Here is an excerpt from the book Perform Your Best on the Multistate Performance Test: How to Finish the MPT in 90 Minutes and Excel (With 12 Actual MPT Tasks, Sample Answers, and Complete Analyses), by BarWrite's founder and president Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D. (New York: BarWrite Press). BARWRITE® THREE-DAY NEW YORK ESSAY AND ONE-DAY MPT BOOT CAMPS
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Dr. Gallagher writes:
What the Task of Writing the Multistate Performance Test Really Is
Your task on the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) part of the bar exam is to act like a first-year lawyer. You are an associate in a law firm, or a junior attorney in a government agency, or a clerk to a judge. The senior lawyer who sends you an assignment in a task memo on the MPT expects you to act like a junior lawyer drafting a work product. Nothing more, nothing less. The bar examiners look for the following in grading the Multistate Performance Test (MPT):
1. Following directions.
2. Managing time.
3. Acting like a competent first-year lawyer. That means understanding and attempting to solve the client's problem. Doing reasonable legal analysis. Using statutes and cases judiciously. Giving the work product an orderly structure. Communicating clearly and appropriately.
The primary task is not to produce a polished piece of writing. You do not have time for that. Make your motto, "Get in and get out." Trying to produce beautiful writing too often leads to long-winded, pretentious, writing, writing that will not favorably impress the grader. Trying to perfect each sentence or each paragraph of your work as you go along will make you waste your time, and time is your most precious asset on the MPT. Get in and get out.
Success on the MPT depends, first, on taking exquisite care to understand the assignment in the task memo. Strangely enough, given the fact that you are under enormous time pressure, success on the MPT requires slowing down at the beginning. It means rereading the directions in the task memo several times. It means not plunging into the work until you have some idea of what legal issues the client's problem raises. It means thinking about what kinds of facts and law might help you solve the client's problem before you start looking for the facts and law in the File and Library.
What Students Worry About Although They Do Not Need To
Producing a lot of writing. Your job is to produce a draft work product like a first-year lawyer. You have to try to solve the problem, and you have to finish what you start. You are not Charles Dickens, being paid by the word. The bar examiners will not grade you on the number of pages you fill. Get in and get out.
Producing polished writing. As my MPT teaching assistant Sarina Siegel rightly said, "The MPT will never be your best work." Your job is to produce a draft and finish in 90 minutes. If you take the time to phrase your sentences beautifully, you will not finish on time. Get in and get out.
Making sure you have the details exactly right. Your work product on the MPT is just a draft. It is not a law review article or a brief you will submit to the Supreme Court of the United States. You will inevitably make mistakes. Leave them, go on, and if you have time at the end, come back and correct them. Except in appellate briefs, do not concern yourself with correct legal citation. Just name the case or the statute. Period. Push on, and finish. Once you have finished the task, you can go back, but not before then. Get in and get out.
Producing a sophisticated piece of legal analysis. The issues in MPT tasks tend to be straightforward, and the bar examiners will normally provide guidance within the File or the Library on how best to do the work. You are only a first-year lawyer. The task memo is asking you to prepare a draft that a first-year lawyer might prepare. The task memo is not asking you to demonstrate the most challenging level of legal work. The MPT task does not give you room for sophisticated legal work.
Using the law you learned in law school. Far from expecting you to use the law you learned in law school, the drafters of the Multistate Performance Test tell you emphatically not to use the law you learned in law school. If you think you recognize a case in the MPT Library, be careful. The drafters may have changed that case. The MPT asks you to use the skills you learned in law school, but it does not normally ask you to apply specific rules of law you already know.
Impressing the grader. If your ambition is to dazzle the graders with your work product on the MPT, you will inevitably be disappointed. The MPT is about following directions, managing time, and producing an organized, lawyerlike, draft that responds to the directions. Completing the MPT work product requires competence, not special gifts. The MPT gives credit for following directions, and it does not allow scope for brilliance.
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