MEE® Study Guide
Everything you Need to Improve your Score and Pass the Bar Exam
Many first-time examinees assume they just need to master all requisite knowledge to ace the essay component. While memorizing the material doesn't put you at a disadvantage, taking an active learning approach by writing practice essays straight away is a more efficient strategy.
The following MEE study guide provides a blueprint that has helped many hopeful examinees meet or exceed their goals. We will discuss how to study for the MEE and cover the best study materials and aids available.
Understand the MEE Format and Subjects
The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE®) is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) to test one's ability to communicate a reasoned analysis of relevant legal issues in essay form. It constitutes 30% of the total weight of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®), but this may vary for non-UBE jurisdictions. Non-UBE jurisdictions typically assign the MEE a weight between 30% and 45%.
The MEE contains six essay questions and is administered over one 3-hour session. Grading scales vary by jurisdiction, but each essay answer is scored on a scale from 0-6 on the UBE. Bar exam graders compare a "calibration packet" of 30 student papers and rank-order them according to predetermined criteria to ensure fairness. This is known as relative grading.
For example, a 6 conveys that your essay answer indicated a thorough understanding of the law and an ability to communicate rationally and that it was among the most impressive relative to others. In contrast, a 0 is typically given when there is no response. A 1 signals that an essay answer was among the worst in the calibration packet and showed little indication of reasoning, communication skills, or an understanding of the law.
Note that your final score will not be a value between 0 and 36 (6 essays, 6 points each) because raw scores are converted into scaled scores on a scale from 0-200.
MEE subject breakdown
The MEE tests examinees on a number of rules of law and legal concepts pulled from a pool of twelve subjects. Since there are only six questions, some subjects will be omitted. However, you may come across a question that pairs two subjects together. Therefore, although there are only six questions, you may be tested on seven or more subjects.
All UBE jurisdictions use NCBE-administered MEE questions pulled from 12 possible subjects. They are:
- Business Associations
- Civil Procedure
- Conflict of Laws
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Family Law
- Real Property
- Secured transactions
- Trusts and Estates
Your dedicated Themis attorney will personally grade your essays and provide feedback.
How to Study and Prepare for the MEE
Whether or not you pass the MEE ultimately comes down to how well you study and prepare. There are effective, efficient, and tested methods to improve your score. The following sections provide actionable tips for MEE preparation, along with relevant tools to help you implement them.
Memorize and understand black letter laws
Black letter law is a fundamental and well-established set of legal rules. Memorizing and understanding the legal rules will give you a serious advantage on the MEE. Many students go into the exam with a passing familiarity of the rules of law, believing they’ll be able to easily spot issues. These are the students who typically fail. The difference between being familiar with black letter laws and having them firmly impressed in your memory is the difference between bar exam success and failure.
Use spaced-repetition flashcards
Spaced-repetition flashcards are an effective way to memorize black letter laws. This method is the opposite of cramming. Digital flashcards that use spaced-repetition present you with material at systemic intervals, and you provide feedback indicating the relative difficulty of the material. New flashcards are presented at shorter intervals (e.g., 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day), and these intervals increase based on exposure and understanding, with easier, more familiar material being shown less frequently.
For example, say you create a flashcard containing material on “subject matter jurisdiction”, a frequently tested Civil Procedure topic on the MEE. An hour later, the spaced-repetition software presents that flashcard. You don’t understand the material, so you grade it as difficult. Then you see it four hours later, eight hours later, and by the 12th hour you’re starting to get it so you grade it at an average difficulty. Now you may see this card every other day, until it becomes less difficult, and the process continues.
Without spaced-repetition, you might study Civil Procedure in your first week of study, and forget everything 10 weeks later on the bar exam. The spaced-repetition method allows you to have a mixed exposure to various topics throughout the course of your study.
Improve your issue spotting skills
Knowing black letter law is the first step to improving your issue spotting skills. Issue spotting is the ability to use facts in a fact pattern to discuss the relevant law. For the MEE, this will be the law relevant to the question at hand. If you can’t identify the issue, you’ll lose points. More importantly, the rationale of your answer will suffer.
Checking the call of the question first will help you navigate complex fact patterns, write a focused answer, and become a better issue spotter. Familiarize yourself with the call of the question from past bar exams. Check out the NCBE’s past Free MEE Questions and Analyses from Older Administrations (scroll to the bottom of page) and this MEE question on Decedents Estates from the February 2023 UBE.
Some final advice on issue spotting—understand hypotheticals. This refers to the hypothetical “factual” situations presented in the question. The NCBE has administered dozens of MEEs and there are only so many ways to test a subject. By exposing yourself to as many past hypotheticals, you’ll start to recognize patterns. But exposure is not enough. You need to practice responding to the hypotheticals and then get feedback.
Practice with the active learning method
Taking an active learning approach is the best way to practice writing essays. Active learning is about faithfully imitating the actual exam's substance, form, and conditions. That's why it's important to start writing practice essays with exam-level MEE questions as soon as possible.
Practice essays will train your issue-spotting skills while helping you identify your blind spots. Create an outline or mind map with undefined keywords and phrases for review. Additionally, make an issue-spotting checklist to help build good habits.
Even with the strategies above, it will be difficult to identify your blind spots and track your progress because, of course, you can't see them. That's why our Themis + UWorld Bar Review Bundle provides extra sets of eyes with our dedicated essay graders—our attorneys and bar review specialists are always ready to help through our message center. You'll also get access to sample answers so you can understand what excellent looks like.
Master frequently tested essay topics with our Essay Writing Skills Workshops.
Make a study schedule/plan
Passing the MEE may appear unattainable when viewed as a singular, one-step goal. It's critical to estimate the number of hours you'll need to study the most heavily tested subjects and be realistic and consistent as you block the requisite time into your schedule. You'll be less stressed and better prepared by breaking your overarching goal of "passing the MEE" into manageable and realizable mini-goals.
When you sign up for the Themis + UWorld Bar Review Bundle, you'll gain access to our adaptive study calendar that adjusts your study schedule based on your selected start date. Our Progress Monitor tracks your performance so you always know which subjects you should be studying, when you should be studying them, and for how long.
Don’t worry about calculating how much you need to study to catch, or waste time tracking down what you missed. We do that for you. Simply set your date and start studying.
Know which subjects are heavily tested
The challenge with studying for the MEE is that there is no way to know exactly which subjects you'll confront on your particular exam version. Therefore, you should study every topic thoroughly, but if you're short on time, it's likely better to target more heavily topics unless your understanding of them is solid.
For example, the following subjects were tested on the July 2022 bar exam:
- Corporations and LLCs
- Trusts/Decedents' Estates
- Civil Procedure
- Real Property
However, in February 2022, these subjects were tested:
- Secured Transactions
- Criminal Law
- Corporations and LLCs
- Agency and Partnership
- Trusts and Future Interests
An examinee who failed the UBE in February and retook it in July wouldn't be tested on the exact same subjects. While we can't be certain which subjects will be tested, we can look at historical data to get an idea of what's most likely. For example, "Civil Procedure" is almost always tested, while "Conflict of Laws" has only been tested 4 times over 20 exam versions and has always been tested with another subject.
Fortunately, the charts below provide the frequency with which each subject appears on the MEE. You'll notice that the "Business Associations" and "Trusts and Estates" subjects each contain two sub-categories. Our table begins with the February 2014 exam because, in the preceding years, the NCBE released nine MEE questions, and participating jurisdictions would choose six. In the years since, it has only released six.
The NCBE listed these categories together on exams, but they can actually be tested separately. In other words, "Agency and Partnership" may appear on an exam without "Corporations and Limited Liability Companies." Therefore, they are assigned their own frequency. The same is true for "Criminal Law and Procedure." While the NCBE lists this as one subject, it is typically tested as either "Criminal Law" or "Criminal Procedure."
Refer to the chart below to see how many times a subject has been tested on its own versus how many times it's been paired with another subject.
Use the data as you design your study schedule. While you may see rare "Conflict of Laws" questions, it would be wise to focus more time studying "Civil Procedure" if you're short on time and your understanding of each is similar.
How Long Should you Study for the MEE?
The length of time you need to study for the MEE largely depends on your academic background, how well you already understand the material, and whether you are studying full-time or studying with a full-time or part-time job.
We typically recommend that students begin studying approximately 8-10 weeks (2-3 months) before the date of their bar exam if they can study full time. With this timeline, you can study for 40-50 hours a week.
You’ll have to study one to two MEE subjects per week, while making sure to review the subjects you’ve already studied as you get closer to the exam.
Studying with a full-time job
If you have a full-time job, a family, or other responsibilities that would keep you from studying for 40-50 hours a week. We recommend that you begin 4-6 months before your exam. This timeline will give you 16-25 hours a month to study for the MEE. This will give you enough time to study 1 subject every week.
MEE Preparation Tips to Improve your Score
Students studying for the MEE would do well to think about answering each question as if they're solving a math problem. Being clear and concise, and showing every step of your work that got you to the conclusion, is going to help you gain maximum points on each essay.
Use paragraph breaks and headings
Structuring your answers in a very easy-to-read way will make it more likely for the bar examiners to award you all of the points you deserve for your answer. Using a clear header and breaking each answer out into sections means that the person reading your answer will always know exactly what they're looking at.
Make sure to use the facts
You always want to include any and all relevant facts in your MEE answers. Using the facts to back up your analysis and conclusion is what ties your answer together.
Self-grade your MEE answer when you practice
Use the sample answers provided in your bar review course to self-grade while you're studying. Make sure you submit all of your graded essays for review, too. You want to get as much feedback as possible during the bar study process.
Structure your answers using the IRAC method: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. This allows your answer to be very clear to the reader, and it also helps you, as the writer, make sure you're not omitting any important information.
UWorld Study Methodology can Help you Raise your MEE Score
UWorld’s study methodology is based on the active learning method. Research has shown that active learning is superior to passive learning when it comes to increasing retention and improving exam performance. This research has shown that when multiple neural pathways are activated simultaneously, they make new connections more efficiently. The more stimulating the activity, the more efficient the learning process becomes.
For example, it's obvious to anyone that practicing soccer is a more effective way to learn soccer than listening to a lecture about the game. The same is true for exams. Our product covers every section of the learning pyramid, but focuses on the areas with the highest return on investment.
The following tools are how the Themis + UWorld Bar Review Bundle implements our active learning methodology for the MEE:
- 100+ essays from past bar exams
- Essay skills workshops that teach techniques for every subject
- Unlimited essay grading from attorneys and bar exam experts
Themis courses include unlimited essays for practice, simulation, and grading.
Frequently Asked Questions
You will have 30 minutes to answer each MEE question if you are taking the UBE. Some state-specific exams have different time constraints, so make sure to check with your state’s board of bar examiners.
You cannot “fail” the MEE and still pass the bar exam, but a relatively low score can be balanced out by scoring higher on the MBE and MPT components.
Read more about the bar exam
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice exam administered three times a year. Learn everything you need to know to pass here.
The Multistate Bar Exam is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice exam. All UBE jurisdictions weigh the MBE at 50% so make sure to check out our study guide and start preparing.
In most states, the bar exam is the gateway to bar admission and becoming a legal professional. Be prepared for the exam. Start with our study guide.