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Study Guide

5 Myths About the MPRE Test
Exams

5 Myths About the MPRE Test 

1. The MPRE ONLY Tests the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. 

If you think that the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) only tests the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, think again.  While the primary focus of the MPRE tests your knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, do not act surprised if you see questions asking about the conduct of judges.  In addition to testing your knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the MPRE may test your knowledge of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct.  While the Model Rules of Professional Conduct sets the ethical standards for lawyers, the Model Code of Judicial Conduct sets the ethical standards for judges.    

The Model Rules of Professional Conduct has served as a guide for most states’ professional responsibility ethics codes.  While states often mimic the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, you are encouraged to know your state-specific ethics rules for the state in which you will sit for the bar exam.  As of 2018, every state except for Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico require you to pass the MPRE.  Individuals who will sit for the bar exam in Connecticut and New Jersey may opt out of taking the MPRE.  That is, if an alternative requirement is met which is described in section three of this post.  In order to pass the MPRE, remember that the MPRE not only tests the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, but it also may test your knowledge of the Model Rules of Judicial Conduct.

2. I Took a Professional Responsibility Course, so I Do Not Have to Study for the MPRE

I am not bragging, but I received a Certificate of Achievement in Professional Responsibility.  The certificate may be given to the student who obtains the highest letter grade in the class.  Even though I successfully completed a Professional Responsibility course,  I did not pass the MPRE the first time.  

I thought to myself, as many other students do, “I did well in Professional Responsibility, so I will pass the MPRE.”  Well, to my dismay, myself and many other students fell short of a passing score.  Some Professional Responsibility courses heavily focus on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  These courses sometimes fail to touch upon the Model Rules of Judicial Conduct.  This can make or break your exam score.  Also, the MPRE focuses on many of the rules’ exceptions, which requires hours of memorization.  

So now you may ask, what can I do to pass the MPRE in addition to taking the Professional Responsibility course?  Well, one thing you can do is sign up for a MPRE course.  Themis’s FREE MPRE course provides lectures, videos, an outline, and practice questions to help you learn the material you need to know to pass the MPRE.  In addition, Strategies & Tactics for the MPRE is a great resource that provides tips on how to answer MPRE multiple choice questions, quickly and easily.  I would highly recommend buying Strategies & Tactics for the MPRE if you, like me, struggle with standardized tests.  This source helps you choose the correct multiple choice answer when the answer is not clear.

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3. The MPRE Test Is Not Required to Be Admitted to the Bar

As mentioned above, the only jurisdictions that do not require you to take the MPRE are Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.  There is also an exception for Connecticut and New Jersey, both of which will accept successful completion of a Professional Responsibility law school course in lieu of a MPRE score.  If you are planning to take the bar exam in the next few years, it is recommended that you carefully review the most recent bar requirements for that jurisdiction.  

Jurisdictions have different requirements for when you must take the MPRE.  Some jurisdictions do not let you sit for the bar exam without having taken the MPRE.  Other jurisdictions allow you to take the MPRE after the bar exam.  You can visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ website to see the specific MPRE requirements for each jurisdiction.

4. I Have to Wait Until My Final Year of Law School to Take the MPRE

If your jurisdiction permits, which many if not all do, you can take the MPRE at any time during law school.  In fact, it is to your advantage to take the MPRE as soon as you complete your Professional Responsibility course.  The MPRE is offered three times per year: in March, August, and November.  While the information you obtained from your Professional Responsibility course is still fresh in your head, why wait to take the exam? 

You will most likely take a Professional Responsibility course during your second year of law school.  If you take the MPRE during your second year of law school and happen to fail the exam, don’t fret!  You will have multiple opportunities to take the exam again before having to sit for the bar exam.  However, it is smart to take the MPRE during your second year of law school.  If you wait until your third year of law school, which many people do, not only will you have to prepare for the MPRE, but you may have to prepare for the bar exam at the same time.

Many students who take the MPRE during their third year of law school run the risk of not passing.  Not passing could result in a delay in sitting for the bar exam. The moral of the story is, take the MPRE as soon as your jurisdiction allows, and upon completion of your Professional Responsibility course.  Do not forget to sign up for a MPRE review course. This will allow you to learn additional test material that likely not covered in your Professional Responsibility course.

5. The MPRE Test Is Only Two Hours, so It Cannot Be That Hard

The MPRE test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and is two hours long.  Two hours long does not seem too intimidating compared to four-hour long law school finals, right?  Not so fast!  When the MPRE proctor instructs you to start the MPRE test, the following two hours will be difficult.  The MPRE consists of difficult, challenging, and complex legal ethics questions that can be confusing and convoluted.  People may say to you, “you are ethical, so I’m sure you will pass” (not that I’m speaking from experience).  Beware that the test is more than just being an ethical individual.  The MPRE is about knowing the ethics rules and having the ability to apply the rules to different scenarios.  Take a breath.  While this post focuses on common myths of the MPRE, do not fear.  With preparation, hard work, and a positive attitude, you can pass the MPRE!

If you found this post helpful, visit our blog about other exam tips.

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