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how to write an MEE answer, civil procedure MBE, bar exam, MBE questionsHow to Write a Multistate Essay Exam Answer: There are less than two weeks until the Multistate Essay Examination! In Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) jurisdictions, the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) component of the exam comprises 30% of the overall score. Non-UBE jurisdictions that administer the MEE set their own policies to determine how much weight should be given to the MEE in relation to the overall score. Because the MEE compromises almost 1/3 of the overall score in UBE jurisdictions, it is worth spending some time developing an efficient strategy to write your responses to the essay questions. Below are some minute tips to help you structure your MEE answer.

How to Write a Multistate Essay Exam Answer:

1. Read the call of the question carefully!

Always read the call of the question first, even before you read the fact pattern. This will help you with issue spotting because the call of the question usually reveals the subject(s) that the fact pattern is testing. It will also help you structure your answer. Try to be as precise as possible when answering the question. You may encounter a general question (E.g. The call of the question for the Contracts question on the July 2009 exam asked: “What theories could Sam assert to recover all or some portion of the $1,000, and what is the likelihood of success on each theory?”). Or you may encounter two to five specific questions to answer on some fact patterns (e.g., the Family Law question on the July 2009 exam).

2. Actively read the fact pattern!

When reading the fact pattern, underline parties’ names, write the issues you spot in the margins, and pay close attention to any language in quotation marks.

With respect to the Contracts question on the July 2009, exam it would be useful to note the following:

  • Parties: Sam (Plaintiff) and Resident (Defendant)
  • Issues: Consideration, material benefit exception, promissory estoppel
  • Language in quotation marks:
    • Sam told Resident, “I was hoping to start training as a paramedic in the fall, but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford the cost of the program.”
    • Resident responded, “We need all the good paramedics that we can get! If you are going to start paramedic training, I want to help you. Also, my dog means everything to me. I want to compensate you for your heroism. Give me your address, and I will send you a check for a thousand dollars.”
    • Sam said, “Thank you so much! Here is my address. I’ll apply to the paramedic program tomorrow.”

All of these statements frame the issues being tested and are important to pay attention to!

3. Make an outline with headings

Sometimes, a question will ask you address multiple issues. Use a heading for each issue. If you use headings, not only will your answer be more organized, it will also be easier for the bar exam graders to see that you spotted all the relevant issues.

With respect to the Contracts question on the July 2009 exam, it would be best to use the following headings:

  • Resident’s promise was supported by consideration
    • Conclusion: Likelihood of success
  • Material benefit exception
    • Conclusion: Likelihood of success
  • Promissory estoppel
    • Conclusion: Likelihood of success

4. Determine how long it will take to discuss each issue.

Examinees often run out of time when answering questions. This is, in part, because they treat all issues equally. While some questions may ask you to treat all issues equally, this is not true of all fact patterns.  With respect to the Contracts question on the July 2009 exam, it is clear that that Resident’s promise to pay for Sam’s paramedics training was not part of a bargained-for exchange. Therefore, Sam is not going to be successful in arguing that consideration was present. Although it is necessary to define consideration and analyze whether it is present, this is not the most complicated issue in the fact pattern. A more in-depth discussion of the material benefit exception and promissory estoppel is required and time should be allocated accordingly. Use the facts to help guide you.

5. Use IRAC to organize your answer.

Use IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion) to structure your response for each key issue you identify. With respect to the Contracts question on the July 2009 exam, the following structure would be appropriate for the first issue:

  • Resident’s promise was supported by consideration
  • The law states: “To be legally enforceable, a promise generally must be supported by consideration, which is shown through bargained-for exchange. This means that the promisor must have sought and received something of legal value in exchange for the promise.”
  • Here, Sam may argue that rescuing Resident’s dog or promising to apply for paramedics training constituted consideration for Resident’s promise to pay him $1000. However, Resident’s promise to pay Sam $1000 was not made in exchange for rescuing Resident’s dog, but rather it was likely made to recognize Sam’s earlier “heroism” when he rescued Resident’s dog from a burning house. Additionally, Resident did not seek Sam’s promise to apply for paramedics training in exchange for his promise to pay him $1000. Sam mentioned that he wanted to start paramedics training in the fall but probably would not be able to afford the program. In response, Resident said: “We need all the good paramedics that we can get! If you are going to start paramedic training, I want to help you.”
  • Therefore, Sam will not succeed in recovering $1000 from Resident under this theory.

6. After you write you answer, make sure you have included all the necessary facts.

Set aside a few minutes to scan the fact pattern after you finish writing and see whether forgot to include any facts in your analysis. Try not to paraphrase language in quotation marks; analyze it as it is written.

Setting aside just a few minutes at the end of writing your essay answer can get you a surprising amount of points!

7. Practice timed MEEs this week!

If you are still struggling with your timing on the MEE, set aside some time this week to do timed essays without referring to any outside materials. Even doing one-hour or two-hour timed essay exams can help you improve your timing issues, thereby helping you to get more points on exam day! (If you are looking for a two-hour timed exam of issues we think might be coming up, please contact us!)