Should I Type or Handwrite the MPT?
The Multistate Performance Test, or MPT, is a critical part of many bar exams. It is even worth 20% of your final score on the UBE! Therefore, it is very important to thoroughly prepare and develop a strong plan for the MPT. For many, this leads to the question of whether to type or handwrite the MPT. Although we at JD Advising lean toward typing (discussed below), it is absolutely possible to pass the bar using either approach! If you are struggling with this decision, here are three considerations that should help you evaluate whether to type or handwrite the MPT!
Should I Type or Handwrite the MPT?
Efficiency in Organization
Proper organization is critical to scoring high on the MPT. If you are debating whether to type or handwrite the MPT, consider the effect the choice will have on your ability to organize your answer correctly. We recommend that you spend half of your allotted time reading the library and file, and outlining your answer. When you type the MPT, you can already have the basic headings of your final product drafted before you even dive in to the file or library. Then you have the ability to extract rules of law from the library or facts from the file and place them in their proper place within that structure.
Once you’ve got this basic rough outline created, you can write around your facts and law, filling in the blanks and connecting the dots with your arguments and more persuasive or precise language. You can even cut and paste as needed, easily shifting around pieces that you have written to a spot that you like better.
If you choose to handwrite the MPT, you have to be much more careful when constructing your final document. It is difficult to draft your headings and structure after reading the memo. You won’t know how much space you need to leave to fill in the details for each section. You also can’t write the relevant rules or facts directly in your final document as you read. It is difficult to have as much of an understanding of where they will need to end up. Your placement of something in a handwritten document is much more permanent. Thus, you lose the element of flexibility that you gain with typing.
As such, your outline will need to be completely separate from your final document. You will then need to take the time to re-write everything once you know exactly what you want to say. It can certainly be done, but it isn’t as efficient.
The MPT portion of the bar exam is three hours long. This means you need to complete one MPT in 90 minutes to successfully get through both. With so many documents to read and interpret, and then a cohesive argument to craft, time is certainly of the essence. You need to be able to move swiftly through these tasks.
Practice is critical here as you will get faster the more MPTs you complete. However, the decision whether to type or handwrite the MPT can also make an impact. It is quite common for most people to be able to type faster than they can write, meaning many would benefit greatly from the choice to type. It isn’t true for everyone of course, and thus you should evaluate your own skills in both typing and handwriting. Practice both writing and typing a few MPTs if you are uncertain, and choose what you are most comfortable doing. Just keep in mind that the speed at which you can get your thoughts down is going to play a significant role in whether you get through both tasks.
While you certainly don’t need perfect spelling and grammar to score high on essays or MPTs, you do need to make sure that they are readable. If the grader can’t follow your argument, it is very hard for them to award you points. Your ability to make corrections, and even significant alterations, is something to think about when deciding whether to type or handwrite the MPT. If you write a sentence and decide you no longer like it, or decide that something else needs to be said first, you could end up with a rather messy final product if you choose to handwrite.
You are welcome to cross things out and utilize arrows. However, the more markings you make, the more opportunities there will be for the grader to get confused. Thus, it is possible that typing will allow you to present a cleaner final product. However, having a thorough outline before you start penning your final product can help limit the risk of needing to mark up a handwritten document. It is possible to succeed either way, but this is certainly something to think about!
On the whole, we recommend typing the MPT. But, many students score high when they handwrite the MPT as well. So, if you are much more comfortable with handwriting, then handwrite! Do what you are comfortable with! If you are in between, then we’d recommend typing!
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