Chapter
02

MBE Scope and Topics Tested

(with a Chart of the # of Questions per Subject & Sub-Topic)

What You’ll Learn:

  • What the official MBE Subject Matter Outline is… and why it’s so important!
  • The MBE’s Scope of Coverage – what subjects and topics are tested
  • How Many Scored Questions to Expect Per Subject and Sub-Topic

The official MBE Subject Matter Outline is a document you MUST read! It is prepared and released by the drafters of the exam, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”), and indicates the MBE’s scope of coverage.

The 2019 MBE Subject Matter Outline can be found here or here.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with this document. It outlines the scope of topics tested for each Subject Area and spells out how many questions will come from each Topic-Category. As an example, the section for Constitutional Law specifies that:

“Approximately half of the Constitutional Law questions on the MBE will be based on category IV [Individual Rights].”

These are important “clues” that you should use to prioritize your studying (i.e. focusing on Individual Rights more than other topics when studying Constitutional Law).

To simplify things for you, below is a chart we made with the breakdown of each subject and sub-topic taken from the most recently released MBE Subject Matter Outline.

Subject
Sub-Topic Category
Ratio Tested
% Tested
# of
Scored
Questions
Civil Procedure
I. Jurisdiction and Venue
2/9
22.2%
5 or 6
II. Law Applied by Federal Courts
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
III. Pretrial Procedures
2/9
22.2%
5 or 6
IV. Jury Trials
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
V. Motions
2/9
22.2%
5 or 6
VI. Verdicts and Judgments
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
VII. Appealability and Review
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
Total Scored Questions: Civil Procedure
25
Constitutional Law
I. The Nature of Judicial Review
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
II. The Separation of Powers
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
III. The Relation of Nation and States in a Federal System
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
IV. Individual Rights
1/2
50.0%
12 or 13
Total Scored Questions: Constitutional Law
25
Contracts
I. Formation of Contracts
1/4
25.0%
6 or 7
II. Defenses to Enforceability
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
III. Contract Content and Meaning
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
IV. Performance, Breach, and Discharge
1/4
25.0%
6 or 7
V. Remedies
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
VI. Third-Party Rights
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
*1/4 of all questions will be based on UCC Article 1 and 2
Total Scored Questions: Contracts
25
Criminal Law & Procedure
I. Homicide
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
II. Other Crimes
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
III. Inchoate Crimes; Parties
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
IV. General Principles
1/8
12.5%
3 or 4
V. Constitutional Protection of Accused Persons
1/2
50.0%
12 or 13
Total Scored Questions: Criminal Law & Procedure
25
Evidence
I. Presentation of Evidence
1/4
25.0%
6 or 7
II. Relevancy and Reasons for Excluding Relevant Evidence
1/3
33.3%
8 or 9
III. Privileges and Other Policy Exclusions
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
IV. Writings, Recordings, and Photographs
1/12
8.3%
2 or 3
V. Hearsay and Circumstances of its Admissibility
1/4
25.0%
6 or 7
Total Scored Questions: Evidence
25
Real Property
I. Ownership of Real Property
1/5
20.0%
5 or 6
II. Rights in Real Property
1/5
20.0%
5 or 6
III. Real Estate Contracts
1/5
20.0%
5 or 6
IV. Mortgages/Security Devices
1/5
20.0%
5 or 6
V. Titles
1/5
20.0%
5 or 6
Total Scored Questions: Real Property
25
Torts
I. Intentional Torts
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
II. Negligence
1/2
50.0%
12 or 13
III. Strict Liability and Products Liability
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
IV. Other Torts
1/6
16.7%
4 or 5
Total Scored Questions: Torts
25
Total Scored Questions: All 7 Subjects
175
Total Unscored Questions*
25
Total # of MBE Questions
200

*Note, the additional 25 unscored pretest questions may be from any of the seven subject areas.