Four Common MEE Timing Questions
Although knowing the law is by far the most important skill necessary for success on the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), managing your time can also lead to a huge boost in your MEE score. In this post, we discuss four common MEE timing questions students ask and how to manage your time when answering MEE questions.
Four Common MEE Timing Questions
Under normal circumstances, the MEE portion of the Uniform Bar Exam is administered during the afternoon of the first day. You will have three hours to answer all six MEE questions, and it’s up to you to manage your time. The bar exam administrators will not tell you when to move on from one essay to the next essay, nor will they otherwise monitor your time. How you manage your time during those three hours can help boost your score. Here are some common MEE timing questions that students commonly ask:
1. Should you read all of the questions first, and then write the answers?
Some students indicate that they like to read through all of the questions before writing any portion of their answer. These students employ this stragety so they know what to expect and are not caught off guard as they complete the exam. There are two reasons why we don’t recommend doing this.
First, it is a waste of time. It may take a few minutes to read each question, maybe 15 minutes total. By the time you circle back to a question, you will need to re-read the question to thoroughly answer it. So, we recommend only reading each question once so that you do not waste time having to re-read the question.
Second, if you see a question on a subject you are not as comfortable with, you may become anxious and it could distract you as you answer the other questions. Let’s say, for example, that you didn’t study Secured Transaction, hoping that it did not appear on the MEE. As you are reading the questions, you see that Secured Transactions is the sixth essay question. As you go back to answer the other questions, you may have some lingering fears about the Secured Transactions question. This could impact your ability to fully and clearly analyze the other five questions!
To maximize your time, you should answer each question as soon as you read it!
2. Should you answer the questions in order?
Some students want to skim all the questions to figure out which subjects are being tested on each essay. These students plan to answer the essay questions on the subjects they feel most comfortable with first. There are pros and cons to this method, and it may not be the best strategy for everyone.
As mentioned above, taking the time to skim all of the questions before starting to answer any of them is not a great use of your time, even if you are only quickly glancing at the call of the question to figure out what subject is being tested. If you are already struggling to finish the essays within the time constraints, every minute counts. Skimming all the questions will detract from the time you can spend answering the questions! If you are already struggling with timing, it may be a better idea to answer the questions in order and be diligent about cutting yourself off at the appropriate time (30 minutes under normal timed circumstances), rather than jumping around.
On the other hand, if you know you do not have a problem answering the questions in the allotted time, there may be some benefit to answering the questions out of order. You can change your time allocation for each question depending on your level of comfort with that question. The issue then becomes whether you start with the subjects you are most comfortable with or least comfortable with. You may want to start with the subjects you are most comfortable with, thinking that you will be able to answer them quickly.
Be careful, though, because the more you know about a subject, the more time you might use answering that essay because you include all you know about that particular topic. So, maybe you start with the subjects you are least comfortable with since you won’t have as much to say. On the other hand, you may spend time trying to come up with an answer if you aren’t as familiar or comfortable with the subject.
The most straightforward approach is to answer the questions in order, spending no more than 30 minutes per question. However, if you find personal benefit to answering the questions out of order, you should at least take some time to complete practice tests while you are studying to figure out how you can most effectively allocate your time on the exam.
3. Should you allocate an equal amount of time to each question?
Some students ask if they should spend more time on the essays covering the subjects they feel most comfortable, and less time on the essays covering subjects they don’t feel as comfortable with. As discussed above, the most straightforward approach is to spend no more than 30 minutes per question. This ensures that you do not run out of time at the end of the exam.
However, if you learned while doing practice MEE questions that you don’t need the full 30 minutes to answer certain questions (maybe you find yourself consistently answering Torts questions in 25 minutes!) then you can think about allocating your time differently. As mentioned above, you should only change your time allocation if, after extensive practice, you know you don’t need the full 30 minutes for a particular subject. Don’t assume that you should spend less time on the subjects you know well (or less time on the subjects you don’t know well) as that could backfire and cause you to run out of time by the end of the exam.
4. Should you write all the rules, before coming back to write the analysis for each question?
Some students worry about forgetting the applicable rules, so they want to write the rules down for all of the questions first while the rules are still fresh in their minds. The short answer to this question is, no, you should not use this approach.
First of all, after months of studying, you know the rules. They are engrained in your mind. If you know the rules at the beginning of the exam, you will not forget them by the end. So, you shouldn’t worry about forgetting the rules! Also, if you write all the rules down first and then come back to write the analyses, you may have to re-read the question to familiarize yourself with the facts so that you can write a thorough analysis. As discussed above, this is usually not a good use of your time. This is especially true if you are struggling to finish the essays in the allotted time.
The bottom line:
The most straightforward (and arguably best) approach to the MEE is to answer the essays in the order they appear. In doing so, you should allocate no more than 30 minutes per question. Additionally, you should answer each question immediately after reading the fact pattern. If you plan to answer the questions in a different order, or if you plan to allocate different amounts of time to the questions, be sure to practice this approach prior to the exam to ensure that it is actually an effective approach for you!
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