Common MEE Mistakes—From A JD Advising Essay Grader
The Multistate Essay Examination can be challenging for students. You must write an articulate essay under timed circumstances, and those requirements can feel quite overwhelming. However, we hope that by sharing these common mistakes and how to avoid them, you will understand that MEEs are much simpler than you may think. Keep reading to learn about the common MEE mistakes our bar exam grader has seen and how to avoid them.
Common MEE Mistakes—From A JD Advising Essay Grader
MEE Mistake 1: Not Addressing All Issues
The most common MEE mistake that students make is missing an issue that is being tested. Of course, issue spotting can be tricky, and sometimes issues are intentionally difficult to notice and address. However, the importance of addressing all the obvious issues alluded to in the fact pattern cannot be over-emphasized. This is how bar exam graders determine your ability to read and think critically when being provided with an assortment of relevant and irreverent information.
How can you avoid making the mistake of missing an issue? First, make sure to read through the questions that follow the fact pattern. This will help you focus your reading of the fact pattern. Second, make sure to read through the fact pattern carefully. It may be tempting to rush through this, but rushing will be to your detriment. Third, make sure to engage in “active” reading. This means highlighting, circling, underlining, and jotting down notes about potentially important issues, facts, or points as you read the passage. These tips are crucial both during bar study and also for when you’re sitting for the exam.
Also, you can engage in some issue spotting by reading through your essays and spotting all of the issues. Read actively, as discussed above, but jot down all of the relevant issues in the fact-pattern, without writing out a full essay, and then read through the model answer to see if you addressed all the issues. This may prove especially helpful once you are at the point when you don’t have much time left to study for the bar exam but want to increase your issue-spotting skills!
MEE Mistake 2: Forgetting To Use IRAC
Another surprisingly common MEE mistake students encounter is straying from the IRAC structure. Making this mistake will cost you potential points because the IRAC structure is what can help you draft a comprehensive and substantive essay. This is essential for success on the MEEs.
How can you avoid forgetting to use IRAC? The best way to ensure you’re using IRAC is to use headings in your essay. The heading can be as simple as stating, “Issue,” or it can be more complicated like, “Issue: Miranda Violation.” Additionally, when drafting your essay, ask yourself whether the point you’re about to make falls into one of the IRAC categories. If not, it may just be a fluff sentence that doesn’t belong in your essay. You know yourself and your studying abilities best, so implement whatever technique you think will help you maintain the logical IRAC format. Remember, while writing some essays in a free form style during law school may have been appropriate for your class or professor, it is not appropriate for the bar. The bar examiners expect you to provide the issue, the rule of law, the analysis, and a conclusion. Learn more about the differences between a bar exam essay and a law school essay.
Sometimes students make the MEE mistake of not listing the rule. Under the stress of bar exam day, anyone can forget the exact applicable rule of law—that is normal! However, you need to have a rule to satisfy the use of the IRAC structure in your essay.
How do you avoid not listing a rule, even if you don’t remember the exact rule of law? The best approach to this is to make up a reasonable rule. It may be wrong, but at least it will give you the chance to show the bar exam graders that you can provide analysis based on a rule, and that will earn you some credit. Make up a reasonable rule, use that rule to analyze the issue, and come to a logical conclusion.
MEE Mistake 3: Forgetting The Importance of “Show, Don’t Tell”
Additionally, a MEE mistake many students make is forgetting the importance of showing, rather than telling. This is especially true in the analysis section of a MEE, and this largely stems from forgetting to use the facts that exist in the fact pattern. Remember, every bit of information in the fact pattern is put there for a reason. Yes, some facts are totally irrelevant. But most facts are relevant and serve a specific purpose in the fact pattern narrative.
Think about the following fact pattern for a criminal law and procedure question.
A teenager wants to rob a grocery store. He scopes out the store on several occasions. One day, finally getting up the nerve to commit the robbery, the teenager packs his father’s gun into a backpack, along with gloves and other robbery paraphernalia. He enters the grocery store a minute before it is going to close and brandishes the gun at the store clerk, demanding the money in the cash register. Before the teenager can get any cash, he gets scared and runs away. The teenager is now raising the defense of abandonment to the crime of attempted armed robbery.
The rule for abandonment in most states is that abandonment or withdrawal from a crime is not a defense once the defendant has gone beyond the point of mere preparation. There are many ways to describe that the teenager went beyond mere attempt in this case. Let’s evaluate two student answers.
Student A: The teenager’s actions constituted actions that are beyond mere preparation for the crime. The teenager actually attempted to rob the grocery store but did not end up actually doing it.
Student B: The teenager went beyond mere preparation for the crime of attempted armed robbery. On the day of the attempted robbery, the teenager brought his father’s gun and other tools for the robbery. Further, the teenager strategically entered the grocery store right before it closed, likely to ensure it was empty. The teenager also pointed the gun at the grocery store clerk and demanded the money in the cash register. These actions taken together are more than just preparation for the crime.
Note how Student B’s answer uses the relevant facts from the fact pattern. This shows the bar exam grader which facts are useful to determine that the teenager went beyond mere preparation. Showing, rather than just telling, is key to writing a more fleshed out essay, and it presents the opportunity to show your lawyerly abilities. Avoiding this MEE mistake will help you write improved MEEs.
MEE Mistake 4: Forgetting To Conclude
Many students make the MEE mistake of forgetting to conclude. Students will begin to write a concluding sentence or paragraph but will never actually state their final conclusion. This can happen for many reasons: tiredness, simply forgetting or thinking you wrote the final conclusion when you did not. The best way to avoid failing to conclude effectively is to make sure to start the final sentence of your essay with the phrase “In conclusion.” This will trigger your brain to think about your final conclusion and should help you remember to write that conclusion out.
MEE Mistake 5: Forgetting To Format
A very common MEE mistake that students make is drafting their answers to be one large block of text. This is not only a poor choice because it limits your ability to show your organizational skills, but it is also very difficult for the bar exam grader to read through. Make sure you are doing yourself a favor and breaking up your answer into parts.
How can you avoid this all too common MEE mistake? You can use headings, as we discussed in the IRAC section. This is the strongest option, and bolded or otherwise emphasized headings are great! This will go a long way toward polishing your overall answer.
Avoid MEE Mistakes
To conclude, the MEE is not quite as tedious of a task as many students initially believe. If you implement these tips and avoid making these MEE mistakes, you will be well on your way to successfully writing MEEs and boosting your MEE score.
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