Let’s face it: you’ve heard a lot of stories about the MPRE. Your senior partner at the law firm you intern for told you that you don’t need to study for it, or your friend that graduated two years ago said you only need to study a couple days before the exam. What’s true and what isn’t? This post is going to identify all of the MPRE myths out there for you, and give you advice on how to be successful on the MPRE the first time you take it.
Myth 1: You don’t need to take Professional Responsibility in Law School in order to pass the MPRE
This is not only a myth, but a bad idea. A Professional Responsibility course at your law school will give you the background to the ethics rules that you need to be successful on the MPRE. Going in blind, and teaching yourself all of the ABA Model Rules for the first time by yourself is not the best way to approach this exam. Take the Professional Responsibility course in your second year of law school, and then register for the MPRE after you have completed your course. This way you can spend time reviewing the rules you learned in your course, and applying them to practice questions.
Myth 2: You don’t need to study hard for the MPRE, and only need to Study a few days before the Exam
Not only do you need to study hard for the MPRE, but you need to study longer than just a few days. The multiple choice questions on the MPRE have become increasingly difficult as each exam administration passes. The MPRE is testing your intricate knowledge of the ABA Model Rules, and a cursory study is not compatible with an intricate test. You should start studying at least a month prior to the exam and set out a strict weekly schedule to follow.
Myth 3: Just taking Professional Responsibility is enough for you to pass the MPRE
Just as taking the course is important, doing your own independent study for the MPRE is just as important. If you don’t know how to independently study, don’t worry. Here are some steps you should follow when you’re studying for the MPRE:
- Look at the subject matter outline provided by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. You should allocate your study time appropriately in accordance with how heavily tested a topic is. For example, you’ll notice that conflicts of interest comprises 12-18% of the MPRE, whereas judicial conduct comprises of 2-8% of the exam. You can allocate more time to studying conflicts of interest, since that is more heavily tested.
- Find study materials that you like. The bar review companies like Kaplan, Barbri, and Themis, all have FREE MPRE courses that you can take. That’s right – they’re free! You can download one of the programs, which consists of lecture videos, practice questions, and practice exams.
- When you’re studying, practice a lot of questions. It is one thing to understand what a rule means in an outline or in the ABA Model Rules, but it’s another thing to understand how it’s applied to a fact pattern. Practicing questions will help you get the score you need.
- Be sure to take full practice tests in test-taking conditions and under time constraints. You not only want to practice questions to understand the material, but you also want to make sure you have the stamina and the ability to finish the test on time.
Myth 4: Everyone Passes the MPRE
I need to stress that the MPRE is not an easy exam. If you didn’t get the score you needed the first or second time taking it, you are in good company. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you didn’t study, then you need to put more work in. If you did study, maybe you just need to change the way you did so. Try practicing different questions, or try a different study program. Whatever you do, be sure to do something that works for you, rather than what may have worked for someone else.
Here are some helpful (and free) MPRE materials that you can use to study:
- The NCBE releases free sample test questions. These questions are written by the examiners and are likely close to what you are going to see when you take the MPRE.
- Barmax Review offers a free MPRE course with over 100 practice questions.
- The bar preparation companies, Barbri, Kaplan, and Themis, all have their own MPRE courses that you can sign up for at no cost. Many students have found these courses helpful when studying for the MPRE.
Use the programs and the study tools that work best for you. More importantly, ignoring the myths and focusing on your own self-study, following the advice above, will maximize your chances of passing the MPRE.
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