Performance test (bar exam)

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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.

A performance test may include tasks such as writing a legal memorandum, drafting an affidavit, or drafting a settlement offer letter to opposing counsel.

Performance testing as part of a technical specification is covered on a different page.

California PT[edit]

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:

  1. Legal memorandum
  2. Persuasive brief
  3. Declaration or affidavit
  4. Closing argument
  5. Opening statement
  6. Jury instructions
  7. Witness cross or direct examination
  8. Discovery/investigation plan
  9. Client letter
  10. Client or witness interview
  11. Negotiation, settlement proposal or agreement
  12. Analysis of a contract, will, trust or statute
  13. Legislation
  14. 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).[1]

Multistate Performance Test[edit]

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.