While the Bar Exam gets all the attention as the standardized exam standing between you and your dreams of becoming a lawyer, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is also required for admission to the bar in almost every state. The MPRE is a multiple-choice exam, testing legal ethics and professional responsibilities of practicing attorneys. Here’s everything you need to know about the MPRE. 

What is the MPRE?

The MPRE is a 60-question multiple choice test on legal ethics.  50 of the questions are scored, and 10 are unscored (these are questions being tested for future exams, similar to the 25 unscored questions on the MBE).  The MPRE is written and administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (the same people that bring you the UBE).  The MPRE is required by all jurisdictions except for Puerto Rico and Wisconsin. Also, Connecticut and New Jersey allow you to satisfy their ethics requirement with a grade of C or C-, respectively, in a law school professional ethics course, in lieu of taking the MPRE.

What score do I need to pass the MPRE? 

Passing scores for the MPRE depend on jurisdiction.  A passing MPRE score ranges from 75 to 86.  There is a two-step process involved in arriving at your MPRE score.  The graders take the raw score (the actual number of questions you scored correctly) and then scale it to come up with your final score.  Scaling changes each administration based on numerous factors, so it’s impossible to say exactly how many questions you’ll need to get correct in order to pass the MPRE. However, generally, a raw score of 32 will give you a scaled score of approximately 85.  So, if you are scoring between 30 and 35 on your practice exams, you are likely in a passing range. 

How do I study for the MPRE?

Generally, law schools recommend taking the MPRE after completing your class on professional ethics. However, the MPRE tests on distinct topics that may or may not have been covered in your class. Additionally, the MPRE is a multiple-choice test based on black letter law.  Your ethics class, like all law school classes, likely focused on case law and legal analysis. Therefore, it’s important to supplement your preparation for the MPRE with additional resources. Most commercial bar review courses offer free MPRE prep courses, as a way to introduce you to their products.  You should take advantage of these.  They will consist of lectures reviewing the black letter law and how it is tested on the MPRE, as well as practice exams. Additionally, the NCBE offers practice exams for purchase in their study aid store. If budget allows, you should plan to do at least one of those.  Practicing with questions from the source is always a great way to study. 

When should I take the MPRE? 

The MPRE is offered three times a year – March, August, and November.  Ideally, you would take the exam in your second year, or in November of your third year.  That way, you’ll have a buffer to take the MPRE again before graduation should you not pass the first time.  It’s especially important to be cognizant of this if your jurisdiction requires you to pass the MPRE before sitting for the bar exam.  Many states allow you to take the bar prior to passing the MPRE; you only must pass before you are admitted. But even if your state allows this, the last thing you are going to want to do after taking the bar exam is study for another test! And while you may be permitted to take the MPRE after the bar exam, this may delay your admission to the bar.  It is best to take and pass the MPRE while you are in law school.  Also be sure to pay attention to registration dates for the MPRE, and dates for applying for accommodations if you qualify (those are earlier than regular registration). 

You will also want to consider the time limits between the bar and the MPRE in your state.  Rules vary from state to state regarding how long your score is good for, meaning you must pass the MPRE within a certain number of years before or after passing the bar.  Determine the MPRE rules for your state now, decide on the best date to take the exam, and then create your MPRE study plan to ensure you will be successful on the first time! 

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