If there’s one thing we learn in law school, it is that everything is relative, so unsurprisingly, students who take the MPRE find it “easy” in relation to the bar. Yet, just because it’s easi-er, does not mean it is a test that can be taken on intuition alone—in fact I find my instincts often betray me.
Like any other substantive course exam, the MPRE requires a nuanced ability to analyze facts, and this time there is a right and wrong answer—which often contradicts what your gut tells you. With only 2 minutes to answer each question, finding the right result is hard enough, let alone knowing the right justification within the allotted time.
Each question has four multiple-choice answers, and often two will often start with “Yes, because”… and two will start with “No, because…” Kind of like this:
Disclaimer: This is a joke. The questions are way harder.
What is the MPRE?
Lasting two hours, the MPRE is comprised of 60 multiple-choice questions, 10 of which are experimental but indistinguishable from the remaining 50, which are graded.
Almost all state bars require the exam, except Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico (whose lawyers hopefully boast a natural outstanding grasp on ethics). Each state also has its own passing rate. Offered three times per year in November, March and August, it affords slightly more flexibility than the biannual Bar exam. With more options, and less pressure, retaking it is not a big deal.
Because many schools require a professional responsibility class, many students take the class the same semester they plan to take the exam, since there is typically significant overlap in the material. Taking the class, however, is usually not meant to be the stand-alone preparation, as classes tend to focus on cases and ongoing controversial topics within individual jurisdictions, while the exam focuses on the ABA model rules.
Given the amount of preparation necessary depends on the professor’s teaching style, and your absorption of class materials, a good way to quickly know how much more time you need to study is to take a practice exam, such as the one offered by the NCBE—the agency who administers the exam.
Much to our delight, the same loyal friends that supplement us for our other law school courses are around for the MPRE too: Emanuel’s, Examples and Explanations, and Quimbee video lectures and corresponding quizzes. Naturally, these supplements serve a double purpose in that they help us keep up with our Professional Responsibility course, which like any other law school course, have heavy caseloads. Previous MPRE veterans recommend Emanuel’s Law in a Flash flashcards.
Bar Prep Companies Provide Free MPRE Courses
For those who have not taken the bar yet, the MPRE is a good way to test drive the bar prep companies for free before committing to one company come time to take the bar:
- Themis: practice test, 200 practice questions, with explained answers and an outline
- Barbri: video lectures and corresponding questions
- Kaplan: flashcards, question bank, lecture, downloadable or shipped study guide (for $15)
- BarMax: 100+ flashcards, outlines, video lectures, hardcopy pdf, study guide, iOS app and online formats.
Keep in mind that some state bar rules require that the MPRE be passed within 2 years of passing the bar. Thus, if you plan on pursuing a joint degree, which will push back your bar test date, it may be necessary to take the MPRE later too. Most students take it their 2L year or 3L fall to have enough time to retake the MPRE if necessary, before starting preparation for the Bar exam.
Register early to secure a seat at your preferred location. Like the LSAT, registration is processed through the LSAC account.
While studying, it is helpful to know how the exam is set-up. Thankfully, the NCBE provides an (overwhelmingly detailed) outline of what topics are covered and what percentage of questions are devoted to each topic. Conflicts of Interest, Client-lawyer relationship, litigation are among the most tested areas.
My professor also suggests reading the last sentence of the prompt first: the question, to know what you’re looking for when reading the mini fact hypo. The NCBE also supplies a list of common terms used in the prompts and how to interpret them.
While my classmates who have already taken the MPRE reassure me it’s easy, I remind myself not to take it too lightly. With such a wealth of resources, we have no excuse not to study thoroughly, especially with the vital role ethical issues play in our legal careers.
__ _ __
Want more useful bar exam advice? Sign up for our free mailing list now!
Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles: