Performance test (bar exam)
The performance test or "PT" is a section of the bar exam that is intended to mimic a real-life legal task that future lawyers may face. Of the three parts of most states' bar exams -- MBE, essay, and PT—the PT is probably the most reflective of how well a candidate will perform outside of an academic setting.
Performance testing as part of a technical specification is covered on a different page.
Through February 2017, the California bar exam spanned three days, and included two performance test sections, one the first day (Tuesday) and one the last day (Thursday). Each PT lasted three hours and the two PTs were worth 26% of the total score. The types of tasks asked are:
- Legal memorandum
- Persuasive brief
- Declaration or affidavit
- Closing argument
- Opening statement
- Jury instructions
- Witness cross or direct examination
- Discovery/investigation plan
- Client letter
- Client or witness interview
- Negotiation, settlement proposal or agreement
- Analysis of a contract, will, trust or statute
- Alternative dispute resolution task
Each PT has a file and a library. The file contains factual materials about the case while the library contains the legal authorities needed. The candidates can either hand write or type using a laptop.
Effective July 2017, the California bar exam will be only two days, with one 90-minute PT on the first afternoon (Tuesday).
Multistate Performance Test
This is a test drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), modeled after the California test and intended as a supplement to NCBE's Multistate Essay Examination. NCBE currently offers three different performance tests, each 90 minutes long (as opposed to three hours in California). As of July 2007, 33 jurisdictions use the MPT.