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Last-Minute Outlining Tips

How To Write A High-Scoring MPT Answer

Are you struggling with your MPT score? Are you tired of trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t? Don’t give up yet! Below are a few tips to help you boost your MPT score.

How To Write A High-Scoring MPT Answer

1. Answer all of the questions asked in the task memo.

Yes- always read the task memo first. This is advice we all hear consistently. But don’t passively read the task memo. Instead, underline or highlight key facts and the issues that you need to answer.  Use your task memo to make a brief outline. With the stress of exam conditions, it is easy to forget to address all the nuances of the questions asked.

Read the memo at the beginning, and then read over it again as you go through the library to make sure you are extracting the correct rules, and read the memo again before you begin reading the library. Students often lose the most points by forgetting to answer clearly stated questions in the memo. Avoid this!

2. Organize your answer appropriately.

Are you writing an objective memo? A persuasive brief? An opinion letter? A demand letter? Or something else? Regardless of the task, always follow the instructions in the task memo and any guidelines in the file (usually found on the page after the task memo) concerning how to organize your answer. The organization for all of the tasks is not the same, so it will not mimic what you learned in your legal research and writing class in law school!

Discuss each issue in its own paragraph and follow IRAC. Bar graders don’t have much time to read each answer. So, use headings for all of the key issues as well as any sub-issues. Make it easy for the graders to follow your argument.

3. Distinguish the facts in the file from those in the cases.

Do not waste your time writing lengthy case briefs or forget to apply the rules you extracted from the library to the facts in the file! But take your analysis one step further – see whether the facts of your client’s case are similar or different from those in the case. The easiest way to do this is to focus on the facts that a court highlights in its reasoning, and then see whether the facts mirror the case (or not).

4. Don’t assume you know the law being tested!

Maybe you have an MPT question that deals with landlord-tenant issues. Since you spent your entire 2L summer working on housing issues, you know the law. However, this does not make you an expert on that MPT question!

The bar examiners often modify or truncate the laws, especially statutes. So make  sure to read the library carefully and only include the rules of law that you extract from the library. Do not include any issues not raised by the task memo, cases or statutes. You will not accrue points for discussing legal issues that are not relevant to answering the questions posed by the task memo.

5. Don’t let time get the best of you!

If you are in a UBE jurisdiction you will have to complete 2 MPTs in 3 hours (90 minutes per question). Do not make the mistake of spending more than 90 minutes on the first MPT. Even if you have more information to add, force yourself to move on to the next question.  You will lose many points if you fail to complete a question – the benefit gained by answering one MPT more completely does not outweigh the points you will lose on the second question. The only way to perfect your timing is by practicing under timed conditions at home! It’s never good to lose points, but it feels worse losing points when you know the answer but don’t have time to write it.