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5 Tips for Success on the MPRE-Bar Exam

The MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination) is the test that law students in most states must take before being admitted to the Bar. It is made up of multiple tests and constitutes the ethics portion of the Bar exam. You'll have about two hours to complete this 60-question test, but only 50 of the 60 questions will count toward your final score. (Ten questions are known as “exploratory” questions, and these do not provide any points toward your final score.)

However, it is impossible to tell which questions are these pretest questions, so you must treat each question as if it were the real deal. You will most likely have already taken a Professional Responsibility Course during school that jumpstarted your preparation efforts this test. Still, you will need more studying and practice than that, though, so here are the top five tips you need to follow to achieve success on the MPRE.

  1. Know What Will Be Tested Ahead of Time

Not all topics are covered equally by the MPRE, and some topics will be tested more than others. You may observe that you are questioned far less on judicial conduct (typically, this constitutes only about 2-8% of the MPRE) than conflicts (this topic makes up about 12-18% of the test). What does this mean for you?

This means that you will need to spend more time studying specific topics as compared to others. Although it may make you feel more prepared to review all the potential topics equally, this may not be the most productive study strategy. Check out available cheat sheets online to get a feel for which subjects will be emphasized more during your exam.

  1. Get to Know Some of the Language that Will Be Present on the MPRE

Many students get stumped on the MPRE, even when they know the material like the back of their hand. Why is this? Because they are not reading the questions carefully! The language of the MPRE is crucial to your understanding of the problems, and therefore, your performance. It's worth it to look at a pretest or cheat sheets to get familiar with how the MPRE questions are asked. This can make the difference between a passing or failing score! Some of the keywords and phrases you must be aware of with the MPRE include:

  • Subject to discipline. A question that asks whether a lawyer is “subject to discipline” is essentially asking whether a lawyer violated ABA Model Rules with different wording. (This is very different from “subject to civil liability!” A question that asks this will require that you search for signs of malpractice in the case (if there is no malpractice, the next possibility is misrepresentation or a breach of fiduciary duty).
  • Subject to litigation sanction. Any question that includes this phrasing is asking whether the lawyer or their law firm would be subject to sanction by a tribunal like a fine, disqualification, fee forfeiture, or other sanctions.
  • Subject to disqualification. A question featuring this phrasing is asking whether the described conduct could result in the disqualification of counsel in a civil or criminal case.

After you've become familiar with the keywords and phrases that will be used on the MPRE, you've got to practice your efficiency for identifying them in specific questions. (There is no use in knowing what type of wording to expect when you end up glossing over it entirely as you read through the test!) Read through the questions slowly and carefully, and when you see one of these phrases, highlight or underline it. Break the sentences down if you must, but no matter what you do, make sure to give yourself every opportunity to recognize these keywords. Your score depends on it!

  1. Take Professional Responsibility During Law School

Your school will most likely require you to take an ethics class, known as the "Professional Responsibility" course before you are eligible to take the MPRE. This is an excellent opportunity to bolster your chances of passing the MPRE on your first try. The emphasis of this course will largely depend on your school. Where some schools focus on the American Bar Association (ABA) rules, others may spend more time teaching state ethics. 

No matter what the particular specialization of your school's Professional Responsibility course is, the material will provide you with a strong foundation on which to prepare for the MPRE. As you progress through this class, you will become familiar with the fundamentals of ethics law and its core principles. You will also be made aware of how often judges apply ethics law and the methods with which they use it.

  1. Develop an MPRE Study Plan

Now that you have an idea of what you should be studying, you need to establish a plan on how you will follow through. Many law students get caught up in wondering how long they will need to study for the MPRE, but this aspect of your preparation depends solely on you. 

Give yourself more than the average month to prepare for the MPRE if you have a history of test anxiety or if you do not feel comfortable with the material. (Anyone unable to take the Professional Responsibility course in school should also take more than one month to prepare.) Studying for two hours per day on one topic at a time is generally a highly effective approach to preparing for the MPRE.

  1. Practice the MPRE

This is perhaps one of the best things you can do as you aim for success on the MPRE-Bar Exam. The best way to get familiar with the language and flow of the test is by doing a few practice runs. You can either attempt to find a full practice test online (these are about $40) or use MPRE practice questions.

The MPRE is an exam that features many caveats and challenging questions. Any law student could be stumped by this test, no matter how thoroughly you studied and practiced for it. Whether it is your first, second, or fifth time taking this test, don’t be discouraged. Contact our Attorney Instructors at LawTutors, and we will provide you with all the tools you need to do your best on the MPRE!


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