How to Pass the MPRE the First Time you Take It: The MPRE is a two-hour-long ethics exam composed of 60 multiple choice questions (50 of which are scored questions and 10 of which are nonscored “test questions”). A passing score on the MPRE is required in order to be admitted to the bar in every jurisdiction except Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico. It is scored on a scale of 50 – 150 with the average score being 100. The score that is needed to pass the MPRE varies depending on where you take the exam but is generally between 75 and 86.
The MPRE tests the rules in the ABA (American Bar Association) Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct as well as leading federal and state cases and rules of evidence and procedure. The MPRE is not based on any particular state’s rules.
In this post, we will tell you how to pass the MPRE the first time you take it.
Why do you want to pass the MPRE the first time you take it? For the obvious reasons: It will save you time, money, and potential embarrassment/annoyance from having to take it again. But there is another (often overlooked) benefit: It will build confidence for the bar exam! Students who pass the MPRE the first time they take it usually feel better going into the bar exam. And conversely, students who fail the MPRE find that it adds – sometimes significantly – to their bar exam stress. Here is how to pass the MPRE the first time you take it:
1. Take Professional Responsibility in law school.
Professional Responsibility is a required course at many law schools and it makes sense to take it before you have to take the actual MPRE. Whether your Professional Responsibility course is based on the ABA Model Rules or your state’s rules, it will be a good background to the ethics rules. Taking the course will save you from having to spend a lot of outside time learning the basics.
2. Register early.
Take the MPRE early in your third year of law school rather than waiting. This will relieve some pressure and anxiety. Also, register early for the exam! As soon as you decide when to take it, register for it! When I was in law school, I had several friends who had to drive a few hours just to take the MPRE because they registered later than their peers. It is a much better idea to be early to register. It will save you stress and you will avoid having to waste a day driving a few hours away to take an exam.
3. Start studying early.
How early you start studying will depend on whether you took a Professional Responsibility course in law school as well as the kind of time commitment you can make each week. I generally recommend starting a month or so early and dedicating a set amount of time each week or weekend. This way you can review and re-review the material without having to cram for the exam.
4. Study Smart.
How should you study? Start by printing the subject matter outline provided by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This will guide your studying and help you allocate your time appropriately. For example, you’ll notice that Judicial conduct composes only 2-8% of the scored questions whereas, say, conflicts of interest are 12-18% . So if you only have a limited time allocated to studying, it is a better idea to spend that time learning the conflicts of interest rules rather than the (sometimes extremely nuanced) Code of Judicial Conduct.
It is also a good idea to review the commonly-used key words and phrases used on the MPRE. (We see students fail the MPRE every time simply because they did not have basic MPRE vocabulary straight in their mind prior to taking the exam! Look at it once and you won’t forget it!)
What study materials should you use? Many bar review courses offer their MPRE classes and materials for free or for a relatively cheap amount. However, you can also buy books on Amazon or eBay and study on your own.
5. Complete practice questions.
Start by completing the sample test questions as well as the online practice exam offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. It is $35 and is entirely composed of past MPRE questions so it is well worth your time to complete it. You will find out where you truly stand. If you are looking for more free sources of MPRE practice questions, please see this post — we offer a plethora of sources!
6. Get familiar with test day policies.
Figure out what you must bring (photo ID), what you may bring (plastic bag, unwrapped cough drops…) and what you may not bring (cell phone, a watch, mechanical pencils, ear plugs…) into the testing center. The lists change once in a while, so make sure to read the actual policies yourself. Plan to arrive to the testing center early. Make it a note to read our five last-minute tips to passing the MPRE prior to taking the exam!
If you have any questions or comments about how to pass the MPRE, feel free to post below. If you are looking for MPRE tutoring, please see this page about MPRE tutoring (we offer the options of full service tutoring as well as a popular two-hour “last minute MPRE review” for a review of all of the major concepts on the MPRE). We are very proud of our 100% passage rate among our privately-tutored MPRE students! This includes both first-time takers and repeat takers!
Looking to Pass the MPRE?
We offer the following services:
- A free MPRE Course which provides you with high-quality and tailored instruction focused on the highly tested areas of the MPRE. You can also get real MPRE questions with the course here.
- MPRE private tutoring to help you learn everything you need to pass the MPRE, including an MPRE outline and an MPRE study plan tailored to your individualized needs.
- A variety of excellent and free MPRE resources to help you conquer the MPRE.