The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is a lawyerly task given on many bar exams. It requires examinees to complete a specific task that is outlined in the memo. Students evaluate information presented in the file and library to complete the task.
The MPT is worth a significant percentage of an examinee’s overall score on many bar exams. For example, if you are in a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) state, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score (which is worth the same as 80 multiple-choice questions!). Non-UBE jurisdictions determine how much weight to allocate to the MPT. (Many of them allocate 10% of the overall score to the MPT.) Regardless, it is worth spending some time developing an efficient approach to the MPT. Below is a basic breakdown of how the MPT is scored and tips to maximize your score.
How Do States Determine the Raw Score on an MPT?
Because states score MPTs differently, it is a good idea to consult your state bar examiners’ website for information about scoring. For example, the Washington State Bar Association has published its grading rubric for the MEE and the MPT. Each MPT is awarded a raw score ranging from 0-6 and is then converted into a scaled score in this UBE state. However, other UBE states may use a different scoring system. For example, the Missouri Board of Law Examiners uses a 10-point scale when assessing raw scores for the MPT.
Non-UBE states have also adopted their own scoring systems. In Illinois, each MPT is awarded a raw score ranging from 0-6. In weighting the essay scores, the MPT answer is weighted 2.25 times that of an individual essay,
Given the differences in scoring rubrics, we recommend that you check online to see whether your state has released information about its scoring methodology.
Five Tips to Maximize Your Raw Score on the MPT
Even though states have different scoring rubrics, a high-scoring answer in any jurisdiction will have the following characteristics in common:
Recognizes the Issues Presented
Always make sure that you answer the question asked of you. The best way to begin framing your answer is by reading the task memo. The task memo will tell you your assignment (e.g., persuasive brief, objective memorandum, client letter, demand letter, etc.). Sometimes the task memo will also tell you the issues to discuss.
For example, the July 2010 MPT In re Hammond told examinees to “draft only the “Body of the Argument” for our Motion to Quash arguing that Walker may not be compelled to give the testimony or produce the materials in question, on the grounds that 1) under the Franklin Rules Professional Conduct, she is prohibited from disclosing client communications, and 2) she has the privilege under the Franklin Rules of Evidence not to disclose confidential communications.” Therefore, a high-scoring answer would have discussed how the Franklin Rules of Professional Conduct and the Franklin Rules of Evidence do not compel Walker to provide testimony or turn over relevant documents.
Uses Relevant Facts in the File
A high-scoring answer will include as many relevant facts as possible from the file. For example, if you have an MPT that requires you to make changes to contract provisions, take the time find and include facts in your answer that support your decision to redraft the terms. In contrast, a low-scoring answer will generally provide conclusory statements and merely allude to the facts.
Thoroughly Extracts the Law from the Library
For each section of your legal argument make sure that you include the applicable law, including any nuances. Do the cases indicate that there are several legal approaches to analyze an issue? If so, make sure to assess your client’s case under each approach. Or do the cases indicate that the court uses a multi-factor balancing test in its assessment of a particular issue? If so, make sure to write down all of the factors and note how each factor is weighted if this information is provided.
Distinguishes Client’s Case from the Cases in the Library (assuming there are cases provided)
The best answers provide short case summaries, which iterate the facts, holding, and the court’s reasoning in two or three sentences. In the analysis section, high-scoring answers spend time distinguishing the facts of the client’s case from the cases provided in the library. Low-scoring answers often make the mistake of regurgitating long quotations and passages from the case. This eats into the allotted time and leaves almost no time to distinguish the client’s case from the cases provided.
Properly Organizes and Formats the MPT answer
The graders award points to a properly formatted answer (e.g., did you write your answer to look like an objective memorandum or persuasive brief?).
Additionally, high-scoring answers will include strongly crafted headings in the legal argument section and basic case citations. The goal is to draft a cohesive, well-structured response in the time allotted. Do not merely provide a skeleton outline and only fill in some of the blanks.
Looking for MPT Help?
We offer the following MPT products and services:
- An MPT seminar for those seeking help on how to tackle the MPT.
- MPT private tutoring for those seeking one-on-one help to pass the MPT.