You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 4

MPRE Study Timelines and Review Strategies

Part 4

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In the previous parts of this MPRE series, we have had an introduction to the MPRE, looked at the 5 W’s, reviewed the four free recommended resources, and generally gotten a good sense of what you will need to know to attain the score you need in your relevant jurisdiction. In Part 4 of the series, we will bring it all together and discuss study timelines and review strategies.

MPRE Study Timelines

The typical ‘how long should I study for?’ questions that arise around the MPRE are nothing new. Generally, as I have mentioned previously, students tend to both overlook the importance of studying for the MPRE and the time requirements that success on this exam takes. Furthermore, almost everyone has heard a rumor of someone who studied for a day or two, or didn’t study at all. Some students believe that completing a professional responsibility course during law school is all that they need, while others erroneously believe that their own personal ethics and morals are enough to guide them.

All of this brings us back to the original question asked, and that is how long should you study for this exam? The answer, like so many things in law school, is that it depends on a variety of factors:

  1. Professional Responsibility Class (PR): The first thing to consider is whether or not you have taken a PR class? If you have not, or if your class was more focused on case law than the model rules and code referenced in Parts 2 and 3 of this series, then you will want to schedule additional time to give yourself time to get familiar with these resources.
  2. Standardized Test-Taking Skills: Are you a good standardized test taker? Do you normally do well on multiple-choice style exams? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you will want to give yourself additional study time.
  3. Pass Urgency: Given various timelines and the requirements by almost all jurisdictions to obtain a passing score on the MPRE, the closer you get to your required deadline, the more urgent it is to obtain a passing score on the next administration of the exam. If you want to ensure that you pass on the next administration, you must give yourself adequate time.
  4. What Else Is Going On?: Take a look at your life, be it socially, academically, professionally, or any other area that requires your time and attention. Are you going to be busy? Can you afford to allocate enough hours to the MPRE and take focus away from these other areas, or do you have less available time to devote to this exam? Understanding your various time commitments can help you get a head start on your studying and ensure you put yourself in a position to experience success.
  5. Failure to Pass the MPRE Previously: This one should seem obvious, but if you have previously failed the MPRE, then you need to make sure that your next attempt is successful. If you look back on your previous attempt, almost always you will find that you didn’t allocate enough time to your studies. Plan to do things differently this time.

Keeping those five factors in mind, my generally recommended study time is a minimum of 40 hours to guarantee success. This obviously can vary individual to individual, but allocating a minimum 40 hours to this process will put you in the best place for success. This breaks down as follows:

  • 12 hours of commercial bar vendor MPRE course videos
  • 15 hours of practice tests (minimum 4) and review of these tests
  • 8 hours of outline and notes review (provided by commercial bar vendor)
  • 5 hours of model rule and code review (including focus on comments)

Individuals will vary, so if either of the five factors above are an issue for you, it is likely that you will want to devote additional hours to each of these areas to maximize your chance for success. You can break this down however you like, but I would recommend a minimum of two weeks of study at 20 hours a week, up to a maximum of 4-6 weeks (allocating the appropriate hours for your needs). Creating a plan for your studies in alignment with the aforementioned factors and the review strategies that follow will put you in a position to succeed. Remember that a failure to plan is a plan for failure, so make sure you plan!

Review Strategies

As indicated in the previous section, I generally breakdown MPRE study into 4 component parts, and my review strategies align with those.

  1. Commercial Bar Vendor MPRE Course Videos (12 hours): These courses provide lecture-style videos and accompanying notes that will cover the most heavily tested topics on the exam. Watch them at least once, and you may want to re-watch any heavily tested area or areas that you struggle with.
  1. Practice Tests and Review (15 hours): Much like the bar exam itself, all of the knowledge in the world is useless if you cannot apply it, and the MPRE is no different. Not only will practicing help you get a sense for what will be on the exam, but it will also help you to apply the knowledge you have learned and also to identify any gaps in that knowledge. A careful review of the answers and explanations will assist you in focusing your review, and also help you to understand the distinctions and nuances that will help you correctly identify the right answer.
  1. Outline and Notes Review: This goes hand-in-hand with strategies 1 and 2. It isn’t enough to mindlessly read outlines, but rather you need to engage with the material. By watching lectures and taking practice tests, you will enhance your review of the material by allowing yourself to focus on shoring up your weaknesses and building upon your strengths. Identifying where you need work, researching nuances, and clearly understanding distinctions will help you be successful. Lastly, it is important to firmly establish an understanding of the outline material, which will cover most of what appears on the exam.
  1. Model Rules, Code, and Commentary Review: This is what I like to call low-hanging fruit that is often overlooked. The vast majority of the MPRE comes from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Thus, it only makes sense to spend some time reviewing the heavily-tested areas at the least, and also to focus on the commentary in those areas. When you take your practice exams, you will develop a sense of where to focus, and you can also refer back to Part 2 of this series. Remember, the commentary provides insight on how to deal with potential problem areas, insight into the mindsets of the drafters, and generally will be beneficial to study.


If you have explored the MPRE series in its entirety, then you will find yourself well-situated to be successful on this important exam. Remember, however, that merely reading through this and gaining the knowledge of how to be successful is not enough. You have to take this information and apply it to your life, your approach, and your studies. If you do that, and invest the time into obtaining new knowledge, enhancing your understanding, taking practice tests, and reviewing the materials appropriately, you will be successful on the MPRE. 

Good luck and best wishes!


You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 1

The 5 W’s of the MPRE

Part 1

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Previously, in the introduction to this MPRE series, I engaged in a brief overview of the exam, including what states require a passing score, what kind of mindsets students approach the exam with, and then provided an advance overview of what this series would cover. In this section, we cover the 5 W’s in order to get an understanding of where the MPRE comes from, the makeup of the exam, and to provide a firm foundation for Part 2, which breaks down the exam into its component parts. Remember also that Part 3 of the series will cover the resources available for MPRE preparation, and that Part 4 of the series will help review study timelines and strategies to help ensure you are successful on your first take.

Let’s now take a look at the 5 W’s of the MPRE:

Who: The MPRE is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and (currently) is administered by Pearson Vue. Beginning in 2020, the test will be administered entirely on a digital platform, thereby removing old worries about sharpening pencils, erasure marks, and accidentally getting tears on your scantron (just kidding, it’s really not that bad!). In 2019, 54 jurisdictions required the MPRE.

Where: Test takers visit a Pearson Vue testing center (if you want to locate your nearest testing go here) to take the MPRE. 

When: Previously, the MPRE was administered on the weekend generally, but that all changed in 2020. During this calendar year, the MPRE takes place during the week and you can see that schedule here. An important thing to note about the MPRE registration deadlines is that they often occur more than a month before the exam. So, if you are thinking about registering for the March or August 2021 administrations, make sure to do well in advance. Also note that unlike 2020, there is no October administration of the exam in 2021 (instead, there will be a November administration).

Registration for the 2021 MPRE administrations opens on December 14, 2020, and is currently slated to have a fee of $135. It also appears the exam will be shifting to a two consecutive day format, unlike the staggered schedule seen in 2020.

Why: The MPRE is administered to test examinees on their knowledge and understanding of established standards and rules related to the professional conduct of lawyers. It does not test an individual to determine his or her personal ethical values and morals. Since lawyers can serve in a variety of roles, including as judges, counselors, legal advocates, and so forth, it is important to ensure that attorneys have an understanding of rules and expectations for them. The test questions generally deal with circumstances

The law governing the conduct of lawyers in these roles is applied in disciplinary and bar admission procedures, and by courts in dealing with issues of appearance, representation, privilege, disqualification, and contempt or other censure, and in lawsuits seeking to establish liability for malpractice and other civil or criminal wrongs committed by a lawyer while acting in a professional capacity.

What: The MPRE is an exam administered over two hours that consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Of these 60 questions, only 50 are actually scored, and the other 10 are considered pretest questions and are generally said to be indistinguishable from the scored questions. Your takeaway from that is simple: treat all 60 questions like they count. The scaled score that takers will receive can range from a low of 50 to a high of 150.

Scores to pass the MPRE vary based on jurisdiction. Georgia requires a minimum passing score of 75, which ties with Alabama, the District of Columbia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, and the Virgin Islands for the lowest required score for passing. In order to provide some perspective, the mean scaled score for the entire group of MPRE takers in 2019 was 94.9. Although this number is higher than Georgia’s required passing score, that does not mean that you can overlook this exam. Regardless of your intended practice state’s requirements, this is a test that you have to prepare for to be successful, and approaching it with the mindset that the average score is higher neglects the fact that about 20% of takers (almost 12,000!) fail to achieve a score of 75. Don’t be part of that group, and make sure you take this test seriously.

The majority of future examinees at this point, having reviewed the respective score required by their state, will then ask how to achieve that score. This is tough to state accurately because the NCBE equates the scores, so there is no hard and fast answer. However, you can approximate that a required score of 75 requires about 56% correct and an 85 requires about 60% correct. Remember, however, this is a statistical proximation and SHOULD NOT be the metric that you shoot for generally. Like the bar exam, the MPRE is somewhat a test of minimum competence in terms of scoring, but why risk failing by aiming low? My advice is always to put the time in to achieve the best score that you are capable of and EXCEED the minimum requirement, as opposed to aiming low and potentially falling short. Put the time in!

Remember to check out Part 2, where we will breakdown the different areas of professional responsibility that are tested on the exam. As I stated previously, this will help you focus your studies and maximize your time as you pursue attaining a passing score on the MPRE.