What To Do With Spare Time On The MEE
While you won’t know if you will have spare time on the MEE until test day, it’s good to plan for what you might do with that time. Having some strategies in your back pocket will help eliminate any stress that may arise from waiting until the next portion of the exam. These five tips will give you a roadmap for what to do if you do end up having spare time on the MEE.
What To Do With Spare Time On The MEE
1. Edit and Groom
With spare time on the MEE, you can read your essay answers with a closer eye. Check for proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Students with spare time on the MEE have the luxury of considering whether a sentence flows and whether the tone is what the writer wants.
One way to improve the quality of essay writing is to look for repetitive word choices. While this is a small detail, it can impact the way in which the grader reads the essay. Similarly, doing a “verb” check can also help you to provide clearer, more compelling sentences. Do you always revert to the “be” form? Does every sentence you write include the word “is”? Consider whether the words, grammar, and punctuation you are using are telling the legal story you wish to convey. And word placement is key. Do you mean to have the “only” in the place where you put it or does it actually belong in a different place?
Another tip: make sure you added the word “not” where you intended to do so—there’s a big difference between “defendant was guilty” and “defendant was not guilty.” These are the details that can make your essay move from good to great.
2. Argue in the Alternative
Many students answer essays from one position—theirs. While this is a strategy to make sure that there is a complete answer (issue, rule, application, conclusion), the answer remains one-sided. With spare time on the MEE, students can add alternative arguments and counterarguments to those arguments. Identify the weakness in your own argument and use that time to explain why the weakness is not detrimental to your position. Identify the strengths of the alternative argument, and then detail why your argument is still better.
If, however, you don’t have that much time, you can use the time to rework sentences to include potential alternative arguments. For example think about how the use of “while” can set up a good point, counterpoint structure: “while the woman may argue x, this argument would be unsuccessful because y.”
For advice on how to approach the multistate essay exam, check out this post, 5 brilliant tricks to improve your score.”
3. Tighten Rule Statements and Explore Exceptions
When writing under pressure, students may inadvertently go to an extreme. Some students may become long-winded and bury the point whereas other students may skip critical details in their analysis. With spare time on the MEE, you can avoid these pitfalls. Identify your rule statement, check for accuracy and readability. Then, if appropriate, consider any possible exceptions to that rule statement. Is there an argument that can be made for the exception? Even if it is a weak argument, it shows the reader that you not only know the law, but you also know the exception to the law. To that end, students can use their spare time on the MEE to explore potential affirmative defenses. Much like arguing in the alternative or pursuing rule exceptions, demonstrating that you recognize the potential of an affirmative defense, indicates that you have a good understanding of the law.
4. Make Sure You Answered the Question
While this may seem painfully obvious, it’s not. Taking the bar exam can be an adrenaline-fueled experience, and under those circumstances, it’s easy to gloss over critical information. After you’ve finished the essay, read the question again—closely. Pay close attention to questions that hinge on the presence or absence of a negative, or a “not,” in the fact pattern.
For example, did the individual in your Trusts and Estates question die with or without a will? Did the client in your Torts essay actually raise a defense? When reading quickly, a student may read a word that is not there or fail to read a word that is there. Similarly, some students may answer the question they wish was asked, rather than the one that was asked.
5. Never Have Spare Time on the MEE
Typically, spare time on the MEE arises in two situations. The first is when a student writes an essay and feels comfortable with its content. The second is when a student is struggling to identify the law and craft a compelling argument. In both of those cases, neither student should have spare time on the MEE.
Even if you find yourself at a loss for the applicable law, you can still do your best to employ IRAC. Identify an issue, write a rule statement that comports with principles of logic, apply that rule to the fact pattern, and conclude. Once you’ve completed that, then you can use these above-mentioned tips to put your best essay forward. If you have a basic response, then you can run through steps one through four, considering alternative arguments to what you just created. Think of it this way, new legal rules are made every day. By using legal reasoning, you are showing that you can think like a lawyer and are capable of doing legal work.
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