Topic 2: How to Structure a Multistate Essay Exam Answer
How to Structure a Multistate Essay Exam Answer
Here, we tell you how to structure a Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) answer to maximize your score on the essay portion of the bar exam.
How to Structure a Multistate Essay Exam Answer
When you structure a Multistate Essay Exam answer, the main thing you want to do is pay careful attention to the call of the question as well as the fact pattern. For each issue you are told to discuss, use IRAC—that is, discuss the issue, rule, analysis, and conclusion. Basically, your Multistate Essay Exam structure should look like this:
(and continue for all issues)
A Few Notes on Multistate Essay Exam Structure
- Do not spend time trying to formulate eloquent issue statements. Generally, you are told what the issues are, so issue statements do not impress the grader. Further, many students who spend too much time trying to formulate impressive issue statements omit other important parts of their analysis (for example, they will write an analysis section that is too short!). A simple issue statement such as “Battery” or “Did the defendant commit battery?” is sufficient.
- Don’t waste a lot of time arguing both sides. Many times there are not “two sides” to argue on bar exam essays. (These are not law school essays!) Just apply the law and conclude unless you are told otherwise or unless you truly believe both parties have a good argument.
- Arrive at a conclusion! In law school, you may not have been given points for a conclusion. However, the bar exam is different. You will be expected to arrive at a conclusion for each bar exam issue you are asked to discuss.
- Do not start with your conclusion unless you are sure it is correct. Many of the answers promulgated by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) start with a strong conclusory statement. However, we advise against doing this unless you are sure your conclusion is correct. Otherwise, you risk drawing attention to an incorrect conclusion right off the bat. And, you risk the grader losing faith in your answer right away. (We have seen graders that don’t even appear to read the rule and analysis if they see you got the conclusion wrong. So, unless you are confident that your conclusion is correct, have a neutral heading rather than a strong conclusory statement.)
Want to See an Example of How to Structure a Multistate Essay Exam answer?
Remember that the first thing you want to do is pay careful attention to the call of the question when organizing your Multistate Essay Exam answer. You want to directly respond to the call of the question.
Sometimes the call of the question tells you exactly what to discuss. See the February 2012 Evidence question here (on page 9). It tells you at the end of the fact pattern that there are “four motions before the court.”
Then it lists the four motions (in abbreviated form as):
- The hospital’s motion to exclude a remedial measure
- The hospital’s motion to exclude an offer to settle
- The man’s motion to exclude (a) a settlement offer and (b) offer to pay medical expenses
- The man’s motion to admit a statement that the woman made about her past sexual behavior
The call of the question says, “How should the court rule on each of these motions?”
The model answer (on page 23) tracks these four motions exactly and it states the rule, analysis, and conclusion for each one.
The headings that the model answer uses are as follows:
- The court should exclude evidence of the hospital’s subsequent remedial measures.
- The court should exclude evidence of the hospital’s offer to settle.
- (a) The court should admit evidence of the man’s offer to pay the woman.
(b) The court should exclude evidence of the man’s offer to pay the woman’s medical expenses
- The court should admit evidence of the woman’s past sexual behavior.
These correspond directly to the questions posed.
We suggest that you follow this general format. However, as mentioned above, we suggest using headings that are less conclusory unless you are sure your conclusion is correct. It can also save you time to shorten your headings. For example, your headings could be:
1. Subsequent remedial measures
Rule (don’t write “Rule”—simply state the rule)
2. Hospital’s offer to settle
3(a). Man’s offer to settle
3(b). Man’s offer to pay medical expenses
4. Woman’s past behavior
This makes it clear you have addressed each issue. Further, you will have stated the rule, analyzed it, and arrived at a conclusion for each issue.
Sometimes the call of the question will require you to break up the question into two separate parts in your answer. This is why it is always important to go back to the facts to make sure there are no issues you are failing to address.
However, if you are struggling with structuring your Multistate Essay Exam answer, following this format is crucial to writing a good, well-organized Multistate Essay Exam answer.
Go to the next topic, Topic 3: How to Study for the MEE.
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