How To Conserve Time On The MPT On Bar Exam Day
On the MPT portion of the bar exam, you will have 3 hours to complete two lawyerly tasks (90 minutes each). This is not a lot of time, and working efficiently is a key strategy necessary for success on the MPT! In this post, we provide five tips on how to conserve time on the MPT.
How To Conserve Time On The MPT On Bar Exam Day
1. Memorize the templates for the highly tested tasks.
By looking at JD Advising’s MPT Frequency Chart, it is quickly apparent that some tasks are tested far more frequently than others. Objective memos are by far the most commonly tested task (sometimes the MPT includes TWO objective memos!). The next most common task is the persuasive brief, followed by demand and opinion letters.
When the MPT tests a highly tested task, less instruction is given in the file regarding how to format the task. Rather, the examiners expect you to know how to set up the common tasks. Therefore, one way to conserve time on the MPT is to have the formats memorized for the highly tested tasks. That way, as soon as you see that the MPT is testing a highly tested task such as an objective memo or persuasive brief, you can save time setting up the structure of your task in your answer. Check out JD Advising’s MPT One Sheet for a quick guide on how to set up each of the common tasks.
Click here for more information on formatting the objective memo.
Click here for more information on formatting the persuasive brief.
Click here for more information on formatting the demand letter.
Click here for more information on formatting the opinion letter.
2. Read the task memo, then the library, and then the facts.
It may seem intuitive to read the MPT from beginning to end, which would mean that you would read the task memo, then the facts, and then the library. However, if you read the facts before the library, you will not know what the rules or tests are that will be applied to the facts, so it will be difficult to determine which facts are relevant before finding those rules. This will likely lead you to have to re-read the facts after you read the library, which is not a great use of your time.
Therefore, we recommend that you read the library immediately after reading the task memo. Look for rule statements and tests in the library that you will use to address the issues. Then, after you have read the library, go back and read the facts, keeping in mind the tests and rule statements from the library so that you can conserve time on the MPT by focusing on the most relevant and important facts and only have to read the facts once.
3. Take advantage of all the information in the task memo.
Often, the task memo provides crucial information that will help you save time setting up your assignment without wasting time thinking about formatting. For instance, in the February 2015 MPT In re Harrison, the task memo asks the examinee to “Please draft a memorandum . . .” At this point, you know that your task is a memo and should be set up as such.
The task memo in In re Harrison continues, “. . . identifying each of the inverse condemnation theories available under Franklin and federal law and analyzing whether Harrison might succeed against the City under each of those theories.” Within your discussion section of the memo, then, should be sub-headings for each of the types of condemnation actions. Although the task memo does not specifically tell you what the theories of condemnation are, it gives you a clear starting point regarding what you should be looking for when you start to read the library (the different theories of inverse condemnation). You can save time by jumping right into the library and looking for these different theories.
Other MPTs are even more straightforward, clearly identifying the precise issues discussed in the task. Be sure to pay close attention to such information as it will allow you to save time and quickly get to work on the task at hand.
The In re Harrison MPT can be found for free on the NCBE’s website here.
4. Skim the library for rules.
It is very easy to spend too much time reading the library and focusing on the details. To save time, quickly skim the library for rule statements before analyzing the facts and reasoning of the particular cases.
If your library includes statutes, you can skim the titles of the statutes to see what issues the statutes will relate to. Next, rather than reading the statutes, see if there are any cases citing those statutes. It is possible that there is a case that cites only the relevant portion of the statute, and may also even explain the structure of the statute. So, you can save time by relying on the case law to explain the statutes, rather than spending time reading and trying to unpack the statutes on your own.
Within the cases, you can quickly read the cases to try to find those important rules and tests that will help structure your task. For instance, in the In re Harrison MPT, if you quickly skim the library for the inverse condemnation theories, you will see that there are four theories: (1) total regulatory taking; (2) partial regulatory taking; (3) land-use exaction; and (4) when there is no substantial advancement of a legitimate state interest. Identifying these theories will reveal that there are four sub-issues to address in the discussion, and will provide some additional structure to your task. Now, as you read the rest of the library and then the facts, you should keep these four theories in mind and focus on the arguments and facts that support or refute each theory, while ignoring irrelevant information.
A common mistake that students make is taking the time to brief all of the cases in the library. While this might help you include more detail in your answer and keep the cases straight, it can be very time-consuming. It is important to work quickly and make sure that you complete the task and not spend too much time on the details.
5. Work as you read.
Another way to save time on the MPT is to work on your answer as you are reading. For example, as you are reading the library, when you find a rule or test that you know will be important in your answer, rather than highlighting it or making a note of it and coming back to it later, just type it right into your answer as you are reading. That way, you won’t have to spend time trying to find it later while you are writing. Although your answer may look messy if you use this method and plug notes into your answer as you are reading, you should (hopefully) have plenty of time after you are done reading to focus on finishing and polishing your answer.
Figuring out what is important as you read and knowing what to include in your answer right away is a learned skill. As you start practicing this method, it can be easy to include everything in your answer just in case it ends up being important. If you find yourself falling into this trap, you are likely still spending too much time reading the library. As you practice, focus on finding things like the overarching rule statements and elements, and try different methods of including detail: try jotting notes with citations so that you can quickly come back to that portion of the library, and try including more detail. Practice MPTs are a great way to test different strategies and see what works best for you!
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