Last month we began to discuss ways to master the MEE. We continue that topic in this post but focus on taking your studying to the next level.
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- Be Active when reading a MEE: Do not passively go through your MEE questions, either in practice or on Exam Day. Believe it or not, but some of the MEEs (and material on the Bar Exam) may not hold your interest all that much and, dare I say, be a bit boring.1::GASP:: It will be easy to accidentally go into autopilot while reading through an essay then get to the end of the questions and realize you were not paying attention so you have to go back and re-read the entire thing. This takes away from the 30 minutes you have to complete the MEE which already seems like a ridiculously short amount of time. How do you avoid this? Read actively. Try to engage in the reading as you read it. Circle names of people. Underline important parts and key phrases. Draw diagrams of what is happening in the margin of each paragraph that gives you a visual summary of the important action that took place in each paragraph. If you are actively engaging in the reading, you are forcing yourself to actually pay attention to the specifics of what is going on in that fact pattern.2I used to draw diagrams in the margin of each paragraph for Contracts and Property questions because there is often a lot going on in them. So if one paragraph said that A sold land to B and B recorded the deed immediately I would draw something like “A🡪B (deed, rec)”. This not only forced me to engage in the material but gave me a quick reference summary and timeline of what happened in the question just by looking at the margin which made it even easier to answer the questions.
- Read, Read, Read: Read a ton of MEEs to practice your issues spotting and create issue spotter charts. Yes, it’s important to actually write out your answers during practice, but you only have so much time in the day to do that. You also need to practice your issues spotting and learn the law that is the most heavily tested on the MEE. So take some time to just work on that, especially towards the end of your Bar prep when you have less time to just sit and write out answers. By that time you will have a pretty good grasp on how to organize your answers and how to time yourself, so focus on issue spotting and learning the law. Read 4-6 MEEs per day. When you do this you should read the MEE, quickly issue spot and outline your answer, then read the sample answer to make sure that you found all the appropriate issues and applied the correct law. This will take up a lot less of your time when time is at its most precious and it will get you to learn more law in one sitting. While you do this you should also keep a chart of the sub-issues that you frequently see in a particular topic. If you see a particular sub-issue a lot, that is likely a more frequently tested topic that you know you should spend some more time learning.
- Develop Rule Statements on Big Ticket Items: This tip builds off of the previous tip. As you read tons of essays and create that chart of issues you spot on MEEs and how often you spot them, you will recognize which issues are highly tested. With this information you can then start to develop easy to memorize rule statements that you can use on the exam anytime this issue comes up. For example, from my reading of MEEs I know that negligence is a highly tested topic and a pretty easy topic to memorize a rule that I can use on the exam. So I memorize “Negligence occurs when a Defendant owes a duty to a foreseeable plaintiff, that duty is breached, that breach is the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff in fact suffered injuries.” Not only does this perfectly state the general law so that you are getting all the points allotted for stating the general rule, but you have also developed a check list that you can use as you read through the fact pattern to make sure every element (Duty, Foreseeable Plaintiff, Breach, Actual and Proximate Cause, and Damages) is met. If any element is missing or appears to be in question, that it probably your main issue for that MEE. All of this came from writing and memorizing a simple rule statement.
- Take Advantage of Unlimited Grading (If your Bar Company Offers this): Not every Bar Prep Company offers this, but if they do you should take advantage of it. It’s not easy to self grade MEEs, so it never hurts to have someone else take a look at your work. And these “someone eleses” are usually well trained in grading Bar Exam MEEs so why not use their expertise? If this is something that is important to you, you may want to make sure the Bar Prep Company you’re considering offers this option before you give them your initial deposit.
- Practice Handwriting even if you are using your computer: You may be thinking to yourself “why would I want to do this if I am already committed to using my laptop on the exam to AVOID doing this?” The simple answer is that, no matter how hard you may try, you cannot account for every scenario that may occur on exam day. If you have a rare but possible computer issue on the exam that prevents you from typing for even a few minutes, you should be ready to start writing your answer out exactly where you left off on your computer when it stopped functioning. The exam software usually saves your work every few seconds so you can rest assured that the work you did before the technical issue will get into the hands of the exam grader, but you do not want to waste time while the tech staff at your exam site fixes the issue, so you should just start hand writing. Handwriting is a completely different feeling that you don’t want to go into cold, which is why it’s important to at least practice doing on a MEE (and MPT) once before exam day. This way if the worst-case scenario happens with your laptop, you can raise your hand to get help and immediately start writing your answer with the other.
…to be continued!