Intro To The MPT: What It Is, And How To Conquer it!


Intro To The MPT: What It Is, And How To Conquer it!

The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is a fairly new bar examination that has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Three parts make up the UBE: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

Many students ask us “What is the MPT?” In this post, we give an overview of the MPT and offer some tips on what you can do to conquer the MPT.

Intro To The MPT: What It Is, And How To Conquer it!

What is the MPT?

The MPT is one of three components of the UBE. It consists of two, 90-minute “real world” legal tasks and is worth 20% of your total UBE score. The MPT tests real-life legal tasks that attorneys often face in practice, such as drafting a complaint, objective memorandum or client letter.

Unlike the other portions of the UBE, a student does not have to bring any outside legal knowledge to the MPT. Rather, the MPT is meant to test a student’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a simulated work-like environment. In fact, the bar examiners actually provide you all the factual material and legal knowledge you need to answer the question.

What does the MPT consist of?

During the MPT, you will receive some kind of assignment from a pretend “boss” that is usually in the form of a letter, e-mail or other communication. Some examples of MPT assignments include drafting a persuasive brief, objective memorandum, demand letter or opinion letter.

Students receive two sets of documents for each MPT: (1) the File, and (2) the Library.

1. The File contains a Task Memo and Factual Documents.

Task Memo: This document tells you what you’re supposed to do. Pay close attention to the directions! So often students lose points because they don’t follow directions. The task memo will tell you the kind of document you’re supposed to write, who your audience is, the tone of the document (i.e. whether it should be persuasive or objective), and any specific issues that need to be addressed.

Factual Documents: These documents may include deposition transcripts, interviews, pleadings, discovery documents, etc. Keep in mind not every document will be necessary to answer the question. Also keep in mind that some of the documents might be incomplete, ambiguous or conflicting, just like in the “real world.”

2. The Library contains the law.

This could be in the form of case law, statutes, rules, regulations, or some other form. Like the factual documents, some law may be relevant and some may not. Read everything contained in the library—including all footnotes! Also, don’t assume you know the law that’s contained in the library! Even if you think you do, the bar examiners may have changed the law for purposes of the MPT.

Our Top 5 Tips for Succeeding on the MPT

Now that you’re well versed in what the MPT is, here are five of our best tips for acing the MPT.

1. Answer every question in the task memo

This may sound obvious, but make sure you read the whole task memo. Do this first thing when you open the MPT booklet. Underline and/or highlight key facts and the issues you need to answer.

Don’t discuss issues that are not raised by the task memo. You’ll earn no points by answering questions the examiners did not ask. Also, don’t hesitate to go back and review the task memo to make sure you’re staying on track. We highly recommend that our students refer to the task memo during their writing.

2. Know how to format the most highly tested MPT tasks.

The two most commonly tested tasks on the MPT are objective memoranda and persuasive briefs. Make sure you know how to properly format these two tasks!

While the format may change slightly depending on the task memo’s specific instructions, the general structure remains the same. If you know how to correctly organize your answer, it will save you time during the exam and maximize the points the graders award you.

Here are some of our tips on how to format a persuasive brief and objective memo.

3. Use IRAC format!

No matter what task you get,  for all of the common tasks you always want to frame your answer in IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) format. Discuss each aspect in its own paragraph.

Make sure to clear state the issue in your heading. Next, discuss the relevant law you extracted from the Library. Start by reciting the most general rules and then discuss the more specific rules. Then, move on to your analysis. Emphasize whether the facts in the File are similar or different from the facts in the cases provided. To do so, focus on the facts the courts highlight in their reasoning and see whether or not your facts mirror those cases.

4. Practice timed MPTs for every type of task.

During the UBE, you have to complete 2 MPTs in 3 hours. In other words, you’ve got 90 minutes per MPT. This is not very much time. Too often, students doing practice MPTs make the mistake of not timing themselves. Don’t make the same mistake!

If you practice under test-like conditions and pay attention to time, you’ll know well in advance if timing on the MPT will be an issue for you.  If it is, you’ll have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments. However, if you don’t practice under timed conditions, chances are you’ll run out of time on the MPT before you can fully answer the question. Also, keep in mind that if you’re comfortable with timing on one particular type of MPT task, it does not mean you won’t have timing issues on other tasks.

5. Compare your MPT answers to high-scoring student answers.

Finally, take the time to self-grade your practice MPTs by comparing your answers to high-scoring student answers. This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. It will also give you an idea of what kind of answers the graders are looking for. A great resource for past MPT questions and sample student answers can be found at the Georgia Bar Admissions website. We’ve also written a blog post on how to effectively self-grade your own MPTs.

Kate, who is a practicing attorney in southeast Michigan, wrote this post.

Additional Uniform Bar Exam Resources:

If you are looking for additional help to prepare for the Uniform Bar Exam, we offer the following resources:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.

Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam.  Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.