What is the Multistate Performance Test?

What is the Multistate Performance Test?

The MPT is the Multistate Performance Test and, like other components of the Uniform Bar Exam, is created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The MPT is administered in most states, even those that have not adopted the UBE, with a handful of exceptions. Since the MPT will likely be a part of your bar exam, let’s take a look at the format, the subjects and skills tested, and how you go about registering for it.

Multistate Performance Test Format

Depending on the jurisdiction where you are testing, the Multistate Performance Test is either one 90-minute section, or two. For jurisdictions that have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), they administer the two-part exam, weighting the MPT at 20% of the total UBE score. Not sure which format your jurisdiction uses? Check out this helpful map from the NBCE.

The MPT asks you to demonstrate your ability to navigate the complicated realities of actual law practice. You’ll be given a Library that contains the relevant statutes, regulations, and case law, and a File that has a variety of information ranging from the assigning memo to transcripts of depositions. While this might sound a little overwhelming, there is a silver lining—the legal research has already been done for you!  To get a better sense of what information will be provided to you, check out the summary of the Libraries and Files from the MPTs given in 2016.

In the File, there will be a memo that directs you to provide a written response using a particular format. These formats include: a memorandum to a supervising attorney, a letter to a client, a persuasive memorandum or brief, a statement of facts, a contract provision, a will, a counseling plan, a proposal for settlement or agreement, a discovery plan, a witness examination plan, or a closing argument. Even though this range of formats may seem vast, remember that you likely have experience writing many of these types of documents whether for a legal writing course or a summer internship.

Subjects and Skills Tested on the Multistate Performance Test

The Multistate Performance Test examines six skills: problem solving, legal analysis and reasoning, factual analysis, communication, organization and management of a legal task, and recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas. You will be asked to perform one or more these skills in each MPT section in an effort to solve your fictional client’s problem.
While you won’t have to conduct the initial step of the legal research, you will have to sift through the laws and regulations you are given in a short amount of time and apply them to the fact scenario. Note that the MPT is not testing substantive law—it is examining your ability to sift through cases, statutes, regulations, and rules to analyze the problem at hand, and write a cohesive, compelling response in the format assigned to you.  The good news is you have been preparing to do just this for the last three years in law school!

To learn more about what subjects are covered on the MPT, take a look at the series of helpful MPT Study Aids developed by the NCBE.

Multistate Performance Test registration and dates

The MPT is administered in jurisdictions as part of the bar examination on the Tuesday before the last Wednesday in February and July of each year.

If your jurisdiction requires the MPT, you will register for it when you apply to take the bar exam. To get started, you’ll need to create an account with NCBE. By registering, you’ll receive a special NCBE number, which you’ll need in order to register with the board of bar examiners for your jurisdiction. You’ll also use this number to register for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which is administered separately from the bar exam and required by all but five jurisdictions.

The date when you are required to register for the bar exam varies by state, so make sure to check with your local board of bar examiners to find out the exact dates for your state’s bar exam. For more information on registering for the bar exam in your state, check out the NCBE’s Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.


The MPT is an important component of the bar exam in many states. You’ll have to complete one or two, 90-minute MPT tasks depending on which jurisdiction is administering your bar exam.  And if you’re in a jurisdiction that has adopted the UBE, count yourself lucky—you’ll definitely have the chance to complete two MPT tasks!

The MPT examines your ability to look at the facts of a case and the relevant laws, and quickly write a response that addresses the problem presented to you. While you’ve been honing these skills in law school, you’ll want to spend some time preparing for this part of the UBE. For more about the UBE, be sure to check out Important MBE Subjects: An Overview!

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2 Responses to What is the Multistate Performance Test?

  1. pierre November 28, 2018 at 3:37 am #

    If you pass it will you be licensed to practice in that state?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 4, 2018 at 8:26 pm #

      When states require the MPT, they require it as just one part of their larger bar exam. So passing the MPT alone isn’t enough to get you licensed in a state. However, it is one step toward getting your license.

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