What is the MPRE?

What is the MPRE?

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two-hour multiple-choice examination consisting of 60 test questions. It is designed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) to assess the understanding and knowledge of candidates about established standards relevant to lawyers ‘ professional conduct.

The MPRE is the ethics part of the bar exam and is administered three times every year on computers provided by Pearson VUE at its testing centers. It is required for admission to bars to all US jurisdictions except Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. Out of 50 questions, 50 will count towards your score, and 10 are exploratory questions. The exploratory questions can not be differentiated from the scored questions; that is why you must treat every question as a “real” question.

The MPRE Exam is administered in March, August, and November. Each question of the MPRE provides a scenario, a question, and 4 answer choices. The registration dates usually open in December for the next year’s test. Early registration ends about 8 weeks before the exam, and late registration ends a week later.

MPRE Test Format

The table below outlines the percentage of topics and subtopics covered by the two-hour long Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE).

MPRE Outline
Topics Subtopics Percentage
Regulation of the legal profession
  • Powers of courts and other bodies to regulate lawyers
  • Admission to the profession
  • Regulation after admission—lawyer discipline
  • Mandatory and permissive reporting of professional misconduct
  • Unauthorized practice of law—by lawyers and nonlawyers
  • Multijurisdictional practice
  • Fee division with a nonlawyer
  • Law firm and other forms of practice
  • Responsibilities of partners, managers, supervisory and subordinate lawyers
  • Restrictions on right to practice
6–12%
The client-lawyer relationship
  • Formation of the client-lawyer relationship
  • Scope, objective, and means of the representation
  • Decision-making authority—actual and apparent
  • Counsel and assistance within the bounds of the law
  • Termination of the client-lawyer relationship
  • Client-lawyer contracts
  • Communications with the client
  • Fees
10–16%
Client confidentiality
  • Attorney-client privilege
  • Work-product doctrine
  • Professional obligation of confidentiality—general rule
  • Disclosures expressly or impliedly authorized by client
  • Other exceptions to the confidentiality rule
6–12%
Conflicts of interest
  • Current client conflicts—multiple clients and joint representation
  • Current client conflicts—lawyer’s personal interest or duties
  • Former client conflicts
  • Prospective client conflicts
  • Imputed conflicts
  • Acquiring an interest in litigation
  • Business transactions with clients
  • Third-party compensation and influence
  • Lawyers currently or formerly in government service
  • Former judge, arbitrator, mediator, or other third-party neutral
12–18%
Competence, legal malpractice, and other civil liability
  • Maintaining competence
  • Competence necessary to undertake representation
  • Exercising diligence and care
  • Civil liability to client, including malpractice
  • Civil liability to nonclients
  • Limiting liability for malpractice
  • Malpractice insurance and risk prevention
6–12%
Litigation and other forms of advocacy
  • Meritorious claims and contentions
  • Expediting litigation
  • Candor to the tribunal
  • Fairness to opposing party and counsel
  • Impartiality and decorum of the tribunal
  • Trial publicity
  • Lawyer as witness
10–16%
Transactions and communications with persons other than clients
  • Truthfulness in statements to others
  • Communications with represented persons
  • Communications with unrepresented persons
  • Respect for rights of third persons
2–8%
Different roles of the lawyer
  • Lawyer as advisor
  • Lawyer as evaluator
  • Lawyer as negotiator
  • Lawyer as arbitrator, mediator, or other third-party neutral
  • Prosecutors and other government lawyers
  • Lawyer appearing in nonadjudicative proceeding
  • Lawyer representing an entity or other organization
4–10%
Safekeeping funds and other property
  • Establishing and maintaining client trust accounts
  • Safekeeping funds and other property of clients
  • Safekeeping funds and other property of third persons
  • Disputed claims
2–8%
Communications about legal services
  • Advertising and other public communications about legal services
  • Solicitation—direct contact with prospective clients
  • Group legal services
  • Referrals
  • Communications regarding fields of practice and specialization
4–10%
Lawyers’ duties to the public and the legal system
  • Voluntary pro bono service
  • Accepting appointments
  • Serving in legal services organizations
  • Law reform activities affecting client interests
  • Criticism of judges and adjudicating officials
  • Political contributions to obtain engagements or appointments
  • Improper influence on government officials
  • Assisting judicial misconduct
2–4%
Judicial conduct
  • Maintaining the independence and impartiality of the judiciary
  • Performing the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently
  • Ex parte communications
  • Disqualification
  • Extrajudicial activities
2–8%

MPRE Scoring System

MPRE scores are based on the number of items that you answered correctly. Each score is then converted using a formula that is not disclosed by the NCBE. You are not deducted for incorrect answers. You have two hours to answer the 60 questions. Once the two hours end, the test session automatically ends, and you can’t access it anymore.

This test is scored on a scale of 50 to 150. Although states and jurisdictions have a different minimum passing score, test-takers are expected to have a score of 75 to 86 in order to pass the exam. To get an MPRE scaled score of 75, you need to answer about 28 items correctly out of the 50 questions. To get a scaled score of 85, you must have about 30 questions correctly answered.

If you are wondering what the minimum MPRE passing score in your state is, you can check the table below.

MPRE scores by state State/Jurisdiction
75 Alabama, D.C., Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, Virgin Islands
77 South Carolina
79 New Hampshire
80 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
82 Tennessee
85 Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
86 California, Utah
Maryland, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico

MPRE Registration

  • Step 1
    Create an NCBE Account if you don’t have one. To create a new account, click the NCBE Account at the top of the official NCBE website, and then select Create an Account. Don’t set up a new account if you already have one.
  • Step 2
    Submit your request for MPRE test accommodations (if applicable; otherwise, skip to Step 3). If you wish to request a test accommodation, you have to do so before you start Step 3. Information about how to request for MPRE Test Accommodations can be found at MPRE Test Accommodations. You don’t need to pay the test fee until you have scheduled your test appointment.
  • Step 3
    Log in to your NCBE account, click MPRE registration and follow the directions to complete the NCBE portion of your MPRE registration process and request for your authorization to test.
  • Step 4
    Obtain an Authorization to Check Email from Pearson VUE. The email will be by PearsonVUEconfirmation@pearson.com within 24 hours from your request (do not send email to this e-mail address, as it’s not supervised); search the spam or junk mail folder.

If you do not obtain an Authorization to Test Email within 24 hours after you have requested, please contact NCBE MPRE Registration.

  • Step 5
    Book an appointment to test with Pearson VUE and pay the fee to Pearson VUE (instructions will be attached in your Authorization to Test email; you may have to make a Pearson VUE account).
  • Step 6
    Within 48 hours after scheduling your test appointment and submitting your payment, you will receive a Confirmation of Exam Appointment email and a Confirmation of Payment email from Pearson VUE.

You will never be able to take MPRE during that test administration if you don’t arrange your test appointment and pay the test fee during the test administration registration period.

MPRE Dates, Deadlines, and Fees

Test Date Recommended Date to Apply for Accommodations MPRE Registration Deadline Testing Fee
March 12 or 13, 2020 December 16, 2019 February 12, 2020 $135
August 11 or 12, 2020 May 14, 2020 June 25, 2020 $135
October 23 or 28, 2020 July 30, 2020 September 14, 2020 $135

The MPRE registration fee gives you the right to request a score report score report for your own files and have a score report sent to the board of bar examiners of the state you selected during the enrollment process. If you do not select a state before the test, or if you decide that you’d like your MPRE results to be sent to other jurisdictions, you should request for and pay for a score report using the MPRE Score Services examination.

Rescheduling of appointment

Test appointments can be rescheduled for a different scheduled time or a different testing center venue for the same exam administration to which you initially enrolled. Test appointments should be rescheduled at least 48 hours before your appointment. To adjust the date you plan to take your test, you can access your online Pearson VUE account or reach Pearson VUE by telephone at 888-205-1855. You will then pay a non-refundable and non-transferable $25 fee for this transaction.

Cancellation of appointment

You may cancel your appointment and obtain a refund of $70 if you can not test during your scheduled administration. Your appointment may be canceled by calling Pearson VUE by phone at 888-205-1855 or through your online Pearson VUE account. You have to cancel your test appointment at least 48 hours before your scheduled appointment to receive a refund. Your registration may not be moved to another registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many questions do you have to answer correctly in the MPRE?
Keep in mind that a score of about 32 correctly answered questions would lead to a score of around 85 in many law schools and bar review courses. Thus, answering 30 to 35 test questions correctly will make you pass the exam.

Law School: How much studying is necessary for the MPRE?
The ideal time to study for the MPRE test is at least a month prior to the date you planned to take the test. Study 4-6 hours a week. Focus on memorizing the rules first.

How many times am I allowed to take the MPRE?
There is no limit on how many times you take the MPRE. The downside, though, is that some states (Rhode Island, Iowa, Kentucky, and Massachusetts) will not let you continue with the bar exam until you complete the MPRE. And, some jurisdictions require you to sit for the bar examination once, but if you fail the MPRE then you can not retake the bar examination until you pass the MPRE.

How long is MPRE score valid?
A passing MPRE score shall be valid for four years from the date on which the applicant sat for that MPRE.

Can I take the MPRE after the bar exam?
It depends on your jurisdiction as some states will not allow you to sit for the bar until you pass the MPRE while some states allow taking the MPRE after the bar exam.

MPRE Sample Questions

Question #1
An experienced oil and gas developer asked an attorney to represent him in a suit to establish the developer’s ownership of certain oil and gas royalties. The developer did not have available the necessary funds to pay the attorney’s reasonable hourly rate for undertaking the case and proposed instead that, if he prevailed in the lawsuit, he would pay the attorney 20% of the first year’s royalties recovered in the suit. Twenty percent of the first year’s royalties would likely exceed the amount that the attorney would have received from charging his regular hourly rate. The attorney accepted the proposal.

Is the attorney subject to discipline?

  • Yes, because the agreement gave the attorney a proprietary interest in the developer’s cause of action.
  • Yes, because the fee was likely to exceed the amount that the attorney would have received from charging his regular hourly rate.
  • No, because the developer rather than the attorney proposed the fee arrangement.
  • No, because the attorney may contract with the developer for a reasonable contingent fee.

Question #2
An attorney worked in the legal department of a public utility company and represented that company in litigation. The company was sued by a consumer group which alleged that the company was guilty of various acts in violation of its charter. Through its general counsel, the company instruct-ed the attorney not to negotiate a settlement but to go to trial under any circumstances since a precedent needed to be established. Although the company’s defense could be supported by a good faith argument, the attorney believed that the case should be settled if possible.

Must the attorney withdraw as counsel in this case?

  • No, because as an employee, the attorney is bound by the instructions of the general counsel.
  • No, because the company’s defense can be supported by a good faith argument.
  • Yes, because a lawyer should endeavor to avoid litigation.
  • Yes, because the company is controlling the attorney’s judgment in settling the case.

Question #3
An attorney has experienced several instances in which clients failed to pay their fees in a timely manner when it was too late in the representation to withdraw without prejudicing the clients. To avoid a recurrence of this situation, the attorney has drafted a stipulation of consent to withdraw if fees are not paid according to the fee agreement. She proposes to have all clients sign the stipulation at the outset of the representation. Clients will be provided an opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing the stipulation.

Is it proper for the attorney to use the stipulation to withdraw from representation whenever a client fails to pay fees? 

  • Yes, because a lawyer may withdraw when the financial burden of continuing the representation would be substantially greater than the parties anticipated at the time of the fee agreement.
  • Yes, because the clients will have consented to the withdrawal in the stipulation.
  • Yes, because clients will be provided an opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing the stipulation.
  • No, because a client’s failure to pay fees when due may be insufficient in itself to justify withdrawal.