15 MEE Tips to Increase Your Essay Score
We are constantly asked by examinees on how they can increase their essay score. To help you out, we have compiled a list of our of top tips and strategies we most recommend!
- Prioritize your Studying by Focusing on the Highly Tested MEE Subjects, Topics, and Rules.
Optimize your essay performance by memorizing the HIGHLY tested MEE topics and rules first before moving onto lesser tested areas. Remember the topic categories within each subject are NOT created equal as some are tested in a higher percentage than others.
You can use our Free MEE Frequency Analysis to prioritize your studying – it shows how often and the percentage each subject and topic was tested. Our MEE Essay Priority Outline also contains High, Medium, Low priority designations for each rule, model rule statements, and a listing of the specific exams where each rule was tested.
- DON’T cite cases or statutes in your answer.
Never cite to specific cases or statute sections in your answer UNLESS they are provided in the essay question. The bar examiners DO NOT require that citations be included, so don’t waste any time doing so.
- DON’T argue both sides.
For the bar exam, you need to pick ONE SIDE that you think is correct, and make a conclusion accordingly. This is contrary to what you did on law school exams.
When the issue can go either way, the bar examiners will normally award full credit for a conclusion that is well-reasoned. For example, on the July 2016 MEE concerning an assignability issue for contracts, the bar examiners stated: “Some examinees might argue against assignability of the contract because there are inevitable differences between the paint jobs, such as the relative ease of dealing with the homeowners. If well-reasoned, such analysis should receive credit.” (See July 2016 MEE, Essay 5, Point One).
So, don’t worry if it’s a close or undetermined issue – just pick a side, and plug-in your IRAC analysis for it.
- Make it easy for graders to review your essay and give you points.
Each grader has limited time to go through your essay, as they have an endless amount to review and cannot spend too much time on any one essay answer. Because of this they may read through answers quickly. Your job is to make it so they can easily spot the different parts of your essay answer so you can be awarded the maximum number of points.
Using headings and structuring your essay using IRAC format is key, as you don’t want graders to get lost or miss anything. By the end of your practice, you should be able to write essays in a clear, organized fashion. For more information on how to structure and draft your essay answer, please see Chapter 3 of this guide.
- Your writing should be clear, concise, and to the point!
Writing a complete answer that is clear and concise will make it easy for the grader to read your essay, and in turn get you a higher score. You need to sound like a lawyer, but avoid being verbose. Get right to the point you’re making!
- Draft a complete essay answer.
Each portion of your answer is only worth a set amount of points, the more you hit, the more points you get. Thus, the more complete your answer is, the higher your score will be.
The end goal is to plug-in each of the parts of your IRAC analysis as quickly as possible to draft a complete answer that hits all of the issues tested. By taking more practice exams, will get you in the mode of writing essays quickly. It will also give you practice with structuring your answer in a complete succinct manner.
- DON’T volunteer irrelevant or immaterial information.
You will not receive credit by providing irrelevant or unnecessary information in your answer. Instead, you will only be wasting precious time that you need to finish all 6 essay questions.
As such, you should follow these guidelines when drafting your answer:
- Only address the issues in the fact pattern that pertain to the question. The majority of the time the call of the question – the question prompts at the end – specifically tell you what to discuss.
- Similarly, only state the rule(s) of law that are applicable to the analysis of the issues. For example, you will receive no points for stating an exception to a legal rule that is completely irrelevant to the fact pattern or issues.
- Make NO assumptions.
Never assume facts that aren’t in the fact pattern of the question. Similarly, don’t assume that each essay question only covers a single area of law. It’s possible that some of the questions will contain more than one area of law that you are responsible to know.
- You CAN answer the questions in any order you wish.
Generally, you should answer the MEE essay questions in chronological order. But, if you are overwhelmed by a question, it may be beneficial to move on to another question which addresses a topic you are stronger in to gain some confidence going forward.
If you do this, you must make sure you still spend only 30-minutes per question. Each jurisdiction controls the laptop software for the exam, so just make sure that you are able to easily skip to writing different essays during the exam.
- If you don’t know a rule, make one up.
This way you still may get partial credit for spotting the issue, providing an analysis, and stating a conclusion.
For example, on the July 2013 MEE (Essay 6), the rule for piercing the veil of an LLC was tested. This was the first time such rule was tested (for an LLC and not a corporation), and as such, almost no one knew the exact rule. In this instance, you could have used the rule for piercing for a corporation (which is very similar). In the above-average examinee answers released by states, this is exactly what many examinees did.
This is a perfect example of how you can move forward even when the exam throws you a curveball. It may not be the full points (as the rule statement will be wrong), but at least you may get some points for the issue, analysis, and conclusion – and more points equals a higher score.
- Have a clear idea of when you need to start and finish each MEE essay.
You only have 30 minutes to complete each MEE question. It is recommended that you use a timer to keep track of your progress while taking the exam. Just make sure the timer/watch complies with your state’s bar exam guidelines for acceptable items in the exam room – some jurisdictions do not allow watches or timers, but will have a clock clearly visible in the exam room that you should take advantage of.
For a 3-hour MEE session, you can use the following intervals as your guide:
Question # Completed Time MEE Question 1 30 minutes MEE Question 2 1 hour MEE Question 3 1 hour 30 minutes MEE Question 4 2 hours MEE Question 5 2 hours 30 minutes MEE Question 6 3 hours
- Make sure to include ALL items you noted (when reading the essay question) into your answer.
In Chapter 3 (Step # 4), we recommend that you make a short outline of the issues after reading the essay question. Make sure you refer to this outline when drafting your answer.
It’s easy to forget or lose track of every item when drafting your answer. This outline will keep you on track, and guide you on the order in which to discuss the issues in your answer. This may seem like common sense, but we have repeatedly heard of examinees recalling after the exam was finished that they forgot to include issues they spotted.
- Read and Know the MEE Instructions prior to taking the exam.
Even though the MEE Instructions are contained on the back cover of your test booklet, you NEVER want to waste time reading these instructions on test day.
The MEE instructions are freely available on the NCBE website, so make sure you review them prior to the exam. The current “Instructions for Taking the MEE” can be found here.
- Have a mental checklist ready of rules and exceptions for major topic areas.
Having a mental checklist to review in your head for major topic areas can help you streamline your issue spotting and make sure you hit all the points necessary for a complete answer.
To illustrate, whenever a specific issue comes up, you would run through the different concepts in your head and note down which to apply in your IRAC analyses. For example, when an Agency-Authority issue comes up, you would note the following: agency relationship, actual authority, apparent authority, inherent agency power.
You can base these “mental checklists” off of your outlines or the topics listed in the MEE Subject Matter Outline released by NCBE found here.
- If a rule is tested more than once in a single essay question, DON’T re-write the rule each time.
Time is valuable on the MEE, so you want to use yours wisely. To save time writing the same rule multiple times in a single essay, you can either: (a) refer the grader back to the first instance where you wrote the rule; or (b) copy-and-paste the rule statement – if you’re using a computer to write your essays.
The better option is to copy-and-paste the rule again into each part used, so that you make it as essay as possible for the reader to grade your essay. For examinees who handwrite the exam, we understand that this isn’t possible, so you should just refer the grader back to the other part of your essay answer.
This time saving tip should only be used when writing a rule statement multiple times in a single essay question. NEVER refer to something contained in another essay question because you will not receive any points for the same.