How to Answer an MPT Question—A Step by Step Guide
You may be wondering exactly how to answer an MPT question. What do you do when you have the MPT packet in front of you? Where do you start? Here we give you a step by step guide that tells you exactly how to answer an MPT question.
How to Answer an MPT Question—A Step by Step Guide
1. Start by reading the “task memo.”
You will have two “portions” of your MPT–the file and the library. The file contains the facts of the case (e.g. in deposition transcripts, emails, other correspondence). The library contains the law (in cases, statutes, or both). The very first page in the file will have a memorandum to you, the examinee, that tells you exactly what to do. You may be asked to write one or more of the following tasks:
- An objective memorandum (this is very common)
- A persuasive brief (this is very common)
- A demand letter
- An opinion letter
- A wildcard task
The most common task is an objective memorandum. This asks you to write a letter (generally to the supervising attorney) which explains how specific issue(s) should turn out under the applicable law. A persuasive brief is the second most common task and it asks you to write a brief that argues for a specific side. Click on the links above to read more about each task.
Paying attention to the task memo will tell you who you are writing to, how you should structure your MPT answer, and what tone you should use (e.g. should you be objective, persuasive, etc.). The task memo is your roadmap. It is the most important document to pay attention to. So not only will you want to start with it, but you will want to keep referring to it as you complete your MPT!
2. Second, read the library.
We generally recommend you then skip over the file and start by reading the library. Most libraries will have cases or a mixture of cases and statutes. Note: If your library only contains statutes, then it is usually a better idea to read the library after you read the file. Otherwise, we generally recommend you start by reading the library.
When you read the library, pay close attention to where the cases are from (e.g., are they binding or persuasive, is it an appellate court opinion or supreme court opinion) and pay close attention to any cases cited within cases, as they are often important.
Tip: Don’t brief all of the cases. This takes too much time. Simply review them at this point. Circle anything that may be relevant–e.g., specific “factors” or elements that the cases or statutes focus on, any cases cited within a case, footnotes, or strong opinions of the court.
3. Next, read the file and start writing!
The file contains the facts of the case. As you read through the file, you can start jotting down notes and even analyzing it against the cases and statutes you read in the library.
We recommend you start writing as you peruse the file. The most common reason that students struggle with the MPT is that they run out of time. So, if you are able to start writing earlier, you will be better off! At the very least, start organizing your answer and figuring out what you want to say.
If you are unsure how to organize your answer, please check out our MPT formats here.
4. Keep in mind what the MPT tests.
When many students first learn how to answer an MPT question, they get lost in the “weeds.” They try to analyze every fact or every law. The problem is, if you do this, you will run out of time. So keep in mind what you are being told to do. There are two ways to do this:
- First, keep going back to the task memo. It will keep you on track. Just do exactly what it says. In many ways, excelling on the MPT says a lot about how good you are at following directions.
- Second, check out this post on what the MPT tests. You can see that you get points for things like formatting your MPT, completing your MPT, and writing in the proper tone. These little tidbits of knowledge can go a long way in helping you write a high-scoring MPT.
5. About 10 minutes before your MPT is over, make sure you wrap it up and conclude.
One of the things you get points for is “allocat[ing] time, effort, and resources efficiently” and “perform[ing] and complet[ing] tasks within time constraints.” Thus, you want to make your MPT look crisp and complete, even if you didn’t get a chance to analyze every little thing that you hoped to analyze.
So take the last ten minutes to check your organization and wrap up your MPT. Finish up whatever issues you need to. And get ready to move on to the next MPT or next task!
If you have any questions about how to write an MPT answer, feel free to post below!
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