The multistate performance test (MPT) is an often overlooked portion of the bar exam. But you should not overlook it! In UBE states (and in states where the MPT is worth 20% of your overall score) it is worth the equivalent of 70 multiple-choice questions! (As if that was not enough, if you are looking for more reasons to take the MPT seriously, check out this post.) In this post, we discuss the best MPT strategies to conquer the MPT.
The 5 Best MPT Strategies to Conquer the MPT
First, become familiar with what the MPT is.
This sounds basic, but a lot of students don’t know exactly what the MPT is. An MPT has three parts.
- A task memo. This will tell you exactly what to do. It will provide a road map of what to do so pay very close attention to it!
- A file. This will contain various documents that reveal the facts of the case. It might have transcripts of client interviews, deposition transcripts, evidence (e.g. receipts, letters, etc.). Not everything will be relevant. You will be expected to pick out the relevant information.
- A library. This will contain cases, statutes, or both with the relevant law that you need to answer the question. Just like the file, not everything will be relevant. You will be expected to pick out the relevant law.
There are different “kinds” of MPTs. The most common are persuasive briefs and objective memoranda. But you may also have to draft an opinion letter, a demand letter, or something else (a bench memo, or provisions of a complaint). (You can see an MPT chart here if you are curious about when each has been tested!) This is discussed more in the next step.
Second, become familiar with how to approach basic MPT tasks by reviewing our attack outlines!
A lot of students don’t know where to begin when the look at an MPT. If you are in that boat, check out our MPT attack outlines here. They will give you an overview of what each type of MPT is and how to approach each type of MPT (objective memo, persuasive brief, demand letters, and more). For example, here is our “attack outline” for the objective memorandum. As you can see, we give you the basic summary and also show you examples of each type. This is great to do for each type of MPT before you dive into answering them.
This is the most popular MPT task! The point is to be objective – that is, not to “advocate” for one side, but to point out both strengths and weaknesses of a case. For an objective memo you will need:
- Caption (to/from/date/matter)
- Discussion (with headings to discuss each issue. Headings should be complete sentences with strong conclusions. Follow Rule/Analysis/Conclusion after each heading.)
- Conclusion (summarize discussion)
Usually you are asked to omit a statement of facts. However, if the task memo instructs you to include one, then include one in about 5-7 sentences. For more detail on how to format an objective memo, see this post. For a breakdown on how to write an objective memo on the MPT, see this post.
To see a sample student answer of an objective memorandum, see a sample student answer for MPT 1 from the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions website here (you will have to scroll down about ¾ of the page). You can see the July 2016 question here.
Third, set aside time in your schedule to practice each type of MPT.
The biggest reason students do not do well on the MPT portion is because they constantly put it off and never practice! So this MPT strategy may seem basic, it is critical! Write in your calendar exact dates and times when you will practice the MPT. For example, you could make Friday and Saturday mornings “MPT days” where you complete an MPT and then review the model answer and student answer. Having a regular time built int your schedule is crucial. In this post, we discuss an MPT study schedule. Even if you do not do all the MPTs we suggest, the post links to free MPTs and student answers, so it is worth it to review. (If you are looking to have past MPTs, model answers, and student answers in one convenient place, consider purchasing our MPT books. They are a fantastic resource!)
When you start practicing MPTs, don’t worry about timing. (You will want to do timed MPTs – see step 5!) But in the beginning, just take your time. Figure out what works best for you. Most students find it helpful to read the task memo, then the library, then the file, for example. But you will not know exactly what works best for you until you experiment with different ways of approaching the MPT.
Fourth, after you write an MPT, look at both the NCBE “points sheet” and a student answer.
In the link above, we link to several MPTs with model student answers. (However, you can also head to the Georgia board of bar examiners website and see them for yourself. Or if you buy our MPT books you can just have them all in one convenient place!)
It is important to examine the MPT points sheet to see if you answered the question in a way that they were expecting. However, it is critical to look at student answers, too, because the student answers can quickly reveal whether your formatting is on the right track and if you were writing enough (or not enough) about the most important issues.
Fifth, time yourself!
The most common reason that students do not do well on the MPT portion of the bar exam is that they don’t practice. (See step three above!) The second most common reason students do not do well is because they run out of time! Make sure to complete timed exams closer to the MPT. This will increase your confidence as well as your chance of doing well on the MPT portion, and therefore, passing the bar exam! We have MPT timing tips here if you are struggling with timing.
Incorporate timed exams right into your MPT schedule. Even if you don’t have three hours to do two MPTs, make sure you can do one in 1.5 hours. And do this as many times as possible throughout bar prep. It will make a difference!
Note: We have a MPT Seminar that we offer before the bar exam as a way to learn a lot about the MPT in a short amount of time. If you are studying for the MPT at the last minute, it is well worth it to consider attending our seminar!
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