Six Tips to Improve Your Timing on the MPT: The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is a lawyerly exercise that requires examinees to complete a task that is outlined in a memo. In order to complete the task, students must critically evaluate and analyze information provided in the file and the library.
The MPT is worth a significant percentage of an examinee’s overall score on many bar exams. For example, if you are in Uniform Bar Exam jurisdiction, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score. In California, the MPT is worth 26% of the overall score. Many students believe that because no outside law is required to complete this section that they do not need to spend much time preparing for this section. However, even when students feel comfortable analyzing the documents in the file and the cases and statutes in the library, they often run out of time while writing their answer and get a low score. This can make the difference between passing and failing the bar exam. Here are some tips to help you improve your timing on the MPT:
Six Tips to Improve your Timing on the MPT
- Read the Table of Contents
Take a couple minutes to read the table of contents for the MPT. This will give you an idea about the length of the file and library and help you determine how much time to spend on each section. Additionally, the table of contents will tell you whether your legal argument will be based on cases or a combination of cases and statutes. It often takes students slightly longer to read and analyze statutes, so knowing the content of the library before you begin the task can help you manage your time.
- Do Not Write Complete Case Briefs
When reviewing the cases in the library, do not spend the majority of your time writing a case brief. Prioritize your time by first extracting the relevant rule of law. Then, if you have time, summarize the key facts of the case in a few sentences. The MPT is not an exercise in briefing a case, but rather distinguishing the cases provided from the facts provided in the file.
- Pay Attention to Footnotes
When reading cases pay attention to footnotes. Footnotes will elaborate on the holding of a case or provide an example of how the law was applied in another case. This will help you to draft your legal argument.
- Take Half of the Time Allotted to Simultaneously Read the File and Library and Outline Your Answer
As you read the task memo, file and library, make sure to create your outline. Not only will this help you organize your answer, it will help you with your time management. For example, if you find that you have eight issues that you need to discuss and you write out each issue as you go along (e.g., Does the present sense hearsay exception apply to X’s statement?), you are less likely to spend too much time on the first few issues and hurry through your analysis for the remainder of the issues.
- Write Citations While Outlining Your Answer
When you are reading the library and file, determine which rules you are going to use from each case or which statements you are going to use from an interview, and include the necessary citation. This way you will save yourself time from looking up which case or document to cite when you are writing your response. Examinees do get points for formatting their responses correctly, which includes the use of citations.
- Practice Timing Yourself at Home
It is a good idea to practice MPTs under timed conditions to see whether you are able to read and analyze all the documents provided in half of the time allotted. This is a key way to improve your timing on the MPT by finding out what is best for you. Some students find it easier to read through the library before reading the file or vice versa. When you practice at home try both approaches to see what works best for you. You want to feel comfortable with your approach to the MPT before you walk into the exam.
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