The Smart Guide to the MPT

A Guide to Mastering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)


10 MPT Studying Tips to
Increase Your Score

We are constantly asked by examinees on how they can increase their MPT score.  To help, we have compiled our top practice and studying tips to do well on the MPT!

1. Read the general MPT Directions prior to taking the exam.

Even though the general MPT Directions are contained on the back cover of your test booklet, you NEVER want to waste time reading these directions on test day.  

The MPT Directions are freely available on the NCBE website, so make sure you review them prior to the exam.  The current MPT Directions (also called “Instructions for Taking the MPT”) can be found here or here.

2. Practice Smarter… Prioritize your Studying by Focusing on the Highly Tested MPT Question Types (aka Tasks).

Optimize your MPT performance by practicing the HIGHLY tested MPT Tasks more often than the lesser tested Tasks.  Remember that certain MPT Tasks are tested in a higher percentage than others, so it’s better to spend more time practicing those questions… just don’t completely ignore the lesser tested Tasks. 

You can use our Free MPT Frequency Analysis to prioritize your studying – it shows how often and the percentage each MPT Task was tested.

3. Have an Efficient Strategy for Reviewing the File & Library.

The key to doing well on the MPT is knowing how to properly manage your time.  To do that, we strongly recommend that you have a pre-determined approach on how you will tackle an MPT question on exam day – meaning how you will review the File & Library and draft your answer all within 90-minutes.

Having an approach will make the exam much less stressful, and you can practice it prior to the exam so it will be second nature when taking the actual test.

For a detailed overview of how to efficiently review the File & Library, including a detailed time allocation, see Chapter 5 of this guide.

4. Know how to format the commonly tested MPT tasks.

Knowing how to structure the commonly tested MPT assignments helps you streamline the process on exam day.  This will not only save you time, but also take the stress out of the MPT.

To help with this, we put together MPT Templates that can be found in Chapters 11 through 14 of this guide.

5. Review all of the “uncommon” MPT Tasks from past exams.

Every so often, the MPT has asked examinees to draft what we call an “uncommon” task.  These are new or rarely tested tasks, but there’s no reason to worry about them.  Anytime an “uncommon” Task was tested, it always included clear formatting and drafting instructions (including templates or samples).

However, you do not want to be caught off guard if such a Task shows up on your exam, especially if it has been tested before.  That’s why we suggest reviewing the Task Memorandum and Drafting Guidelines Memo for every “uncommon” MPT Task tested to date.

In Chapter 15 of this guide, there is chart listing all of the “uncommon” MPT assignments, so you’ll know exactly what MPT’s to review.

6. Note important items in the File & Library… making them easy to find when drafting.

 Always note key items while reading the File and Library.  Marking up the documents in the File and Library will make important items easy to reference later on when organizing and drafting your answer.

For example, you can make notes in the margins, circle, or underline anything that is important (e.g. names of parties, dates, important facts, statutory elements, legal rules in cases, etc.).

7. Grade Your Practice MPT’s.

Grading your practice MPT answers against the MPT Point Sheets or Sample Answers keeps you accountable, and can help you spot your problem areas.

You may even want to have others grade your practice MPT’s, either through a bar prep program, tutor, or an attorney friend.  The goal here is get real honest feedback on what improvements can be made.

8. Practice like it’s the ACTUAL exam

You want to simulate actual test day conditions (as much as possible) to minimize any surprise on exam day.  As such, you should take MPT questions under timed conditions.  You should even try simulating the exam environment as much as possible (e.g. taking practice exams at a desk with the same laptop you will be using on the exam). 

For timing, remember you must keep a pace of 90-minutes per MPT question.  Practicing while timed may be uncomfortable at first, but it will condition you for the actual exam setting, which is key. 

9. Learn to manage your time properly… and track your time for practice MPT’s.

For a 90-minute MPT question, you should allocate your time as follows:

45 minutes:  Reading the File & Library + Organizing your answer.

45 minutes:  Drafting your answer.

It is recommended that you use a timer and keep track of your progress while practicing past MPT’s.  On the exam, you should also use a timer… just make sure the timer/watch complies with your state’s bar exam guidelines for acceptable items in the exam room – some jurisdictions do not allow watches or timers, but will have a clock clearly visible in the exam room that you should take advantage of.

Using a spreadsheet is another way to track your time per practice MPT question.  Recording times keeps you accountable and will allow you to see if your time per question is trending in the right direction… or if completing an MPT within 90-miniutes is a problem area you should focus on. 

10. Have and practice a pre-determined approach for writing your MPT answer.

Having a pre-determined approach will streamline the writing process on the exam.  Testing and practicing your approach helps both (i) automate writing your answer, and (ii) will make the MPT less stressful.  

For most MPT assignments (memos, briefs, & letters), we recommend this drafting order when writing your answer:

  • Formatting sections (if applicable) – Draft any applicable top and bottom formatting sections (e.g. header, caption, salutation, signature). These sections are straightforward, and completing them first will get you into the writing mode.
  • Introduction & Conclusion – Quickly draft any required introduction and conclusion sections. Drafting these sections now makes your answer looks complete and more polished, even if you run out of time.  Don’t worry if they’re not perfect at this point.
  • Topic/Point Headings – Draft the main topic or point headings for each issue you will discuss.
  • Discussion section – Draft your legal analysis or argument. Working one issue at a time, insert the rules of law, include sub-headings (as needed), and then draft the analysis or argument for that issue. 
  • Statement of Facts (if applicable) – Draft a short statement of facts. Only include this section if the Task instructions require it.
  • Revise Introduction & Conclusion sections – Revise each section as needed. 

If another drafting order works better for you, then use that.  Just make sure you adequately test any approach you plan to use during your MPT practice.  They key is to have a pre-determined drafting approach that you can execute efficiently.

Smart Guide to the MPT

Want To Save This Guide For Later?

No problem! Just click below to get the PDF version of this guide for free.

Want To Save This Guide For Later?

No problem! Just click below to get the PDF version of this guide for free.