MPRE® Study Guide
Everything You Need to Improve Your Score and Pass the Exam

Bar exam components like the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE®), the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE®), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT®) often take precedence over the MPRE in the minds of students. However, it should not be underestimated.

You can improve your chances of achieving a successful MPRE score by using the best study materials and learning actionable study tips. Fortunately, this study guide provides exactly that. Read on to learn how to study for the MPRE and pass the first time.

Understand the MPRE Format and Subjects

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE®) has been developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE®) to assess examinees' ability to conduct themselves professionally and adhere to procedural and evidentiary rules established by authoritative federal and state cases.

Wisconsin and Puerto Rico are the only two US jurisdictions that do not require a passing MPRE score to be admitted to the bar, while Connecticut and New Jersey waive their MPRE requirement if an applicant has successfully completed a professional responsibility course in law school.

The MPRE consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and is administered three times per year, generally in March, August, and November. You'll be scored on 50 of the 60 questions, while the remaining 10 are pilot questions for future exams.

You'll have two hours to answer questions which are formatted as a scenario with a question prompt and four answer options. Common questions involve determining whether an attorney is subject to disciplinary action, whether they acted in good faith, and whether the legal counsel may withdraw.

Fortunately, the NCBE provides an MPRE subject matter outline that includes the frequency with which each topic appears in any given exam. See the chart below for details.

MPRE Frequency Chart
MPRE Topics % #
Regulation of the legal profession 6-12% 5-8
The client-lawyer relationship 10-16% 5-8
Client confidentiality 6-12% 3-6
Conflicts of interest 12-18% 6-9
Competence, legal malpractice, and other civil liability 6-12% 3-6
Litigation and other forms of advocacy 10-16% 5-8
Transactions and communications with persons other than clients 2-8% 1-4
Different roles of the lawyer 4-10% 2-5
Safekeeping funds and other property 2-8% 1-4
Communications about legal services 4-10% 2-5
Lawyers' duties to the public and the legal system 2-4% 1-4
Judicial conduct 2-8% 1-4

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Stack of Themis MPRE Complete Online Preparation books.

How to Study and Prepare for the MPRE

Achieving a successful MPRE score comes down to how you study and prepare. Fortunately, there are tested methods and quality resources to help you improve your chances of passing.

Learn the rules thoroughly

The MPRE tests examinees on their knowledge and understanding of disciplinary rules of professional conduct that originate from the American Bar Association (ABA), constitutional decisions, and generally accepted legal principles. More specifically:

Practicing with real MPRE questions is essential, but you won't know how to apply substantive rules of law if you haven't studied them thoroughly. Once you gain some confidence in your understanding, apply it to practice questions, evaluate your performance, and reapply yourself to studying weak subject areas.

Now that you understand what to study, the following sections will tell you how.

Memorize important keywords and phrases

The same keywords and phrases routinely appear in the call of MPRE questions. Nuances in language make significant differences in how you should answer the questions. Fortunately, the NCBE has provided an outline of commonly used keywords and phrases. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Attorney
  • Subject to discipline
  • May/Proper
  • Subject to litigation sanction
  • Subject to disqualification
  • Subject to civil liability
  • Subject to criminal liability
  • Disciplinary authority
  • Lawyer-client relationship

Practice with real MPRE questions

MPRE questions are notoriously tricky, and answers may be intentionally misleading. The best way to overcome this challenge is to practice with as many MPRE sample questions as possible, study their structure, evaluate your performance, and repeat the process until you feel confident in your ability.

Make use of flashcards

Spaced-repetition flashcards have been scientifically proven to increase retention. By presenting difficult material at shorter intervals, and easier material at longer intervals, the spaced-repetition method increases exposure to a broad range of topics while prioritizing those that need the most attention.

Create your own flashcards on important material encoded in the ABA resources, constitutional decisions, and general principles mentioned above. Not only will you become familiar with the material faster, you’ll be able to study anytime and from anywhere.

Familiarize yourself with fact patterns

MPRE questions are designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the rules and standards regarding the professional conduct of lawyers. As such, questions tend toward similar fact patterns regarding non-lawyers—a paralegal, an accountant, a client, etc.—responding to a given situation.

Remember that the MPRE is not testing whether or not a lawyer's actions are unethical, but if what they’re doing breaks professional standards of conduct, and if it does, what the response must be.

Focus on highly tested topics

“Conflicts of interest” has a weight of 12-18%, while “Lawyers' duties to the public and the legal system” has a weight of 2-4%. In a perfect world, you would have as much time to dive deeply into the minutiae of each topic. In reality there are time constraints and you may have to prioritize more heavily weighted MPRE topics.

Take a professional responsibility course in law school

Professional Responsibility is an ethics class required as a prerequisite for taking the MPRE in many jurisdictions. Depending on the educational institution that you attend, the class may emphasize state ethics over ABA rules, or vice versa. This course should provide you with a solid foundation on how judges apply ethical principles to common issues—an important thing to understand when taking the MPRE.

Manage your time effectively

You’ll have two hours to answer 60 multiple-choice questions. While you will only be graded on 50, there is no way of knowing which 50 those are. Answering 60 questions in two hours equates to two minutes per question.

Make a study schedule/plan

It’s important to break down large goals into smaller, manageable mini-goals. Of course, your primary goal is to pass the MPRE, but to get there you must study a range of subjects, rules of law, all while actively practicing with real MPRE questions.

When you sign up for the Themis + UWorld Bar Review Bundle you’ll gain access to tools to help you manage your time. Namely, our Adaptive Calendar, which calibrates itself to your study schedule based on start date. You can also use our Progress Monitor to track your performance so you always know exactly what you should be studying and when you should be studying it. There’s no need to waste time making how and what you should be studying. We do that for you. Simply set your start date and begin.

MPRE Preparation Tips to Improve your Score on Exam Day

Anyone studying for the MPRE could easily increase their score by keeping a few actionable tips in mind on exam day.

Use common sense

The MPRE tests your knowledge and understanding of professional rules of conduct for lawyers. While this is a very detailed and broad topic, it is built on the idea of ensuring an ethical legal system. Use this fact to your advantage. If you come across a question with language or rules of law that you’re unfamiliar with, use common sense.

Answer the question before looking at your options

It’s tempting to check your answer options before you go through the fact pattern, but this is typically not a good idea as some answers are designed to throw you off and may negatively influence the way you interpret the fact pattern.

Eliminate incorrect answer choices

If you aren’t sure of an answer, try out the age-old method of process of elimination. By reducing your options, you increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.

Remember that there are exceptions to the rules

As you read your answer choices, you may come across a general rule of law that sounds legitimate. While it may be, there could also be applicable exceptions. The best way to defend against this is through thorough study.

UWorld Study Methodology can Help you Raise your MPRE Score?

All of UWorld’s resources are based on the concept of active learning. Active learning occurs when multiple neural pathways are activated simultaneously, allowing them to create new connections more quickly and efficiently. In short, more stimulating activities increase the efficiency of the learning process.

Imagine trying to learn soccer from a lecture or archery from a book. Without actual practice, this would be ridiculous. So why, then, do we so often apply this method to taking exams? The Themis + Uworld Bar Review Bundle covers every section of the learning pyramid while focusing on the most potent methods.

The following tools are how The Themis + UWorld Bar Review Bundle implements our active learning methodology for the MBE, MEE, and MPT with unlimited practice tests, customizable digital flashcards, in-depth explanations for every answer choice, expertly-written content, and more.

We also offer a comprehensive MPRE course and it’s completely free. Learn more.

Learn how examiners test the Rules of Professional Responsibility.

Law student on laptop studying for the MPRE.

Frequently Asked Questions

Minimum passing scores vary by state, but all are within a range of 75-86. Check your state’s passing score here.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to sit for the MPRE after you’ve passed the bar exam. Be sure to look at your jurisdiction’s requirements for the bar to know the limitations. It is going to be in your best interest to take the MPRE early in your third year of law school so that you have time to retake it in the event that you’re not successful on your first try.

Read more about the bar exam

All UBE jurisdictions weigh the Multistate Bar Exam at 50%. It is a six-hour, 200 multiple-choice exam. Make sure to check out our study guide and start preparing.

The Multistate Performance Test simulates tasks that new lawyers will face. Learn more about this technical, two part exam.

The Multistate Essay Exam consists of six essays that assess your ability to communicate a reasoned and knowledgeable response. See this guide for details.

In most states, you simply can’t become a lawyer without passing the bar exam. Start preparing now by reading this guide.

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