How To Prepare For The MEE
The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) consists of three portions: (1) the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), (2) the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and (3) the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). Preparing to tackle the sheer amount of material that the bar exam covers can be daunting. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to best prepare for each part of the bar exam. This post focuses on how to prepare for the MEE.
How To Prepare For The MEE
What Is the MEE?
Even though most students generally know what the bar exam is, many do not know what the MEE actually entails. Read on for a brief overview of the MEE!
Overview and Format
The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) develops the MEE for each administration of the UBE. The MEE is a written portion of the bar exam designed to test an examinee’s ability to:
- identify legal issues raised by a hypothetical factual situation;
- separate the relevant from the non-relevant material;
- present a reasoned analysis of the relevant issues in a clear, concise, and well-organized composition; and
- demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental legal principles relevant to the probable solution of the issues raised by the facts.
Although the MEE is most commonly referred to in connection with the UBE, there are other jurisdictions that also administer the MEE. Check out this post on which states administer the MEE!
The MEE consists of six essay questions. Examinees are given three hours to complete the MEE, which equates to thirty minutes allotted to answer each question. Staying within that time frame for each question is key so that you don’t run out of time (read on for more about timing below!).
Subjects and Topics Tested on the MEE
Although only six essay questions appear on the exam, the MEE tests a wide range of possible subjects. Those subjects include all of the subjects appearing on the MBE, as well as several others:
- Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies)
- Conflict of Laws (this is usually not tested on its own but instead combined with another subject)
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Family Law
- Federal Civil Procedure
- Real Property
- Trusts and Estates
- Uniform Commercial Code
Most of the time, each question only tests one subject. However, sometimes a question requires you to respond to two subject matters. For example, Conflict of Laws is always tested with another subject (usually Federal Civil Procedure or Family Law), and Criminal Law and Evidence often are tested together.
Additionally, some subjects, like Civil Procedure appear much more frequently than others. The most highly tested MEE subjects are:
- Agency and Partnership
- Civil Procedure
- Corporations and LLCs
- Constitutional Law
- Decedents’ Estates
- Real Property
- Secured Transactions
- Trusts and Future Interests
Check out this post for a complete MEE Subject Frequency Chart!
Not only do some subjects appear with more frequency, but some topics within each subject appear more frequently than others. For example:
- Agency and Partnership: Different types of authority, how to form an agency, and formation of a partnership are frequently tested topics.
- Civil Procedure: Personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction are frequently tested, as is venue transfer.
- Constitutional Law: The Equal Protection Clause, free speech, and state action required to sue under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments are frequently tested.
- Corporations and LLCs: The business judgment rule, duty of loyalty is highly tested, and derivate versus direct shareholder lawsuits are frequently tested.
For a detailed overview of the highly tested topics within each MEE subject, check out our highly tested MEE topic guide here!
In UBE jurisdictions, the MEE is worth 30% of the overall score (whereas the MPT is worth 20% and the MBE is worth 50%). MEE scoring and grading differs slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, each jurisdiction sets their own grading scale, but most MEE jurisdictions grade on a scale of 1 to 6. Additionally, each jurisdiction also has their own grading policies, re-grading policies, and standards for essay graders.
For more background on the MEE, check out our free MEE guide here!
How to Prepare for the MEE
So, you know what the MEE is. But, how do you prepare for it? Luckily, there are a number of ways to help make how you prepare for the MEE easier, more efficient, and more effective. Following the tips below to help ensure that you write passing MEE answers!
Learn How to Structure Your Answer
Many students think the MEE is all about the substance. While substance is certainly important, the structure of your MEE answer can be just as important. A well-structured answer is easier to grade (and the easier it is to grade, the more likely you are to get full credit for your correct answer!). So, learning how to structure your answer is key when you prepare for the MEE.
For each issue you are told to discuss, use IRAC. That is, identify the issue and discuss the rule, analysis, and conclusion. Keep in mind that most MEE questions will test more than one issue. In order to spot the issues, pay careful attention to (1) the call of the question and (2) the fact pattern. These two critical pieces will clue you in to the issues that you need to address in your answer. So, even though there are only six questions, you likely address 2-3 issues (or more!) per question. That means you may want to consider structuring your answer to something like the following:
Issue #1 Heading
Issue #2 Heading
Issue #1 Heading
And so on and so forth for each question and each issue!
It may seem intuitive, but following this format will get you points! As graders are reading your answer, they can see right away that you provided a complete answer. In turn, they will easy be able to check off their list that you correctly spotted all of the issues, and that for each issue you stated the correct rules, analyzed the rules accurately, and concluded correctly.
In addition to IRAC, there are a couple of other tips to keep the structure of your MEE answer well organized and easy for the grader to follow:
- Include a simple heading to label each issue (no need to write a full issue statement!) and bold and/or underline it to make it stand out.
- Use paragraph breaks between each issue and between each part of “IRAC” for each issue. Not only is it easier to follow, but it makes your answer appear longer and more comprehensive.
- Bold or emphasize key words to make them stand out. At a certain point, graders start to scan answer to look for key words, and making it stand out helps ensure the grader doesn’t miss it.
Remember, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for the grader to read your answer and award you point. By following the above tips and utilizing an IRAC format for each issue, you will accomplish just that!
Do Practice Questions
One of the best ways to prepare for the MEE is to do practice questions—early and often. Many students are under the misconception that they need to fully memorize every topic before they begin doing practice questions, but practice questions actually help you to study.
Some of the benefits doing practice questions include:
- Practice enables you to spot issues, acquaints you with how certain subjects might appear on the MEE, and helps you grasp difficult areas of law.
- Practice questions help you perfect your timing (read more about the importance of practicing under timed conditions below!).
- Practice questions expose you to the highly tested areas of law that you will need to know.
Check out this post on where to find MEE practice questions!
Practice Under Timed Conditions
Many students struggle with timing. As noted above, you will have three hours total to complete the MEE (about 30 minutes to answer each question). It is absolutely possible to write great passing answers in that time. But, if you show up on exam day not used to the time constraints, you increase your chances of not completing your MEEs. You don’t want to miss an issue (or an entire question, or multiple questions!) that could cost you a passing score simply because you were not prepared to write under timed conditions.
Some MEE timing tips include:
- Memorize the law. The better you have the law memorized, the quicker you can write it down and start analyzing.
- Don’t write a fancy issue statement. The issue statement is basically a restatement of the question and will not earn you points. A brief heading identifying the rule being tested is a sufficient issue statement.
- Follow “IRAC” for each issue. Not only does this keep your answer organized, but it takes the guesswork out of how to format your answer, allowing you to more quickly write each part of your “IRAC” answer.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more!
A lot (like what topics appear on the exam) will be out of your control, but being confident that you can tackle the topics within the allotted time is something you can control. So, working on timing should be a top priority as you prepare for the MEE. You should plan on taking at least one three-hour timed MEE where you answer six questions (and more if you struggle with timing!). Successfully simulating the MEE prior to exam day will boost your confidence, reduce feelings of test anxiety, and increase your chances of writing passing MEE answers. Check out these 5 tips to improve timing on the MEE!
Bullet Point Essays for Extra Practice
Bar prep requires a ton of time and effort. You have to balance learning the law with memorizing with practicing. Although there are numerous benefits to writing out full essays under timed condition, writing out every single practice essay is simply not realistic. Bullet pointing some essays, however, allows you to practice extra without feeling overwhelmed. (Just be sure you don’t bullet point them all, as writing out full answers is also important!).
Bullet-pointing is quite simple:
- First, look to the call of the question for the general topics you are being asked about.
- Second, for each topic, identify any issues and sub-issues that you need to discuss.
- Third, add detail in bullet-point form to each issue or sub-issue (rules, applicable facts, etc.).
Check out this post for more tips on how to bullet point an MEE during bar prep.
Self-Grade Your Answers
We recommend that all students self-grade their answers to prepare for the MEE. Self-grading is the process of grading your own answer by comparing it to the bar examiners’ model answer. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons:
- First, it forces you to truly review. When self-grading, you will notice what you got right and wrong and identify what you still need to work on. This is crucial so that you never repeat the same thing twice! You can practice writing all the essays in the world, but if you repeat the same mistakes, you’ll make little progress.
- Second, by repeatedly comparing your answers to the model answers, you will become more and more accustomed to the format and substance that the bar examiners are looking for. Seeing the ideal setup for certain issues over and over will help
- Third, it is a great way to study. Self-grading and reviewing the model answers is an active way to review the material (unlike watching lecture videos or reading outlines).
Some self-grading tips include:
- Self-grade immediately after writing your answer, while the facts are still fresh in your mind. This will help you to better correct and internalize any feedback.
- Use a different color text to make corrections. This will help you to easily identify what you’ve done wrong so that you can improve for the next time. It can also help you to more easily see patterns
- Double check that you have identified all of the major issues or topics that the question calls for. If anything is missing, consider the reason you might have missed that discussion. Did you miss a fact in the fact pattern and need to read closer? Did you not know a rule that you need to memorize in order to issue spot better? Thinking this through will ensure that next time you will be able to spot that issue.
- Make sure that you have identified all of the elements of the applicable rules. Although the rule does not need to be stated identical or word for word to the model answer, your rule should hit on the key elements and language.
- Ensure that you reached the correct conclusion. Typically, your conclusion is correct if your rule and analysis are correct, but that is not always the case. If your conclusion is wrong, go back through the model answer and determine why you reached a different conclusion. Your conclusion is likely worth a point or two, and those are points you don’t want to throw away!
- Evaluate the structure of your answer. Is it laid out similar to the model answer? Did you discuss the issues in order? Does each issue follow “IRAC”? Remember that proper structure helps ensure you get full credit for your answer!
Looking for more information on how to self-grade? Check out this post on how to use MEE Sample Answers and Point Sheets. And for more detailed general information on how to prepare for the MEE most effectively, gain access to our free guide on the best way to study for the MEE here!
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