I failed the MPT! What should I do? What happens if you receive your score report and find out that you failed the MPT? First, take a deep breath and try not to panic. There are strategies to improve your score on the MPT, but in order to develop a plan it is necessary to conduct an honest self-assessment of your performance.
Begin by asking yourself these five questions:
Five Questions to ask if you Failed the MPT:
1. Did I have problem with a particular type of MPT ask?
If you are in a state that assigns two MPTs on each exam, generally the tasks on each MPT are different. More often that not, examinees are instructed to write a persuasive brief or an objective memorandum. However, in recent years, bar exam takers have been asked to write opinion letters, demand letters, and draft contract provisions. It is important to determine whether you felt unprepared for a particular MPT (e.g. a demand letter) or if you generally felt uncomfortable with the MPTs. This will help you develop a more effective and tailored study plan.
2. Did I struggle with extracting the rules from the library?
Many examinees fall into the trap of writing lengthy case briefs, often quoting long chunks of paragraphs from the opinion. This leaves little time to review the facts in the file. Prioritize your time by first extracting the relevant rule of law. Then, summarize the key facts of the case in a few sentences. Pay particular attention to the cases the court emphasizes in its reasoning. The MPT is not an exercise in briefing a case, but rather distinguishing the cases provided from the facts provided in the file.
Some libraries are more heavily focused on statutes, which often require more time to analyze. If your MPTs included lengthy statutes, did you feel comfortable reading and analyzing them? Or did you silently wish that you had more cases to read? It is important to know which types of libraries you feel more comfortable with and which ones require more practice. Again, this can help you create a more tailored plan moving forward.
3. Did I include enough facts from the file in my answer?
Again, the most important facts on any MPT are the facts in the file! A passing answer must apply facts from the file to the rules extracted from the library. It is important to read through each document in the file – some will contain more relevant information than others. However, it is a good strategy to use and reference each document, (especially if you are in a jurisdiction that assigns 90-minute long MPTs, as UBE states do). If you review your answer and you cannot really discern what the facts of your client’s case are from your MPT answer, this is an indicator that you did not use enough facts.
4. Did I run out of time while writing my answers?
Time management is essential to completing any portion of the bar exam, including the MPT. Often students make detailed outlines on scratch paper, but are unable to transfer everything to their laptop. Did this happen to you? Or did you spend too much time formatting your answer to make it look perfect, but run out of time for your legal argument? Or did you spend too much time reading the file and library, leaving yourself less than 45 minutes to write your answer? As a general rule, students are encouraged to spend 45 minutes reading and 45 minutes writing their answer.
5. Did I practice enough MPTs prior to taking the exam?
Maybe you heard that the MPT was easy and did not require much review – so many students have been told this only to discover the opposite. If you did not look at any MPT questions or only looked at a few, then it is a good idea to set aside time to practice different kinds of MPTs (e.g., persuasive brief, objective memorandum, opinion letter, demand letter). Practice under timed conditions! And always take the time to review the bar examiners’ MPT point sheets as well as high-scoring student answers.
Some people don’t take the MPT seriously because they are more worried about the MBE. But when you think about it, if you are in a UBE state, the MPT is worth the same amount as 70 scored MBE questions! It is well worth the time to take it seriously.
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