Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a one hundred twenty five (125) minute, sixty (60) question, multiple-choice examination designed to measure the knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer's professional conduct. It is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and was first administered in 1980.

It is a prerequisite or corequisite to the bar examination for admission as an attorney at law in 47 of the 50 states of the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Of the 56 jurisdictions within the United States, only Maryland, Puerto Rico, Washington, and Wisconsin do not use the MPRE; however, these jurisdictions still incorporate local ethics rules in their respective bar examinations. Connecticut and New Jersey waive the MPRE requirement for bar candidates who have earned a grade of "C" or better in a law school course in professional ethics.



As of the March 2009 administration, the test consists of 60 substantive questions. Only 50 are scored; the other 10 (randomly scattered throughout the exam) are used for experimental purposes. An additional 10 survey questions at the end of the exam are used to evaluate the conditions of the testing center. The raw score is converted to a "scaled score" based on the measured difficulty of the version of the test taken; the scaled score is used to determine passing scores. Scaled scores range between 50 and 150, with a median very close to 100.

The questions are based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules (courtesy American Bar Association website and National Conference of Bar Examiners MPRE website). California uses the MPRE even though it is the only jurisdiction that has not adopted either of the two sets of professional responsibility rules proposed by the American Bar Association — and California rules differ from the ABA rules in many ways.

The MPRE differs from the remainder of the bar examination in two crucial ways:

  • Virtually all states allow bar exam candidates to take the MPRE prior to graduation from law school, as opposed to the bar examination itself which can only taken after receipt of a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school.
  • A bar exam candidate's MPRE score is accepted in every jurisdiction that requires it, regardless of the jurisdiction where the test was administered, unlike the other components of the bar examination. For instance, states differ on accepting scores on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) if it was administered in a foreign jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions will not accept an MBE score from any other jurisdiction; some others only accept MBE scores from another jurisdiction if the applicant is concurrently taking the bar exam in two jurisdictions; still others require a minimum MBE score for transfer. Furthermore, no state accepts scores for the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and locally written essays administered in foreign jurisdictions.

Passing score

The passing score varies between jurisdictions. The lowest score accepted by any jurisdiction is 75 (several). The highest required by any state is 86 (Utah and California). The next highest required score is 85, currently required by 15 states (among them New York, Arizona, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia).

Some states have unique requirements regarding the timing of the MPRE in relation to the bar exam. Four states—Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Nebraska—currently require that all candidates for the bar exam achieve a passing MPRE score before sitting for the exam. Iowa requires the passing score to be on file several months before the exam, with a petition process for candidates who pass the March MPRE and the July bar exam in the same year. Illinois applicants must have earned the lesser of 60 credit hours or two thirds of the credits required to obtain a JD degree from his or her law school before sitting for the MPRE; for most applicants, this means that the MPRE may have been written no sooner than August preceding commencement of the final year of law school. Many other states have a "window" either preceding or surrounding the bar exam outside of which MPRE scores are not recognized.

The updated Score Requirements for the MPRE examination are reflected in the below chart, effective October 29, 2011. (~citing the Fellow)

Alabama 75 Georgia 75 Maryland NA New Jersey 105 South Carolina 77 Wyoming 75
Alaska 80 Hawaii 85 Massachusetts 85 New Mexico 75 South Dakota 75 Guam 80
Arizona 85 Idaho 85 Michigan 85 New York 105 Tennessee 75 N. Mariana Islands 75
Arkansas 85 Illinois 80 Minnesota 85 North Carolina 80 Texas 85 Palau 75
California 86 Indiana 80 Mississippi 75 North Dakota 80 Utah 86 Puerto Rico NA
Colorado 85 Iowa 80 Missouri 80 Ohio 85 Vermont 80 Virgin Islands 75
Connecticut 80 Kansas 14 Montana 80 Oklahoma 75 Virginia 85
Delaware 85 Kentucky 75 Nebraska 85 Oregon 85 Washington NA
DC 75 Louisiana 80 Nevada 85 Pennsylvania 75 West Virginia 75
Florida 80 Maine 80 New Hampshire 79 Rhode Island 80 Wisconsin NA

Calculation of scaled scores

The calculation of scaled scores differs based on the difficulty of an individual exam, and therefore there is no formula (known in advance) for determining the number of correctly answered questions necessary to pass. The California bar web site offers some guidance: In the past, The 79 points required in California equated to (roughly) between 28 and 33 correct answers out of 50; today California requires a score of 86. A score of 100 points would equate to (roughly) 30 to 35 correct answers.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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