The Multistate Essay Exam allots three hours to answer six questions. This means that you should spend about 30 minutes per question. Some students prefer to write an essay outline for the MEE prior to answering a question. Thus, instead of diving into the question, they want to have some outline for what they want to say. (Note: If you prefer not to write an essay outline for the MEE, that is okay! Many students do great without outlining ahead of time. The best way to know what approach is best for you is to practice both ways!) In this post, we will discuss how to write an essay outline for the MEE. If you plan on outlining, this strategy will help you approach each question concisely and accurately.
How to Write an Essay Outline for the MEE
1. First, examine the call of the question.
The call of the question is the portion at the bottom of the essay question that contains numbered questions. For example, it might ask: (1) Is Smith liable for battery, and (2) Is David liable for assault.
Generally, these two questions will be the first issues you want to address in your outline.
2. Remember the basic structure of MEE’s.
For each issue you want to state the:
- Analyze it (e.g., apply the facts)
This can be short and sweet! You do not want to include:
- policy discussion (for the most part)
- personal opinions
- case citations
- lengthy arguments on both sides (most MEE questions expect you to apply the law rather than argue both sides for every issue).
- theories about what would happen if the facts were different.
By remembering the short and sweet structure of the MEE, you will be better prepared to draft a useful outline. (If you want to read more specifically about how to structure a multistate essay exam answer, please see this post!)
3. Type out the issues on your screen.
Start by typing out these issues. Do not spend a long time trying to formulate a fancy issue statement. Points are allocated toward the rule statements and analysis so it is okay if you do not have a fancy issue statement.
Also, do not start with your conclusion first. You could type out:
Is Smith liable for battery for tackling David during the football game?
Is David liable for assault when he swung at Smith?
(If you are handwriting, please see note below.)
The reason you do not want to include your conclusion in your issue statement is because if you conclusion happens to be incorrect, it will be immediately obvious to the grader and they may not read your answer as closely or they may lose confidence in your answer quickly.
4. Next, jot down whatever elements of the rule you know.
You may recall a battery requires an act, intent, and a harmful or offensive contact. Jot these out. Some students find it easier to just write out the entire rule statement! We only recommend doing the latter if you are typing your exam.
5. Briefly jot out any facts you want to reference.
These do not have to be full sentences. This way, you will not forget to include any of the important facts. If you find it helpful, you can also circle or highlight facts in the fact pattern. This may save time writing.
6. Lastly, look to see if there are other issues in the fact pattern.
For example, if the battery is brought after Smith tackled David during a football claim, the affirmative defense of consent warrants its own rule, analysis, and conclusion! Add this issue to your outline.
7. Briefly review the facts again, then begin writing!
Go back to the facts to make sure you caught everything. Then begin writing! If you are typing, you have already technically started. You have the issues, rule, and the important facts to work with. You can build off of what you have started.
If you are handwriting, we recommend that you pay special attention to time. You should not write full sentences in an outline because you will have to rewrite them later. Instead just jot a few notes about the issues, elements of the rules, and important facts. See the note below on a way to save time as this is especially applicable if you are handwriting your multistate essay exam answer.
How save time when you write an essay outline for the MEE:
One way to save time when writing an essay outline for the MEE is to not write one at all. Instead, when you go through the fact pattern, try:
- Numbering the issues (e.g. “1” is for battery, “2” is for assault, and “3” is for the consent defense). You can place the numbers where the issues arise.
- Circling the relevant facts. If any fact is especially important, circle it or underline it so you do not forget it!
- Jot notes to yourself in the margin. You can briefly write “consent” or whatever you want to remind yourself to discuss.
If you find yourself running out of time, it may be worth it to minimize the time you spend outlining for the MEE so you can just dive write into writing your MEE essay answer. Try out this technique and see if it works well for you!
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