Most law students have heard of the multistate professional responsibility exam (MPRE), but you may still be unfamiliar with how this essential exam is scored, and what you have to do to get a passing mark. Fortunately, the scoring for the MPRE is not too difficult to understand, so you can review what you need to know and get started studying for this important exam in no time.
Below, we will give you an overview of the MPRE before going into a full scoring breakdown of this test. You’ll also learn how to report your MPRE score to any jurisdiction, as well as the administration dates for the MPRE, so you can be on time for any administration of the exam.
What Is the MPRE?
The multistate professional responsibility exam (MPRE) is part of the bar examination and is designed to test the taker’s knowledge of professional and ethical requirements in the legal field. The test is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam itself is 2 hours long. Only 50 of the 60 questions are scored, as the remaining 10 questions are experimental and designed to help the NCBE gauge the difficulty of future testing questions.
Topics covered on the MPRE include the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and basic questions regarding generally accepted legal professional practices. Fortunately, most law schools will include a professional responsibility class in their 2L or 3L curriculum, which means you don’t have to study extensively before taking this test, but you should still work to brush up on your basic knowledge beforehand.
Below, you can see a breakdown of how many questions for each subject may be found on the MPRE (the exact percentage changes each year, but it should still have roughly the same numbers).
- Conflicts of interest: 12 to 18 percent
- Litigation and advocacy: 10 to 16 percent
- Client-lawyer relationship: 10 to 16 percent
- Legal professional regulation: 6 to 12 percent
- Client confidentiality: 6 to 12 percent
- Competence and legal malpractice: 6 to 12 percent
- Lawyering roles: 4 to 10 percent
- Legal service communication: 4 to 8 percent
- Judicial conduct: 2 to 8 percent
You should also keep in mind that there may be different subject categories on each test. The best way to prepare is to review multiple previous MPRE exams and get a good idea of the types of questions and content that are on the exam. More in-depth information about the subject matter on the MPRE is provided by the NCBE here.
Which Jurisdictions Require Completion of the MPRE?
Almost every U.S. jurisdiction requires a passing score on the MPRE in order for you to be admitted to the bar in that area. The only exceptions are Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. Additionally, the jurisdictions of Connecticut and New Jersey will accept the completion of a course on professional responsibility from an accredited law school instead of a passing score from the MPRE (meaning, if you take and pass the course while in law school, you will not have to take the MPRE in those jurisdictions).
Scoring Breakdown for the MPRE
The score breakdown for the MPRE can be confusing to some, especially as the weight of each question changes from year to year; even though the MPRE is a nationally administered test by the NCBE, there is no national standard score, and all jurisdictions set their own passing scores.
The MPRE is also scaled, meaning that the weight of each question changes from year to year based on the difficulty of the questions and how well test-takers performed on previous administrations of the exam. Only 50 of the 60 questions are scored and will count towards your total points.
In general, a score of 34 to 36 out of 50 scored questions (or 41 to 43 out of 60 questions) is enough to obtain a score of 100. A score of 80 needs approximately 29 questions out of 50 (35 out of 60 questions) and a score of 75 needs approximately 28 out of 50 questions correct (or 34 out of 60 correct).
This can be a little confusing to understand, and it is unfortunately hard to say exactly how many questions you will need to score correctly in order to get a specific score. However, the more questions you answer correctly, the higher your score will be. It is generally accepted that you should aim to score at least 35 questions correct during the MPRE. This allows you to shoot towards a top score, but still gives you room to miss one or two and have a passing result. It is a good idea to take practice MPRE exams until you are consistently scoring in the 30 to 35 range as this gives you the highest chance of passing your test.
More data on MPRE passing scores can be found here.
What Is a Passing MPRE Score?
Passing scores on the MPRE vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. They can also change based on the year, so make sure to check with both the NCBE’s website and your state’s bar association website for information on what constitutes a passing MPRE score.
The lowest minimum passing score for the MPRE is a 75, and the highest is an 86. Most jurisdictions require your score to be in the 80 to 85 range in order to pass the exam. You can see a breakdown of jurisdictions and their required scores below.
Minimum Passing Score
|Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, Virgin Islands|
|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|
|Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming|
How to Report Your MPRE Score
When you register for the MPRE, you will select a jurisdiction that the NCBE automatically reports your score to. If you would like to report your score to additional jurisdictions, you will need to visit MPRE Score Services, where you will pay a fee in order to report your score to additional jurisdictions. If you don’t select a reporting jurisdiction when registering for the MPRE, you will also need to complete this process to have your score sent out.
When Is the MPRE Administered?
The MPRE is administered 3 times a year, typically in early March, August, and November. Exam registration and testing accommodation deadlines typically fall several months in advance of the actual MPRE test date, so you should make sure that you have completed all the steps to register for the MPRE well in advance of your anticipated administration.
There is a $135 registration fee that you will have to pay before taking the test. More information on the MPRE registration process can be found through the NCBE’s website here.
When Should You Take the MPRE?
Most law students will find it easier to take the MPRE between their 2L and 3L years of law school. This is because you will have sufficient time to study for the test before your final year of law school begins, and studying for the MPRE won’t get in the way of studying for the actual bar exam.
If you choose not to take the MPRE between your 2L and 3L years, you can take it after graduating from law school. In this case, you will want to take it as soon as possible after graduation (the August administration is a good choice) in order to get the test out of the way so you can start studying for your bar examinations.
MPRE Preparation Tips
The MPRE may not be as notoriously difficult as the bar exam and may not require as much studying time, but it is important that you carefully review the content of the test ahead of time. This will help you obtain a passing score as easily as possible and will prevent stressful (and costly) retakes of the exam.
Our preparation tips below can help put you on the right course in studying for the MPRE.
Review Essential Concepts
Even if you have taken a professional responsibility course in your law school and think you have a good grasp of the MPRE’s concepts, you should still work to review essential concepts. Use the list of MPRE subjects on the NCBE’s website to guide your studying and brush up on concepts that you may not understand as well.
It is also a good idea to read the ABA’s model professional rules and code of conduct manuals to gain an in-depth understanding of the questions you might be asked.
Plan Out Your Study Schedule
While you likely won’t need to study as extensively for the MPRE as you would for the bar exam, you should still make an effort to plan out your study schedule and allow yourselfample time to prepare. In general, it is a good idea to give yourself a solid month of studying for the MPRE; if you are on a limited schedule, 2 weeks may be sufficient for some, as long as you maintain consistent focus during this time.
An organized study schedule will help you tackle all of the concepts on the MPRE without getting overwhelmed or having to cram the night before the test, which typically doesn’t bode well.
Take Practice Tests
Taking frequent practice MPRE’s will help boost your testing stamina and help you gain an understanding of your testing strengths and weaknesses. It is a good idea to keep studying and taking practice tests until you can score between 30 and 35 questions (out of 50) correct each time you take the exam, as this sets you up for the most testing success.
Understand Test Day Procedures
Having a good understanding and knowledge of what is expected of you on your MPRE test day can help reduce stress and unnecessary worrying. Read the testing day procedures on the NCBE’s website to learn what you can and can’t bring with you to the test and to get any of your testing day questions answered.
Achieving a Passing MPRE Score
Though the MPRE is not quite as nerve-wracking as the bar exam, it is still an essential test in gaining bar admission in almost every U.S. jurisdiction. By understanding how this exam is scored, you can get a better sense of what you will need to do to prepare and how to go about your studying so you can achieve a passing MPRE score with as little stress as possible.