Many students struggle with how to tackle the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The trouble with the MPT, of course, is time. The problems are not generally particularly complex, but when you are trying to process and sort through a large amount of material in a short period of time, even simple things feel complicated. That’s why the most important key to success on the MPT is to have a plan of action for how you will tackle it.
It’s important to spend time reading the assignment memo so that you understand what your role is and what type of document you have to draft. Make sure you jot down all of the tasks, so that you don’t forget to do any pieces of what you are asked to do.
Then, it’s best to jump to the library. Read the statues and cases so that you know the rules you are working with. Elementize the rules so you can see how they are structured. What tests will you need to apply?
Once you have a sense of the rules, go back to the file. Understanding the rules will help you decide which facts are relevant to each part of your analysis.
It’s important to spend enough time reading and outlining, before you dive into writing. The bar examiners recommend that you spend half the time (a full 45 minutes if you are taking the exam without extended time) on this process. That suggestion illustrates the importance of planning. Rushing that process will cost you time later as you will have to re-read the material multiple times to figure out where to go.
You can tweak the plan to suit your own needs, but make sure that you have a plan, and that you practice using your plan multiple times. You want to practice the task as you will have to do it on exam day. That means that if you are taking the exam in a state where you will have to do two MPTs back to back, you should practice doing two MPTs back to back multiple times. Force yourself to stop the first MPT after 90 minutes and move on to the second. You don’t want to get caught up spending all of your time on one MPT.
It is important, however, to make it look like a finished document. So, even if you’re running out of time, you should conclude. If you have a detailed outline written out, keep it there. You may get partial credit if the grader can see where you were going.
If you have gotten through law school, you have drafted legal documents with more complex arguments . Remember that you are more than capable of doing whatever task they throw at you. Most of the time, you will be asked to draft a memo, brief, or letter. If it is a different type of document, everyone else will be as thrown off as you will be. (And remember, you just need to be where most people are in order to pass the bar.)
Follow instructions. The bar examiners are testing your ability to follow instructions, synthesize rules, sort relevant and irrelevant facts, analogize to cases, and draft a document that looks like something a first year associate would draft. You have all of those skills. Your task is simply to show them what you can do.
A very helpful article on what bar examiners are looking for when grading the MPT can be found here. It’s from the bar examiners themselves!