Five Tips To Save Time On The MPT
In our opinion, the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of the bar exam. By that we mean that you can get a lot of points from this portion on of the exam and yet you don’t have to know any law to do well. Then, after practicing, they realize that they have timing issues. The MPT does ask a lot of the examinee in the 90 minute window provided. But, a timing issue can definitely be overcome. See our tips on how to save time on the MPT below.
Five Tips To Save Time On The MPT
1. Memorize the General Structure of Each Task.
Every MPT will give you a task. Some tasks are more common than others. For instance, memos and persuasive briefs are the most heavily tested “tasks” on the MPT. However, you might need to draft an opinion letter or a demand letter. Or, you could get an “odd” task—such as a complaint, or a bench memo. Regardless of the task, there is definite amount of points allotted to knowing the basic structure of the task presented. In other words, if they ask you to draft a memo, you are expected to know the basic structure of a memo.
One big mistake we see students make, time and time again, when it comes to both timing and losing valuable points, is not knowing the basic structure of these tasks. So, to save time on the MPT, when you study, be sure to memorize the basic structure of each task. Then, when you practice an MPT, after you read the task memo to learn what they are expecting you do to, you can immediately insert the basic format of the task. This will not only help you keep organized, but if you have it memorized it will only take you a brief few minutes. By doing this early on, you will keep the rest of your work organized as you go—instead of waiting until later to do the basic formatting, which may require re-working a lot of your already completed work product and wasting time.
For more information on the frequency of tasks tested, see our MPT frequency chart.
To see a breakdown of the structures of each task, read our MPT attack post here –– it gives you the format of each type of MPT.
2. Read the Task Memo First.
The first tip to saving time on the MPT is having a good approach. The first step in your good approach should be to read the task memo first. The task memo will tell you exactly what you are to do, and the things that you should be paying attention to while you read the library and the file. The task memo is SO important because it will tell you if there are parts of the memo or brief that they want you to omit. Paying attention to this is KEY to making sure that you don’t waste time on the MPT. You don’t want to fall into the trap of analyzing something that the task memo specific told you to ignore. Or writing a statement of facts if you are specifically told not to.
Now, going back to tip number 1 above, once you read your task memo you should insert the basic format of the task on your computer (or in your blue book). That way you already have something down on your paper and that will help keep the rest of your work organized as you move through the library and the file and will overall save you time.
3. Handle the Material in the Correct Order.
All of these tips build on one another (if you couldn’t tell!). After you read the task memo and have the basic outline or structure of your assignment in your document, you should then move onto reading the library. It is important that if you want to save time on the MPT that you work in the correct order. By starting with the library you will know what is important before you start to sift through the file and all of the facts. This is especially true if you have some cases in your library—pay attention to the facts that the court relies upon in making its decision and those facts will be important in your scenario.
Once you master timing or get more comfortable with this approach, some students find it helpful to skim the file before hoping into the library. That is fine too. But, in our opinion, if you struggle to get the assignment done in the 90 minutes, you should start your practice by reading the task memo, then the library and then the file.
4. Save Time on the MPT by Working While Reading.
One of the most important tips to save time on the MPT is to work while you read. Many students find that they spend too much time reading. By the time they to get typing, they can’t complete the task. To avoid this error, you should start working immediately. By that we mean right after you read the task memo you should have the basic structure of your assignment on your document. Then, while reading the library, you should jot down the case name or the statute and some notes regarding the law.
But, to be clear, this does not mean that you should brief the cases! Instead , you should write the rule of law and then jot down a few notes regarding the court’s reasoning. The MPT is testing to see if you can extract the rule and apply to it to the circumstances presented. If you have a statute and some cases, read the material in the order provided. However, note that you may need to read the cases to understand what parts of the statute apply to your facts. If you have two issues, you can organize by placing the cases or statutes and your notes under the applicable headings. That way, you are working on the macro organization right off the bat.
The take-a-way is that if you want to save time on the MPT, you should get in the habit of working while you read. Once you have notes from the library, you can move onto the file and take note of any applicable facts, based on the law that you just extracted from the library. Before you know it, you will have covered all of the material and you just have to weave it together.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Start practicing early. The best way to save time on the MPT is to learn how to do a MPT efficiently. So, take a look at your bar review schedule and start at the front end. That way if you encounter a timing issue, or if you find that certain tasks are harder for you than others, there is time to fix it. Remember that there are a lot of points to be realized from the MPT portion of the bar examination. Furthermore, it is a portion of the exam that you don’t actually have to know any law for! Start with the most common tasks and work your way towards “odd” or “wildcard” tasks. For help on how to create a MPT study schedule, click here.
If you want more information on what the MPT or Multistate Performance Test is, click here. However, many students put off practicing this portion of the exam until the very last minute. For another article about how the MPT is scored click here.
Meagan Jabbori, a JD Advising bar exam tutor and course instructor, wrote this post. Meagan scored in the 96th percentile on the Uniform Bar Exam. She has helped hundreds of students pass the bar exam, including the MPT portion of the bar exam.
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Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising. Ms. Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011 after graduating as the #1 student in her law school class of over 200 students in 2011. She, as well as a team of others, offer bar exam courses, seminars, and private tutoring for bar exam students nationwide. This includes services for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions.