve a snow shovel that Smith had borrowed earlier in winter. John was attacked by Smith’s dog and was severely injured.”
Sub-question (a): In a strict liability action, is John likely to prevail?
Sub-question (b): In a negligence action, is John likely to prevail?
Here are some tips to help you navigate MEE questions with ease.
Tip 1: Follow the “I-R-A-C” Structure
When tackling MEE questions, it is crucial to employ the “I-R-A-C” (Issue-Rule-Analysis-Conclusion) structure. Here’s a breakdown of each component:
- Issue: Restate the sub-question itself as the issue.
- Rule: State the rule completely (including whether the rule has any exception), though you don’t need to provide specific case law or legislation references. Feel free to rephrase the rule using your own language, as long as it captures the essence of the rule.
- Analysis: Apply the stated rule to the given factual scenario and present a well-supported argument.
- Conclusion: Provide a direct answer to the sub-question.
Tip 2: Elaborate on the Complete Rule Statement
Pay close attention to the crucial parts of the rule statement, represented in yellow. These sections are essential for answering the question. Additionally, there may be relevant but less crucial portions of the rule, represented in green. Both the yellow and green aspects of the rule will contribute to your overall marks. Remember, the more you write and demonstrate your understanding, the greater your chances of earning points.
Tip 3: Address Missing Facts and Make Assumptions
In MEE questions, there may be missing information intentionally left out. This creates gray areas and provides an opportunity for you to showcase your ability to argue both sides (see the answer represented in orange). To excel, follow these steps:
- Identify missing but potentially relevant facts in the given scenario.
- Make logical assumptions based on the limited facts available.
- Proceed with legal reasoning based on your assumptions.
- NCBE examiners purposely introduce ambiguity to test your ability to construct reasoned arguments. Keep in mind that there might not always be a definitively right or wrong answer. What matters most is your capacity to present logical arguments.
By incorporating these tips into your MEE approach, you can enhance your performance and increase your chances of success.
The MPT is a unique component of the bar exam that tests your practical skills as a lawyer. While it doesn’t require substantive law knowledge, time management becomes your biggest challenge during the MPT. Understanding the MPT format is crucial. In this FAQ, we’ll provide you with essential tips to excel in the MPT.
Tip 1: Time is Your Biggest Enemy
In the world of MPT, time is a precious commodity. Remember, you can’t catch every single detail in the case file. While the file may contain numerous subtle facts, not all of them are equally important. Identify the most crucial points and focus on those. If time permits, you can polish your answer later.
Tip 2: Get Familiar with the Genre
The MPT presents a variety of tasks, ranging from legal advice memos to court briefs and drafting wills. However, if we broadly categorize them, we can identify two main genres: objective and persuasive. To excel in the MPT, familiarize yourself with the structure of each genre. Pay attention to the number of headings, sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings typically used. During the exam, start by writing all the necessary headings and sub-headings to create a well-structured answer. Then, fill in each section with relevant content.
Tip 3: Practice Makes Perfect
While reading explanations from the marking scheme or model answers can be helpful for the MBE and MEE portions of the exam, the MPT requires actual practice. To truly appreciate the time constraints and demands of the task, dedicate time to write two or three practice MPT questions. This hands-on experience will significantly improve your performance.
Mastering the MPT requires a strategic approach. By managing your time effectively, understanding the genre-specific structures, and engaging in hands-on practice, you can boost your chances of success in this challenging component of the bar exam. Remember, preparation is key, and with these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the MPT.