Standardized Test Issues - MPRE

It is no secret that becoming a lawyer is no easy feat. But many pre-law students often romanticize the life of a lawyer. They envision arguing cases, helping their clients receive justice for wrongs done to them, and having a dispensable income someday. Their first day of law school usually disrupts this romantic idea, and the reality of the work and expectations sets in.

What most students do not know prior to law school is the number of hoops they will have to jump through to make it to the starting line of their career. In addition to taking the LSAT and getting into law school, law students will have to also maintain a minimum GPA to graduate and prepare for – and pass – both the bar exam and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam – or MPRE for short.

If a student is accused of misconduct before, during, or after the MPRE, it can have a disastrous effect on their bar admission and future career opportunities. As such, working with an academic attorney-advisor is the best way to ensure you do not suffer from any unnecessary consequences. Call Attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help.

What Is the MPRE?

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam was developed in 1980 to measure how much an individual knows about the lawyer's professional code of conduct.

Since then, it has become a requirement to be admitted to the state bar in 49 states, as well as several U.S. jurisdictions, including Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington D.C. Wisconsin and Puerto Rico, are the only places that do not require the MPRE for bar admission. Additionally, in Connecticut and New Jersey, the MPRE is waived for bar candidates who took a professional ethics course in law school and received a C or C-, respectively.

The MPRE is a deceptively nuanced exam where there are multiple correct answers per question, and you are tasked with finding the best right answer. This is easier said than done, and most students enroll in MPRE preparation courses – whether at their law school or online. Luckily, these courses are usually free.

Structure of the MPRE

The MPRE is a 60-question, multiple-choice exam. Test-takers have 120 minutes to complete the exam by picking the best answers from four possible answers. Their scores are based on the number of questions they answer correctly, and points are not subtracted for incorrect answers.

Every state has a particular threshold the test-taker must meet to have “passed” the exam. For example, in Georgia and Washington D.C., the required score for bar admission (with a passing bar exam score) is 75%, but in New York and Texas, it's 85%. Oh, and of the 60 questions asked, only 50 are actually graded. The other ten questions are experimental – though test-takers are unaware which questions are not being counted.

Additionally, the exam is curved and scaled. So, no one can be penalized, or rewarded, for taking a more or less difficult version of the exam. The exact formula that NCBE uses is unknown, but the highest score a test-taker can get is 150 and the lowest is 50. Most test-takers fall within the 100 range.

The MPRE is administered three times a year: March, August, and November, allowing students ample opportunities to pass if they are unsuccessful their first time around. And, unlike the bar exam, which is a state-specific exam, the MPRE is not testing any state-specific knowledge, so the scores can be applied to any state bar if they meet that state's particular threshold.

Topics Covered on the MPRE

The MPRE tests the American Bar Association's professional responsibility conduct rules. The topics that tend to appear on the exam are as follows:

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Client-lawyer relationships
  • Litigation
  • Client confidentiality
  • Competence and liability
  • Communications about legal services
  • Different roles that lawyers can play
  • Conduct of judges
  • Speaking to clients
  • Where to safe keep funds and property
  • General duties lawyers have to the public and the legal system

Misconduct on MPRE Applications

Misconduct accusations during the application process for the MPRE can seriously affect your ability to pursue a legal career. The MPRE is testing professional responsibility and conduct rules, thus, being accused of misconduct or irregularities on your application would directly contradict the very basis of the exam.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners, who administer the MPRE, have specifically outlined conduct that is prohibited before, during, and after the MPRE, including the application process. For instance, test-takers may not register for the MPRE under a false name or identity or neglect to provide relevant information on their application that could be misleading – even if the omission was accidental.

If a student is notified of an irregularity on their application or accused of misconduct, a number of things could happen, including being barred from taking the test on that particular date or being prohibited from sitting for it in the future. Additionally, if application misconduct accusations are not addressed quickly, it could result in harsher penalties – like criminal or civil liability.

Once you become aware of an issue with your application, you must reach out to an academic attorney-advisor for help. Academic attorney-advisors will be able to reach out to the NCBE and discuss the issue on your behalf, ensuring the best possible outcome.

Misconduct During the MPRE

While some accusations of misconduct might come from having irregularities on your applications, the majority occur because of issues that crop up during the exam itself.

According to the NCBE, test-takers are prohibited from the following:

  • Taking a test for someone else.
  • Bringing personal items into the testing room without permission.
  • Retrieving stored personal items or leaving the building during the test.
  • Threatening the exam proctor.
  • Getting access to the exam content prior to test day.
  • Taking the test content from the testing room.
  • Copying someone else's answers.
  • Sharing your answers with another test-taker on exam day.
  • Disclosing exam questions or topics after the exam.
  • Reproducing or paraphrasing content from the exam from memory.
  • Sending someone else exam content that someone else gave you.
  • Wearing smart watches.
  • Having any kind personal computing device in the examination room.
  • Having a cell phone in the testing room.
  • Having a recording device on your person.
  • Bringing a timer into the room unless it is a simple digital watch.
  • Anything that could be used as a weapon.
  • Leaving the testing room without permission while the test is being adm