perfect timing on the multistate performance test

How to Perfect Timing On the Multistate Performance Test

The Multistate Performance Test is a critical, yet often overlooked, portion of many bar exams.  If you’re taking the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), then the Multistate Performance Test will comprise 20% of your score!  Many other (non-UBE) states have added a performance test component to their bar exam as well.  In most of the non-UBE states, your MPT score is worth at least 10% of your score. Thus, it is important that you do well on this portion.

In this post we give you three essential tips on how to perfect timing on the Multistate Performance Test.  You can be an excellent writer in general, but without mastering your timing on the Multistate Performance Test, you won’t be able to demonstrate your skills in a way that will gain you points!

How to Perfect Timing On the Multistate Performance Test

  • Approach the material in the most efficient order

The first thing you should always do when approaching a task is to read the task memo.  This will get you in the proper frame of mind before you start getting bogged down in the rest of the material.  You will know exactly how you are supposed to approach the MPT as soon as you read the task memo.

To perfect timing on the Multistate Performance Test, make sure you have the basic structure of all of the different possible tasks memorized!  That way you can get the outline of your final product established before you begin writing.  Check out this post for attack outlines for each type of MPT!  If you have these memorized, you will be saving time by being organized from the start and avoid reworking your writing later.

After you’ve read the task memo, we advise that you read the library before the file.  The library will contain all of the essential legal rules you need to know in order to be able to answer the question.  By reading the library first, you will know what is important and what kinds of facts you need to be looking for in the file.  The file contains a lot of information specific to the case, and not everything will end up being relevant.  Thus, one way to perfect timing on the Multistate Performance Test is to not read the file until you know exactly what kind of facts you need to extract.  This will make your reading of the file much more efficient.

  • Construct your answer as you read

We generally recommend that you take half of the time (45 minutes) to read the material and outline your answer and then spend the other half writing more than reading.  The goal is to know exactly the argument you want to make before you begin writing.  Therefore, to perfect timing on the Multistate Performance Test, try to work on outlining your response and constructing the bones of your argument as you read.  When you read a case, draft the citation immediately so that you don’t have to do it later.  Then write down some basic facts and identify the relevant rule.  If you pull out this information as you go, you won’t have to keep flipping back and forth through all those pages while you’re trying to write.  Start thinking about how best to structure your analysis and start placing information in its relevant location.

When you come across a fact in the file that is relevant to your application of a rule you extracted from a case, add it to that section of your outline.  Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading through all of the documents provided, you have a very good idea of how your argument is going to flow and you’ve already identified the pieces of information that will get you to your conclusion.  Then you can spend the remaining 45 minutes primarily writing (though you will be consulting the library and file as you write).

  • Keep practicing your timing at home

The final tip to perfect timing on the Multistate Performance Test is to practice, practice, practice!  Your first few MPTs are probably going to be a little rough and slow.  That’s ok!  You’ll never get better at this task if you don’t practice!

Don’t wait until the end of your bar prep to start working on MPTs.  You might be confident in your writing abilities, but the Multistate Performance Test is a whole different animal.  You need to practice sorting through all of the material, identifying the relevant information, and crafting an argument in a limited period of time.  And considering there are many different types of tasks that could show up on test day, you need to practice them all enough to become comfortable.  Put a good amount of effort into the MPT section – don’t discount it.  The more you practice, the faster you’ll get, and the more confident you’ll become!

Laura Sigler, who graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School, is a JD Advising Legal Researcher and Essay Grader. 

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