Eight Helpful Timing Tips For The MPT
The Multistate Performance Test or MPT makes up 20% of your total UBE score, and is the first task you will likely encounter when taking the exam (the MPT is administered during the morning of the first day of the bar exam). As such, success on the MPT is very important to success on the bar exam! One of the biggest obstacles to overcome on the MPT is timing. You will have 3 hours to complete 2 MPTs (or 90 minutes per MPT). This time goes by very quickly! In this post, we provide some timing tips for the MPT so you can finish the task within the allotted time!
Eight Helpful Timing Tips For The MPT
1. Practice staying within the time limit
Because timing is such an important and difficult part of the MPT, it is imperative that you time yourself while doing practice MPTs. On the exam, you will have three hours to complete two MPT tasks, or 90 minutes per MPT. While you are practicing, be sure to cut yourself off right at the 90-minute mark so that you understand how much work you are able to accomplish in 90 minutes! You will create an uphill battle if you allow unlimited time to complete the MPT, and then have to figure out how to pare down your time if you are continually going well over the time limit!
2. Memorize the common formats
The most commonly tested tasks on the MPT are objective memos and persuasive briefs. Because these tasks are highly tested and therefore fairly predictable, the instructions in the MPT task memo do not often give a lot of guidance as to how to structure your memo or brief (instead, the graders expect you to know how to set up these tasks). Therefore, you should have the general format of these tasks memorized prior to the exam so that you do not spend time trying to figure out how to format such a task! Check out JD Advising’s Attack Outlines for Each Type of MPT to see an overview of the common tasks and how to format them!
3. Read the library first, then the facts
When tackling the MPT file, you will save time by reading the library before you read the facts. If you read the facts first, you aren’t going to know which facts are important because you won’t know what the applicable rules are, and so you will likely need to re-read the facts after reading the rules. Instead, you should read the library first to find the applicable rules and analogous cases, and then go through the facts looking for those that fit into your rule statements. That way, you only have to read the facts once and can save time!
4. If the library has statutes and cases, read the cases first
When you first start reading the library, you should skim the statutes and see what statutes are provided, but rather than reading and spending time trying to figure out the statutes, see if there is a case in the library that explains the statutes and identifies the pertinent pieces of the most relevant statutes. This could save you some time by identifying the portions of the statutes that you will need to focus on! (Note: some statutes are fairly straightforward, and it actually isn’t a bad idea to read them first; skimming the statutes should give you an idea of how easy they are to figure out!)
5. Take notes in the answer document rather than on scrap paper
A great way to save time is to work as you go. So, as soon as you read the task memo and see that your task is to write an objective memo, set up the memo in your answer. Then, as you are going through the library and find pertinent rule statements, you can type them right into the relevant portion of your memo. Be sure to include a citation as soon as you type it so that you don’t have to go back and find the citations later on. This will likely be quicker than spending time to highlight, take notes on, and then re-type those rule statements later.
6. When reading cases, look quickly for rule statements
If the task memo doesn’t provide much guidance as to the issues you need to discuss, you should look for rule statements in the library as quickly as possible. The rules may have sub-parts that will serve as the various issues and sub-issues in your assignment. This will allow you to quickly organize your task and as you take notes, you can put the notes under the applicable issues and sub-issues in your document.
7. Double-check the task memo
As you are writing your answer, refer back to the task memo to make sure you are following all directions and including everything in the instructions. For example, sometimes the task memo will ask examinees to anticipate counter-arguments and provide a brief response to those anticipated counter-arguments. Failing to address potential counter-arguments in such an assignment could result in the loss of valuable points! Reading the task memo carefully and planning ahead for everything that you need to include can help you manage your time.
8. Be willing to change your approach
If you find yourself unable to finish the tasks in 90 minutes as you practice, instead of using the same approach and hoping that you will get faster, you may need to change your strategy or approach. For example, if your approach to reading the library is to read every case extremely carefully and pull out every nuance so that you don’t have to read any case twice, but you find that it takes you well over an hour to read the library in this manner, you may need to adjust your approach and focus less on the details. Practice MPTs are a great opportunity to try different approaches and hone a great strategy for the exam! Check out this post on where to find free MPTs to practice with!
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