Common Issues Tested On The MPRE
It’s common knowledge that certain issues tend to appear more frequently on the bar exam. What you might not realize is that the same is true for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (more commonly referred to as the MPRE). When preparing for the MPRE, paying attention to topics and subject areas that are most likely to appear can help you boost your score! To help you prepare, in this post, we discuss the most common issues tested on the MPRE.
Common Issues Tested On The MPRE
Before diving into the topic areas that commonly appear on the MPRE, we want to answer one question, first: what is the MPRE? Below is a brief summary:
- Content: The MPRE tests ethical rules that lawyers must abide by. These ethical rules often are referred to as the Model Rules but are formally known as the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The MPRE also tests the ethical rules that judges must abide by under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, also known as the Model Code. In addition to the Model Rules and Model Code, the MPRE also tests caselaw, rules, and legal opinions that reflect majority law. If this seems like a lot of material to learn, don’t panic. All of this material will appear in a commercial course, such as the free MPRE Course and other free study materials that JD Advising offers! It’s important to note that the MPRE focuses only on the ABA rules. You won’t need to know state-specific ethical requirements for the MPRE!
- Testing Dates: You can take the MPRE electronically at Pearson VUE testing centers three times each year: March, August, and October/November. Learn more about registering for the MPRE here.
- Format: The MPRE is a 2-hour, multiple-choice exam consisting of 60 questions. However, only 50 of the questions are scored and the remaining 10 are experimental questions. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell which questions are experimental, so you must answer each with equal effort!
- Scoring: MPRE scores range from 50 to 150 points. Passing scores vary by jurisdiction but range from scores of 75 to 86. Generally speaking, that means you need to get between 30 and 35 questions correct in order to pass. Test takers receive their score about one month after sitting for the MPRE. This is a much quicker turnaround when compared to the bar exam! Read more about how the MPRE is scored here.
- Jurisdictions: Almost all jurisdictions in the United States require a passing MPRE score before bar admission. Be sure to check your jurisdiction’s exact rules surrounding MPRE requirements and the passing score in that jurisdiction.
- Timing: It is important to take the MPRE only after you have studied and prepared. This helps you avoid taking the MPRE multiple times (which wastes time and money!). However, you do not want to wait too long either, as it could delay your admission to the bar. Many students will take the MPRE during their second or third year of law school so that it is out of the way before taking the bar exam. After all, the bar exam will take up all of your time and energy! You want to eliminate as much stress (like the stress of the MPRE looming over your head) prior to sitting for the bar. Read more about timing for taking the MPRE
- Test Accommodations: Test takers can request test accommodations for the MPRE, such as extended testing time, a wheelchair-accessible workstation, or a separate testing room. Pay close attention to deadlines for any requests, as they will need to be submitted in advance of the exam.
- Test Day: Many students are worried about what to expect on MPRE test day. You will be required to bring identification, and there is a list of prohibited and permissible items. You should look at the NCBE website and any communications in advance of test day for the most up-to-date information so you know what you can and cannot bring.
MPRE Topics and Issues
The MPRE covers several subject areas. Within each subject, there are certain rules that appear repeatedly, making their understanding critical to earning a passing score. We provide a further breakdown below.
Topics: From Most Frequently to Least Frequently Tested
Check out our MPRE Topic Frequency Chart here for a visual representation of the issues that commonly appear on the MPRE. To summarize, the MPRE consists of questions on the following topics:
- Conflicts of interest: 12–18% of questions; approximately to 6–9 questions per exam
- Litigation and other forms of advocacy: 10–16% of questions; approximately 5–8 questions per exam
- Lawyer-client relations: 10–16% of questions; approximately 5–8 questions per exam
- Competence, legal malpractice, and other civil liability: 6–12% of questions; approximately 3–6 questions per exam
- Client confidentiality: 6–12% of questions; approximately 3–6 questions per exam
- Regulation of the legal profession: 6–12% of questions; approximately 3–6 questions per exam
- Different roles of a lawyer: 4–10% of questions; approximately 2–5 questions per exam
- Communications about legal services: 4–10% of questions; approximately 2–5 questions per exam
- Safekeeping funds and other property: 2–8% of questions; approximately 1–4 questions per exam
- Transactions and communications with other persons: 2–8% of questions; approximately 1–4 questions per exam
- Judicial conduct: 2–8% of questions; approximately 1–4 questions per exam
- Lawyer’s duties to the public and legal system: 2–4% of questions; approximately 1–2 questions per exam
As you can see, some topics (such as conflicts of interest) appear more frequently than others (i.e., lawyers’ duties to the public and legal systems). Spending time on topics 1 through 8 in the list above is one way to focus on highly tested issues. After all, those topics will encompass the majority of questions on the MPRE!
Most Frequently Tested Issues Within Each Topic
Examples of the most highly tested issues within each of the highly tested subjects or topics include:
- Conflicts of interest: concurrent conflicts of interest, permissive current conflicts, former client conflicts, former client conflicts at an attorney’s former firm, prospective client conflicts, and imputed conflicts of interest
- Litigation and other forms of advocacy: how to start a legal matter, candor toward the tribunal, and ex parte proceedings, as well as lawyers’ disclosures of material, fairness to the opposing party and legal counsel, communications with jurors, trial publicity, and rules pertaining to lawyers who have to act as witnesses
- Lawyer-client relations: formation of the lawyer-client relationship, what decisions clients can make within the relationship, and when the attorney must withdraw from representation
- Competence, legal malpractice, and other civil liability: competence and diligence (i.e., making sure to promptly respond to clients and refrain from procrastinating on client matters can help attorneys avoid professional misconduct issues in this area), as well as requirements of a malpractice action between an attorney and a client
- Client confidentiality: attorney/client privilege, work-product doctrine, and duty of confidentiality
- Regulation of the legal profession: regulation of lawyers, admission to the bar, attorney misconduct, and reporting attorney misconduct
- Different roles of a lawyer: lawyers as advisors, negotiators, arbitrators, mediators, and other neutral third parties
- Communications about legal services: how lawyers can communicate about their services and solicit clients
Additionally, even the less tested topics will appear and will likely test some of the following issues or rules.
- Safekeeping funds and other property: prohibition against commingling of funds and maintenance of IOLTA accounts
- Transactions and communications with other persons: misrepresentations by lawyers
- Judicial conduct: disqualification, fair presiding over matters, and judicial duties
- Lawyer’s duties to the public and legal system: providing volunteer legal services, accepting or rejecting court appointments, and participation in law reform activities
If these topics or rules sound completely unfamiliar to you right now, don’t worry. As noted above, you will learn about all of the rules in your MPRE course. You’ll also learn about frequently used key words and phrases that appear on the exam. That is why we recommend that you take an MPRE course. You will learn all the necessary ins and outs of passing the exam. And most commercial bar prep companies (including us!) offer free MPRE courses! Check out our free MPRE Course, which provides you with access to the crash course, our MPRE course lectures, MPRE course outlines, and One-Sheets.
Studying for the MPRE
Studying for the MPRE is key to passing the exam. In fact, one of the top myths about the MPRE is that you don’t have to study for it. Don’t fall into this trap! You likely won’t be able to pass the MPRE with guessing alone. The rules cover distinctions that you will not catch without some familiarity with the Model Rules and Model Code. It’s worth taking some time to study so you can avoid the following:
- Taking the MPRE multiple times (which takes time and money);
- Some states only allow you to take the bar exam once without a passing MPRE score (delaying your admission to the bar); and/or
- You cannot be licensed as an attorney in most jurisdictions if you do not have a passing score (again, delaying your admission to the bar!).
Adequate preparation helps to avoid these adverse outcomes. Additionally, focusing on topics most likely to appear on the MPRE can help boost your score. To be clear though, you should not ignore any MPRE topic completely. Try to dedicate at least some time to studying each topic tested on the exam.
To make sure you stay on track, check out these sample MPRE study schedule for 1 weeks, 2 weeks, and more!
Study with Practice Questions
While gaining familiarity with MPRE practice questions is essential to preparing for the MPRE, it’s not where you should start. Instead, try starting with the rules as you begin your studies! It is hard to apply rules correctly when you haven’t even studied them yet!
Once you’ve learned the Model Rules and Model Code though (especially the most common topic areas!), it is time to put what you’ve memorized into practice. One of the best ways to learn how to spot common issues tested on the MPRE is to practice using actual, real MPRE questions. You may be wondering: what makes questions “real” MPRE questions? The answer is quite simple. They are questions that are written by the NCBE (who is in charge of administering the exam) that have appeared on past MPRE exams. Most free courses come with simulated MPRE questions, so it’s worth checking to see what types of questions you are using to study.
Not only will real MPRE questions help prepare you for what to expect on exam day, but also get used to the format of questions. It becomes easier to answer an MPRE question when you know exactly what to expect. S
So, where can you find real MPRE questions? The NCBE sells some and JD Advising has those same questions available for purchase!
For a detailed discussion of everything you need to know about the MPRE, check out free guide to the MPRE here!
Looking to Ace the MPRE?
- Enroll in our 5-star rated free MPRE Course, complete with expert guidance, an exclusive outline, practice questions, and a one-sheet.
- Tackle the Real MPRE questions — the gold standard for test preparation.
- Elevate your preparation with personalized MPRE private tutoring, featuring a tailored study plan and dedicated MPRE outline.
- Dive into our assortment of complimentary top-notch MPRE resources for your success.