The UBE essays are administered through a component of the UBE, the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). And while not everyone takes the UBE, some lucky test-takers still get to take the MEE and corresponding MEE essays even in states where the UBE isn’t administered. (Check to see if the MEE is part of your state’s bar exam.)
The UBE Essays are always administered on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July. Let’s take a look at the format, subjects, and scoring of the UBE essays so you know what to expect during the bar exam.
Format of the UBE essays
The essay portion of the UBE asks you to respond to six essay questions within 3 hours. So, you have 30 minutes to read the essay prompts, plan, and write your response.
You’ve had a lot of practice doing this exact task on all of your law school exams, so keep that in mind if you feel overwhelmed—you’ve been here before and you crushed it. You just have to do this one more time—well, six more times, technically. But then you’re done with tests forever!
Like your law school exams, you will be given a hypothetical situation and asked to spot legal issues, identify relevant material, present a well-reasoned analysis, and demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamental legal principles raised by the fact scenario. And you have to do all of this, in writing, in under 30 minutes.
Like the rest of the bar exam, you’ll need to practice a lot. Luckily there are plenty of ways to prepare for the UBE essays. In fact, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) provides a wide range of helpful study materials. Be sure to review a lof of sample MEE questions and answers to get a sense of what the essay prompts look like and what your responses should include.
UBE essay subjects
The essays on the UBE test a range of legal topics, and some questions may even test multiple areas of law. The UBE essays will likely include the core topics from the MBE (aka the first year law school topics), but they will also include topics like Business Associations, Family Law, and Trusts and Estates.
The good news is that time spent studying for the MBE portion of the UBE counts twice as much because you’ll need that knowledge for the essays as well. The flip side is that there are topics specifically tested only in the UBE essays that you’ll need to study.
Review the entire MEE Subject Matter Outline to learn all of the subjects you may see on the essays—and be sure to identify any weak subjects early, such as subjects you didn’t study in law school, so you can give some more time to studying those areas.
How UBE essays are scored
The UBE essays make up 30% of your UBE score, so preparing adequately for these essays is crucial to your success on the bar exam. Those grading your essays will be looking for you to:
- Spot the correct legal issues
- Write a concise rule statement
- Apply the facts to your rule statement
- Reach a logical conclusion
The graders are not concerned with or interested in verbose writing or knowledge unrelated to the issues presented in the fact scenario—stay on topic and keep your focus clear.
The UBE essays test a wide range of laws and are a critical component of the UBE. There are six essay questions that test your ability to evaluate a hypothetical scenario and write a coherent analysis in a short amount of time. Doing well on the UBE essays is critical to your success on the UBE, but luckily you’ve been working on the necessary skills for years.
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