Along with the bar exam, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is an essential step toward becoming a practicing legal professional. Commonly referred to as the ethics bar exam, the MPRE is shorter than its counterpart and, as a result, sorely underestimated. Luckily, when it comes to preparing for the notorious legal ethics test, we’ve got you covered. Explore the ultimate guide to prepping for the MPRE.
What is the MPRE?
The purpose of the MPRE is to measure your knowledge and understanding of two specific sets of rules: the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Judicial Code of Conduct. The test is a two-hour, 60-question, multiple-choice exam consisting of 50 scored questions and 10 unscored questions. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) administers the MPRE. Nearly all law professionals are required to take the MPRE, except those in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Puerto Rico.
When should I take the MPRE?
The MPRE is offered a few times a year, in March, August, and November. While you don’t have to take the MPRE before you take the bar exam, it’s helpful to get it out of the way before you narrow your sights on the bar exam.
Most law students take the exam in the spring or summer of their second year of law school (this timing tends to roughly align with when students take legal ethics or professional responsibility classes). However, if you do decide to wait until your third year of law school, you should aim to take the exam in November to avoid overlapping with your bar prep. This suggestion holds true for any law school graduate who is planning to sit for both the bar exam and MPRE; planning ahead so that you don’t have to worry about both tests at the same time will save you some headaches during an already stressful time. Some states permit you to take the MPRE after you take the bar exam; while this might be a necessary strategy in some cases, most bar applicants tend to prefer getting the MPRE out of the way so that they can focus all of their efforts on the bar exam without anything else weighing on their minds. MPRE registration is simple and straightforward. Once you have your exam date in mind, you can register online for $95 on the NCBE website.
What is a passing score on the MPRE?
The MPRE is an objective test. For each question, there is one—and only one—correct answer. If you select the right answer, you’ll earn all the available points. If you select a wrong answer, you get zero points, even if your answer reflects a partial understanding of the question at hand (practicing attorneys will tell you that real-life ethical questions are rarely so straightforward).
Your final score on the MPRE is a result of a two-step process. The graders will first determine your raw score on the graded questions and then adjust your raw score to arrive at your final (scaled) score. Scaled MPRE scores range from a low of 50 to a high of 150. Each jurisdiction determines its own passing score. Generally, passing MPRE scores range from 75 to 86, depending on the state. To find the passing MPRE score in your jurisdiction, check out the NCBE’s website. But, the best way to ensure your MPRE results are above the passing score is to fully prepare.
How do I prepare for the MPRE?
While you should ideally give yourself a month to get ready for the MPRE, you can get by with one week of dedicated study time. Because you’re tested on a limited amount of material, you can easily prepare with the right strategy—and the right tools.
Study the Rules
The MPRE will test you on the ethical rules of the law. Unlike the typical law school exam, which often involves detailed fact patterns and requires extensive legal reasoning to answer, the MPRE is almost exclusively focused on black-letter rules. As a result, you need to read and understand these rules backward and forward. The MPRE is infamously tricky because it also tests the exceptions to the ethics rules. A gut feeling or a sense of the rules won’t get you far; instead, it’s necessary to memorize the key elements of the rules and their exceptions.
As part of your preparation, it’s well worth reading the rules and the comments word-for-word not once, but twice. However boring, this preparation will give you direct exposure to the rules. while the comments will provide context and real-world applications for a deeper understanding.
Master the Practice Questions
The best way to prepare for the real thing? Understand the format of the test itself. Diagnostic exams will give you MPRE practice questions to test your skills and structure to hone your time-management—ensuring you’re ready to pass the real MPRE.
Each question on the MPRE requires you to apply general principles of legal ethics to a hypothetical fact pattern and select the best answer. The MPRE tests both your legal knowledge and your analytical skills, including whether you can read each question closely, remember the governing legal principles, apply those legal principles to a hypothetical fact pattern, evaluate the relative merit of the available answer options, and ultimately select the best answer.
Use the Right Tools
While there are many tools and bar review products out there, only a few offer comprehensive study resources. To prepare for the MPRE, it’s important to use the best tools at your fingertips, starting with an MPRE prep course. Luckily, some of the best courses on the market are free to take—including Quimbee’s. With Quimbee MPRE Review you’ll get access to full-length practice exams, expert-written outlines, on-demand video lessons, and performance statistics, so you’ll know exactly which areas you need to focus on—at no cost to you. Best of all, each resource is organized into a complete study calendar, so you’ll know exactly what you should be studying when.
Ready to start studying for the MPRE? Try Quimbee MPRE Review course, absolutely free, today.
More MPRE Resources
The Legal Ethics Bundle is available with your ABA Premium law student membership. It’s not just about passing the MPRE. Conducting yourself ethically can make or break your reputation, or even your career. That’s why we offer over $100 in savings to ABA Premium law students.
The Legal Ethics Bundle includes:
- Free Model Rules of Professional Responsibility Ebook
- Discounted Print Model Rules
- Discounted Annotated Model Rules