How to format an MPT (Multistate Performance Test) Answer
How to format an MPT Answer: Many students forget that in order to get a high score on the MPT you must format your MPT answer correctly. While the formatting details vary depending on the task you are asked to complete (e.g., persuasive brief, objective memorandum, opinion letter, demand letter, etc.), there are some similarities you will find in all of the high-answers. Below are a few tips to help you get started.
How to format an MPT Answer:
Type the law firm heading, title of the document, and signature line (if appropriate).
After you read the task memo, take a couple minutes to type out the law firm heading, the title of the document (e.g., memorandum) and the signature line (e.g. respectfully yours) if it is appropriate for the task you have been assigned. It is good to get this information down in the very beginning so that you are not scrambling to do this during the last few minutes of the exam. These are easy points that you don’t want to miss out on!
Write a short introduction.
Your introduction does not need to be longer than two or three sentences. It will highlight the key facts (which are generally summarized in the task memo) and set forth the legal issues you will discuss in your answer. If possible, include a short answer to each legal issue posed. It will help frame your discussion and the bar graders will quickly know whether you’ve identified the key issues. But don’t make the mistake of writing your introduction first! It is much easier to write the introduction once you have written your discussion section.
*If the task memo or guidelines tell you to format your introduction differently, follow those instructions. The suggestion above is a default suggestion for an introductory paragraph.
Create headings for all of the sections in your discussion.
Regardless of the task you are asked to complete, always include headings in your answer! It is best to write your headings in complete sentences, applying facts to the legal issue at hand. To make your headings stand out, underline or bold them. Make sure you are consistent with your formatting throughout your answer. If you find that that a legal issue contains several elements, create subheadings for each of the elements. As you read the file, insert the relevant facts under the respective headings. This will ensure that you analyze each element thoroughly and it will be easy for the bar graders to see that you identified all of the components of a given rule.
Include citations in your answer.
Always include citations in your answer. The citation for a case could be as simple as its name (e.g. Horton v. Suzuki). The citation for a document from the file could be as simple as Affidavit of Mary James. Do not use your bluebooking skills to do citations on the exam – this will take too much time! The MPT is not an exercise in legal citations. The purpose of the citation is to let the bar graders know where you found your information, whether it be a rule of law or a witness’s statement.
Write a short conclusion.
Never forget to write a conclusion. The conclusion does not need to be longer than two or three sentences. It should highlight your findings and/or ask for some kind of relief for your client. Always make sure to answer the questions asked of you in the task memo. Make sure that your overall conclusion is consistent with any mini-conclusions you wrote earlier during your discussion of each legal issue.
Wondering how to format a specific type of MPT?
While this was just a general post on how to format an MPT answer, we have other posts that go into more depth about the specific types of MPT tasks. If you have trouble with opinion letters, demand letters, persuasive briefs, or objective memorandums click on the links for a more detailed look at how you can increase your score. Also, read this post if you are concerned how to format your MPT if you get an an unusual MPT task.
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