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 2

What Is Tested on the MPRE?

Part 2

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

In Part 1 of this 4-part series, we took a high-level look at the MPRE, reviewing the exam basics and the requirements to achieve a passing score. In Part 2, we will dive deeper into the content of the exam, and review how the exam breaks down into its component parts in order to help guide your studies. The percentages indicated are general guidelines, but remember that specific administrations can vary slightly.

A good starting place to reviewing what is tested on the MPRE comes from the NCBE which states that the exam ‘is based on the law governing the conduct and discipline of lawyers and judges, including the disciplinary rules of professional conduct currently articulated in the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules.’

One question that arises for exam takers is ‘what about changes to either the model rules or the model code?’ The good news is that any amendments won’t be reflected on the MPRE any earlier than one year after the amendments receive approval by the ABA. The bad news is that you have to keep in mind that any such rules or code that are amended may be tested by questions that reflect the aforementioned prior to being amended. It behooves an examinee to review any amendments by visiting the respective ABA sites referenced previously, just to make sure that one is aware of any potential changes that may be ripe for testing (or alternatively, that will not be ripe for testing and require adherence to rules or code that exists in its pre-amended form).

It should be noted that the NCBE states that questions outside of the conduct or disciplinary context are designed to measure an exam taker’s understanding of the generally accepted rules, principles, and common law regulating the legal profession in the United States and apply the majority view of cases, statutes, or regulations on the subject. To the extent that questions of professional responsibility arise in the context of procedural or evidentiary issues, such as the availability of litigation sanctions or the scope of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply, unless otherwise stated. As a general rule, particular local statutes or rules of court will not be tested on the MPRE; however, a specific question may include the text of a local statute or rule that must be considered when answering that question.’

Before we breakdown the MPRE based on this extremely helpful subject outline that the NCBE provides (which is a one-page summary overview of the exam that is helpful to review on a daily basis), there is an additional document that the NCBE provides. This helpful review tool for the MPRE relates to important distinctions regarding what I refer to as ‘may versus must’ and ‘should versus shall’ language distinctions. Much of the language in the rules and code has important modifiers, and this is an opportune time to conduct a highly encouraged review of the key words and phrases document that the NCBE provides for MPRE takers.

Without further ado, let’s examine the 12 MPRE topics prevalence breakdown: 

  1. The Regulation of the Legal Profession (6-12%)
  2. The Client-Lawyer Relationship (10-16%) 
  3. Client Confidentiality (6-12%)
  4. Conflicts of Interest (12-18%) <Highly Tested>
  5. Competence, Legal Malpractice, and other civil liability (6-12%)
  6. Litigation and Other Forms of Advocacy (10-16%)
  7. Transactions and Communications With Persons Other Than Clients (2-8%)
  8. Different Roles of the Lawer (4-10%)
  9. Safekeeping Funds and Other Property (2-8%) <Easy area to get maximum points)
  10. Communications About Legal Services (4-10%)
  11. Lawyers’ Duties to the Public and the Legal System (2-4%)
  12. Judicial Conduct (2-8%) <In my experience, often overlooked by MPRE takers>

Although this list appears short, remember that the topics themselves are internally broad and require the appropriate time and study devoted to each. As you can see from the percentage breakdowns, there are several areas that WILL be worth 10% or more of the entire exam (the lawyer-client relationship, conflicts of interest, and litigation and other forms of advocacy). In fact, those three areas alone could potentially account for anywhere between 32-50% of the entire exam, so make sure you concentrate especially on them. However, given that there are only 50 tested questions that count towards your score, you don’t want to ignore any topical area.

Remember to checkout Part 3, where we will discuss resources for your MPRE preparation, including free MPRE courses, and also Part 4, where we will discuss study timelines and review strategies to ensure that you achieve success on the MPRE.