What Is The MPT? Four Answers To Help You Excel
Many students enter bar exam preparation without any idea of what the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”) actually is. In this post, we present four basic questions about the MPT and offer our answers to help you start on the right foot!
What Is The MPT? Four Answers To Help You Excel
1. Is the MPT testing my knowledge of substantive law?
No, the MPT is not testing how well you have any substantive law memorized. Rather, the MPT tests your ability to follow instructions and complete a lawyerly task in a short period of time. The MPT is composed of two tasks commonly seen in the practice of law and you must complete both of them in three hours. These tasks may include an objective memo, a persuasive brief, an opinion or demand letter, or some sort of “wildcard” task. All of the law and facts that you need to complete the tasks will be provided for you. It is therefore up to you to interpret the materials you are presented with and craft a quality document that meets the challenge. No law or fact matters outside of what is given to you, and thus your knowledge of substantive law will not affect your performance on this portion of the bar exam.
2. Is the MPT like anything I’ve done in law school?
Yes and no. Basic legal research and writing classes train students on how to write documents such as briefs and memos. You have also likely completed additional writing projects in upper-level courses or extracurricular activities. However, the memos and briefs you’ve drafted in the past probably contained many more sections and details than are necessary on MPT briefs and memos. As mentioned above, the MPT is partially a test in following directions. You should include only what your task memo asks you to include in your final document – no more and no less. Your final product is also likely to be much shorter than if you had written this in law school. The goal on the MPT is not to impress anyone with your flowery language or mastery of the details of the subject matter. You need to be efficient – straight and to the point.
Thus, while the ideas of objective memos and persuasive briefs are certainly the same as what you have completed in law school, your execution of them on the MPT needs to be different.
3. Is the MPT something I need to study for?
Yes! Far too many people ignore the MPT, expecting it to be simple. However, the MPT is worth 20% of your final score in UBE jurisdictions, and therefore a lot of points can be earned (or lost) here! Many of those who do poorly on the MPT say that it is because they ran out of time. This is an avoidable error as your timing can improve with consistent practice. Repetition and exposure to various types of MPTs will greatly improve your skills in this portion. You will want to spend time perfecting your strategy, learning what is necessary to include and what can be cut out for the sake of preserving valuable seconds. The MPT is definitely something you need to practice!
4. Is there a “best approach” to the MPT?
Yes! We advise our students that the first step should always be to read the task memo. The task memo is where you are given all of your instructions, and you must follow them carefully. Next, you should read what is called the library. The library is where you are provided with all of the relevant law for the fictional jurisdiction your problem takes place in. By reading the library next, you will have a good idea of exactly what kinds of facts you are looking for and you will already be able to begin crafting your legal argument in your mind. Further, you can start preparing your final document by creating a rough outline of the legal issues to discuss. Finally, you should read the file. This is where all of your facts will be presented. At this point, you have a solid foundation for what kind of case this is and what sort of facts will help you prove your argument or answer the question presented. As you read the file, you can begin filling in your outline with the facts that are relevant. We provide attack outlines for each type of MPT you might encounter.
As the MPT is a timed challenge, you must be mindful of your pacing. You don’t want to spend too much time reading and then not have enough time to complete the actual task. We recommend that you spend about 45 minutes reading and outlining and then 45 minutes writing your document. The more efficient you get with practice, the more you can draft while you are still in the reading phase. This will give you more time to polish your work at the end.
The MPT is a challenge that is most definitely worth your time and attention during bar prep. Be sure not to ignore it!
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