Should I Take the MPRE the Summer After 1L Year?
Should I Take the MPRE the Summer After 1L Year?: Now that your first year of law school is completely behind you (yay!), one thing to start thinking about is when to take the professional responsibility exam. The MPRE is offered three times a year: March, August, and November. You have to achieve a passing score on the MPRE before you can receive your law license in most states. (Some states limit the number of times you can take the bar exam without a passing MPRE score. A couple states prohibit you from taking the bar exam at all until you pass the MPRE!)
Should I Take the MPRE the Summer After 1L Year?
The last thing 1Ls want to think about after finishing a difficult year of school is studying for another test. However, it is worth considering taking the MPRE the summer after 1L year.
Think about what your plans are this summer. Do you have a full-time job lined up? Do you have any vacations planned during August? If you feel like you have some free time, it definitely can’t hurt to get exposure to the material and try taking the test. Keep in mind that the other two times the MPRE is offered are during the school year. Will you want to study for this exam and all of your other classes at the same time? There is far less pressure involved with taking the MPRE in the summer. Additionally, taking the MPRE the summer after 1L year gives you plenty of extra chances to retake it before the bar if you fail. It even gives you an extra August date to take it again if you need to.
Here are some of my thoughts on the MPRE and how it affects when you should take it:
1. The professional responsibility class
Most law schools require you to take some sort of PR class in order to graduate. It is commonly, and understandably, thought that you should take the class before you take the MPRE. This can definitely be useful as the material tested will be incredibly foreign to you. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct can be very intricate in how they relate to each other and to your practice. There are also a lot of them. So exposure to the content prior to studying is beneficial.
However, classes vary in their usefulness. In my experience, the class did not help me prepare much for the exam. A school class and its teachings is very different from taking a multiple choice standardized test. Semesters are 10-15 weeks long. Professors inevitably stretch material to fill the whole semester. Maybe this was just my personal experience with the course, but I learned the material much better in a condensed, straight forward manner geared solely toward the MPRE.
While a class is very helpful for some, if you haven’t taken a PR class yet, don’t let that close you off from taking the MPRE the summer after 1L year. You just have to know how to prepare properly…
2. Sign up for a prep courses
Most of the major commercial bar review companies offer a free MPRE prep course. We offer an MPRE prep course ourselves (though it is not free!). Make sure you have a way to approach the material — including an outline and good MPRE questions — before tackling the MPRE.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to study and don’t underestimate its difficulty
When I asked my friends how long they studied for the MPRE, answers varied anywhere from a few days to a month. I studied for a few weeks. The material didn’t click that well for me in my PR class. Therefore, I knew I would need a decent amount of study time. Too often I hear of people who blow off the MPRE and don’t give themselves enough time to study. They assume it will be an easy exam when in reality it is very challenging.
Don’t underestimate the MPRE. It is all too easy to not take it seriously and then go in and fail. When you’re deciding on when to take it, make sure you recognize you might have to take it again. If you don’t think you’d have enough time to study for both the MPRE and school, don’t take it in November or March. The best strategy, in that scenario, is to take the MPRE the summer after 1L year for the first time in order to get exposure to it. Then you can take it again the next summer if you have to without worrying about running into the bar.
The MPRE is a very important thing for a prospective lawyer to consider early on in their law school career. It is not something to put off until the last minute because it could very easily surprise you. Come up with a plan sooner rather than later for how you want to handle preparing for it. Don’t let your desire to avoid all things law school over the summer prevent you from dealing with this obstacle!
Laura Sigler, a JD Advising bar exam essay grader, who graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School, wrote this post.
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