Recent Trends on the Multistate Essay Exam
Wonder how often certain issues appear on the Multistate Essay Exam? We can help! Read further to get an in-depth look at recent trends on the Multistate Essay Exam. We reviewed MEEs from July 2011 onwards and provide our insights below.
Recent Trends on the Multistate Essay Exam
This subject can be tested in a few different ways. Agency can appear in a standalone question (i.e., not combined with another subject). In this case, the common issues tested include the different theories under which the principal could be liable or when an agent is liable in instances where the principal is partially disclosed or undisclosed. However, it is equally possible to see Agency tested in a crossover essay with Partnership or Torts!
What may surprise examinees is that Civil Procedure questions do not always focus on traditional issues (e.g., subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, venue). In fact, since July 2011 half of the Civil Procedure questions have required exam takers to be well versed in other areas as well (e.g., issue and claim preclusion, work product, sanctions, preliminary injunctions, and the final judgment rule). Therefore, it is essential to review past essays to understand how the nuances of these rules have been tested. Civil Procedure is not always tested on the MEE but it is by far the most popular MEE subject.
Conflict of Laws
The first thing to note is that Conflict of Laws is always a crossover essay. It most commonly appears with Family Law (e.g., validity of common law marriage in another state) and Civil Procedure (e.g., which law applies when a case is transferred to another venue and the most significant relationship test).
Of all of the subjects on the MEE, Constitutional Law questions tend to be the most nuanced. Some of the recent trends on the Multistate Essay Exam include essays about the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Commerce Clause, and the Eleventh Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and speech in public and private forums.
Many questions are based upon different aspects of contract formation (e.g., offer, counteroffer, firm offer, revocation, rejection). In addition, the most highly tested defense is the statute of frauds. Other commonly tested issues include contract modification, anticipatory repudiation and expectation damages.
The heavily tested issues in Corporations essays include limited liability companies, duty of loyalty, duty of care, piercing the corporate veil and derivative lawsuits. However, it has been quite some time since the Examiners have tested the nuances of shareholder and directors’ meetings. Nevertheless, do not ignore these issues!
The Examiners have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the scope of the Criminal Law essay questions. It infrequently appears on the MEE. Still, it is possible to discern some of the Examiners’ favorite topics: involuntary manslaughter, not guilty by reason of insanity defense, and theft crimes.
Since July 2011, the Examiners have exhibited an overwhelming preference for testing all aspects of Miranda rights (invocation, waiver, and which evidence would be excluded in the event of a Miranda violation). On the other hand, it has been quite some time since the Fourth Amendment has been tested. That means warrant exceptions are ripe for testing! It is possible to see Criminal Procedure tested by itself or in a crossover essay. The most recent trend on the Multistate Essay Exam is to test Criminal Procedure with Evidence.
In the last nine years, when Evidence has been tested, the Examiners expected exam takers to be well versed in nonhearsay and hearsay exceptions. If there is more than one to admit a piece of evidence (e.g, an out of court statement meets the elements of present sense impression and an excited utterance), the Examiners want students to analyze both rules! Other issues that have come up include the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, impeachment, character evidence and policy exclusions.
One of the biggest mistakes we see with Family Law is that students underestimate the varying level of complexity with these questions. It is common to see at least four issues in a Family Law essay question. Some of the recent trends on Multistate Essay Exam include testing the validity of premarital agreements and child custody arrangements/modifications. Some areas that have not come up in some time (and are ripe for testing!) . These include the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) and adoption.
Partnership appears by itself or it could combine with Agency. Some of the Examiners’ favorite issues include how a partner can withdraw (e.g., rightful vs wrongful withdrawal) and limited liability partnerships.
Real Property questions can be very complex. Topics that have frequently appeared on the MEE include easements (creation and termination), future advance mortgages, warranty deeds, and whether a landlord’s retention of keys indicates a surrender of a lease if a tenant stops paying damages. However, the Examiners may test issues that have not appeared before as well! In fact, the NCBE tested zoning for the first time in July 2018. Keep in mind that there a number of areas that have never been appeared on the essays. Some examples are covenants and equitable servitudes (but these areas are fair game, of course!).
Since July 2011, Secured Transactions has become a more commonly tested subject on the MEE. Almost every question deals with attachment, classification of collateral, perfection, and priority. Default used to appear more often but now no longer shows up in every single essay. Some of the more recent trends on the Multistate Essay Exam indicate that the Examiners expected students to be confident in analyzing some of the more nuanced rules regarding proceeds and whether the security interest in the collateral survives in the hands of the buyer (e.g., buyer in the ordinary course, buyer not in the ordinary course, and the consumer-to-consumer transaction).
As of July 2011, six of the eight Torts essays tested some aspect of negligence (e.g., premises liability, res ipsa loquitor, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and professional malpractice). Another popular issue is determining whether an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of an employee or an independent contractor. Remember that it is possible to see Torts tested by itself or in conjunction with Agency.
Trusts questions are notorious for their nuance. While Trusts usually appears alone, it can cross over with Decedents’ Estates (Wills). The recent trends on the Multistate Essay Exam include the different duties of the trustee (e.g., duty of loyalty, duty of care), when a beneficiary may compel a distribution, the Uniform Principal and Income Act, and class gifts. On the other hand, the Rule Against Perpetuities has only been tested twice since July 2011.
Wills (Decedents’ Estates)
From one administration to the next, the Examiners are likely to alternate between testing Wills and Trusts. Wills is usually tested by itself but may be combined with Trusts or Conflict of Laws. Wills essays typically have anywhere from three to seven issues in one fact pattern. They can be of varying degrees of difficulty. Common topics include the validity of a will, incorporation by reference, revocation, ademption, and antilapse statutes. Some of the more challenging issues that have been tested include powers of assignment, dependent relative revocation and the parentelic and consanguinity approaches for intestacy. We hope that you found our review of the recent trends on the Multistate Essay Exam helpful.