Understanding the MPRE: How It's Scored

October 16 2017 Bar Review News By Pieper Bar Review
Understanding the MPRE: How It's Scored

Law students surely know about the bar exam, but many may be unaware it's comprised of several different sections: the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and Multistate Performance Test (MPT). 

There's also the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE), which officially, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), measures examinees' "knowledge and understanding of established standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers."

Here's an overview of this important examination, including a brief explanation about how exactly it's scored:

What Is The MPRE?

The MPRE is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE administered three times per year. It is required for admission to the bars in all but three U.S. jurisdictions: Maryland, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. In Connecticut and New Jersey, bar exam candidates can submit the successful completion of a law school course on professional responsibility in place of taking the MPRE.

What Subjects Are On The MPRE?

The MPRE tests the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which are the rules governing lawyer ethics; and its Model Code of Judicial Conduct, which cover judicial ethics.

The most common subjects on the exam include:

  • Regulation of the legal profession
  • Lawyer-client relationship
  • Client confidentiality
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Competence
  • Forms of legal advocacy
  • Non-client communications
  • Lawyers' roles
  • Safekeeping funds
  • Advertising
  • Lawyers’ duties to the public
  • Judicial conduct

You can find the NCBE's outline of MPRE subjects here.

When Should I Take The MPRE?

The time range that you must pass the MPRE (relative to passing the UBE) varies by jurisdiction, but in NY the MPRE can be taken before or after the bar examination. The applicant must, however, pass the MPRE within three years either before or after passing the New York bar examination, as measured from the date the applicant sat for each examination.

Law students typically take the MPRE before the UBE, between their second and third law school years. This is beneficial for several reasons:

Examinees won't be in school, so they won't have to balance studying for classes and exams. Students have usually taken their Professional Responsibility course by this time, too, so they'll already be familiar with the material.

It's also important to sit for the MPRE early on, just in case you don't pass the first time.

It can also make sense to take the MPRE during the semester you are taking your Professional Responsibility course, since concepts you need to study for the MPRE will help you on your Professional Responsibility final. You'll need to set aside time to study during the semester, but preparing for the MPRE won't confilict with your finals' preparation.

How Do I Study For The MPRE?

Study the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Model Code of Judicial Conduct on your own, or take a free MPRE course, which is typically offered by many bar review courses and programs. The latter is your best option, since these include material that will be on the exam, and instructors experienced with best preparing students. Plus, they're free!


How Is The MPRE Scored?

Fifty of the 60 questions on the MPRE are scored, and the remaining are pretest questions. Answer every question on the exam, since the pretest questions are indistinguishable from the others.

There are four possible answers for each question on the MPRE. Ensure you mark only one per question, as multiple answers will be scored as incorrect. Only those marked on the answer sheet will receive credit. Scores are ultimately determined on the number of answers marked correctly, and incorrect answers do not result in subtracted points.

The MPRE is a two-hour examination.

Although the MPRE is a national exam, there is no national scaled passing score. Each jurisdiction determines its own passing grade, which can range from 50 to 150. Find the passing MPRE score for each state here

 Register Now for Pieper's Free MPRE Course

About the author

Pieper Bar Review

For over forty years, Pieper Bar Review has taught students the legal concepts and skills necessary for success on the bar exam, and reinforced students’ knowledge through thought provoking examples and bar exam questions. The proof that the Pieper teaching method works is found in the success of our former students – now present-day attorneys. Learn more

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