What is the MPT?

Well this is it! You have made it to the third and final section of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). After today you will have a complete understanding of the basics of each section1See my previous posts for an explanation of the MBE and the MEE! and we can go a little further into study strategies for each. So without further ado, I present to you the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). This section of the UBE happens to be my favorite section of the exam. Why you ask? Great question hypothetical blog reader. It is because you do not technically need to study any law for this section of the bar exam. You read that correctly. No need to study the law for this section. Before we get into how that is possible let’s start with the basics. 

The MPT is the first section you will see on Day 1 of the UBE. You will have 3 hours in the morning to complete two MPTs, giving you 90 minutes per MPT. The MPT usually counts for about 20% of your overall Bar Exam score. The MPT is a closed world2“Closed world” simply means that you only use the information that they provide to complete your task. You do not need to and should not consider any legal knowledge or rules that you know from outside the MPT. problem that you must adjust writing style based upon your reader. It is designed to mimic a task that first year associate may get at a law firm or elsewhere in practice and tests your ability to “think like a lawyer”. These situations can be almost anything. The most frequent types you will see are an objective memorandum analyzing an area of law for a judge/managing partner/etc. or a persuasive legal brief arguing for a specific outcome in a case. However, the MPT is not limited to these types of tasks. It can literally be anything, the Bar Examiners may even throw something new at you that has never been seen before on any exam.3Excited yet? Some other tasks that have been tested are: drafting a letter to a client, a contract, a demand letter to opposing counsel, Articles of Incorporation, a Mediation statement, opening statement at trial, a will, and the list goes on. 

Now earlier I mentioned that you do not need to study the law for this, but how does that work? With the MPT, the Bar Examiners give you all the information that you need. Each MPT has a Task Memo that begins to explain your task, a File that provides documents that set out the facts of your case, and a Library that includes applicable statutes and cases. Often times, the MPT will be based on an actual legal question in the real world, but do not assume that you the law. The law they give you in the Library is the ONLY law you should follow and will frequently differ from the law you may have learned in law school. This is why it is crucial to go into each MPT not assuming any law and ready to read through and organize the material they provide.  You should also be ready to change your writing style based on the task you are given and the audience you are writing for.4You may be asking “But isn’t our audience the Bar Examiners?” Technically you are correct, but in the MPT world you are pretending to be an associate attorney writing this document to a specific person like the managing partner or a Judge, so you may need to adjust your writing style (persuasive or objective) based on who that reader is and the task you are asked to complete.

Your biggest hurdle on the MPT? Just like the MBE and MEE, it is your time management. Any law school graduate can complete any of these sections of the UBE with unlimited time and do a very good job, but you won’t have that unlimited time. So you will have to manage reading all of the provided MPT material (which could be upwards of 10-20 pages), figure out your task (which is not always immediately apparent), organize your answer, then write your answer all within 90 minutes. The best way to combat the timing aspect of the MPT is practice. This takes me back to my original point and my love for the MPT.5Yes, I know, I am a nerd and I embrace that. NERDS UNITE! You do not need to study law, but you do need to practice the MPT. Learning the best and most timely method of doing an MPT is essential to doing well on this section. Once you develop that method, then you need to practice it with a ton of MPTs to make sure that method becomes second nature to you, innate to your very being.6Dramatic, I know. But this helps me prove my point. And once you have that method down, you can do ANY MPT that the bar Examiners throw at you and get that 20% of the UBE without having to study any law. Don’t you love the MPT now too? 

And there you have it! You now know the basics of each UBE section. Now we can start developing your skills so you can crush the bar exam! And a special good luck to all those law school graduates taking the July Exam this month, you will CRUSH IT!


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    Meet the Author
    Stephen Iannacone is Director of Academic Success at Cardozo School of Law and a Bar Exam Coach at Vinco. Prior to joining Cardozo School of Law, Stephen was a trial attorney at the law firm of Spiegel & Barbato, LLP. He specialized in civil litigation in all New York venues and argued several appeals in the First Department. He was also an adjunct professor at Pace Law School where he taught classes to third-year students preparing for the Bar Exam as well as classes to second-year students focusing on legal writing and analysis. Read more about Stephen >