Preparing for the MEE
The MEE consists of a half day of testing (3 hours) where you are presented with six essay questions. To complete all six within time, you have an average of 30 minutes to spend on each. You are allowed to answer the questions in any order. Thus, time management and your ability to think strategically -- about how to spend your time, answer everything, play to your strengths -- are essential for optimizing your performance on the MEE.
Each jurisdiction scores the written portions of the test according to its own rubric. In Arizona, your essays are graded by human graders who assign grades on a scale of 0-6 for each MEE task. Those scores, combined with the MPT scores, are then scaled by the NCBE to a 200-point scale through a detailed process whereby the written scores are scaled to the mean that was determined for the MBE. The NCBE's process is designed to equate the current exam to prior administrations, ensuring fairness and consistency over time. Since this topic is a bit involved, if you are interested in exploring it a bit more, this law professor/Youtuber does a nice job of making it make sense.
Your scores on the MEE make up 30% of your overall bar score.
While understanding and memorizing laws is of course an essential piece of doing well on the MEE, your ability to express yourself in writing, organize your thinking, apply facts to general rules, and manage your time are being evaluated too. Even if you don't recall the body of law tested in a given question, you can still show the grader that you are capable of rational thought and can reach a conclusion by applying facts to law. Practice what it means to present your understanding of a situation in a clear, concise and organized manner.
Your job is to make it easy for the grader to see the quality of your analysis.
Here are some resources to prepare for the MEE. You should always visit the NCBE for up-to-date information about the MEE, which includes but is not limited to the subject matter, study aids, & past questions and analyses.
Please see the following Powerpoint for an MEE Workshop conducted on campus a few years ago. This has great tips for working in the IRAC format to produce a well-organized bar essay. MEE: Workshop Powerpoint
The exact mechanism by which the graders assign scores to your essays is a bit mysterious. In Arizona, the committee on examinations has not released its rubric. This article explains how the MEE grading process works generally. Your responses on the MEE are measured under a "relative grading" system, rather than in a classic normal distribution. The grader in essence sorts the papers into literal or figurative piles that represent papers of the same quality, from 0 to 6. A paper that is of the highest quality band can achieve the highest grade even if it is not "perfect" or even exceptional.
Although Arizona does not release its rubic, Wahington State has done so. It is useful to review what that jurisdiction has to say about the different score bands.
- 0 represents "no response"; the answer may be blank or is simply unresponsive to the prompt.
- 1 usually indicates a failure to understand the facts and the law and no ability to reason in a cogent manner.
- 2 is below average, significantly flawed, with rudimentary understanding, limited ability to reason and poor writing
- 3 demonstrates an answer that is inadequate - showing a limited understanding of the facts, issues and applicable principles
- 4 is average. It indicates that the writer understands the facts fairly well, recognizes most of the issues and principles and has a satisfactory ability to reason to a conclusion
- 5 is above average, indicating a fairly complete understanding of the facts, recognizing most of the issues and an ability to reason fairly well
- 6 is a very good answer. It indicates the applicant has a thorough understanding of the fact, a recognition of the issues and applicable principles and the ability to reason to a conclusion in a well-written paper
Notice that each score band turns on more than just a test taker's ability to remember black letter law. The values are a function of recognizing law and relevant principles, but also of being able to apply facts in an analytical way and show the ability to reason and reach a conclusion. Scoring equally well across the board on all the tasks is not necessary to achieving a passing score on the bar exam. It is very important on a test like this to produce some level of written output that demonstrates legal reasoning and analytical thought.
Don't give up on any MEE task because you are striving for perfection. Even if you feel you can't remember enough of the law to create a good response, you can create one that earns you some points. You are not required to get 5s and 6s on every essay. In fact, several of the top scorers on recent administrations earned 3's on some of their essays and one even earned a 2!
To pass the bar in Arizona, you need a 273 scaled score. For the written tasks to hold up their share of this score, you want to aim for a 136.5 scaled written score. This probably translates roughly to an average between 3 and 4 on your essays and MPTs combined, but don't settle for practice MEE scores in the 3 range; best to strive for achieving at least 4's.
A Sample approach to the MEE
Please see the following sample MEE question and student answer put together by Bar and Academic Success Fellow Gloria Farrisi. Gloria shares her step-by-step thought-process for how to address the question, followed by an excellent sample answer. Step-by-step Guide and Model Answer.
The essay prompt - along with several others - on the NCBE website.