My short bio: Marino Bar Review was founded by Professor Joesph Marino, named “the go-to-guy for those in need of bar review” by The New York Law Journal after helping JFK, Jr., the most famous retaker, to pass the bar, after failing twice with two other bar courses. Professor Marino was a former full time professor at New York Law School, credited for raising their bar passage rate from 57% to 94% and a former lecturer for Barbri. At Marino, we have earned a reputation for helping unsuccessful bar candidates to pass, most notably with our Retaker Course, the only program designed specifically for those students retaking the bar exam. Generations of attorneys nationwide have attributed their bar exam success to Marino and send their children and grandchildren – as well as their legal interns and law clerks – to Marino for bar exam preparation.

My Proof:

The Marino Bar Review team consisting of Max Shoengold, Director of our Bar Review Program, Sue Silverman, our Senior Editor, as well Emily and Michael Marino, who own and operate MBR, will be answering questions from students studying for the bar exam between 12pm and 6pm EST today. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to submit questions to [email protected]

EDIT: Thank you for all of your great questions! We hope our answers have been helpful. We apologize if we did not get to your question - we will try to answer some more questions tomorrow. Good luck to everyone taking the upcoming July Bar Exam! And just a reminder - if you have any questions you can always email us at [email protected]

Comments: 1300 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

human_behind_screen1123 karma


ProfessorMarino614 karma

Amen human_behind_screen! You are right - this is the single most important thing for many retaker students, as we well know. Just make sure that the tutor you are assigned is trained, experienced and is more than just an admitted lawyer looking to make a few extra bucks!

Belisariusissimus735 karma

2 part question re: taking the bar even when practice MBE scores are low. Some of my peers have been encouraged to withdraw from the July Bar by the school's Bar Prep Staff. Are there any benefits to withdrawing? Is this a reasonable thing for staff to recommend?

ProfessorMarino1310 karma

No I do not believe it is reasonable Belisariusissimus. This was being suggested as certain law schools with very very low pass rates and the idea was to save the school's pass rates by having those students in the lower portions of the class not take the exam at all. We believe if the law school took your money and accepted you, they have a responsibility to try to help you pass the exam and become an attorney. Anything else is likely unethical. There is plenty that law schools can do for those students who they fear are in danger of failing the bar exam - we have worked with several law schools specifically to help their students who are at risk at failing. We also are hired currently by The Legal Aid Society in NYC to prepare all their employees who failed the first time to pass on their next try. This is what an organization does when they care about the future and careers of their students/employees - not give up on them.

CaptainLawyerDude354 karma

Hi folks, I took and passed the July 2014 bar exam and passed no problem despite the crashed pass rates across the country. Loads of my fellow students did not. What do you think is the #1 thing that causes folks to fail bar exams?

ProfessorMarino471 karma

Hi CaptainLawyerDude, The reality is that the bar exam is just a test - those people who are naturally good at taking tests have a much easier time passing. This is why students who got high LSAT scores usually have high MBE scores. The students at the top of ther law school classes pass at a 90% or better rate and those at the bottom pass at a 30% rate typically on the first try. So not knowing how to take a mutiple choice exam under timed pressure is the number one problem. It is not usually about how much law a student knows.

nopicsplox315 karma

Do you notice that some people's scores drop later in their bar program? Two weeks ago I was starting to hit 70% on my practice questions, then I bombed a practice exam and since then I've been scoring in the mid-50s (worse than I did on the first week of the program). I'm taking Themis, so I'm not sure if the last few practice question sessions are harder or if something else is wrong. I felt like I was doing just fine, but now my confidence is shot and I'm feeling really anxious about the exam.

ProfessorMarino379 karma

Hi nopicsplox, It sounds like you are correct - your bombed practice exam hit you hard and you are now feeling the effects whenever you do practice questions. We do not have any specific information that Themis last few exams are harder but we urge you to take a step back and realize that practice is just that - practice. Nothing matters except for how you do on the actual exam. Look to see -are you doing anything differently now than you were before you did poorly on that practice exam? If you are interested, we have very experienced tutors that could work with you for a couple of hours and help you to get your confidence back. That is an intangible part of the process. In any case, remember that you just need to push past this and focus on memorization and application - the rest is just in your head right now.

proleteriate267 karma

Should I spend more time memorizing details of the law or practicing writing essays? I find that I make the rules up as I go rather than purely pulling it out of my memory like its second nature.

ProfessorMarino356 karma

Hi proleteriate, At this point, assuming you are taking the July exam, you need to do both but practice is more important. Sometimes making up the rules is not the worst thing. Remember you get the majority of points in your essays from your analysis and your application of the rules to the given fact pattern. So even if you get the law wrong, you can still get a passing score on an essay. I would say practice essays (under timed conditions) and then spend the time to go over the model answer or sample answer given in detail - this way you will essentially be doing both writing and studying at the same time

proleteriate67 karma

what is the benefit of doing the so many essay under testing conditions? Aren't u just doing the same things again and again? Wouldn't it be better to first issue spot, and then check the issues, and then write the essay under minimal book consult to make sure that the essays are correct?

ProfessorMarino135 karma

Hi proleteriate, it depends on which state you are taking but for example in the UBE states, students only have half an hour per question. It is imperative that they get used to doing lots of essays under these specific conditions. If not, they will either run out of time on every essay or feel rushed and just create an outline of sorts because they are not used to budgeting the time. So we recomend with 3 weeks left, taking the time to write the essays out. When it gets to a week or less to go until the exam, then you can take the shorts cuts if you want

StrifeDarko221 karma

No questions, just wanted to say after the car crash that was Jared Leto's AMA this was a great pallette cleanser. Lots of clear and in depth answers by OP.

You know what? Fuck it. Gold.

ProfessorMarino95 karma

Thank you StrifeDarko!! Very kind of you. We're happy to answer all of these great questions!

lukesdiner1179 karma

I just did the Barbri simulated written exam and according to their scoring check list, I got two 1s and a 3 on the essays. I was fairly confident as my essays truly were organized well and came to clear conclusions. My problem is that I missed some of the potential rules and possible claims. I guess my question is, for the real essays, is it more important to be a solid writer with clear conclusions and good analysis or is it better to know every single rule and just get them out?

I have heard that Barbri grades essays much harder than the real test, so I am not really sure how to gauge my sample essay.

ProfessorMarino239 karma

Hi lukesdiner1, first, don't worry too much about missing some points or possible claims on the essays - no one and we do mean no one - will spot every single claim on many of these essays. The answer to your question is that stating the controversy clearly and concisely, then stating the rule that you believe applies, then analyzing the fact pattern and applying your rule or rules - then concluding in a clear and definitive way - this will get you a good score. Now if your law is 100% correct all the better, but even if you law is only partially right, writing the essays this way should get you a passing score

PizzaDay85 karma


ProfessorMarino82 karma

Oops! Typo. Fixed to say applies* not apples. Thanks for catching that!

Loveringave61 karma

115 raw on simulated mbe. How fucked am I?

ProfessorMarino72 karma

Hi Loveringave, thats not too bad. You need to do a little better, but not that much better, to be on track to get a passing MBE score. With the score you got, there is no reason to freak out.

Loveringave37 karma

<3. I am slowly improving but I can't get the self doubt out of my mind. It is killing me.

ProfessorMarino43 karma

Don't worry, the good news is that in our experience, if you get a decent score on the simulated exam (115 raw is decent) and study the right way for the next 3 weeks, your MBE score is likely to slide up at least a few points in the interim, as you put it all together in the last few weeks. If you want some extra help, you can take a look at the MBE program we created which will also help raise that score some -

jihiggs57 karma

how accurate is better call saul, and do you like the show?

ProfessorMarino69 karma

Yes we do. And we like it. Have not seen the new season yet though. Some of it is accurate, not every storyline

Burgess101452 karma

How does the change from 190 scored questions to 175 impact the scaled points on the MBE? Can we expect to get more points, less points, or about the same as previous years?

ProfessorMarino56 karma

Great question Burgess1014 The answer is not much. We actually published an article about this very subject recently - have a quick read -

wanmoar27 karma

What part of the bar exam gives students the most trouble? Is it cocktails or tiki drinks?

ProfessorMarino44 karma

They have actually removed the cocktail section of the exam now - much harder to pass

AnontherGuy23 karma

Hey, bit of a lurker but I wanted to ask a question. How many MBE questions should I be doing each day? It feels like I do a ton already, but after a while I just start to get all the questions wrong. Am I retarded, or am I just over-working my brain?

ProfessorMarino55 karma

Hi AnontherGuy, Sure if you do too many questions at a time, you will begin to go crazy and get them wrong and the practice will be of little or no value any more. At this stage, you can do 25 MBE questions a day - aim to get these done within 45 minutes. If you can get 15 of these right on a consistent basis you will be good to go. If you start off getting fewer right, dont worry - keep doing them and you will improve

Mrevilman22 karma

Thanks for doing this. For many graduates, picking a prep course is expensive, stressful, and nobody knows what to consider. For me, it was about published pass rates. I can't seem to find a published pass rate for Marino, so:

A) What percentage of first timers taking your course pass a UBE jx?

B) What percentage of retakers taking your course pass a UBE jx?

ProfessorMarino34 karma

Hi Mrevilman, Thanks a lot for your questions. For first time takers we had a 94% pass rate on the last UBE exam. For retakers, like every other bar company we do not publish exact pass rates because we would be comparing apples to oranges (a student who just failed his first try by 3 points and student has failed 9 times in a row and never come close to passing would be placed in the same metric) However we can tell you than in most UBE states, retaker pass rates are between 30% and 40%. We have never have a retaker pass rate below 60% on any exam. If you want more details on any of this just email us at [email protected]

danileigh22 karma

Hi, hope this wasn't asked already but how should a student handle fatigue when it comes to MPT questions? I find that partway through I just am completely over it and know that on the actual exam I will have to do 2 back-to-back.

Also, if we have done the recommended amount of our bar prep courses, how much additional work should we be doing at this point in the study process? Our bar program at our school recommends 14 hours a day in July and I just don't know that I can focus for that long.

ProfessorMarino43 karma

Hi danileigh, Try to push through! It’s difficult, but you have no other choice. Practice a few under actual timed conditions, and keep in mind that on the day of the exam your adrenaline will kick in and will help you get through the MPT, even if it feels impossible when you practice on your own.

14 hours a day is a lot. We usually recommend closer to 8-10. What’s important is quality, and after a certain point you will receive diminishing returns if you wear yourself out. Your health is important as this is a test of endurance. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat well, and allow yourself some time to relax, whether it’s watching your favorite show or movie after a long day of studying, taking a break to get in some exercise, or even seeing a friend every now and then. Treat studying like a job - create a schedule such as 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 or 10 to 7 with a few short breaks and stick to it.

TheInternetCat20 karma

When I took the bar, the person next to me started off by throwing up something bright orange all over the table. So, do you think it's a good idea to prepare for the big day by eating nothing but Cheetos for breakfast?

ProfessorMarino18 karma

That's crazy, TheInternetCat. That must have been impossible to concenrate on the exam. Are you sure it wasn't Sunkist?

ScottyKnows118 karma

Do you believe there is a balance to be achieved between rote memorization and true understanding of the subject matters? As someone with a poor memory, I tend to focus more on understanding the context and background of things to remember them better, but I have other friends who just commit all of the relevant law to memory without much critical thinking.

ProfessorMarino20 karma

Hi ScottyKnows1,

Everyone is different and learns differently. In our programs, we try to accomodate both styles. We want to make sure that you have a firm grasp of the context first then ask you to memorize the rule.

TheEighthJuror18 karma

Can you give some insight regarding the degree to which us UBE takers should try to forecast/guess which topics will be tested on July's essay portion? For example, from my vantage point it seems like Crim Law (and maybe CrimPro) is "due" for an essay question because it's been several exams since there was an essay question focusing primarily on CrimLaw. Similarly, I would guess that it's unlikely there will be a Corps essay because that would make back-to-back-to-back Corps essays, which, although not unprecedented, doesn't seem to happen too often.

Am I overthinking this or is analyzing this sort of thing a worthwhile exercise in determining how much time to devote to a potential essay subject? Advanced thanks for your help!

ProfessorMarino37 karma

Hi TheEighthJuror, To be honest, you really should never try to predict what the bar examiners will decide to test. Just when you think there’s no way they could possibly ask another Corporations question, they will go ahead and ask another corporations question. What is however more helpful, if you are taking a look at past exams, is to pay attention to the likelihood that different topics will be tested. For example, Civil Procedure is heavily tested while Conflicts of Law has shown up much less frequently – thus the likelihood of Civil Procedure showing up on the exam is much greater and you should make sure you understand the major topics like subject matter and personal jurisdiction. You shouldn’t spend as much time on Conflicts of Law since it is less likely to appear on the exam, but that doesn’t mean it won’t appear on the exam and you can just ignore it.
Furthermore, if you convince yourself a topic will not appear and suddenly it does, it may throw you off and cause you to panic. So our advice is don’t even try to predict. Study smart, make sure you know the more frequently tested rules and still review the less frequently tested rules, as much as time allows of course, knowing that any one ofthese may appear on the exam.

TheEighthJuror4 karma

Thanks for the insight, I appreciate it.

If I might ask one more question --

Basically, I've been approaching the bar like this: I want to crush the MBE (meaning correctly answering ~ 70% correct pre-scale), do very well on the MPT, and as far as the MEE is concerned, just try to not crash and burn. Basically I've been focusing heavily on MBE and I've done a lot of practice MPTs with my logic being that if I do well above average on these two, I can still pass with a notably below average MEE performance.

Thoughts on such approach? Thanks!

ProfessorMarino11 karma

So on the UBE, the MEE is worth a total of 30%. You are correct therefore that that acing the MBE and the MPT would give you a very high score on 70% of the exam. That should be enough to pass - except- you can not afford to bomb the essays. You still need to do passably on each essay even if you do not hit homeruns. That means you must still spend at least some time practicing doing essays in real timed conditions and then reviewing the model answers. But yes, if you can ace the MBE and MPT and avoid bombing any of the essays, you can pass.

TheEighthJuror5 karma

Great, thank you! I'm definitely not ignoring the MEE materials -- I haven't missed any assignment in my BarBri course yet.

Even still, I think my strength as a test-taker more closely lines up with multiple choice, so I'm putting a lot of eggs in that basket. Similarly, I did a lot of memo writing during my internships, so I feel pretty good about my ability to be given a research problem and writing a cogent response. With all that in mind, I decided to adopt the plan of attack I described in my previous post, but it feels good to receive some validation from an expert.

Thanks so much for doing this AMA!

ProfessorMarino7 karma

Sounds like a smart plan TheEighthJuror. Good Luck!

LauraJD201713 karma

Hi! Thank you for doing this! I just took a practice MBE and got a 96. Based on your experience, do I have any chance of passing? What would you recommend I do - should I spend most of time from now on practicing MBE questions, or should I practice the MPT & MEE since I'm better at those and maybe I can make up for my MBE score with that.

ProfessorMarino16 karma

Hi LauraJD2017, Don't worry - 96 is not a great score obviosuly but the good news is that you still have time left. You will need to do well on your essays and MPT but unfortunately with the MBE being 50% of the exam it is not wise to think about making up a low MBE score - if for example, you bomb even one essay this plan would be done. We have actually created a special program that is specifically designed to raise your MBE score in about one day - it teaches you our MBE Method - then has you practice ot on MBE questions we give you and then we have you meet with one of our expert bar exam tutors to go over your trouble areas - you can take a look at it here -

BamzyOn8 karma

Can such a level of sexiness be achieved that it's illegal?

ProfessorMarino16 karma

Depends on what state youre in

WillBeatsSkill8 karma

How many times has an individual failed before coming to your program and passing?

I will keep your program in mind if I fail this exam for the 5th consecutive time!

ProfessorMarino16 karma

Hi WillBeatsSkill, It really varies, some students come to us after having just failed for the first time, others many times. For the last exam we had a student who turned to us after failing 11 times in a row with other programs (we got her to pass thankfully!) We sincerely hope it is not necessary but if you do not get good news on the 5th try, just email your score reports to [email protected] and we will calll and give you an individualized evaluation for free to try to make sure there is no 7th exam!

CaptainApathy4198 karma

I did well on the simulated MBE, but I'm worried about my essays. Should I do anything besides practicing the essays in the Barbi book?

ProfessorMarino9 karma

Congratulations on doing well on the MBE CaptainApathy419, as far as essays go, practicing them under timed conditions and then reviewing the model answers is key at this stage. If you want to see significant improvement you might want to consider working with one of our experts tutors for a couple of hours on your essays. They will assign you specific essays, grade them on their own time and then meet with you and go over them with you line by line to show you exactly what you need to do to improve on them

Stateswitness16 karma

So I have previously passed the bar exam and am in practice (thusly the lack of time to study). I am taking the NYS bar THIS MONTH. What would you focus on to maximize the value of my study time?

ProfessorMarino9 karma

Hi Stateswitness1,

The bulk of the time from now until the exam should be spent alternating between studying the law and practicing questions. We would say one day study and try to memorize as much law as possible in the MBE subjects, the next day do a 25 MBE question practice set and write one essay under timed conditions. Then the next day, study and memorize again for as long as you have available. This is your most productive use the time left.

Pogman5 karma

Hey there, thanks for taking the time out to assuage our fears a bit.

My question has to do with relative difficulties. I've heard that Barbri MBE questions are more difficult than the actual ones, on average. Would you say this is true from your experience. Also, on a similar note, do the prep programs grade essays harder than the actual graders?

ProfessorMarino14 karma

Hi Pogman, Yes the answer is that Barbri questions are quite different from the ones you will see on the actual MBE. Some may be harder but generally they are just different - they are designed for repetition, to try to get you to see patterns as you do set after set of their MBE questions. As far as grading essays, no we would say that if anything, most prep programs grade essays more leniently than the real graders - it seems designed to give students the feeling that they are doing "OK" even if they are actually bombing the essays they are submitting. Of course, this may vary based on the course and even based on the staff member grading a particular essay

blocky145 karma

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. I just took the Barbri simulated midterm and got about a 123 raw. I was a bit disappointed, as this only put me in around the 56th percentile. In my state, however, only 1/3 of the grade is attributed to the MBE. Do you think it's more worth spending my last three weeks on essay prep at this point, or trying to improve my MBE?

ProfessorMarino6 karma

Hi blocky14, which state are you taking if you dont mind us asking?

robleroroblero4 karma

What's the likelihood of failing the MPT portion of the exam (UBE jurisdiction)? I think I must have done about 8-10 practice ones and although most of them are fine I have a couple of ones I didn't hit the main issues. I think I've done enough MPT practice questions and don't want to spend anymore time doing them, I'm just worried we could get a difficult one and it brining me down. Thank you for your time answering our questions!!

ProfessorMarino11 karma

Sure robleroroblero, the MPT is worth 20% so it definetly can not be ignored. Typically we would want students to do about 12 of these - but keep in mind that these really do need to be done under strict timed conditions. The biggest problem students have is that they run out of time on the MPTs. This is why practicing in real time is so important so if you have not been doing it this way, do it from now on. Our advice is try to do at least one more MPT in timed conditions per week between now and the exam and you should be fine.

robleroroblero1 karma

Other question if it's okay. I'm an international student so we did one simulated MBE 6 weeks ago and I got 139. We did another simulated MBE last weekend and I got 141. I didn't seem to improve even after 6 more weeks of studying. Have I reached my ceiling?

ProfessorMarino2 karma

The answer is that there may be a number of reasons that your score was pretty close both times. We are not a big believer in ceilings but sure, it is true that not everyone can get 160 on the MBE certainly. The good news is that your 139 and 141 are both good scores - so dont worry! Just keep doing what you are doing for the MBE to ensure that you don't slip any

gusmoreno153 karma

I have a law degree from a Mexican University, I have experience working in immigration in the Los Angeles Area for a couple of years. Is it a very complicated process for me to translate my degree? I know I have to take a few exams but do you where I can start to look into this? Thanks

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Hi gusmoreno15, We are not experts in this, but we believe it varies from state to state. In some cases, you can apply to the state bar and just take the bar exam and MPRE, others may require you to take some courses in an American law school, like an LLM program. Here is the link to the CA rules -

swelly30002 karma

Hi, have you noticed a trend in demographics of people who fail the bar and/or do you have any thoughts or comments about it? Like many standardized tests, I believe the bar exam in my state is implicitly biased against people of color. One of my friends from law school who is Latina who failed the bar pointed out that everyone we know who failed the bar is a POC. I tried to do some research online about it but there wasn't much to be found.

More generally I guess, what are your thoughts on the trend of people of color failing the bar at higher rates than white people?

ProfessorMarino5 karma

Hi swelly3000, There is definitely a correlation between the race of the student and that student's chances of passing the bar exam. We run the largest program in the country specifically for retaker students and there is no doubt that a much higher percentage of our retaker students are people of color than the percentage of people of color in the general law school student body population.

cinci_law_exam_throw2 karma

Any advice on someone taking the CA bar with double time accommodations? Should I focus more on the substantive learning? Also, what should I do about the assigned bar prep mock exams? They don't conform with my actual exam conditions. Should I be doing practice essays in double time (per my actual testing conditions) or should i just do what everyone else does?

ProfessorMarino3 karma

Hi cinci_law_exam_throw, If possible, it is a good idea to try to simulate your actual testing conditions – meaning, yes, you should try to practice in double time (or close to it) so that you are comfortable with the time allotted. Trying to do the exams like everyone else, will not be as helpful – it will only stress you out unnecessarily and stress is not something you need more of right now, for sure

cinci_law_exam_throw2 karma

my issue is the time investment. How much actual exam condition practice should I do? I just don't have the time to do multiple 3 hour PTs and 2 hour essays. They are exhausting, and I instinctively feel that my time is better spent to learn the substantive law better.

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Given that time is a concern, take half the practice exam under double time, but also spend some extra time reviewing the essays and PTs you didn't do, perhaps try to outline or spot the issues, without actually writing the essays or PTs out, and then review the answers or graders' analyses.

faultlines011 karma


ProfessorMarino1 karma


jennylava1 karma

First, thank you so much for doing this. I'm a first-time FL taker and have been dealing with low-grade anxiety and depression leading up to the bar. What are your opinions regarding mental health and pushing through the recommended courseload? By the end of the day, I'm exhausted, a little defeated, but will still have 30 to 44 questions to go.

ProfessorMarino1 karma

Hi jennylava, We are sorry to hear that you are having such a rough time. It is not uncommmon at all for students to get stressed and even depressed. The key is to try to keep things in persepctive. It is really just a test - yes an important test - but just a test. Remember, your health, your friends, your family, these are what are more important. At the end of the day you will be fine - just try to relax (easier said than done of course) and maybe even take a day off from studying (just one day though) and go see a movie and go out to dinner.

iwas99x1 karma

Is the Bar exam the same or different in every state? In what ways are the questions the same and what ways are they different? Un what ways is the tests rules and procedures same and different from state to state?

ProfessorMarino5 karma

Hi iwas99x, the bar exam used to be different in every state but now about half the states follow the Uniform Bar Exam (meaning it is the same in all the states that administer the UBE.) We expect that eventually just about every state will adopt the UBE - it may take another 10 -15 years. This is what happened previously with the MBE (multiple choice section of the exam) Now the MBE is in every state except for Louisiana - they're stubborn there!

lawstudent021 karma

What percentage of MBE questions do I need to get correct in order to get a 125 in a UBE state? I'm consistently around 65% but I'm not sure if that's enough to pass.

ProfessorMarino2 karma

Hi lawstudent02, it varies based on the adjusted scores but typically between 100 and 110 questions right will get you a 125 scaled. The good news is that if you get 65% of your MBE questions right on the actual test, you will definetly pass the MBE section of your exam!

Quietstorm19891 karma

I got a 124 / 200 on the Barbri MBE simulation. How good of a position am I in as of right now? How is the simulation difficulty compared to the actual Bar?

ProfessorMarino1 karma

Hi Quietstorm1989, just to clarify - you got 124 questions right on the simulated exam (raw score)?

coryrenton0 karma

have you seen any examples of people being able to pass the bar exam (or past sample bar exams) without having had any law school experience?

ProfessorMarino3 karma

Hi coryrenton, there is that story from the movie Catch Me If You Can with Leondaro DiCaprio and Tom Hanks (good movie if you have not seen it) where the main character takes the bar exam and passes without having attended the law school. The reality is that theoretically, it is a test - just that. If you prepared and studied the law on your own and practiced a lot, you could pass the exam without going to law school. But outisde of that movie, we have not actually heard of people doing so.