Six Tips to Improve Your Writing on the MPT
The MPT portion of the bar exam does not test your knowledge of substantive law but rather tests several lawyerly skills. Some of the skills tested on the MPT portion of the exam include the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Improving the quality of your writing is a quick way to demonstrate a strong ability to communicate. In this post, we discuss six quick tips to improve your writing on the MPT!
Six Tips to Improve Your Writing on the MPT
1. Use the appropriate tone in your writing
If you are instructed to write a persuasive task, the tone of your writing should be persuasive. Your goal is to convince the reader of your position, so you should use things like action verbs to get your point across. Your headings should also be conclusory and should quickly get your point across. On the other hand, if you are given an objective task, you need to weigh all sides of an argument. For an objective assignment, your conclusions should not be as forceful and can include words such as “likely” or “probably” (e.g., “it is likely that the plaintiff will succeed . . .”).
2. Know your audience
If you are writing to a supervising attorney (e.g., an objective memo), or to the court (e.g., a persuasive brief), the audience is a judge or attorney. As such, you can use “legal-ese” in your writing without further explanation. However, if your audience is, for instance, a client who is not an attorney (e.g., an opinion letter to a client), you should limit the amount of “legal-ese” and attempt to explain things in layman’s terms.
3. Save time to proofread at the end
The grader’s first impression of your MPT can make a big difference with your score. As such, things like spacing, formatting, and typos should be cleaned up at the very end. This way, the grader’s first glance at your MPT will reveal a clean, professional, and complete product. Spending the final five minutes proofreading could yield far more additional points than spending that last five minutes cramming some extra information into your answer!
If you’re struggling with saving time for the end, check out these five tips to save time on the MPT!
4. Use the IRAC structure (even for wildcard tasks!)
If you are unsure of how to structure your task, you should utilize IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion), even if the task is a wildcard task. If you can find a rule statement in the library, you can plug it right into the appropriate spot in the assignment, and then use the information in the rule statement to develop your analysis. Using IRAC is also a good way to double-check that you included everything you need to complete your answer!
To be sure your MPT is organized, check out these attack outlines for each type of MPT.
5. Don’t plagiarize
Although you do not need to re-word every single rule statement that you include in your MPT, you should include a citation for anything that you quote. The citations do not need to be in Bluebook format; they can be as simple as the name of the case (or even just the first-named party!) either underlined or italicized. For example, if you are citing the Smith v. Jones case, your citation could be Smith.
The number one mistake that we see students make is that they do not practice for the MPT ahead of the exam. They think that because they have written memos either in law school or at clerking jobs, that they don’t need to practice. Even if you have written memos in other settings, chances are that you have not been required to complete a task under the extreme timed conditions you will face during the bar exam. For this reason, practice under timed conditions is crucial to develop a good strategy to tackle the MPT! Check out these 6 tips to improve your timing on the MPT and help boost your practice regime and performance.
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