The creators of MicroMash Bar Review just released a new cloud-based MBE bar exam review course, MBE Edge. Read on for an assessment of this multiple-choice, Multistate Bar Examination studying tool.
Thomson Reuters has announced that its software-based bar exam review course, MicroMash, has been replaced by MBE Edge. MBE Edge touts itself as adaptive online software that helps users identify the bar exam study areas most needing improvement.
Unlike MicroMash, which offered state-specific bar exam review materials for 26 states, MBE Edge, as the name suggests, is limited to Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) content. The course does not include state-specific materials, so don’t be misled by the order form that asks you to select the jurisdiction where you’re sitting for the bar exam.
I approached this course as someone who 1) is looking for bar exam review tools for use in the very near future (Eeep!), 2) doesn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for tape-recorded substance, and 3) has never tried out other bar review materials. Given this last part, I can’t provide insights on the comparative strengths of MBE Edge over another bar review course. But overall it satisfied my desire for easy access to substance with immediate feedback. Hard to say if it’s worth the $395 pricetag, but at least there’s unlimited access to a lot of questions—over 2,800, according to the MBE Edge site. (And is much more useful than paper flashcards, which might cost $200 for a half-dozen subjects.)
Technical Specs & Design
MBE Edge’s interface is pretty simple and intuitive, although the colors are a bit garish and some of the screen layouts are almost confusingly sparse. The Study Center Overview, which serves as the landing page for the course, is kind of text-heavy and just displays buttons for the same content as is available through the top navigation tabs.
It’s somewhat of a surprise that the course is Flash-based, foreclosing use on the iPad and other iOS devices. Yet the overall aesthetic of the MBE Edge homepage is more mobile-friendly, with ginormous text and buttons.
I was pleased that everything I encountered was formatted to display well on my 768-pixel high laptop screen. I tested it out using Chrome (the browser, not the OS). The site ran well on my Ubuntu netbook running Firefox as well, except that the Flash frame lacked a vertical scroll bar on my 600-pixel high screen, so it wasn’t really usable on the netbook. I’m hoping this is an early-release bug that’ll be remedied soon.
MBE Edge offers six subject areas (constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, evidence, real property, and torts) with 34 sub-topics. The self-study feature allows the user to create custom question sets based on topic and subtopic(s), with adaptive filters for questions the user has already answered correctly or incorrectly, or questions the user has marked for review. Study can be timed or untimed.
The “guided learning” mode displays questions based on past user responses, to focus on problematic questions. Incorrect and correct answers are displayed after each question. With self-study, the user can choose either Study Mode, where answers and explanations are provided after each question, or Practice Exam Mode, where the user answers all the questions, without answer feedback on each, and can “grade” the practice exam at the end and review individual questions.
There’s a glossary of legal terms in the software, too. This is nice and educational, but it’s frustrating that the glossary isn’t currently searchable. For that matter, keyword searching for the 2,800 questions would be nice, too (although you can search by question number).
The software tracks all of your answers and can display this data nicely. Users can view a summary of how much time they’ve spent answering questions, the average time per question, percent of total material covered, and the percent of questions answered correctly so far. This information can be displayed in a chart, too, showing average time per question and percent correct by subject.
Overall: Good Content, Easy to Use, Reasonably Priced
For students and lawyers who need Multistate Bar Examination studying help, MBE Edge looks like a good choice, as long as you don’t hope to study on your iPad. There’s a free 30 day trial of MBE Edge on the site, so you check it out for yourself.