You only have 30 minutes for each of the six essays on the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE)—and they fly by lightning fast! With so much to process and write in such a short amount of time, the MEE can be the most stressful section of the bar exam.
Follow these tips to help you conquer the MEE:
Use The 30 Minutes To Help Structure Your Essay
So you have 30 minutes per essay. Instead of freaking out, manage your time as strategically as you can. How? Keep your eyes on the clock and allot a specific amount for reading and organizing your answer. That may take only five minutes but will likely take you closer to ten. Then, once you’re ready to write, allocate time for each of the specific questions that are presented in the questions, and any sub-issues you know you’ll have to address. For example, if a torts question presents you with three questions, regarding the liability of several parties for injuries caused by a defective product and you realize that you will need to explain the concepts of negligence, the warranty of merchantability, strict products liability, and causation. You should be prepared to spend no more than five minutes explaining and analyzing each of those four areas of the law.
If, however, you are faced with a torts question that asks you two questions about the liability of an actor and a landlord for a child’s injuries, and you recognize that you will need to discuss issues of landowner liability, negligence, comparative fault, negligence per se, and a child’s duty to act reasonably, you might target eight or nine minutes for addressing the issues and sub-issues presented by each question, leaving yourself a buffer of a minute to get down any last minute points before moving to the next essay.
Based on the structure of the essay, the number of questions you’ve been given, and whether any of the questions involve overlapping principles of law, you should be able to tell whether you have the luxury of showing off nearly everything you know about the topic or whether you need to stick to the basics and quickly move on in order to finish.
Read the Questions, Aggressively Read the Fact Pattern, Read the Questions Again, and Start to Plan
You may think that quickly skimming the fact pattern and questions will save you time, however, doing so will only waste it. Be sure to carefully read each question, anticipate the issues the fact pattern will raise, and then methodically read the fact pattern circling and underlining any details that you think might impact the outcome of the question.
Once you you’ve made it through the fact pattern, try to identify the issues you’ll want to raise in order to answer the questions presented, and then go back through your underlining and notes to make sure no sub-issues have slipped past you. If you’re unsure of the issues or details of the fact pattern, plan on reading it again so you are clear about what the bar examiners are asking you to address.
Behind Every Great Essay Is A Great Outline
Constructing an outline is a great way to help keep your answer structured and on point. It will ensure you don't forget to include essential facts within your essay, or wander from your main points. Keep your outline simple and concentrate on the specific question presented. A great outline will be your guide to creating a great essay.
Remember, time is precious during the MEE. You only have 30 minutes for each essay, so answer exactly what the question is asking. Don't waste time discussing rules unrelated to the question. If you’re unsure whether the bar examiners expected you to discuss a sub-issue you’ve identified, limit your discussion and analysis of that sub-issue to a sentence or two, reserving the bulk of your time for the issues you know are essential.
The only way to perfect your MEE essay writing before the exam is to practice. Do as many sample and previous bar exam essays as you can to perfect your outlining and time management. Always monitor your progress against the clock and try to practice writing in places like an office or library where people will leave you alone, but where you’ll also be surrounded by random noises (like those you’ll hear from your fellow examinees and the proctors on exam day). If you can, seek feedback from bar exam professionals, who can tell you where you need to improve. The more practice you have writing under time pressure, the better prepared you will be for the exam.
Taking a bar review course is a great way to prepare for the MEE. Bar review courses will provide you with previous MEE questions and analyses, share helpful tips, and grade your practice essays.