About the MPT®
A Comprehensive Guide to the Multistate Performance Test
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is one of the three parts of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE®). The MPT tests a bar exam candidate's ability to perform specific lawyering tasks. MPT tests the examinee's ability to perform by examining one's ability to analyze the information as a practicing attorney would, decipher relevant vs. non-relevant information, evaluate fundamental legal principles, and follow directional cues.
The MPT is a two-part, 3-hour performance assessment, given twice a year with the other portions of the bar in jurisdictions that accept the MPT. You will have 90 minutes to complete each task.
When and Who administers the MPT?
The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), developed by The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®), is administered as part of the bar exam on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday every February and July in jurisdictions that accept the MPT. In non-UBE jurisdictions, only one of the two items is used, but in jurisdictions that administer the UBE, both items are used.
What is the purpose and importance of the MPT?
The primary purpose of the MPT is to test the examinee's competency in using fundamental legal skills in realistic situations. An assessment of performance, the MPT tests how well the candidate follows directional cues and how well the said task can be accomplished in the amount of time allotted. The MPT is a test of skills, not a test of knowledge.
While the test-taker must still be able to identify and understand general principles of law, the MPT will actually provide all the information, including the law, the facts, and the task. As long as the guidelines and directions are followed, and the task is completed in the time allowed, you'll be in good shape. Because many other examinees don't tend to take this section as seriously as the other portions of the bar exam, as long as you follow this advice, practice, and follow all directions provided, and don't use extraneous information not set before you in the memo, you'll be ahead of the game.
How hard is the MPT?
The MPT can be more difficult for some than others. Because each examinee goes into the bar exam with their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, some will find the MPT more challenging than others. It may prove more difficult, too, because:
- It requires examinees to adhere closely to guidelines and directions, and some students find it difficult to stick to the task at hand.
- Some students have a hard time deciphering relevant from irrelevant facts and find it difficult to complete the MPT tasks in the time allocated.
- Timing is possibly the toughest challenge for most examinees taking the MPT. Because you only have 90 minutes to complete each task, those who find it hard to work efficiently will have a harder time acing the MPT.
Because the MPT is a test of skills or performance, some students find the MPT easier than other portions of the bar exam. A closed universe test, the MPT does not require the keen memorization skills that the other portions do.
Exclusive access to dozens of practice questions from recent bar exams.
Which jurisdictions accept the Multistate Performance Test?
A majority of states and jurisdictions accept the MPT. Most jurisdictions that administer the UBE use both MPT items. While some jurisdictions may select both items as part of their bar examination determination, others may only select one. Refer to the map below to determine which jurisdictions accept the Multistate Performance Exam as part of the bar exam.
What is the MPT Exam Format?
For test-takers in a UBE jurisdiction, the MPT is worth 20% of the total score. For examinees in non-UBE jurisdictions, most weigh the MPT as 10% of the overall bar exam score.
Because every jurisdiction scores MPTs differently, we suggest consulting your own state's bar exam site for information about scoring.
What skills are tested on the MPT?
The MPT, which tests a wide variety of skills within two 90-minute items. Each item includes a File of facts and a Library of materials. The File contains a task memo and a set of factual documents. The task memo explains what you're supposed to do, so it's important to pay close attention to the directions. The task memo will provide you with what type of document you will be asked to write. It will provide information such as your audience, the document's tone (persuasive or objective), and any issues that should be addressed.
The authentic documents could include files such as depositions, transcripts, hearings, pleadings, correspondence, contracts, articles, medical records, lawyer's notes, and police reports. Some of the facts provided will be ambiguous, unreliable, incomplete, or conflicting to mimic an imperfect real-life legal file. Candidates must use their lawyering skills to decipher which facts are irrelevant, missing, and unreliable from those that are complete, reliable, and pertinent.
The Library contains the law and could include materials such as case law, regulations, statutes, and rules. Just as with the factual documents, some of the information provided in the Library will be relevant and some will not, and it is the task of the examinee to extract the principles needed to analyze the problem and perform the task at hand.
Once again, though the MPT is not a test of substantive law, the materials provided in the Library and the facts set forth in the File will contain all the information needed to complete the task at hand.
The MPT tests the examinee's ability to perform the following:
- Sort through factual materials
- Separate relevant facts from irrelevant facts
- Analyze statutes, cases, and administrative materials
- Apply relevant law to the relevant facts
- Identify and resolve ethical dilemmas
- Demonstrate written communication skills
- Complete a task within the presented guidelines and time constraints
- Legal memorandum
- Letter to a client
- Persuasive brief
- Statement of facts
- Contract provision
- Counseling plan
- Proposal for settlement or agreement
- Discovery plan
- Witness examination plan
- Closing argument
For a thorough description of the skills tested on the MPT, see MPT Skills Tested.
How to register for the MPT?
The Multistate Performance Test is administered as part of the bar examination. To register for the MPT, go to your testing jurisdiction and follow directions carefully.
MPT Test Accommodations
Individuals that have a qualifying disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA), may be eligible for special accommodations and aids to take the MPT. Each testing jurisdiction has its own deadlines, application process, guidelines about accommodations for examinees with special needs, and decision-making processes.
In almost all jurisdictions, The MPT is printed in 12-point Times Roman font. For individuals with visual impairments, it is also available in Braille, larger size (18 or 24) font, Helvetica (sans serif) font, audio format, and screen-reading software.
MPT Test Day Instructions
Every jurisdiction will provide specific information regarding what is and isn't permitted inside the test center for MPT examinees. Candidates found possessing prohibited items may be dismissed from the test, and their scores may be terminated.
- Mechanical pencils
- Laptops are allowed only for those examinees who pre-register to test by laptop
- Cell phones
- Digital watches
- Fitness trackers
- Media players
- Headphones or earbuds,
- Tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or vape pens
- Firearms or other weapons
- Written materials
- Scratch or scrap paper
- Briefcases, totes, backpacks, or purses
- Watches or timers
- Earplugs, headphones, or earmuffs
- Hats, hoods, or other head covers (except religious apparel)
- Food, coffee, or beverages
Certain conduct is prohibited and will not be tolerated during the MPT portion of the bar:
- Bringing unauthorized electronic devices or other materials (see above) into the test site
- Removing test materials from the test site
- Disturbing or disruptive behavior
- Cheating/copying answers from other examinees
- Sharing answers with others
- Continuing to write after the time limit has expired
How to study for the MPT?
Unlike the MBE and the MEE portions of the bar exam, it is unnecessary to memorize substantive law to do well on the MPT. You will be tasked with preparing a legal document (memorandum, proposal, plan, letter, etc.)
You will be given the specifics of each task in a hypothetical supervising attorney’s hypothetical memo. You'll be given a File of related information and a Library of laws, both of which could be incomplete, irrelevant, or ambiguous. Your challenge will be to analyze the data provided and create a coherent body of work within the time allotted. For this reason, the key to acing the MPT is practice.
1. Read the task memo thoroughly.
When you receive the task memo, the first step is to read it thoroughly. Underline or highlight all of the key facts and the issues that you're tasked to answer.
2. Answer each question posed in the task memo.
Don't discuss extraneous issues that are not raised in the task memo. It is highly recommended that you continually refer back to the task memo while writing your answers to ensure you don't skip any questions and are answering the question specifically as asked.
3. Know which formats are the most highly tested
The two most commonly tested tasks on the MPT are objective memoranda and persuasive briefs.A persuasive brief should contain the following:
- Statement of the case
- Statement of facts
- Legal argument
4. Use the IRAC format
Regardless of the task, frame your answer in the issue-first or IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) format. Devote one paragraph to each component. Clearly state the issue extracted from the File in your heading, then discuss the relevant law you extracted from the Library of materials. Begin with the general rules and then discuss the more specific ones. Next, begin your analysis. You should discuss whether the facts in the File are the same, similar, or different from the facts in the cases provided. Focus on the facts highlighted by the courts in their reasoning and explain whether your facts mirror those cases.
5. Practice by timing yourself for each kind of potential task
You will be tasked with completing two (2) separate MPT items in 3 hours. That means you have 90 minutes to complete each MPT item. That is why we suggest practicing under test-like conditions and paying close attention to the time. This way, you'll have plenty of time to make any necessary revisions and you won’t run the risk of running out of time.
6. Compare your answers to previous students' answers with high scores.
Self-grade your practice MPTs by comparing your answers to previous students' answers with high scores to gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses and get a better idea about the type of answers the examiners are looking for.
As of 2022, a majority of jurisdictions administer the MPT. While California (and other non-UBE states) administers a performance test, it is not technically called the Multistate Performance Test because the state creates its own assessment instead of using the one created by the NCBE.
The MPT is 20% of your score in UBE jurisdictions and between 10-20% in non-UBE states. This means it is possible to fail the MPT section and still pass the bar exam.
The task memo is the first thing you should read when you tackle an MPT. This will tell you what kind of assignment it is and whether to include a set of facts and other pertinent instructions. Because it is common for examinees to lose points for not following the task memo, we highly suggest that you read it first and read it carefully.
Read more About the Bar Exam
The MPT score differs between UBE and non-UBE jurisdictions by 10% to 20%. Find out how the MPT is graded in your jurisdiction!
Each state administers its own bar exam. What’s the final step to becoming a licensed US attorney in your state? Find out here!