The MPRE is a 60 question multiple choice exam that is required by almost all jurisdictions in order to be admitted to the bar. So whether you’re taking the bar in Oklahoma or elsewhere, chances are you’ll need to pass this test before you can start practicing law. The exam is administered by the NCBE and is offered three time per year. Jurisdictions have different cut scores, so make sure you know what your state requires (in Oklahoma, a 75 is considered passing). The MPRE primarily tests your knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Model Code of Judicial Conduct, but may also cover general questions of professional responsibility. The earlier you can knock out this requirement the better, so aim to take the MPRE during your 2L year. The semester that you’re enrolled in Legal Profession or the semester immediately after is usually the ideal time to sit for the exam since you’ll have already studied (or at least been exposed to) the model rules. To help you ace this exam, keep the following tips and strategies in mind.
- Take it seriously. With everything else you have going on as a busy law student, it may be tempting to blow off your MPRE preparation. But don’t assume that the exam is easy because it is short or covers a limited subject matter. While it’s true that the test doesn’t require weeks and weeks of preparation like the bar, it does require preparation. Take the MPRE seriously, prepare thoroughly, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
- Start studying early. It’s best to start studying for the MPRE about 4 weeks ahead of time, but even a 2-3 week period should be adequate. The key is to give yourself enough time to fully learn, understand and practice applying the rules so that you aren’t cramming a day or two before the exam. About a month prior to the exam, pull out your planner and think about when your schedule can accommodate some MPRE study sessions. You should aim to review the rules or work practice questions on a consistent basis leading up to the test. Additionally, block off a few hours over the weekends leading up to the exam when you can complete (and review) a full practice exam or two.
- Learn the language of the MPRE. Make sure you review the subject matter outline and the definitions of key words and phrases provided on the NCBE website. The subject matter outline provides information about the extent to which each category is covered, which will help you allocate your study time. The key words and phrases chart will familiarize you with the meaning of specific terms that are used on the MPRE. Knowing the precise meanings of key terms could make all the differences on these tricky and nuanced questions!
- Learn – don’t just memorize – the rules. To be successful on the MPRE you must understand how the rules operate in various situations. Memorizing the rules is important, but don’t stop there. Make sure you also understand how the rules apply. Additionally, like most legal exams, the devil is in the details, so make sure you know the exceptions to the various rules and have reviewed the comments to each rule.
- Follow the rules, not your intuition. The MPRE tests the rules and procedures that govern legal conduct. Accordingly, it is essential that you apply the rules in a straightforward, objective manner. Avoid selecting an answer that seems correct based purely on your belief as to what is right or wrong. Ignore your intuition and instead select the answer that is correct as dictated by the rules.
- Practice questions are key. We know we’ve said it before, but when it comes to studying, there’s nothing quite like practice, practice, practice. Be sure your study plan includes plenty of opportunities to complete practice MPRE questions and to review your answers. There are many MPRE supplements available (including some you can access for free through OCU’s BarBri and Westlaw packages), but you may also consider purchasing the MPRE practice exams on the NCBE website. Each exam costs $40, but it gives you access to questions drawn from actual MPREs.
- Watch Professor Maye’s review session. Each year, Professor Maye teaches an MPRE review session that goes over substantive law and practice questions. Watching this review lecture is a great opportunity to jump start your MPRE preparation.
- Confirm your exam registration and know the policies. Last but not least, be sure you have all of the logistical details taken care of prior to the exam. Confirm your registration and double check the day, time, and location of the test. It’s also a good idea to review the policies regarding when to arrive and what items you can bring to the exam.
Good luck to everyone taking the MPRE!