In the March 2015 Testing Column of the NCBE Bar Examiner, the Director of NCBE Test Operations stated: “To prepare graders, NCBE provides detailed grading materials, which are subjected to review by outside content experts, editing by drafting committees, and proofing and cite-checking by NCBE lawyer-editors. … the grading materials are included in MEE and MPT study aids, so prospective examinees can become familiar with the questions and what graders are looking for in examinee answers.” Thus, by reviewing the NCBE grading materials contained in this MEE Compilation document, you are looking at what the graders are also looking at.
Reviewing past MEE questions and answers is one of the best ways to prepare for the MEE. The purpose of this MEE Compilation is to enable more efficient MEE review based on 6 unique enhancements: (1) All 309 released MEE questions and NCBE Answer Analyses from 1995 to present are contained in a single document that is hyperlinked (for easy navigation) and searchable; (2) the 309 MEE questions are grouped by subject (sorted from newest to oldest) to efficiently develop a comprehensive understanding of the issues tested for each subject on the MEE (with questions based on subjects no longer tested being removed); (3) each answer appears immediately after each question to enable quick review or issue spotting; (4) each NCBE Answer Analysis has been edited for more efficient study (answers are 10% shorter than the answers contained in the NCBE books); and (5) audio MP3 versions of the MEE questions and NCBE Answer Analyses are available for the last 20 MEE exams on the subscription site so you can create different memory impressions when you are commuting, working out, cooking, etc.
Since 1995, NCBE has released 46 MEE exams (from Feb 1995 to July 2017). Each MEE exam contains 6-9 questions (7 questions in exams from Feb 1995 to Feb 2007, 9 questions in exams from July 2007 to July 2013 and 6 questions in exams from Feb 2014 to Feb 2017) along with a corresponding answer analysis from NCBE for each question. Currently, the MEE tests 14 subjects: Agency & Partnership, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Corporations & LLCs, Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Real Property, Secured Transactions, Torts, Trusts, and Wills & Estates. The subjects of Agency & Partnership, Corporations, Civil Procedure, Conflicts, Family Law, Secured Transactions, Trusts and Wills & Estates have been tested since February 1995 while MEE testing of the MBE subjects (with the exception of Civil Procedure) began in July 2007. In addition, NCBE formerly tested the subject of Negotiable Instruments/Commercial Paper, but this subject was removed from MEE exam-testing in February 2014.
Utilizing these licensed MEE materials, I created this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document which contains all the released MEE essay questions and answer analysis from Feb 1995 to present. This compilation is a very efficient way to review the MEE essay questions and answers. It is superior to the individual MEE exam PDFs available from NCBE (which are available on the subscription site) for six main reasons:
• This Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document contains all the MEE exams from 1995 to present in a single document. This is a significant time-saver. Utilizing the hyperlinked Table of Contents or Microsoft Word’s Navigation Pane, you can jump to any subject, question or answer instantly. To use the hyperlinked Table of Contents, simply hold down the CTRL key and click on an item in the Table of Contents and you will jump to that question in the Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document. In addition, if you go to View from the menu, if you check “Navigation pane” in the Show menu, you will see a hyperlinked navigation pane on the left side of the document. By creating a word document, the document is editable and searchable. You can make this document your own, by adding notes, comments, or special formatting or highlighting. In addition, examinees can search the document for keywords in the past essay questions and answers. On the Menu/Ribbon, if you go to View, there is a macro button called “Count Words.” If you click on the button, a dialog box will ask “What word do you want to count?” Enter a word or a phrase and then press OK. For example, if you enter the phrase “attractive nuisance”, you will be told that “attractive nuisance appears 2 times” in the questions and answers from 1995 to present.
• Unlike the MEE booklets released by NCBE, the MEE questions in this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document are grouped by subject, with the questions sorted from newest to oldest. This enables an examinee to quickly and efficiently get an understanding of each MEE subject. For example, an examinee with very little study time should look at the first few questions from each MEE subject while an examinee who has a good bit of study time should look at 5-10 questions from each MEE subject. Comprehensively seeing how the MEE tests a subject will help you spot issues for that subject because you will have a complete picture of what has been tested in the past. Furthermore, only the relevant MEE questions are included in this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation. For example, the 30 questions on UCC Article 3 Negotiable Instruments Commercial Paper (tested in the Feb 1995-July 2013 exams) have been removed because this subject is no longer tested on the MEE. Likewise, if there is a cross-over question (e.g. Contracts & Commercial Paper or Negotiable Instruments). It has been removed so that you don’t waste any time studying topics that are no longer tested on the MEE.
• In this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document, the NCBE Answer Analysis always appears after the question. In the released MEE exam booklets, the questions are grouped together and then the corresponding answers are grouped together. This requires an examinee to hunt for the answer to each question. In addition, the questions and answers in this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document are separated by a page break so an examinee can read an MEE essay and answer the question (or quickly issue spot) without any hint of the answer, and the examinee can then go to the answer explanation(s) on the next page. This means that an examinee can use this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document not only for MEE studying, but also for MEE testing.
• Each NCBE Answer Analysis in this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document has been significantly edited to make them more readable and to make them appear more like written essay answers. In the released MEE exams, the answers contain numerous citations that are irrelevant to an examinee answering the MEE questions. Removing these superfluous citations has made the answers 10% shorter. Examinees simply do not have the time to read or research these citations. I left in only the most important citations, and I abbreviated these citations to reduce their complexity. In addition, the MEE answers are better organized. In some cases, the number of Legal Problems in the Answer Analysis did not correspond with the number of Answer points. In all cases, this has been fixed so the answers are consistent. All these changes are intended to make studying for the MEE more efficient. Please note that all the typographical errors I encounter are corrected in these essays, so they will not mirror the MEE essays released by NCBE. Also, there are intentional (but de minimus) mistakes intended to identify any copying/sharing of this compilation.
According to NYBOLE, “… the MEE questions are designed to test the candidate’s skills of issue identification, factual and legal analysis, and written communication, as well as knowledge of the law.” Since these are the skills you need to develop for the upcoming MEE, I suggest you primarily rely on the NCBE answers contained in this Seperac MEE Essays Compilation document to issue spot, learn the applicable law and how to respond to the questions. I recommend that examinees read or listen to the MP3s of the MEE essays and NCBE answers for the last ten administrations. Reading, listening to, outlining, and answering these MEE essays will teach you how to compose an MEE answer that the bar examiners are looking for. The MEE answers from NCBE can be regarded as model answers (however, please note that since each answer to each issue generally stands on its own, portions of the answers may seem repetitive between some points). These NCBE answers are important to learn because the essay graders will be relying on these MEE answer analyses for grading purposes, so the more familiar you are with what the MEE graders are looking for, the better your essay score should be. For example, by studying these MEE answers from NCBE, you will know what seminal cases are relevant to certain legal topics, what statutes and acts are relevant to certain legal areas, and what black letter law rules and analysis NCBE deems relevant to each issue.
An examinee can write a passing MEE answer if: (1) for 100% of the topics in the MEE question, you correctly issue spot, provide a relevant 1-sentence analysis, and arrive at the correct conclusion for each issue; OR (2) for 75% of the topics in the MEE question, you correctly issue spot, provide a relevant 2-4 sentence analysis, and arrive at the correct conclusion for these issues (assuming the point values for the MEE topics are weighted roughly the same); OR (3) for 50% of the topics in the MEE question, you write a very good answer and for the other topics, you make some cogent points with good analysis even if the issues, analysis and conclusion are incorrect (again assuming the point values for the MEE topics are weighted roughly the same). Basically, if you can spot the issues, demonstrate to the grader that you spotted the issues by using the appropriate terminology (the same terminology used in the NCBE Answer Analyses) and you perform some factual analysis, that will be a passing essay. The worse you do on one aspect of this, the better you need to do on the other aspects to have a passing essay. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee a particular essay will ever receive a particular score – such is the subjectivity of essay grading.
I recommend that examinees read (and/or listen to the MP3s of) the MEE essays and answers for the last ten administrations, if not more. The purpose of reading these essays is to understand how MEE essay questions are posed and how to identify the issues and appropriately respond. Reading, listening to, outlining, and answering these MEE essays will teach you how to compose an MEE answer that the bar examiners are looking for.
If you have the released MEE questions, you can essentially grade yourself by comparing your answers to the NCBE answer analyses. According to the maker of the MEE: “NCBE’s grader training and materials also assign weights to subparts in a question. So an examinee who performs well on one subpart of an MEE question worth 25% of the total score that could be awarded for that question is not assured a 6 unless he performs well on the other parts of the question, too, in comparison with other examinees. In other words, there is a weighting framework for assigning points, which helps to keep graders calibrated and consistent.” see the March 2015 NCBE Testing Column: Judith A. Gundersen, The Testing Column, Essay Grading Fundamentals, The Bar Examiner (March 2015). This differs from pre-UBE essay grading where it appeared the graders reviewed the essays more holistically (i.e. looking at the overall answer and then assigning a score). On the MEE, the graders are somewhat constrained by the grading weights, meaning that a well written answer with good reasoning that misses issues will probably score lower than a poorly written answer with basic analysis that correctly identifies all the issues.
Since the graders are referring to a point-sheet, I believe issue-spotting is paramount on the MEE (this is why I made the MEE Quick Review Issue Spotting outline). Because an MEE question must be answered in 30 minutes, there is less time for an examinee to write a thoughtful analysis that might sway the grader. Instead, the MEE is seemingly designed as a hit-and-run exam where examinees must hit each issue and then simply run to the next one. In such circumstances, if what you say is not on the grader’s checklist, you are not likely to earn points for it. For example, following is a J16 MEE essay that received an above-passing score by merely spotting the issues and writing the rules with some short analysis and correct conclusions.
If you are willing to self-evaluate, I suggest you write answers to released MEE questions under timed conditions and then consult the NCBE Answer Analysis to determine your grade. For each discrete point that is graded, if you correctly spotted the issue and concluded correctly (with some accurate law and relevant analysis in-between), you can confidently give yourself half-credit for that answer. If you can score half-credit for every issue, it will likely be an above-passing MEE answer. For example, Essay #3 from the July 2016 MEE (Torts) dealt with the issues of ‘standard of care’, ‘strict liability’, ‘products liability’ and ‘market share liability.’ For this Torts essay, I found that examinees that addressed the issues by simply applying the negligence standard of duty, breach, causation and liability generally did not receive above-passing scores (further supporting by belief that issue spotting trumps analysis on the MEE), meaning you are less likely to fake an answer and get credit for it.