Comprehensive Guide to MPRE Scoring and the Minimum Passing Score
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE®) is administered tri-annually by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NBCE®). The NBCE reports MPRE scores to each examiner's registered jurisdiction. Unlike the bar exam, which tests legal knowledge (torts, criminal law, contracts, etc.), the MPRE tests an examinee's comprehension of the professional standards of conduct and ethics unique to their jurisdiction.
Examinees have 2 hours to complete 60 multiple-choice questions. Performance is measured via a scaled score which ranges from 50 to 150. The exam is a prerequisite to the bar in every US jurisdiction save Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. MPRE minimum passing scores vary by state. For example, Alabama, DC, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have the lowest passing score (75), while California and Utah have the highest (86). Most jurisdictions have a passing score of 85.
How is the MPRE Scored and Calculated?
The NBCE employs a statistical method known as equating to determine MPRE scores. Equating is commonly used to score standardized tests (MCAT®, SAT®, CFA®, etc.) to ensure fairness across different versions.
For example, if last year's exam is easier than the current year’s exam, examinees will receive bonus points. In contrast, points are deducted for easier exam versions. Because tests vary across administrations, the NBCE can employ equating to estimate differences in score distributions and develop a uniform measurement of scale.
Only 50 of the 60 MPRE exam questions are scored. Correct answers are input into scaled scores (raw scores) while negative marks are omitted. Passing scores vary by jurisdiction and range from 75 to 86, with 85 being the most common.
How is the MPRE raw score converted to a scaled score?
Remember the NBCE generates scaled scores by employing a statistical method known as equating wherein an examinee’s raw score is calibrated based on the comparative difficulty between their test and those of the past. In other words, bonus points are awarded or deducted based on the relative difficulty of an exam.
The NBCE does not release hard data on how they convert the raw percentage of correct answers into final scaled scores. However, a 2011 article written by the former NBCE director provides the following estimations:
|# Correct/50||#Correct/60||Raw %||Scaled Score|
Note that by answering a mere two more answers correctly, an examinee can raise their score from 75 to 85 according to the above estimations. If you are consistently hitting a score between 30 and 35 on mock exams, you are in a solid position to pass the MPRE regardless of jurisdiction.
What are the MPRE Score Percentiles?
MPRE scores range from 50 to 150, with the average score being 93-94 depending on your jurisdiction. Scores above 130 represent the top 5th percentile, while a score of 50 represents the lowest end of the percentile.
When the NBCE administered the first MPRE in 1980, the average score was 100. Despite fluctuations in average scores over time, a score of 100 typically indicates that an examinee has answered 68% of questions correctly.
The most common minimum MPRE passing score of 85 corresponds to an exam with approximately 60% correct answers (80/58% and 75/56%).
Scoring Breakdown for the MPRE
Each of the 8 subjects of the MPRE test a different facet of the examinee’s knowledge and comprehension of professional and ethical standards in the legal field. Understanding that the MPRE contains 60 multiple questions allows us to estimate how the weightage of each subject translates into the number of questions for each subject:
|Conflicts of Interest||12-18%||7-11|
|Litigation and Advocacy||10-16%||6-10|
|Legal Professional Regulation||6-12%||3-11|
|Competence and Legal Malpractice||6-12%||3-11|
Note that subjects sometimes change. Therefore, it is best to review a variety of past MPRE exams to cultivate a comprehensive understanding of the material while ensuring readiness and flexibility.
Recall that only 50 of the 60 MPRE multiple choice questions count toward your total score. Incorrect answers are omitted. A helpful rule of thumb is to consider that each correct answer is roughly equal to three points. For example, California and Utah have a minimum passing score of 86 (86/3 = 28.67). We then round up and add 1 to arrive at 30 correct answers needed. This is certainly not a perfect system, but it gives examinees an idea of each question's weight.
MPRE Minimum Passing Score by State
MPRE minimum passing scores vary by jurisdiction. California and Utah require the highest minimum passing score (86) while Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, and the Virgin Islands require the lowest (75). The most common minimum passing score is 85, with 80 as a close second.
|75||Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, Virgin Islands|
|80||Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands|
|85||Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming|
MPRE National Mean Scaled Scores, 2018–2021
The NBCE releases the mean scaled scores of each of the three exams, and for all three yearly exams combined:
When will MPRE scores be released?
Examinees can typically access their MPRE scores via their NBCE Account’s “File Cabinet” within five weeks of their exam date. Note that access to these scores expires when the next exam is administered. For example, if you take the March exam, your scores will be accessible until the August test is administered.
If an examinee fails to save their score within the allotted time, they must contact MPRE Score Services and request an MPRE Unofficial Score Transcript.
What are MPRE Score Services and when should you use them?
Examinees can contact MPRE score services via their NBCE account after they have taken their exam. MPRE score services offer the following services to examinees:
- Designate additional jurisdictions for score reporting
- Designate a jurisdiction if you did not upon registration
- Retrieve your MPRE score after it has expired from your NBCE Account (1999 or later)
- Recheck your MPRE score with two months of your test date
There is a $25 fee for each MPRE Score Report and MPRE Unofficial Score Transcript and a $50 MPRE Score Verification fee. Examinees may pay these nonrefundable fees online via credit card, or mail a check to NBCE along with their confirmation page. However, the latter method may cause delays.
Maximum Age of MPRE Scores
The American Bar Association (ABA®) requires a passing MPRE score for bar admission in every U.S. jurisdiction. Depending on the jurisdiction, a candidate’s MPRE score is valid within a certain time frame either before or after passing the Uniform Bar Examination® (UBE®). Furthermore, each jurisdiction sets its own MPRE maximum age policy.
For example, in Washington D.C. MPRE scores do not expire, while Texas MPRE scores are valid “any time prior to, or within 2 years after, passing the Texas Bar Exam”. Below are several examples of time parameters and maximum score ages related to the MPRE.
|New York||“The MPRE may be taken before or after the bar examination but a passing MPRE score is valid for 4 years from the date the applicant sat for that MPRE.”|
|California||“For on motion applicants, validity of the MPRE score is 5 years, but the MPRE requirement is waived if the applicant has been engaged in the authorized active practice of law for 15 years or more in another jurisdiction with no public discipline and previously took the MPRE for admission in another jurisdiction.” and “Applicants may take the MPRE any time after completing their first year of law study”|
|Florida||“MPRE scores must be attained within 25 months of passing other parts of the Florida Bar Examination. AN applicant’s passing scores on the Flordia Bar Examination will be valid for a period of 5 years from the date of the administration of the last part of the Florida Bar Examination that he or she passed.”|
|Texas||The MPRE scores are valid “any time prior to, or within 2 years after, passing the Texas Bar Exam.”|
|Washington D.C.||“MPRE scores do not expire”|
To learn about the maximum age of MPRE scores for your jurisdiction, navigate here (for non-uniform bar examination jurisdictions navigate here) and open the dropdown menu titled: “Are there any time parameters within which an MPRE score must be earned of achieved”. Alternatively, contact your jurisdiction’s bar association or visit their website.
Score Services Fees
|MPRE Unofficial Score Transcript||Learn score||$25|
|MPRE Score Report||Send score to jurisdiction||$25|
|MPRE Score Verification||Verify score||$50|
Send my Score to a Jurisdiction
When MPRE candidates register for their exam they can select their desired jurisdiction. Candidates can review their selected jurisdiction via their NBCE Account File Cabinet “Summary of Request for Test Authorization” section. If candidates failed to select a jurisdiction upon registration or would like to add jurisdictions, they must request an MPRE Score Report for a fee of $25.
Learn my score
Requests for Unofficial Score Transcripts must be made via a candidate’s NBCE Account for a fee of $25. Unofficial Score Transcripts are for personal use only and will not be accepted to report MPRE score to your jurisdiction. Transcripts include all MPRE scores going back to 1999.
Having my score rechecked
Candidates can request to have their scores verified by requesting an MPRE Score Verification. Requests must be submitted within two months from their test date via their NBCE Account’s “File Cabinet” section for a fee of $50.
How many correct questions do I need to pass the MPRE?
MPRE examinees must answer 30 to 35 questions correctly to pass the MPRE. Minimum passing scores range from 75 to 86 and vary by jurisdiction. Please reference the “MPRE Minimum Passing Score by State” section above to review your jurisdiction passing score. The NBCE does not release data on how raw scores are converted into scaled scores. However, a 2011 article written by the former NBCE director provides the following estimations:
|# Correct/50||#Correct/60||Raw %||Scaled Score|
How to Determine Your MPRE Score on a Practice Test?
To determine your MPRE scores on a practice test, candidates should assume that each correct answer has a value of 3 points. Therefore, an examinee in California or Utah would need to get 30 correct answers (86/3 = 28.75 rounded to 29 and +1 for good measure).
While this equation does not perfectly fit with the 2011 estimations given by the former NBCE director, it is a good rule of thumb. Candidates would be wise to assume that 1-2 extra points are necessary to pass.
For example, if a candidate gets 28 correct answers on a practice test, they will multiply by three to get 84. However, to be safe, candidates should consider this to be an overestimation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The NBCE determines MPRE performance using a scaled score that ranges from 50 to 150.
An MPRE score between 130-150 places an individual in the top 5th percentile of examinees, while a score of 50 places an individual at the lowest percentile. In 2021, the average MPRE score was 97.6, well above the lowest (75) and highest (86) minimum passing scores.
In 2021, 15-19% of examinees achieved a score of 80-89, which requires roughly 27-30 correct answers.
A 75% MPRE score refers to a candidate’s raw score. To achieve 75%, candidates must get 38 of 50 answers correct.
To achieve a scaled score of 80 on the MPRE, examinees must get roughly 27 to 30 answers correct. In 2021, 15-19% of examinees achieved a score of 80-89.
The MPRE minimum passing score varies by state. However, taking the common minimum passing score of 80, we can determine that 16.6-18.3% of examinees failed across all three exams last year.
Examinees must designate their jurisdiction with the NBCE when they register for the MPRE. If an examinee did not make a designation, or they would like to add multiple jurisdictions, they must contact MPRE Score Services and request an MPRE Score Report.