The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) isn’t the bar exam, in scope or difficulty. But it is a necessary step on your way to becoming a lawyer: The MPRE is required for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction except Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.
Whereas the bar tests your knowledge of law, the MPRE covers ethical responsibilities of lawyers. It’s a big deal.
Here’s everything you need to know about the MPRE.
What is the MPRE?
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination is a two-hour exam made up of 60 multiple-choice questions. It’s administered three times per year. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) developed the exam to test future lawyers on what is considered acceptable and appropriate behavior for an attorney.
- The MPRE is required for admission to the bar in every U.S. jurisdiction except Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.
- Students can skip the MPRE in Connecticut and New Jersey by passing a Professional Responsibility course in law school.
- 2020 MPRE test dates: March 12-13, August 11-12, and October 23 & 28
What does the MPRE cover?
The MPRE tests your understanding of the following subjects, which are directly tied to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct:
- Client-Lawyer Relationship
- Client Confidentiality
- Communications About Legal Services
- Competence, Legal Malpractice & Other Civil Liability
- Conflicts of Interest
- Different Roles of the Lawyer
- Judicial Conduct
- Lawyers’ Duties to the Public & the Legal System
- Litigation & Other Forms of Advocacy
- Regulation of the Legal Profession
- Safekeeping Funds & Other Property
- Transactions & Communications With Persons Other Than Clients
An outline containing a complete breakdown of the MPRE can be found here: MPRE Subject Matter Outline.
Keep in mind you won’t be tested on any state-specific rules.
How is the MPRE scored?
Although the MPRE is simple in format, its scoring is a little less straightforward:
- Of the 60 questions, 50 are scored.
- The 10 non-scored questions are pretest questions, although they are indistinguishable from the rest: Approach all questions in the same way.
- MPRE scores range from 50 on the short end to 150 on the high end.
- Scores are determined by the number of correct answers, so you’re encouraged to guess.
- Scores are scaled based on the difficulty of that particular exam.
There is no national passing score. Each jurisdiction determines its standard. For example, 85 is the minimum passing score in New York.
Find the passing MPRE score for each state here.
When should I take the MPRE?
The time range in which you must pass the MPRE relative to passing the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) varies by jurisdiction.
In New York, you can take the MPRE before or after sitting for the bar exam. However, you must pass the MPRE within three years before or after passing the New York bar exam, as measured from the date you sat for each test.
The MPRE is offered in March, August, and November every year.
Most students choose to take the exam in August between their second and third year of law school for a few reasons:
- By this time, most students will have completed their Professional Responsibility course, which covers material on the MPRE.
- The summer offers students a chance to prepare for the MPRE without overlapping with school work.
- If they don’t pass the August exam, students can take the test again in November before ramping up bar preparation.
Students typically take the MPRE before the bar, and Pieper is set up in the same way. Pieper’s Free MPRE Course gives attendees a glimpse at the Pieper method before they hunker down for their bar review.
How should I prepare for the MPRE?
Notes from your Professional Responsibility course—or similarly titled course—will be an important resource. Plan to sit for the MPRE in the semester you take the course or the summer after it.
- Map out a study schedule. You should begin studying at least two weeks before the test, although three to four weeks is recommended.
- Review your notes from your Professional Responsibility course.
What are the best resources to study for the MPRE?
The MPRE is often overlooked by students because, in a phrase, “It’s not the bar.” There are quality resources readily available to help students prepare for and ultimately pass the MPRE.
Familiarize yourself with the exam by visiting NCBEX.org, which offers basic information about the MPRE, including keywords and phrases to know.
A wife retained an attorney to advise her in negotiating a separation agreement with her husband. Even though he knew that his wife was represented by the attorney, the husband, who was not a lawyer, refused to obtain counsel and insisted on acting on his own behalf throughout the protracted negotiations. The attorney never met or directly communicated in any way with the husband during the entire course of the negotiations. After several months, the wife advised the attorney that the parties had reached an agreement and presented the attorney with the terms. The attorney then prepared a proposed agreement that contained all of the agreed-upon terms. The attorney mailed the proposed agreement to the husband, with a cover letter stating the following:
“As you know, I have been retained by your wife to represent her in this matter. I enclose two copies of the separation agreement negotiated by you and your wife. Please read it and, if it meets with your approval, sign both copies before a notary and return them to me. I will then have your wife sign them and furnish you with a fully executed copy.”
Is the attorney subject to discipline?
What if I fail(ed) the MPRE?
If you failed the MPRE, know that you’re not alone: For the November 2018 test, 18.6 percent of students scored 79 or less (79 is a passing score in just six U.S. jurisdictions), according to statistics provided by the NCBE.
- Take a look at your score sheet. How close were you to passing the MPRE in your jurisdiction?
- Plan to retake the exam as soon as possible, especially if you were close to your jurisdiction’s passing threshold.
- Register for the MPRE.
- Map out a studying plan, and stick to it. Prioritize practice questions, and consider signing up for Pieper’s Free MPRE Course.
Keep in mind the sooner you pass the MPRE, the sooner you can focus your study efforts on the bar.
What’s included in Pieper’s Free MPRE Course?
- Access to John Pieper’s step-by-step lecture on passing the MPRE
- A complete outline of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
- A complete outline of the ABA Model Rules of Judicial Conduct
- Hundreds of examples & MPRE practice questions
- Three simulated MPRE exams
- Comprehensive analytical answers
- A list of mnemonics to assist you with remembering important details tested on the exam
Getting access to these resources for free is a great deal. Adding the flexibility of study is even better. You can complete course material at your own pace, although we recommend you begin studying for the MPRE at least three to four weeks before the exam.