We receive emails around this time from students who are struggling on the MPT portion of the bar exam. Here we pass on some advice that has helped other students who struggle on the MPT portion.
MPT Help!!! What to Do if you are Struggling on the MPT Portion of the Bar Exam
1. Start by reading the library first (after you read the task memo!)
This might seem like a weird tip for those looking for MPT help but it has helped many of our students. Many students start their MPTs by sifting through the facts. However, we generally recommend that you start with the library first (after you read the task memo). That way, when you get to the task memo, you can start writing your answer as you read the task memo. Thus, you can actually start working earlier on the MPT. This will save you time! (For more insight as to this approach, check out this post on how to attack an MPT.)
This tip is not for everyone but if you are struggling on the MPT portion of the bar exam, it will not hurt to try this approach to see if it works better for you.
2. At 45 minutes, force yourself to switch into “writing” mode. While this may seem obvious to some, if you are looking for MPT help, you have got to make this a habit. You cannot spend more than 45 minutes reading or sifting through documents or jotting notes. You need to switch into writing mode after 45 minutes. Make a note to watch the clock and when you practice, make sure to test this out. Part of what makes the MPT so difficult is the timing aspect of it, and frequently those seeking MPT help are really seeking timing tips. (Here are some MPT timing tips here, if you are looking for more!)
3.Learn proper MPT formats.
Check out our MPT attack outlines here. They will give you an overview of what each type of MPT is and how to approach each type of MPT (objective memo, persuasive brief, demand letters, and more). Formatting is so important on the MPT. If you format well, the grader will think you know what you are doing. If you do not know MPT formats, it will be immediately obvious to the grader that you do not know what you are doing! So if you are struggling on the MPT portion of the bar exam, take 15 minutes to memorize MPT formats.
Also pay attention to the “basics” when you are reviewing the attack outlines. For example:
- For a persuasive brief, you will want to use persuasive headings. The goal is to persuade!
- For an objective memo, you want to be more objective and discuss both sides of a certain issue. Thus, you will not be using persuasive headings.
- For a demand letter, your tone will have to be strong but yet professional.
- For letters in general you want to know your audience. If you are writing to a partner, you can use more legalese. If you are writing to a client, you should keep legalese to a minimum.
This will save you time on the MPT because you will not have to think about the formats if you have already learned them. Further, it will help you approach the MPT with more confidence.
4. If you start running out of time–e.g. at the 10 minute mark–make sure to conclude and make your analysis look complete.
According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the MPT requires examines to “(1) sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts; (2) analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law; (3) apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem; (4) identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present; (5) communicate effectively in writing; and (6) complete a lawyering task within time constraints”
So, a few of the things graders will look for is whether you can complete a lawyerly task within time constraints, and “communicate effectively in writing.” These go to format (mentioned in step 3) and to completing the task (mentioned in step 6).
5. Only spend 90 minutes on each MPT.
So many students spend way too long on the first MPT, making their second MPT look short, disorganized, and un-lawyerly. They are missing out on very easy points. Even if you do not have time to discuss every issue in the 90 minutes alloted to the first MPT, MOVE ON. Maybe you will not receive a perfect score on it, but it is much better to receive two semi-high scores (e.g. two 4’s or 5’s on a 0-6 point scale) than a “6” and a “0”. You could get a total of 10 points with the former approach and a maximum of 6 with the latter. This is a big difference!
So once you are about 10 minutes away from the 90-minute mark, follow step 4 above (conclude), wrap it up, and move on. You should also do this when you practice so you get used to it. If you are struggling on the MPT, it is one of the things we highly recommend. Good luck studying and if you have any questions at all about the MPT, feel free to contact us here!
Looking for MPT Help?
We offer the following MPT products and services:
- MPT private tutoring for those seeking one-on-one help to pass the MPT.
- An MPT guide which takes students from the beginning to end in how to write an MPT.
- MPT feedback for those seeking structural and organizational review of practice questions.
- Real MPT questions! We offer all NCBE-released questions from 2000 to present compiled in one book.
- An MPT seminar for those seeking help on how to tackle the MPT.
Also, check out our new Free Bar Exam Resource Center, which includes our most popular free guides, posts, webinars, and more!