Last Minute Tips for the Multistate Performance Test
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is a lawyerly exercise that requires examinees to complete a task that is outlined in the memo. In order to complete the task, students must critically evaluate and analyze information provided in the file and the library. The MPT is worth a significant percentage of an examinee’s overall score on many bar exams. For example, if you are in a Uniform Bar Exam state, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score. It is worth spending some time developing an efficient approach to the MPT. Below are five last minute tips for the Multistate Performance test. These five tips will help you score higher on the MPT.
Last Minute Tips for the Multistate Performance Test (MPT):
1. Read the task memo carefully!
Always read the task memo first. The task memo will tell you your assignment (e.g., persuasive brief, objective memorandum, client letter, demand letter, etc.). Sometimes the task memo will also help your organize your answer (e.g., the July 2010 MPT In re Hammond told examinees to “draft only the “Body of the Argument” for our Motion to Quash arguing that Walker may not be compelled to give the testimony or produce the materials in question, on the grounds that 1) under the Franklin Rules Professional Conduct, she is prohibited from disclosing client communications, and 2) she has the privilege under the Franklin Rules of Evidence not to disclose confidential communications.”)
If you find yourself forgetting what your objective is as you read and take notes on the cases and/or statutes in the library, take a minute to reread the task memo and reorient yourself. Make sure you address all of the questions in the task memo.
This is the easiest way to maximize your points on the MPT!
2. Pay attention to footnotes, as well as any words that are bolded or italicized.
When you read through the cases in the library you may encounter footnotes. Do NOT ignore them! There is always valuable information provided in footnotes (e.g., the definition of a cause of action or information regarding whether a cause of action is recognized in a particular jurisdiction). Similarly, pay close attention to any words that are bolded or italicized. These words are often legal terms that the bar examiners want you to include in your answer.
3. Make sure to apply the facts from the file to the law that you extracted from the library!
The most important facts are those in the file! Examinees often spend valuable time providing a thorough brief of a case in the library and do not spend enough time reviewing and using the facts contained in the file. A passing answer must apply facts from the file to the rules extracted from the library. Make sure to follow IRAC when writing your answer.
4. Be familiar with the most highly tested tasks!
Do not be surprised if the bar examiners ask you to write an objective memorandum as one of the MPT exercises. Students were given 90 minutes to write an objective memorandum 19 times in last 12 years. Similarly, do not be surprised if the bar examiners ask you to write a persuasive brief. Students were given 90 minutes to write a persuasive brief 13 times in last 12 years.
If you are looking for a MPT chart (which shows exactly when they have tested more “normal” MPTs and when they have strayed from that) please click on this MPT Chart post.
If you haven’t spent much time preparing for the MPT there is still time to familiarize yourself with these tasks. Take some time to read the February 2009 and July 2009 MPT questions and review the (available for free on the NCBE Study Aids website).
Also, take a few minutes to memorize the format of an objective memorandum if you haven’t written one in awhile.
5. Review a less common MPT task.
Sometimes the task memo will give you a task that is unfamiliar to you. In the past, such tasks have included writing a closing argument, an early dispute resolution statement, or the provisions of a contract. Don’t panic! Generally, when examinees are assigned a less common task, the page after the task memo provides instructions on how to structure your answer. Take some time to skim an unfamiliar MPT task (e.g., Logan v. Rios from the February 2010 exam, which asked examinees to write part of an early dispute resolution statement).
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