The Smart Guide to the MPT

A Guide to Mastering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)


MPT Fundamentals

What You’ll Learn:

  • Overview of the MPT Directions
  • The Fictitious Jurisdiction Where the MPT Problem Occurs
  • Description of the File & Library – Explanation of the materials provided to draft the assignment & the types of documents typically included
  • That No Outside Materials or Knowledge of Legal Rules is Required
  • To Not Include Your Name Anywhere on the Assignment
  • What You’ll Generally be Graded On

The Official MPT Directions

On the back of each test booklet are the general MPT Directions.

The MPT Directions can be found here or here.

We call these the “general” MPT Directions because they are the same for every MPT question and task type (objective memorandum, persuasive brief, etc.).

Since they are the same for every MPT, review and become familiar with them in advance so you don’t waste valuable time on exam day.

These directions describe the fundamental rules of the MPT, and include:

  • The fictitious jurisdiction the case is set in.
  • A description of the File and Library… and the kinds of materials typically included in each.
  • Instructions that only the materials in the File & Library should be used to complete the assignment.
  • To not include your name anywhere on the assignment.
  • What you’ll be generally graded on.

These MPT fundamentals are each discussed below.


The Fictitious Jurisdiction (of Franklin)

The problem is always set in the fictitious jurisdiction of Franklin (a State located in the fictitious 15th Circuit of the United States).

The examiners also provide the court hierarchy for the State of Franklin, which includes 3 different courts.

Franklin Courts – 3 Levels

  • Supreme Court = highest court
  • Court of Appeal = intermediate appellate court
  • District Court = trial court of general jurisdiction


Columbia and Olympia are both nearby fictitious States in the 15th Circuit.

The File & Library – Explanation of the Materials Provided to Complete the Assignment

For each MPT, you are given two kinds of materials:  a File and a Library.

1. The File – These are documents that contain factual information about the assignment.

Task Memorandum

The first document in the File is the memorandum containing the instructions for the task (the “Task Memorandum”).  This is the most important document in the File because it contains the task specific instructions for the drafting assignment.

You must read and follow the Task Memorandum instructions very carefully, as you “will be graded on your responsiveness to the instructions regarding the task you are to complete…”3

The Task Memorandum instructions are different for each MPT question, so never assume that the assignment will be exactly the same as past MPT’s.

Drafting Guidelines Memorandum (sometimes included)

The File sometimes contains a separate memorandum with drafting guidelines and instructions for the assignment (the “Drafting Guidelines Memo”).  This memo may specify what sections to include, formatting instructions, and other guidelines for the type of assignment (e.g. how to draft headings for a persuasive brief).

Typically, a Drafting Guidelines Memo is provided for Persuasive Briefs and lesser tested MPT Tasks (e.g. drafting interrogatories or will provisions).  However, it’s almost never provided for an Objective Memorandum assignment.

Don’t worry if a separate Drafting Guidelines Memo isn’t provided.  In that case, the Task Memorandum will contain all the instructions needed to complete the task (including what sections to include or not include).

Documents with Factual Information

The File will also contain documents with factual information, such as:  pleadings, correspondence, client documents, contracts, newspaper articles, medical records, police reports, lawyer’s notes, and transcripts of interviews, depositions, hearings, or trials.

The exact documents included vary per MPT question.

Both relevant and irrelevant facts are included… and sometimes facts are ambiguous, incomplete, or even conflicting.  This is to simulate real world practice as a lawyer, as a supervising lawyer’s version of events may be incomplete or unreliable.

According to the NCBE, “Examinees are expected to recognize when facts are inconsistent or missing and are expected to identify potential sources of additional facts.”4

2. The Library – These are the legal authorities needed to complete the task.

The Library will contain all of the legal authorities needed to draft the assigned task.  It may contain cases, statutes, regulations, rules, or secondary sources (e.g. treatise).

For court cases, keep in mind that:

Any cases may be real, modified, or written solely for the purpose of this examination.  If the cases appear familiar to you, do not assume that they are precisely the same as you have read before.  Read them thoroughly, as if they all were new to you.  You should assume that the cases were decided in the jurisdictions and on the dates shown. 5

Some of the sources included in the Library may not be relevant.  As such, be prepared to extract the legal principles necessary to analyze the problem and complete the task assigned.

No Outside Materials or Knowledge of the Law is Required

The File & Library will provide everything you need to complete the assignment.  No outside materials are needed, as the Library will provide all of the legal principles needed to analyze the problem.

Thus, there is no law or legal rules to memorize for the MPT.  Instead, you must rely solely on the materials provided to draft your answer.

The examiners have even stated:  “The MPT is not a test of substantive law; the Library materials provide sufficient substantive information to complete the task.”6

Do Not Include Your Real Name

The MPT Directions instruct to NOT include “your actual name anywhere in the work product required by the task memorandum.”7

Normally, you should write your name as “Examinee” or “Applicant” on the assignment.

For example, here’s how that would look for a legal memorandum:

Examinee Name Example
(for July 2019 MPT-1)

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Alternatively, you could write the title of your position at the firm or legal job (e.g. Associate, Staff Attorney).

Just make sure to follow any particular instructions in the Task Memorandum.  For example, a supervising attorney may ask you to draft a letter for their signature… in that instance you would write the supervising attorney’s name at the end of the letter. 8

What You’ll Generally Be Graded On

Generally, each MPT question will be graded on:

  1. your responsiveness to the instructions regarding the task you are to complete; and
  2. the content, thoroughness, and organization of your response.9

In Chapter 9 of this guide, we discuss grading and scoring in detail… including specific MPT Grading Standards.

Smart Guide to the MPT

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3MPT Directions, at ¶ 8.

4See, “Description of MPT,” MPT Question & Point Sheet booklets, at ¶ 2.

5MPT Directions, at ¶ 4.

6See, “Description of the MPT,” MPT Question & Point Sheet booklets, at ¶ 3 (emphasis added).

7 MPT Directions, at ¶ 7 (emphasis added).  This direction became effective on the February 2016 exam.

8 See e.g., February 2016 MPT-2 (Miller v. Trapp), Task Memorandum, at ¶ 3 (“Please draft…  A demand letter addressed to Attorney Leffler, written for my signature.”).

9 MPT Directions, at ¶ 8.