Should I Use CRAC Or IRAC On The MEE?
Formatting your bar exam essays is a critical component of success. Two of the most common legal writing methods law students learn “IRAC” and “CRAC.” Naturally, many students wonder which of these methods is better for the MEE.
In this post, we’ll discuss why we believe IRAC is better for the MEE.
Should I Use CRAC Or IRAC On The MEE?
The Similarities And Differences Between IRAC And CRAC
IRAC stands for Issue – Rule – Analysis – Conclusion. CRAC, a pretty similar method, stands for Conclusion – Rule – Analysis – Conclusion. Both of these methods are great for organizing legal writing. This is especially important on the MEE, where your goal should be to make your answer as easy to read as possible for a grader. If you present information in an organized and logical manner, a grader won’t have to search through a mass of words to assess whether your answer includes the key components. This also ensures that nothing is missed by the grader that should otherwise earn you points!
Choose IRAC Over CRAC On The MEE
Despite the close similarity between the two methods, we recommend using IRAC over CRAC on the MEE to address each issue that arises in a given fact pattern. CRAC begins and ends with a conclusion. If your conclusion for a particular issue is incorrect at the outset, this may taint the grader’s view of the remainder of your discussion of that issue—or even worse, it may discourage the grader from fully reading the remainder of your discussion of that issue with the same attention paid to an answer that has not yet concluded incorrectly.
On the other hand, if you start your discussion of a particular issue by merely identifying the issue, the grader is more likely to read your answer with an open mind and not prejudge your work. You stand a better chance of picking up more points from your answer even if you end up reaching the incorrect conclusion.
How To Use IRAC On The MEE
Now that you understand why IRAC is preferable, let’s review how you should use IRAC on the MEE.
Each fact pattern will likely raise multiple issues. If you find that you need to discuss more than one issue to answer an MEE question, you should use a separate IRAC discussion for each issue. We recommend identifying an issue with a simple heading. Some students prefer to start with a sentence like “The issue to be discussed is . . .” but we find that this is a waste of valuable time. So, for example, if a real property fact pattern raises an adverse possession issue, you can simply write a heading such as “Adverse Possession” or “Issue: Adverse Possession” before beginning your discussion. While all essays should be formatted properly, you also need to judicious with your time. Don’t spend unnecessary time writing nice transitions when you can just jump to the heart of the question at issue.
Once you’ve identified an issue, the next step is to state the rule for that issue. A straightforward way to do this is to write “Under the rule for X, . . .” and then write the rule for X. So, to use our adverse possession example again, you would write, “Under the rule for adverse possession, real property may be acquired when the possessor shows (1) actual entry giving exclusive possession that is (2) open and notorious, (3) hostile, and (4) continuous throughout the statutory period.”
Now, you may find that you need to define one or more of the rule’s elements even further. You might choose to provide more specific definitions after you’ve written the general rule, or you might choose to break your discussion up into sub-issues with a separate heading for each element of the general rule. Either approach works, as long as you’re keeping your answer organized and making life as easy as possible for the grader. So, for example, if you decided to take the sub-issue approach, you could write an “Open and Notorious” sub-heading in which you write the specific rule for that element—i.e., “Open and notorious possession occurs when . . .”
The analysis section is where you apply the relevant rule to the facts. You should start a new paragraph for your analysis to make it abundantly clear to the grader that you’re moving on from rule to analysis. In other words, you want to avoid mixing your rule with your analysis.
A straightforward way to begin your analysis is to write “Here, . . .” or “In the present case . . .” Using our adverse possession example, if you were addressing the “open and notorious” element and/or sub-issue, you would then explain how the relevant facts demonstrated that the possession was or was not open and notorious.
It’s worth noting here a major difference between an MEE answer and a law school essay answer. On a law school essay exam, your professor likely wanted you to explore how two adverse parties would argue the same issue (i.e., “Plaintiff will argue that his possession was open and notorious because . . .” and “Defendant will argue that plaintiff’s possession was not open and notorious because . . .”). Your professor also may have explained that there was no real “correct” conclusion to a particular essay and that your analysis was the most important part of the exam question. On the MEE, however, there generally is a correct conclusion. For that reason, your analysis should simply apply the rule to the facts in a way that leads to the correct conclusion. You don’t need to spend time fully exploring all of the possible arguments and counterarguments like you would on a law school exam.
The conclusion section is pretty self-explanatory—this is where you state your conclusion! You should start a new line and simply write your conclusion. A straightforward way to do this is to write “Thus, . . .” or “Therefore, . . .” followed by your conclusion. Using our adverse possession example, in your conclusion for the “open and notorious” element and/or sub-issue, you would write whether the possessor did or did not establish open and notorious possession. As discussed above, keep in mind that there generally is a correct conclusion on the MEE. So, although the conclusion may only be one sentence, you can definitely pick up some points here.
The Big Picture
So there you have it. For a successful MEE answer, choose IRAC over CRAC for each issue, keep each component separate, and don’t hesitate to break an issue up into sub-issues if it makes your answer clearer and more organized for the grader to see that you addressed all the necessary elements of the question.
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