The Smart Guide to the MPT

A Guide to Mastering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)


Format & Overview of the MPT

What You’ll Learn:

  • The MPT Format – Number of Questions & Time per Drafting Assignment
  • Purpose of the MPT & the Skills Tested
  • The Total Weight of an MPT Score – The percentage it counts toward your total bar exam score

MPT Test Format

The MPT consists of two 90-minute questions.*
* Some jurisdictions use only 1 MPT question per exam. In Chapter 1 of this guide, we have noted those jurisdictions.

For most jurisdictions, the 2 MPT’s are given in one 3-hour session.  We say 90-minutes per question for in-person exams because you have 3 hours to answer 2 MPT questions, although the individual questions are not timed.

You MUST practice answering each MPT question within the 90-minute period.  Otherwise, you will not have adequate time to finish both MPT’s on exam day (or the other written components, if your exam uses only 1 MPT).

The MPT is a skills test with each MPT question containing a drafting assignment.  For example, examinees may be asked to draft a legal memorandum, brief, letter, contract provision, or any other “lawyerly task.”  The specific assignment varies per MPT question.

The MPT is given on the written test day of the bar exam (usually the first day of the exam).

Purpose of the MPT – What Skills are Tested?

The purpose of the MPT is “to test an examinee’s ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation and complete a task that a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish.”[1]

Essentially, it’s a practical writing assignment a new lawyer would typically be asked to draft by a partner or supervising attorney.

According to the NCBE (the drafters of the exam), the MPT is designed to test six fundamental skills:

  1. Problem Solving – apply the relevant law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client’s problem.
  2. Legal Analysis & Reasoning – analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for applicable principles of law.
  3. Factual Analysis – sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts.
  4. Communication – communicate effectively in writing.
  5. Organization & Management of a Legal Task – complete a lawyering task within time constraints.
  6. Recognizing & Resolving Ethical Dilemmas – identify and resolve ethical dilemmas, when present.2

These six skills are tested by requiring examinees to complete one or more lawyerly tasks.

Total Weight of MPT Score

The MPT is worth 20% of your total exam score in most states – including all UBE jurisdictions, such as New York.

In other jurisdictions, the MPT is normally worth between 10% and 20%.  Some jurisdictions have additional written components and/or have a minimum passing score for the MPT/written component.

In Chapter 9 of this guide on Grading & Scoring, we have included a chart showing how much the MPT is worth in each jurisdiction.

Smart Guide to the MPT

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1 See, “Description of the MPT” section in older released MPTs & Point Sheets booklets (e.g. February 2018 MPT & Point Sheets PDF booklet).”

2 See, “MPT Skills Tested” PDF published by the NCBE.