What is the MPT?

The abbreviation MPT is used to refer to the Multistate Performance Test – one of the Uniform Bar Exam components. Created by the NCBE or National Conference of Bar Examiners, this test is administered in the majority of states. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, as even states that have chosen not to adopt the UBE have opted to administer this component.

Therefore, as the MPT forms a major element in most prospective lawyers’ bar exam, it’s important to examine the format, skills and subjects that will be tested and to find out how to register for it.

In this overview, we’ll take a look at all of these elements so that you can be well-prepared when the time comes for you to take this all-important examination.

What is the Format of the Multistate Performance Test?

The format of the MPT will depend on which jurisdiction you are taking the test in. It can be either a single 90-minute test section or two separate sections. In jurisdictions where the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam) has been adopted, the 2-part exam will be administered. The MPT in such cases will be weighted at 20 percent of the entire UBE score.

In the MPT, you will be required to show your capabilities when it comes to navigating the complex realities of real-world law practice. In the exam, you are given a library containing all the relevant regulations, case law and statutes as well as a file with a wealth of other information that ranges from deposition transcripts to assigning memos.

Although this sounds quite overwhelming, it’s important to look for the positives – all of the research into the legal matters has been done already on your behalf!

When you read the file, you’ll find a memo that instructs you to supply your own written response utilizing a specific format. Those formats include:

  • A letter to be sent to a client
  • A memorandum to be sent to a supervising attorney
  • A persuasive brief or memorandum
  • A contract provision
  • A statement of facts
  • A will
  • A proposal for an agreement or settlement
  • A counseling plan
  • A discovery plan
  • A closing argument
  • A witness examination plan

While this may appear at first glance to be a vast variety of possible formats, you should bear in mind that you almost certainly will have had prior experience in writing most of these kinds of documents before, whether during your summer internship or as part of a legal writing course.

Skills and Subjects on the MPT

Six separate skills are examined when you take the MPT. These include:

  • Problem solving
  • Factual analysis
  • Legal reasoning and analysis
  • Communication
  • Recognition and resolving of ethical dilemmas
  • Organizing and managing legal tasks

In every section of the MPT you are asked to demonstrate at least one of those skills as you work on solving the problem the fictional client is facing.

Although there’s no need to carry out the first step of the process, undertaking all the essential legal research, it’s still necessary to check all the regulations and laws that you are presented with before applying them effectively to the scenario that you are presented with.

It’s important to note that the MPT doesn’t test substantive legal knowledge – rather, it examines your skills when it comes to sifting through statutes, cases, rules and regulations to analyze problems before writing a compelling and cohesive response in a given format. Although this sounds worrying, bear in mind that over the past 3 years at law school you’ve been developing these exact skills, so you should be well-prepared for this test!

How to Register for the MPT

The Multistate Performance Test is carried out as part of your bar examination in different jurisdictions in July and February every year. The test is always held on the Tuesday that comes before the final Wednesday of those months.

Not all jurisdictions require you to undertake the MPT. However, if yours does, you make your registration for the test at the same time as making your application for the bar exam. You can get started with the process by creating an NCBE account.

When you register, you receive your own unique NCBE number and you’ll need this to register in your jurisdiction with its own board of bar examiners. This number will also be required when you register for the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam).

This is a test that is separately administered from the bar exam. It is required to be taken by prospective lawyers in all jurisdictions with the exception of five.

Depending on which state you are in, the date on which registration is required for your bar exam will be different. Therefore, you need to ensure that you’ve checked with your own local bar examiners board to find the precise dates your own state’s bar exam will be administered.

Top Tips for Acing the MPT

Now you know all about what is involved in taking the MPT, these tips will help you to succeed when you take the test.

Answer all the questions provided in your task memo. Although this sounds obvious, it’s important to remember to read the entire task memo. You need to do this first as soon as you open your MPT booklet. The first step is to highlight or underline all the key issues and facts that have to be addressed. Avoid discussing any issues which aren’t raised in the task memo. There are no points to be earned if you answer questions that weren’t asked by the examiners. Regularly go back to review your task memo, as this will ensure you’re still on track.

Know the format for the most frequently tested MPT tasks. Most frequently, the two tasks that appear on the MPT are persuasive briefs and objective memoranda. It’s vital to know the proper formats for both those tasks. Although the format will be slightly different depending on the specific instructions for each task memo, you’ll find that generally the structure is similar. If you’re aware of how your answer should be correctly organized, you’ll save time on your test and you’ll also be able to maximize your score.

Use the IRAC format. Whatever type of task you face on your MPT, you should always frame the answer you provide in IRAC format (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion). Each aspect should be discussed in a separate paragraph. Ensure the issue is cleared stated in the heading, then discuss all the relevant laws that you’ve taken from the library. Begin by citing more general rules before discussing specific rules. Finally, move onto the analysis, emphasizing whether the facts provided in the file are different from or similar to the facts that are in the case you’ve been provided with.

Take timed practice tests. The MPT is a timed test, so make sure to practice timing yourself so that you don’t run out of time on the big day. Practicing under test conditions will let you know if timing is likely to present a problem and will give you enough time to make the required adjustments.

Compare your answers to those of high-scoring students. Finally, you should take sufficient time to grade your own practice MPTs, comparing the responses you have given to those of high-scoring students. This helps you to identify your own weaknesses and strengths and gives you a better idea of the type of answers that are being sought by the graders.

If you keep these top five tips on board when you’re preparing for your MPT you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success on this all-important component of your bar exam.

Master the MPT

As you are now aware, the MPT or Multistate Performance Test is one of the most important components of your bar exam.  You need to complete either two or one 90-minute tasks depending on the jurisdiction that is administering the bar exam. If you live in one of the jurisdictions that have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam, you will certainly need to complete 2 MPT tasks.

In the MPT, your ability to examine all of the facts and relevant laws relating to a specific case will be thoroughly examined. The test will also examine your ability to rapidly write an effective response addressing the specific problem that has been presented to you.

Although you’ve spent three years honing those skills at law school, it’s still important to spend sufficient time on preparation for this component of your bar exam, and knowing the skills that you’ll need to focus on is imperative. With the tips and advice that we’ve provided here, you should be in a good position to ace your test.