How to Prepare for Bar Exam Essays

To get the most points on the MEE, you need to know how to prepare for bar exam essays. Lucky for you, bar exam essays are very similar to essays you wrote for your law school exams. Let’s look at how bar exam essays are structured, the topics tested, and some strategies for getting the most points possible. That sounds pretty good, right?

First things first, let’s figure out what essays look like on the bar exam.

Bar Exam Essay Format

Essays are tested on the uniform bar exam through the Multistate Essay Exam, or MEE, which makes up 30% of your overall score. You have three hours to complete the six essays on the MEE—meaning you have 30 minutes per essay! To add to the difficulty of the MEE, there’s a wide range of topics that could potentially be tested in the essays. Suffice to say, preparation is crucial to doing well on bar exam essays.

So, now that we’ve covered just how difficult these bar exam essays can be, let’s dive into how to prepare for bar exam essays effectively and get the most points possible. The bar exam will have nothing on your mad writing skills!

How to Prepare for Bar Exam Essays

There are two parts of studying for bar exam essays—learning the substantive law, and writing effectively and efficiently within the 30 minute timeframe.

Substantive Law Topics Tested on the MEE

To do well on the bar exam essays, you have to know the substantive areas of law tested forwards and backwards. Some of the subjects that may be covered in the MEE questions are:

  • Business Associations
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Federal Civil Procedure
  • Real Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts and Estates
  • Uniform Commercial Code

For a full list of the topics that could be tested on the MEE, review the NCBE’s helpful subject matter outline.

Just like in law school, you’ll have to figure out how to memorize as much as you possibly can. Use whatever method worked for you in the past, whether that’s outlines or flashcards. The most important thing is to retain as much information as you can!

Writing Well for the MEE

Since you only have thirty minutes to write a cohesive essay, a bar exam essay template will be crucial. Each time you begin a new essay, you’ll want to follow the same template so you don’t waste a minute thinking about the essay structure that you’ll follow. Here’s the approach the will help you get the most points you can on each essay:

  • Start by outlining the issue presented by the essay prompt.
  • Next, move on quickly and write out your notes on the rule of law or rules being tested.
  • Once you’ve noted the issue and the rules of law, then apply the rules of law to the issue presented in the essay prompt.
  • Finally, jot down what your conclusion will be.

By following this approach during your studying and on the bar exam, you’ll be able to respond to the essay prompt in the limited time you’re given and allow the essay graders to spot all of your great arguments!

One more quick MEE tip: use your last minute on each essay to do a quick review for grammar and clarity. You don’t want to distract the grader from your amazing analysis with any glaring typos or misspelled words. Use that last minute to clean up your work and put the focus on all the law you learned (and recalled!) and your argumentative abilities!


Writing a good bar exam essay requires learning the substantive law tested on the MEE and responding effectively and efficiently in a short period of time. My advice: memorize, and then practice, practice, practice using a solid bar exam essay template. If you do those two things, you’ll crush the MEE!

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