The Smart Guide to the MPT

A Guide to Mastering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)


How Study & Prepare for the MPT

What You’ll Learn:

  • Our 3-Step Study Approach for the MPT
  • How to Practice for the MPT
  • What Materials to Use for MPT Practice
  • How to use MPT Sample Answers when Studying
  • How to use MPT Point Sheets to Grade Yourself
  • When to Review MPT Summaries

Studying for the MPT is very different than studying for other sections of the bar exam.  Even though there is no law to memorize, the MPT requires an effective study plan to cover all the possibilities of what tasks could be tested… and that means A LOT of practice.

So, what’s the best way to prepare for the MPT without getting overwhelmed? 

We believe that examinees should follow this simple 3-step strategy:

Step # 1:  Learn How the MPT Works

Step # 2:  Review a few MPT Questions… to Make Sense of the Materials

Step # 3:  Practice, Practice, Practice… Review & Writing MPT’s under Exam-Type Conditions

Step 1: Set the Foundation – Learn How the MPT Works.

Teaching you how the MPT works is the purpose of this guide!  It was created it to give you a thorough understanding of the MPT, how you will be tested, and what is required to do well. 

To set that foundation, read this guide in its entirety… it will provide the knowledge you will build on in Steps 2 and 3 of our strategy.

Step 2: Review a few MPT Questions… to Make Sense of the Materials.

Learning about the MPT is not enough.  You need to take it further and start working with real MPT questions.  That is why the next step is to review a few MPT’s to get a good sense of the materials typically contained in the File & Library. 

The top three MPT question types are:

  • Objective Memorandum
  • Persuasive Brief
  • Persuasive/Demand Letter

Reviewing 1 MPT question for each of the Task types above is a good place to start your MPT review.  It will show you what to expect for most MPT questions, but without the stress of jumping in and having to compose full answers immediately (it’s more of a passive exercise to get your feet wet).

To start, read through the following questions on your first 1 to 2 days of MPT review.

MPT TaskExam Question to ReviewMPT Name
Objective MemorandumFeb. 2014 (MPT-2)In re Peterson Engineering Consultants
Persuasive BriefJuly 2013 (MPT-1)Monroe v. Franklin Flags Amusement Park
Persuasive/Demand LetterJuly 2014 (MPT-2)In re Linda Duram
These MPT’s are included in our MPT Practice Materials, or can also be downloaded for free on the NCBE website (see the download links in Chapter 8 of this guide).

For each, you should read the MPT Question (File & Library), Point Sheet, and Sample Answer.

At this stage, timing yourself and writing out a full answer is not recommended.  For right now, the goal is to become familiar with how typical MPT questions are structured, getting comfortable reviewing the File & Library, and seeing what types of documents you’ll be given to complete the assignment.

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice! – Review & Writing MPT’s.

After gaining some familiarity with MPT questions, now your MPT Practice really starts! 

To begin this step, we have provided an overview of the MPT practice materials to use.  Then, below we breakdown exactly how to practice for the MPT.

The MPT Practice Materials to Use

There are four primary items to use for MPT practice:

  • MPT Questions – Questions from MPT past exams, which will be the cornerstone of your practice.
  • Sample MPT Answers – You can use either Released Examinee Answers or Model Answers for practice. Released Examinee Answers are actual MPT answers written by examinees that received a high or above average score.  These answers are released by some MPT jurisdictions (see Chapter 8 on where to find these).  Model Answers are perfect MPT answers, normally written by commercial bar review companies or tutors.
  • MPT Point Sheets – Point Sheets describe the factual and legal points for each MPT question, and outline the possible issues and points that might be addressed by an examinee. MPT Point Sheets are released by the NCBE, and are provided to the user jurisdictions to assist in grading the examination.15
  • MPT Summaries – The NCBE also releases one-paragraph summaries of recent MPT’s, which include a brief description of the MPT task, context, and contents of the File & Library for each MPT question.

In the next section, we will explain how to use each to prepare for the exam.

MPT Practice Breakdown

Practice makes perfect, and to really hone your MPT skills you need to do two things:

  1. Write Full MPT Answers, and
  2. Perform MPT Outlining Exercises.

Both are essential for learning how to review the File & Library efficiently, organize your outline, and draft a passing MPT answer.

It goes without saying that the more time you set aside for review and practice, the more prepared you will be on exam day.

1. MPT Writing Practice

You MUST practice writing full answers to do well on the MPT

We know it’s painful and most don’t want to do it, but try to set aside time to write at least 1 MPT per Task area (objective memo, persuasive brief, etc.).  Ideally, you should write even more than that, especially if you’re struggling.

When choosing which MPT’s to write full answers, you should use the most recent MPT questions for each Task area

For each practice MPT question, follow the approach below.

MPT Writing Practice Approach:

  1. Read the MPT question & draft your answer (complete within 90-minutes).
  2. Review the corresponding Sample MPT Answer, and compare it to your answer.
  3. Review the corresponding MPT Point Sheet, and grade your answer.

Complete each practice MPT question under timed “test like” conditions.  This will help prepare you for the time pressures of the actual exam.  In the beginning, don’t worry if you can’t finish an MPT in 90-minitues… that’s completely normal.  In the beginning, focus on completing the MPT.  Then, with more practice, try to bring your time down.

Make the best of your MPT practice, and don’t cut corners.  You should always take the time to properly review and grade each answer you write.  Quality over quantity is paramount here.

How to Use Sample MPT Answers

Sample MPT Answers should be used to see: 

  • The level of detail & analysis needed in your answer;
  • the structure and organization of a typical examinee answer; and
  • what a well-written MPT answer looks like.

For Sample MPT Answers, you can use either:  (a) Released Examinee Answers; or (b) Model Answers.

Using Released Examinee Answers are perfectly fine to use, especially since they will show you what an examinee is typically expected to write (and you’ll be using the Point Sheets to grade yourself anyway).

Reviewing model MPT answers are good for many reasons, but can add a certain level of stress for examinees because they think being “perfect” is the goal.  That’s why Examinee Answers are a great tool to dispel the unrealistic idea of a “perfect answer,” and will remind you of what’s really required to pass.

How to Use MPT Point Sheets… to Grade Yourself

You should grade every MPT question you practice.  It very important that you do not skip this step when preparing for the MPT. 

MPT Point Sheets are a great tool for self-grading because they contain all of the possible issues and points that might be addressed in an excellent answer.

When self-grading your MPT answer against the MPT Point Sheet, pay attention to what items you spotted and what you missed.  

Specifically, you should see if your answer:

  • Completed the task assigned.
  • Followed all of the instructions.
  • Used the correct format (e.g. brief, memo, letter).
  • Used the correct tone (e.g. persuasive, objective).
  • Used language appropriate for the recipient (e.g. lawyer vs. non-lawyer).
  • Included all required sections.
  • Adequately analyzed or addressed each issue and/or point.
  • Included proper headings (when required).
  • Correctly stated the law.
  • Contained a thorough & accurate analysis of the facts to the law.
  • Included a well-supported conclusion.
  • Included (or was missing) any other assignment specifics.

When looking at the items above, you should objectively score your answer on the 6-point scale following the MPT Grading Key (see Chapter 9 of this guide).

Note:  Keep In mind that the MPT Point Sheets are drafted by lawyers with an unlimited amount of time.  Hitting every item is not realistic of what most examinees write to pass the exam… so don’t be overly critical of yourself thinking you need to include and answer everything perfectly.  The NCBE has even stated that Point Sheets are “more detailed than examinee responses were expected to be.”  (See, July 2019 MPT-1, Point Sheet, at cover page).

Practice like it’s the actual Remote exam.

For both “MPT Writing Practice” and “MPT Outlining Practice”, you must practice like it’s the real exam!  That means only using a computer for BOTH (1) reading the MPT Question (the File & Library), and (2) drafting your answer.  If your remote exam software access is limited to only the mock exam (and not practice questions), then we suggest using the method below.

To simulate actual exam conditions, we suggest working on your computer using a “split screen”… with one side of your screen showing the MPT Question Materials and the other side of your screen being your word processing software for drafting the Answer (e.g. Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.).  Once you take the mock exam for your State/Jurisdiction, you should tweak your screen practice layout to more closely mimic the exam software.

Remember, writing full MPT’s is in addition to other practice exercises (see below).  This may seem like overkill, but we commonly hear examinees fail because they didn’t write enough practice MPT’s in exam-type conditions.

2. MPT Outlining Practice

Outlining past MPT questions is a quick and effective way to practice.

In an ideal world, it makes sense to write as many past MPT’s as possible.  With that practice, you would become adept at identifying what the bar examiners are testing and looking for in an answer, and quicker at drafting the assignment in the allotted time.  However, writing full answers to countless MPT’s is just not possible given the limited time you have to study (especially while preparing for the MBE & essay sections).

To streamline the review process, it’s smart to outline MPT answers (instead of a writing a full answer).  This way you can go through many more MPT’s, and achieve a similar result.

MPT Outline Practice Approach:

  1. Read the MPT question, plus make a short Outline of items that you would include in your answer (try to complete within 45-minutes).
  2. Review the corresponding Sample MPT Answer, and compare it to your answer.
  3. Review the corresponding MPT Point Sheet, and grade your answer.

*Your outline should include the points/issues, rules of law, relevant facts, legal analysis, and headings (if applicable).

For this exercise, set a timer for 45-minutes specifically for reading the File & Library and outlining your answer (to simulate “exam type” conditions).  If you need slightly more time, that’s okay because your outline in this case should be more detailed than the one you would create when writing a full answer… but try to stay as close to 45-minutes as you can.

We recommend working through past MPT questions in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest).  Reviewing per Task area starting with the most recent performance tests allows you to stay current with what the bar examiners are looking for in an answer (as this has the potential to change over time).

Using this outline approach allows you to efficiently work through many more MPT’s.  

Always remember, that MPT Outlining Practice is in addition to writing full MPT answers.  Thus, leave a few MPT’s per Task type (the most recent ones) that you’ll write full answers for, and then outline as many of the remaining MPT questions as possible to avoid overlap.

3. Review MPT Summaries – Extra BONUS Review!

Reading MPT summaries is another way to quickly become familiar with MPT questions, the tasks assigned in the past, and to learn what materials were provided in the File & Library.

Keep in mind, that reading summaries is NOT a replacement for writing or outlining MPT questions.  We consider it an “extra bonus” way to prepare for the MPT, and should only be used after your writing and outlining practice is finished.

It may be a good idea, a few days before the exam, to read the MPT Summaries for any past MPT that you did not practice to keep yourself fresh.  If you feel up to it, you could even read the summaries for MPT’s that you previously practiced for even more “extra bonus” review!

Tasks Tested on Past MPT’s – Where to Find a List

Want to see the Tasks tested on each MPT question?  Of course you do… that’s why we created our MPT Frequency Analysis.

The MPT Frequency Analysis was too long to include in this guide, but it can be downloaded for FREE on our website using the link below.

MPT Frequency Analysis – Download Link

It includes a list of the Tasks tested on every MPT question since 1997 (covering 100+ MPT questions).

This list makes it easy to find MPT questions for a particular Task type to practice.  For example, if you want to review the lesser tested “Draft Closing Argument” task, you can easily scan the chart to find those types of MPT questions… in the Feb. 2020 (MPT-2), Feb. 2011 (MPT-1), and Feb. 2002 (MPT-3) exams.

Smart Guide to the MPT

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15See, February 2019 MPTs & Point Sheets booklet (released by the NCBE), Preface, at ¶ 2.  Unfortunately, the MPT Point Sheets do not tell you the number of points (or score) each part of the MPT assignment is worth… as grading is within the discretion of MPT user jurisdictions.