The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) is developed by NCBE and consists of six 30-minute questions. It is administered by user jurisdictions as part of the bar examination on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year.
The MEE is only one of a number of measures that a board of bar examiners may use in determining competence to practice. Each jurisdiction grades the MEE and determines its own policy with regard to the relative weight given to the MEE and other scores. Jurisdictions that administer the Uniform Bar Examination weight the MEE component 30%
The purpose of the MEE is to test the examinee’s ability to (1) identify legal issues raised by a hypothetical factual situation; (2) separate material which is relevant from that which is not; (3) present a reasoned analysis of the relevant issues in a clear, concise, and well-organized composition; and (4) demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental legal principles relevant to the probable solution of the issues raised by the factual situation. The primary distinction between the MEE and the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is that the MEE requires the examinee to demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively in writing.
The Multistate Essay Exam is part of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). It is a key component of many states’ bar exams. The MEE is designed to test the skills you learned in law school-spotting relevant issues, developing a rule statement, and writing a cohesive argument.
When you sit down to take the Multistate Essay Exam portion of the UBE, you’ll be given a packet with detailed instructions containing six essay questions. Each of the six essay prompts on the MEE will present you with a hypothetical situation. (To get a sense of what the essay prompts will look like, check out the July 2016 MEE questions.) You’ll have three hours to respond to all six questions. This gives you about thirty minutes to read the essay prompt, plan your response, and write.
Since the MEE makes up 30% of your score on the UBE, let’s walk through what topics are tested on the MEE and how to structure your time. This will ensure you get as many points as possible.
(If you’re not sure if your state’s bar exam includes the Multistate Essay exam, check out the National Conference of Bar Examiner’s map of MEE jurisdictions.)
Topics Tested on the Multistate Essay Exam
The MEE tests a wide range of legal topics, and some questions may even test multiple areas of law. Luckily, a lot of the legal topics tested on the MEE are the same as the core legal areas tested on the Multistate Bar Exam portion of the UBE. Namely, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure, Evidence, Torts, Real Property.
However, there are sometimes subjects included in the MEE questions that are not tested on the MBE. Some of those subjects are:
- Business Associations (Agency and Partnership; Corporations and Limited Liability Companies)
- Conflict of Laws
- Family Law
- Secured Transactions
So, be sure to review the entire MEE Subject Matter Outline provided by the NCBE. In fact, you may even want keep a copy of this outline with your bar study materials for quick reference. While there are a lot of topics covered by the MEE, remember that many of those topics you’ll already be reviewing as part of your preparation for the MBE.
Tips for Writing on the Multistate Essay Exam
Review these three tips as you prepare for the Multistate Essay Exam:
1. Get your timing down.
Timing is critical to your success on the MEE. You can’t afford to spend any additional time on any one essay. Why is this such an important point? Because you won’t be directed to move on to the next essay after 30 minutes. So, it’s up to you to only take 30 minutes per essay and keep moving. Trust me: you will need the full 30 minutes for each response.
But don’t fret. Here’s how to be purposeful with your time:
With your 30 minutes, you should:
- Spend about 10-15 minutes reading the fact scenario and question and planning your response.
- Spend about 15-20 minutes writing and briefly reviewing your essay.
Again, your timing must be precise to ensure you get to all the essays and have adequate time to respond. To get better at this, you should practice writing essays in the time given. On the day of the MEE, timing must be second nature, allowing you to focus on spotting legal issues and developing legal analyses.
2. Plan your essays well.
Take the time to write out a quick outline for your essay. Just as you did for your exams in law school, apply the same structure to every essay. Most students use the method introduced during law school—the IRAC approach: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion.
IRAC will not only help you keep your thoughts clear and ensure you apply a rule statement to each fact scenario, it will help guide those who are grading your essay. And because you make it easier for the grader to follow, you’ll make it easier for them to give you more points. They won’t miss any of your brilliant analyses.
But, this step will also require a great deal of practice. You only have 10-15 minutes to read the essay, spot the issues, and remember all the relevant laws, so keep working on your timing!
3. Write quickly and coherently.
Using your IRAC structure from the planning step, you’ll want to take about 15-20 minutes to write a response to the call of the question. While the graders won’t expect your writing to be perfect given the limited time available, they will expect a well-reasoned, easy-to-follow essay.
Most of all, be sure to write like a lawyer—keep your tone formal and demonstrate your ability to analyze. And remember: be concise.
Take the time to read the sample MEE questions and answers provided by the NCBE. NCBE provides a handful for free and others for purchase at their NCBE online store.
Furthermore, as part of your preparation, write out responses to the sample questions given and compare your response to the sample response. Practice will make a difference to your writing and to your MEE score.
In sum, the Multistate Essay Exam is a challenging exam where you will be asked to write six essays in three hours. The subjects tested include those areas of law tested on the MBE and other areas of law, such as Business Associations and Family Law.
To do well on the MEE, you will need to quickly analyze a fact scenario and develop and apply a rule statement. The bottom line? You’re going to want to practice these steps a lot to ensure you are ready on the day of the Multistate Essay Exam. Luckily, you’ve been honing these exact skills in law school to crush the MEE (and become a lawyer!).