Why Students Underestimate the MPRE
The MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) measures a candidate’s knowledge of standards related to the professional conduct of lawyers. Many law students take the MPRE during their second year or third year of law school, after having completed a professional responsibility class. Others wait to take the MPRE until after the bar exam. Students underestimate the MPRE. Here’s why!
Why Students Underestimate the MPRE
Many students often joke that you need minimal studying and basic common sense to pass the MPRE. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The MPRE, while perhaps not as demanding as other tests, is no walk in the park. To lay the groundwork – don’t expect to wake up and pass the MPRE without studying prior to the exam. The MPRE is a test that many students underestimate and end up having to repeat. This is partly due to students taking legal professionalism in law school and relying solely on class experience to pass.
Another reason why students end up retaking the MPRE is based on the way bar prep providers market MPRE courses. Almost every bar prep company offers a free MPRE course for law students. The fact that MPRE courses are free leads many students to believe the test isn’t difficult. In reality, many bar prep companies provide free MPRE courses as a way to market their bar prep courses. A free MPRE course exposes the style, format, and platforms that many bar prep companies use for the Bar Exam.
Besides the fact that many students choose to underestimate the difficulty of the test, the MPRE is notoriously tricky. Deciding between two answer choices that both appear correct is a common theme. Without properly preparing for the MPRE, no amount of common sense is enough to see you pass. While you might think that “right from wrong” is easy to spot, hypotheticals get very difficult on the MPRE. Conflicts of interest, the attorney-client relationship, and other legal issues are front and center in each question. Below is a breakdown of the popularity of each MPRE subject by subject:
Conflicts of Interest – 12% to 18% of test questions – 6 to 9 questions.
Litigation/Other Forms of Advocacy – 10% to 16% of test questions – 5 to 8 questions.
Lawyer-Client Relationship – 10% to 16% of test questions – 5 to 8 questions.
Competence – 6% to 12% of test questions – 3 to 6 questions.
Legal Malpractice – 6% to 12% of test questions – 3 to 6 questions.
Civil Liability – 6% to 12% of test questions – 3 to 6 questions.
Client Confidentiality – 6% to 12% of test questions – 3 to 6 questions.
Regulation of Legal Profession – 6% to 12% of test questions – 3 to 6 questions.
Rules of Lawyers – 4% to 10% of test questions – 2 to 5 questions.
Legal Service Communications – 4% to 10% of test questions – 2 to 5 questions.
Safe Keeping of Property/Funds – 2% to 8% of test questions – 1 to 4 questions.
Transactions and Communications – 2% to 8% of test questions – 1 to 4 questions.
Judicial Conduct – 2% to 8% of test questions – 1 to 4 questions.
Lawyer’s Duty to Public/Legal System – 2% to 4% of test questions – 1 to 2 questions.
A legal professionalism class in law school will provide you with a solid foundation for each of these subjects. However, without more preparation including how to master the MPRE multiple-choice questions, many of these subjects will have faded from memory by the time the MPRE rolls around. A passing grade in a legal professionalism class is not the same as a passing score on the MPRE. Failing the MPRE can come down to one or two questions!
Don’t let rumors, free prep courses, or false confidence from a law school ethics class allow you to underestimate the MPRE. We generally recommend that students start studying a minimum of one month before the test. Getting familiar with how questions are phrased, what answer choices look like, and the multiple-choice structure is all beneficial to passing the MPRE the first time!
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