You will see 25 scored Contracts and Sales MBE questions on the Multistate Bar Exam. We will be posting a Multistate Bar Exam question once every couple days along with an answer. If you can master these MBE questions, it could increase your MBE score by that many points if you see any of these issues tested again (which, by the way, you will!). These posts of MBE tips and tricks will not only cover substantive law but also strategy. So each post will cover one highly-tested area of substantive law as well as an important MBE strategy.
Today, we will review a Contracts MBE question that tests a common Contracts MBE issue–contract formation! Do your best to answer this question (before even looking at the answer choices and before looking at the answer below!) Ask yourself: What is the subject? What is the legal issue? What is the rule and analysis? What is the conclusion? Try to answer these beginning questions before even reading the answer choices.
Then, uncover the Contracts MBE answer as well as read more about our MBE tip of the day.
Contracts MBE Question:
A buyer mailed a signed order to a seller that stated, “Please send me 1,000 pens at whatever price you are currently selling them for.” The seller received the order on June 1. Later that afternoon, the seller mailed the buyer a signed letter stating that he accepted the buyer’s offer at the current price of $2.00 per pen. The seller properly addressed, stamped, and mailed the letter to the buyer. On June 2, the buyer called the seller and left a voicemail message saying that he revoked his offer to purchase pens. On June 3, the seller listened to the buyer’s voicemail message. On June 4, the buyer received the seller’s letter.
Is there a contract between the buyer and the seller on June 4?
(A) No, because the buyer effectively revoked the offer prior to receiving the seller’s written acceptance.
(B) No, because the offer was too indefinite since it did not contain a price term.
(C) Yes, because the offer was irrevocable for a reasonable time.
(D) Yes, because the seller accepted the buyer’s offer before the buyer attempted to revoke it.
Legal Rule and Analysis: (If you need to look at your outline to find the legal rule, feel free to use it when you have not yet memorized the subject. Using your outline will help you actively learn and memorize your outline!)
Look at the answer choices provided. Choose an answer choice that matches your conclusion. Review the other answer choices provided.
Answer to the Contracts MBE Question:
Common mistake: Students have trouble with identifying when, exactly, a contract was formed.
Legal Issue: Is there a contract?
Legal Rule and Analysis: The letter by the buyer was an offer because it manifests an intent to enter into a contract and it has specific terms (quantity, identity of the offeree, and the price.) (Note: The offer will not fail for lack of a specific price term. Although the price term was not specifically stated, it was still present given that the buyer agreed to buy the pens at whatever price the seller was selling them for.)
The seller’s reply operated as an acceptance. Remember that, under the mailbox rule, the acceptance is effective upon dispatch rather than receipt. Thus, when the buyer tried to revoke his offer, it was ineffective.
Tip: If you have trouble identifying when a contract was formed, take it step by step and figure out if there was an offer, an acceptance, a revocation, etc. It is helpful to jot notes in the margin when you come across problems like this.
Conclusion: There is a contract because the seller accepted the offer before the buyer attempted to revoke his offer.
Choose an answer choice that most closely matches your conclusion and explain why the others are incorrect:(D) matches the rationale perfectly. (A) is incorrect because the seller accepted prior to the buyer’s attempted revocation. (One cannot revoke an offer after it was accepted!) (B) is incorrect because even though the price was not explicitly stated, it was easy to identify (it was whatever the seller’s current price was). (C) is incorrect because as a general rule, an offer is revocable at any time prior to acceptance. (There are exceptions–e.g., if it was a firm offer, option contract, if there is beginning performance on an offer to enter into a unilateral contract, or if there is reasonably foreseeable substantial reliance on the offer. None of the exceptions are present here.)
MBE Tip: I “overthink” questions and pick the wrong answer. How can I stop doing this?
Some students truly change correct answers even though they know their initial answer choice is correct! Many students refer to this as “overthinking” MBE questions. (When I first started tutoring, I didn’t know what students were talking about, but now I come across a handful of students each administration that have a habit of doing this!)
If you tend to think something is “too easy” and you pick a wrong answer choice, the first thing you may have to do is to get your confidence level up! Students who overthink tend to spot the right answer then think “Nah, that can’t be right, it is too easy!” so they pick the wrong answer choice! Even realizing that sometimes the “easy” answer is the right answer can help you immensely.
Next, get into the habit of carefully examining the answer choices after you pick your answer when you practice. If you pick answer (A) then think, “that’s too easy!” carefully analyze (B), (C), and (D) to see if any of them truly are correct. Getting into the habit of truly reviewing all of the answer choices can help prevent any “overthinking” of questions.
Key Takeaways for the day:
Takeaway for the Law: Under the mailbox rule, the acceptance is effective upon dispatch rather than upon receipt. One cannot revoke an offer once it is accepted.
MBE Tip: If you tend to “overthink” an MBE question — that is, think an answer choice is “too easy” to be the correct answer — and you pick a wrong answer choice, the first thing you may have to do is to get your confidence level up! Students who overthink tend to spot the right answer then think “Nah, that can’t be right, it is too easy!” so they pick the wrong answer choice! Even realizing that sometimes the “easy” answer is the right answer can help you immensely.
If you would like to see “MBE tip of the day” posts from prior days, please check out all of our past MBE tip of the day archives here! We have several of them and we list them by subject!
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