Monday, January 30, 2012

Test Taking Skills: Endurance

The following question was asked on the facebook page @

Can you comment on tips/strategies for combating examination fatigue and maintaining focus throughout the entire 200 question gauntlet? Please also share any suggestions you may have about studying/reviewing in the morning and lunch break on MBE day. Thanks!


With the amount of time spent learning the law tested on the MBE, it is easy to overlook these types of questions, so I'm glad this was asked. I, personally, do not believe that there is any way to completely combat fatigue on this test, but I do think that there are ways to minimize it. The length of the test, and the dense fact patterns, will inevitably lead to fatigue at some point (especially in the afternoon session), but it's important while studying to make sure that you set aside opportunities to practice taking full-length exams. By full-length exams, I mean 3 hours of 100 mixed questions, then one hour off, and then 3 hours of another 100 mixed questions. It would certainly be a mistake to take your first 6 hour exam the day of the test.

The other less obvious answer is that the better you know the law, the less fatigued you will become. This is because the more thought you have to put into each question, the harder you are working your brain, and the quicker you will become fatigued. You want some, and hopefully many, questions to be relatively easy on the exam, and if that is the case, you'll find you have more mental energy to focus on the one's you find to be difficult.

Finally, the obvious answer is to get enough sleep the night before. Don't cram, it's a mistake. You need to be at your best to do well on this test, and your best is when you are rested.

And that transitions into the next question. I don't believe you should be working on questions the morning of the test in order to learn any more substantive law. I do, however, believe that it's a good idea to "warm up" the brain in some way that morning, whether it's by reading an article in a newspaper, doing a crossword puzzle, etc. And one way to do so is by doing a few MBE questions. But the purpose of those questions is not to learn the law (it's too late for that), but, rather, it's to "stretch" a bit before the exam.

In regards to whether you should do questions during the lunch break, my answer is an emphatic "no." Your lunch break is an opportunity to rest your mind between the two sessions; do not squander it. I'd highly recommend eating something healthy, relaxing, and mentally preparing for the difficult task ahead, the afternoon session of the exam.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Sean. Do you recommend taking a water break in certain intervals of the MBE to keep your mind fresh, or would you suggest to plow through?

  2. Full steam ahead.

    **though, they should allow water.