Common MEE Mistakes Students Make On The UBE
If you are in the unfortunate position of having failed the bar exam, you may be wondering exactly what you did wrong. In this post, we will discuss some of the common MEE mistakes that students make on the UBE that lead to them receiving below-passing essay scores.
Common MEE Mistakes Students Make On The UBE
They don’t discuss all of the issues.
1. Missing issues because you run out of time
Many MEE questions have specific calls that ask examinees to address very specific issues. Some examinees fail to address each and every issue simply because they run out of time during the exam!
If you find yourself running out of time, be sure to time yourself as you practice your essays. If you are not able to complete the essays in the allotted time (30 minutes if you are taking the exam under normal timed circumstances), carefully evaluate how you are spending your time. Are you taking too long to spot the issues? Are you struggling to come up with the rules? Do you find yourself reading and re-reading the fact pattern? Once you identify where you are spending too much time, pay careful attention to correct that problem as you practice. It may take several tries to cut down the amount of time you are overspending on a particular area. Students often allow themselves unlimited time to complete practice essays, hoping that they will just eventually get faster. However, until you take steps to address your time management, you will likely run into timing issues on exam day.
2. Missing “hidden” issues
Another one of the most common MEE mistakes involves hidden issues. Some MEEs contain “hidden” issues that aren’t identified in the call of the question. Failing to discuss these issues can lead to the examinee losing valuable points. For instance, many Evidence essays specifically ask about whether a certain piece of evidence is hearsay. This makes hearsay a pretty obvious issue. However, the Examiners’ Analysis often begins with a discussion on relevance before diving into the hearsay analysis. Even though the call of the question asks about hearsay, you could lose points by not first discussing relevance.
As you are self-grading your practice essays, take note of these “hidden” issues that are not specifically identified in the call of the question but are discussed in the model answer. Keep track of the types of “hidden” issues you see as you self-grade your essays. Spotting these patterns and understanding what the Examiners ultimately want to be addressed is the best way to avoid losing points.
As you self-grade your essays, also note the number of points allocated to each issue. Students are often surprised that missing what might seem like a minor issue can lead to a fairly significant reduction in points!
Reaching the incorrect conclusion, and put it at the beginning of the discussion.
When writing answers to MEEs, we recommend using the IRAC method: issue, rule, analysis, conclusion. Some students prefer to write their answers using CRAC: conclusion, rule, analysis, conclusion. These students write the issue at the beginning of the essay in the form of a conclusion. Although the Examiners’ Analysis is formatted using CRAC, we advise against this method for a few reasons that we discuss below.
The grader may be prejudiced by an incorrect conclusion
First, if your conclusion happens to be incorrect, you are prejudicing the grader right at the beginning of your answer. Even if you have a fantastic rule statement and pretty good analysis, the grader already knows you are ultimately going to reach the incorrect conclusion. Graders may pay less attention to your rule and analysis, thus giving you fewer points than you might deserve. Instead of starting with the conclusion, put your conclusion at the end. That way, even if your conclusion is incorrect, the grader hopefully already gave you a fair amount of points for your rule statement and analysis.
Opposite conclusions can be confusing
We also recommend against starting with a conclusion because you might change your mind by the time you finish the analysis. Some students write a conclusion at the end of their analysis that conflicts with the conclusion at the beginning of their essay. This is very confusing to the grader and could lead to a reduction in points. Instead of taking this risk by putting your conclusion at the beginning, just put the conclusion at the end! You will still get the points for having reached a conclusion without the risk of having conflicting conclusions!
Thinking through the conclusion at the beginning is a waste of time
The third reason you shouldn’t start with a conclusion is you may be wasting time. If you are thinking through an entire issue to determine the conclusion before you even start writing, you are not making good use of your time. It is common to not know the outcome of an issue as you begin your discussion. Instead of trying to craft a perfect conclusory issue statement, briefly identify the issue and come to a conclusion at the end.
They don’t actually analyze the facts.
The analysis portion of an essay can be the most difficult portion to write. Many students make the mistake of confusing “analysis” with “summary” and simply restate the facts instead of analyzing how the law applies to the facts.
For instance, in a negligence question involving a car accident, a student might write, “In this case, David was driving his car westbound and not paying attention, so he ran a red light, striking Paul’s car.” This is simply a restatement of the facts! Be sure to center your analysis around the law that you identified in the rule section of your answer. A better answer might state, “In this case, Dan had a duty to the other drivers on the road to act as a reasonably prudent driver because he was operating a motor vehicle on the roadway. He thus needed to pay attention to where he was going.” This analysis shows not only that Dan was driving the car but also how a legal duty is created.
Remember that the plaintiff’s job is to prove the elements of a claim, and the defendant’s job is to defend against or disprove the elements of that claim. Keep this in mind when thinking of arguments that each party might raise in support of their position. Write your analysis based on these arguments, not just based on the facts.
Some students begin with a summary of the facts before starting their analysis. Although you might not lose points for including this extraneous information, it is definitely a waste of time. You can omit a summary of the facts and get right into the analysis!
4. They don’t state the law correctly.
Many examinees make the mistake of trying to use common sense to answer essay questions instead of memorizing the law. Graders know about this shortcut and can easily spot an answer written by an examinee who does not know the law. It is absolutely crucial that you spend time memorizing the law so you can quickly and succinctly state the rules without having to guess or make something up.
Many of the same issues frequently appear on the MEEs and using common sense might not be enough to get a passing score. As you are studying, be sure to focus on highly tested issues and memorize the rules really well! The NCBE expects examinees to be prepared to answer frequently-tested issues and can be harsh when grading an answer that doesn’t have a clear rule statement. If you are wondering what the highly tested issues are on the MEEs, JD Advising’s MEE One Sheets are a great resource to help you identify and memorize the highly tested issues!
That being said, it is impossible to memorize all of the laws that might be tested on the MEEs. In fact, recent MEEs have included issues where there is no settled rule or have tested very obscure rules. There may be instances when you don’t know the law and need to use some logic to answer the question. When you come across these issues, write about the rules that you do know, and see if you can reason through the facts to a rational conclusion. It is important that you don’t throw your hands up and skip that issue; write something even if you don’t know the precise answer!
We hope this post on common MEE mistakes is helpful for you!
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