Multistate Performance Test (MPT)

Definition

The term Multistate Performance Test refers to the first of a two-part examination that assesses the applicant's knowledge of fundamental lawyering skills.  The Multistate Performance Test, or MPT, is sponsored by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.  The purpose of the test is to ensure individuals have the skills necessary to practice law in areas such as constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, evidence, real property and torts.

Explanation

In the United States, local state boards of law examiners grant an individual a license to practice their skills.  The Multistate Performance Test, or MPT, is the first of two tests used by state boards to qualify candidates.  The test is administered as part of a two day event occurring in late February and July each year.  The MPT consists of two 90-minute problems that include the following components:

  • File:  includes source documents describing the facts of the case.  A memorandum from a supervising attorney explains to the examinee the task they need to complete.  Items included in the File may consist of transcripts, pleadings, correspondence, contracts, news articles, police reports, medical records and notes from other lawyers.
  • Library: includes a number of documents that may be relevant to the task assigned to the examinee.  Examples of the items that may be in the Library include rules, regulations and statutes.  These items will contain enough information such that the examinee can complete their task.

The skills tested in the MPT include the candidate's ability to separate relevant from irrelevant facts, analyze statutes, apply the law to solve a problem, identify potential ethical dilemmas, and communicate effectively.  Each jurisdiction determines how much weight is given to the MPT as well as passing scores.  Those jurisdictions that honor the Uniform Bar Examination give the MPT a weight of 20%.

The candidate's answers are reviewed by testing experts.  Once this process is complete, scores are provided to the appropriate jurisdiction.  Not all jurisdictions allow scores to be released to examinees.  Results are typically considered valid for up to seven years.  States oftentimes do not limit the number of times a candidate may attempt to pass the MPT.

Related Terms

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