Can I Pass The Bar Exam If I Miss An MPT?
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is a unique component of the bar exam. Unlike the MEE and MBE, it is a “closed universe” exam that does not require you to apply black letter law that you’ve committed to memory. Even so, the MPT is no cakewalk, and some exam takers find themselves facing an unfamiliar MPT question that throws them for a loop. Naturally, these students ask: Can I pass the bar exam if I miss an MPT question? The answer is an emphatic yes. In this post, we’ll explain why.
Can I Pass The Bar Exam If I Miss An MPT?
Note: For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume that you’re taking the bar exam in a UBE jurisdiction. However, many of the principles discussed below apply to the bar exam generally.
First, let’s review the structure of the MPT.
On the UBE, the MPT consists of two essay-type exercises and that are worth 20% of the total bar exam score. In other words, each of the two exercises is worth 10% of your total bar exam score.
Now, remember to keep the MPT in perspective.
If you miss an entire MPT question and earn no points from your answer, you’ll lose 50% off your total MPT score—but only 10% off your total bar exam score. Now, 10% is not insignificant, but keep in mind that you need to achieve only a 65% or 70% (60% or 65% with scaled scoring) to pass in most states. Thus, if you miss an entire MPT question, you can still afford to lose up to 20% of your points on other parts of the exam and still pass somewhat comfortably. Further, you can probably afford to lose closer to 25% or 30% of your points on other parts of the exam and still pass—albeit less comfortably.
The above example involves a scenario where you earn zero points from one of the MPT questions. But let’s suppose you were at least able to get something coherent down. In that case, you might still be able to earn around 25% to 50% of the points for that exercise—which is somewhere between 2.5% and 5% more toward your total bar exam score. In that scenario, your “missed” MPT question would cost you between 5% and 7.5% off your total bar exam score. Again, keeping in mind that you do not need to achieve an “A” (or even a “B”) on the bar exam, losing 5 to 7.5% off your score will by no means guarantee an unsuccessful result.
You should also remember that you are not alone if you missed an MPT question.
In fact, this happens to many students. Students might struggle with an MPT question for a variety of reasons. For example, students may struggle where: (1) a question prompt asks for an answer format that an exam taker is completely unfamiliar with; (2) a question deals with an especially confusing fact pattern or uncommonly tricky area of the law; or (3) an exam taker spends too much time on the first MPT question, leaving significantly less time for the remaining MPT question. These situations are fairly common, and even otherwise well-prepared exam takers may experience them. So, if for these (or any other) reasons you found yourself struggling on an MPT question during the bar exam, remember that you’re in good company—and remember that many successful exam takers have been in your shoes and ended up just fine.
The big picture
If you think you missed some or all of the points on an MPT question during the bar exam, don’t panic. Recognize that many other well-prepared exam takers are likely feeling the same way, and remember that a single MPT question makes up a fairly small portion of your overall bar exam score.
If you’re still feeling anxious after the bar exam because of a missed MPT question, check out our post on dealing with the post-bar exam experience.
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