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How to Pass the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is a lawyerly exercise that requires examinees to complete a task that is outlined in the memo. The task could be something like drafting a persuasive brief, or an objective memo. In order to complete the task, students must critically evaluate and analyze the information provided in the file and the library.  Many students wonder how to pass the Multistate Performance Test, and how to study for it in an efficient way.

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 state, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score. Thus, it is worth spending some time developing an approach to this portion of the exam! Below are some tips to help you to maximize your review for the MPT.

How to Pass the Multistate Performance Test

1. Complete a practice MPT under timed conditions.

Before you start reviewing for the MPT,  complete a practice MPT under timed conditions. Once you complete the MPT, set aside time to self-grade your answer (preferably on the same day or the day after) using the bar examiners’ MPT point sheets. You can access some MPTs and grading sheets from previous exams for free here. Pay attention to how you organized your answer, whether you spotted the key issues, extracted the law accurately and used the relevant facts. Note whether timing was an issue for you (and if it is, see this post on how to improve your timing on the MPT!)

Be very honest during this self-assessment and make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you structure your review.

2. Read the task memo carefully!

The first step to any MPT is reading the task memo, which is the first document in the file. The task memo will tell you your assignment (e.g., objective memorandum, persuasive brief, client letter, demand letter, etc.). It will also provide you with basic facts about your client’s case. Sometimes the task memo will even help you structure you answer (e.g., which causes of action are available to your client and his or her likelihood of success). If at any time you forget the objective of your assignment go back to the task memo to reorient yourself.

It is good to make it a habit to periodically review it to make sure you are following directions. So many people fail the MPTs for a simple lack of paying attention to directions!

3. Apply the facts from the file to the law that you extracted from the library.

Examinees often spend too much time briefing a case in the library and do not spend enough time reviewing and using the facts contained in the file. The most important facts are those contained in the file! In order to get a passing score apply facts from the file to the rules extracted from the library. Do your best to include citations (e.g., case names or the title of a specific document in the library).

Use IRAC when writing your answer. This will make your answer organized and easy to read.

4. Try different strategies with different types of libraries.

You may encounter three different types of libraries – case-based, statute-based, or a mix of statutes and cases. Depending on the type of library, it may make sense to read the task memo, remainder of the file, and then the library. Or it may make more sense to read the task memo first, then the library, and then the remainder of the file. Try both of these approaches with each type of MPT and see which one you are more comfortable with.

5. Familiarize yourself with the most commonly tested MPT tasks.

The bar examiners tend to assign more persuasive briefs and objective memoranda. See this post for a Multistate Performance Test chart which shows you what was tested in past years.

Over the last 10 years, persuasive briefs and objective memoranda comprised approximately 70% of all MPT tasks! Therefore, it is worth spending the time reviewing these types of tasks. Pay attention to how the task memo is written for each of these tasks. What special directions are provided regarding the formatting, including headings? In addition to the bar examiners’ MPT point sheets, it is also useful to look at student answers. On the Georgia Bar Admissions website, you can find MPT questions and two high-scoring student answers for each MPT beginning with the July 2011 exam. This gives you an idea of what an actual examinee wrote in 90 minutes and it is an invaluable resource.

If you are looking for tips on writing an objective memorandum, please see this post. If you are looking for tips on writing a persuasive brief, please see this post.

However, don’t completely neglect the other kinds of MPT tasks. Try a few of the less-common MPTs too, to make sure you have a game plan set up just in case!

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