How To Self-Grade Your Practice MPT
How to Self-Grade Your Practice MPT: As you begin to practice MPTs, do your best to complete them under timed conditions. After writing out your answer, compare your response to the NCBE’s Point Sheets. You will find Point Sheets at the end of each MPT file on the NCBE website. The MPTs and Point Sheets from February 2007 through July 2011 are available for free under the Study Aids section of the NCBE website. To access the Point Sheets for more recent MPT questions, you may purchase our MPT books in our online store.
Bear in mind that the Point Sheets are not representative of what people will write in 90 minutes. Rather, they are a detailed summary of all the issues, and include all the law extracted from the library, as well as the facts you could have used to in your analysis to arrive at your conclusion. Thus, we recommend that in addition to using the points sheets, you also look at a student answer to see what you should realistically be able to write. There are free sources of student answers (which we explain below). We also include student answers in our MPT books.
Below are some tips to help you self-grade your practice MPT.
How To Self-Grade Your Practice MPT
Keep in mind that each state scores MPTs differently, but to simplify matters, grade your MPT using a 6-point scale. To get an idea of what a certain number of points means, consult the Washington State Bar Association’s grading rubric. When grading yourself on a 6-point scale, you want to aim to get a raw score of 4 or higher. They define a score of 4 as follows:
A 4 answer demonstrates an average answer. A 4 answer usually indicates that the applicant has a fair understanding of the practical and academic aspects of the task. It also shows the student understands enough of the relevant factual and legal materials to incorporate them into a relatively satisfactory, albeit less than completely responsive, product in the time allotted.
Self-grade your practice MPT in increments of .25 (e.g., if you analyze an issue well, award yourself .5 points for spotting an analyzing the issue). In determining your score, here are some things to look out for:
1. Did you spot most or all of the issues?
To begin, the MPT does not always test the same issues, and each issue carries different weight. You can figure out which issues carry the most weight by seeing how lengthy the Examiners’ analysis was for each. For example, the MPT Point Sheet for the February 2015 MPT: In re Harrison asked students to analyze Harrison’s likelihood of success if he pursued an inverse condemnation claim. The library explicitly mentioned four possible inverse condemnation theories: (1) total regulatory taking, (2) partial regulatory taking, (3) land use exaction, and (4) the substantial advancement test. Looking at the Point Sheet, the total and partial regulatory taking theories make up the majority of the analysis.
2. Did you extract the necessary law from the library?
The next step to self-grade your practice MPT is to determine which issues you spotted. Then, check and see whether your rule statements are consistent with the statements of law in the Point Sheet. Your score shows the relative accuracy and detail of your rule statements.
3. Did you apply the law from the library to the facts in the file?
Your analysis is worth the majority of the points. First, check whether you included the facts highlighted in the point sheet that you should have extracted from the file. At the end of the day, these are the most important facts! For example, in the case of In re Harrison, your analysis at the very least should include how much Harrison purchased the land for, his intended use for the land, how much profit he expected to make if he developed the land, his monetary losses if the land remained undeveloped, etc.
Second, confirm you analyzed these facts correctly (e.g., an analysis of a plaintiff’s investment-backed expectations is irrelevant to a total regulatory taking analysis).
Third, award yourself points if you took the time to distinguish the facts of the cases in the library, if provided, with the facts that you extracted from the file. Distinguishing the facts will help you boost your score to a 5 or 6. The Point Sheet cites the key facts from the cases that could have been included in your analysis.
4. Did you arrive at the correct conclusion?
If you arrived at the same conclusion as the Point Sheet, that’s great! But do not be disheartened if you reached a differing conclusion. As you read through the Point Sheet, the Examiners note when award points for a well reasoned, albeit differing, conclusion. For example, with respect to the total regulatory taking analysis in In re Harrison, the Examiners explained: “Those examinees who conclude that a value of a few hundred dollars per acre is only a “token” value for which compensation is required may also receive credit if they apply the Newpark factors and distinguish Newpark and Lucas.”
5. Did you organize your answer well?
Many MPTs provide organizing instructions for your answer, including, for example, whether to include a “statement of facts.” See whether you followed instructions so your answer was coherent, concise and well organized. Was your answer in easy to read paragraphs? Did you use headings? Did you format your answer to look like a memo, brief, letter, etc.? To get an idea of how to organize your answer for an MPT assigned from July 2011 onwards, take some time to read high-scoring student answers on the Georgia Bar Admissions website. If you’d rather not spend a lot of time searching for answers online, you can purchase our MPT books here.
6. Did you struggle with timing?
Be honest with yourself when you make this assessment. Your answer should reflect any timing issues. Still, keep a list of how long it takes you to complete each MPT. Did it take you an extra five minutes? Did it take you an extra 30 minutes? If you have timing issues, address them from the very beginning. That way, you can complete your answer within 90 minutes on exam day!
We hope this post helps you to self-grade your practice MPT! If you follow these tips for self-grading you will know exactly what issues you need to work on to improve your MPT score!
Christine, one of our bar exam tutors, wrote this post. Christine has passed three bar exams, including California, New York, and New Jersey. She also scored in the 95th percentile on the MBE, and specializes in helping students raise their MPT scores.
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