The multistate performance test (MPT) is administered in several states, including Uniform Bar Exam states, as part of the bar exam. It is becoming more popular as the Uniform Bar Exam picks up speed and is adopted by more states. In this post, we give you an overview of the multistate performance test (MPT).
What is the Multistate Performance Test (MPT?)
The MPT is a lawyerly task. You will be expected to complete, for example, a memorandum to a supervising attorney, a letter to a client, a persuasive memorandum or brief, a statement of facts, a contract provision, a will, a settlement proposal, a discovery plan, a witness examination plan, a counseling plan, or a closing argument.
The MPT has two parts: (1) A file, and (2) A library.
The file contains:
- A Task Memo: This tells you what you are supposed to do. It is important to pay attention to directions! Many students lose points simply because they do not pay attention! The task memo will reveal the kind of document you are supposed to write, who your audience is, the tone of the document (i.e. whether it is supposed to be persuasive or objective), and any specific issues that need to be addressed.
- Factual documents: These include transcripts of depositions or interviews, court pleadings, discovery documents, etc. Just like in “real life”, not every single document will be important. Note also, that some documents are ambiguous, incomplete, or conflicting, just like in real life.
The Library contains: the law. This includes cases, statutes, rules, regulations, etc. Some of the law may be relevant; some may not be! Remember that even if you think you know the law, they may have changed it for the purpose of the MPT. Never assume you know what the library says! Read everything in the library, including the footnotes.
How long is the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)?
The MPT created by the National Conference of Bar Examiner’s (NCBE) is 90 minutes long. Some states only offer one MPT; some offer two MPTs. (If you are in a Uniform Bar Exam Jurisdiction, you will have two MPTs to complete!)
It is suggested by the NCBE that you allocate about 45 minutes to reading and digesting the materials and organizing your answer, and about 45 minutes writing your answer.
What is the Point of the MPT?
The point of the MPT is to provide a lawyerly task to test you on your lawyerly skills. The MPT is not testing your knowledge of substantive law (in fact, you should not be relying on any law that is not given to you to complete your MPT task!).
According to the NCBE, the MPT tests: problem solving, legal analysis and reasoning, factual analysis, communication, organization and management of a legal task, and recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas.
The MPT also tests how well you can follow directions and how well you are able to complete such tasks in a short period of time.
Why Many Students Neglect the MPT:
Unfortunately, many students neglect the MPT portion of the exam because they feel the most comfortable with it, and this causes them to lose out on a lot of points! To successfully pass an MPT, it is not enough to just be a good writer or to excel at reading comprehension. Instead, you are required to read, understand, and extract important material out of a large body of material in a short period of time.
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