What is the MPRE?
Many people forget about the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (“MPRE” or “ethics bar”), but it is required for admission in all but four U.S. jurisdictions. The MPRE is a 2 hour and 5 minute, 60 question multiple-choice test on professional responsibility.
The next text is administered a week from today, August 10, 2012. There is also an administration on November 3, April 6, 2013 and August 17, 2013.
Most students take the MPRE during their final year of law school to get the requirement out of the way before the bar exam. Each jurisdiction determines what is a “passing score.” So if you are wondering how “ethical” you need to be, you should check the requirements of your state. The test is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (same folks who administer the MBE). You can read more about the test here.
Tips for MPRE Preparation
- Get Study Materials You might be thinking, “Study materials? I need study materials?” Yes you do! Although the MPRE doesn’t have the same reputation as the bar exam in terms of difficulty, you still need to be familiar with the rules tested on the exam. And for most of us, that means we need to study for the test!There are plenty of study materials out there and (unlike the bar exam) many materials are free! Bar providers often give you access to MPRE lectures and materials to win your business later for the bar exam. Check out the free programs from BarMax (my review here) and Kaplan. These materials can be downloaded electronically so even if you are taking the exam next week, you can get materials today! If you have already purchased a bar review course, it is likely they will give you MPRE materials (contact them and find out).
- Make Time to Study When I was fifteen years old I went to sit for my written learner’s permit driving test. I had taken driver’s education in school the summer before and I was a pretty good student, so I didn’t think I needed to study. Turns out, I failed. I was devastated (as only as a 15 year old could be). When I told my mom I hadn’t passed she asked me if I had studied the rule book? I admitted that I hadn’t. Then she asked me why I thought I could pass a test based on rules without studying the rules before the test? (Fair point, Mom.) So two weeks later when I went to re-take the test, I had invested a couple of hours reviewing the testing materials. And you know what? I passed with flying colors.The same thing is true for the MPRE. No, you don’t need to study full-time and it isn’t as intense as the bar exam, but you do need to study. How much you need to study is up to you depending on how much you retained from you professional responsibility class in law school or how well you take multiple-choice exams.
But everyone should sit down and actually review the material. Then take a practice test. That will quickly give you insight into how much time you need to spend studying. If the practice test doesn’t go so well, then you may need to put in some additional study time in order to pass the test.
- Do Some Practice If you have followed my posts here on Solo Practice University, you know that I believe that the best way to prepare for all things bar exam related is to practice, practice, practice. It is not enough to just listen to lectures or review an outline. There is nothing that can substitute for actually going through the questions.And don’t just answer questions, actively study them. If you get a question right, make sure you got it right for the right reasons. If you got a question wrong, make sure you know why you got it wrong. Make sure you understand (and know) the legal rule being tested. If you don’t know the rule, write it down so you can study it later. You can even purchase a practice test directly from the NCBE if you want additional practice.
You also need to be aware of timing, something that is always an issue with multiple-choice exams. Make sure you set aside some timed practice so you are prepared to manage your time on exam day.
- Make Sure You Know the Details of Test Day Although this isn’t as intense of an exam experience as the bar exam, there are still very strict rules as to what you can bring with you to the testing center. In addition, you should think about what to wear to the testing center (something comfortable and in layers) and what to eat before the exam.
- Keep Perspective The MPRE should be taken seriously (ethics are an important part of being an attorney) but don’t let anxiety make this exam more difficult than it needs to be. If the worst happens, you can take it again in just a few months. It is important to remember, though, if you mentally go into the exam with a positive perspective, you are likely to do better.
If You Are Taking the MPRE in November or Beyond …
- Sign-up for a Professional Responsibility Class at Your Law School Most law schools require you to take a professional responsibility or ethics class during law school. Typically you review many of the rules tested on the MPRE during that class, so it may make sense to take that class prior to sitting for the MPRE.
- Use the MPRE to Check-Out Different Bar Providers As mentioned above, the MPRE study process is a great way to test out different bar exam providers, especially if they will give you free access. Remember it is up to you to decide what is the best bar exam preparation option for you. The MPRE is a great way to get more information to make the best decision possible.
But Don’t Wait Too Long to Take the MPRE
Although you will likely pass the MPRE with flying colors (with some studying), you definitely want to take it early enough that you could take it again without delaying your licensing process. For example, if you took the bar exam in July 2012 and the MPRE in August 2012, a failing MPRE score will prevent you from getting your bar license even if you pass the bar exam. There is no reason for the delay! Take this test during your third year of law school and give yourself time to re-take the exam if you need to.
Good luck to those taking the MPRE next week!
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.