MPT Tips For Foreign-Trained Lawyers
Many examinees for whom English is not their first language have difficulty with the Multistate Professional Test (MPT) portion of the Uniform Bar Exam. In this post, we discuss some tips to alleviate the challenges the MPT poses to foreign-trained lawyers.
MPT Tips For Foreign-Trained Lawyers
1. Be conscious of timing.
The biggest obstacle for nearly every person taking the MPT (whether English is their first language or not) is timing. It is crucial that everyone practice the MPT so as to get an understanding of how much time they will have and to know how long each step in completing the MPT will take. For examinees whose first language is not English, the timing of the various parts may look a little different than it would for someone who speaks fluent English.
First of all, don’t rush as you read through the File and Library. Rushing through the materials can cause you to misread or misunderstand important information, which can, in turn, lead to an incorrect analysis. In fact, rather than rushing, it may be a good idea to slow down while reading the File and Library to ensure that you accurately understand the information presented.
Second, take the time to organize your answer. Setting up an outline of an answer before you begin writing the text will allow you to come up with a cohesive argument and will also ensure that you know exactly how much you have to write. This will allow you to better manage your time as you are writing.
Third, be realistic about how much you can write. As you are practicing, it is easy to become overwhelmed as you compare your answer to a sample answer or the MPT Point Sheet and worry that you don’t have enough written down. If you know that it will take you longer to write a response than a native-English speaker, be realistic about how much you will actually write. This will help ensure that you actually complete the task, rather than running out of time as you are still in the middle of writing your response. Check out these 6 tips to improve your timing for additional information.
2. Memorize the common structures.
The MPT has several common tasks that are tested over and over: memos, briefs, and letters. While we have seen some variations on each of these tasks (e.g., objective memorandum, persuasive memorandum, opinion letter, demand letter), the overall structure remains the same. Having the overall structure memorized will allow you to immediately start setting up your task as soon as you review the Task Memo and will help save time.
A memorandum should have three basic parts: an introduction, a discussion, and a conclusion. Do not include a statement of facts unless the Task Memo explicitly instructs you to do so.
3. Utilize the Library for rule statements.
One of the key tasks of an MPT is to figure out the structure of the argument. Often the structure and the various arguments you need to make comes from either a statute or a rule statement that can be found within one (or more) of the cases in the library. As you review the library, be on the lookout for these rules that will guide the overall structure of your response.
Also, don’t spend an excessive amount of time trying to re-write the rules in your own words. As you are going through the library, copy the relevant rule statement into your working document word-for-word (be sure to use quotation marks and include a citation!). You will be accomplishing the goal of stating the rule without spending an excessive amount of time trying to craft a rule statement! After you copy the rule statement into your document, you can add transition words and sentences to make the rule statements fit into the overall structure of your answer.
4. Double-check the task memo.
Even after you begin writing your response, it is a good idea to go back to the Task Memo and double-check that you are carefully following all of the directions! One of the ways to gain points on the MPT is to carefully follow directions, so re-reading the directions to make sure that you didn’t miss anything can help you pick up some additional points!
5. Start early and consider getting help!
The only way to get better at MPTs is to practice! Even if you think you know how to write a memo or a letter, chances are that you are not usually under the time constraints provided by the bar exam! Start practicing MPTs early to improve the quality of your writing and also to hone your timing strategy.
As you practice, take the time to carefully review the Point Sheets and sample student answers. Take note of anything they include that you did not include in your own answer. Ask yourself why you missed that point: did you misread the rule? Did you not read the library carefully enough? Did you miss instruction in the task memo? Take note of whatever went wrong so that you can try to improve in that area on the next practice MPT and not make the same mistake again!
Also, MPTs can be difficult. An experienced tutor can help show you tips and strategies for how to tackle the MPT. Just like it is important to start practicing early, utilize the assistance of a tutor early on in bar prep! A tutor can help set you on the right path for completing MPTs and can help you improve your score!
We hope this post on MPT tips for foreign-trained lawyers is helpful!
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