Is The MPT Easy?
The Multistate Performance Test, or MPT, is a unique aspect of the bar exam though not every state administers it. It’s the only portion of the exam that doesn’t require you to have specific knowledge of any area of law. Instead, the MPT provides you with all of the information that you’ll need to complete the exercise. If you’re in a UBE jurisdiction, you’ll have three hours to complete two MPTs, and the MPT section of the bar exam is worth 20% of your total bar exam score. Check out the NCBE’s list of which states administer the MPT so you know what to expect in your jurisdiction.
Is The MPT Easy?
While the MPT section is not worth as much as the MEE or the MBE, it’s still a significant component of your total score. However, given that it does not specifically test your knowledge of particular substantive areas of the law, many students naturally wonder if the MPT is “easy” when compared to the other sections of the exam. In this post, we’ll discuss whether the MPT can fairly be characterized as “easy.”
The MPT definitely has some characteristics that make it relatively easier than the other components of the bar exam.
1. The MPT is a closed universe exam.
In other words, the MPT doesn’t test your substantive knowledge. It also provides you with all of the legal authority you’ll need to complete the task.
2. The MPT tests practical legal skills.
You need to read carefully, identify the relevant legal authority, apply that authority to the legally-significant facts, and write clearly. These are all skills that you’ve spent the past three (or more) years honing in law school and in legal jobs.
3. You can sharpen your MPT skills with practice.
The MPT is probably the section of the bar exam that you’ll spend the least time preparing for—and rightly so. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore it entirely. If you take the time to work through at least one practice MPT each week, you’ll see your skills improve as you approach the exam.
Further, you’ll expose yourself to the various ways in which the bar examiners construct MPTs. Check out our attack outlines for each type of MPT format so you can be prepared for everything. We also drafted MPT One-Sheets to help you navigate each type of assignment. Some task memos may ask for something familiar, like a legal brief. Others may ask for something less familiar: for example, you may be asked to draft a contract or articles of incorporation. If you work through somewhere between 10 and 20 practice MPTs, you’ll decrease the likelihood that you’ll be completely unfamiliar with what you encounter on test day.
4. With that said, the MPT does have some tricky characteristics that you should be aware of.
For one, you need to pay careful attention to the directions in the task memo. It may be tempting to treat the MPT like a law school exam and start issue-spotting, but you must resist this temptation. There are a lot of differences between law school and bar exam essays. Successful students develop the discipline to follow the directions precisely.
Second, you need to distinguish between relevant legal authority and irrelevant legal authority. The examiners will likely provide you with more legal authority than you need to complete the task memo. This is intentional—as a future attorney, you’re expected to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Third, and relatedly, you need to distinguish between relevant facts and irrelevant facts. The examiners will almost certainly provide you with more factual information than you need to complete the task memo. Again, this is intentional and designed to test your ability to recognize what’s essential information and what’s merely background (or completely irrelevant).
Fourth, you need to work efficiently. You have 90 minutes to complete an MPT—use that time wisely! You don’t want to feel rushed when you begin to draft your answer, so be sure to allocate your time as your bar prep course suggests.
In sum, the MPT may seem easier for some students (especially good writers), but it should not be overlooked. You should be sure to incorporate regular MPT practice into your bar prep so that you can confidently attack this portion of the bar exam and show the bar examiners that you have the skills necessary to be an effective attorney.
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