Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination

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The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a 120 minute, 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 48 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, and Wisconsin do not use the MPRE examination. However, these jurisdictions still incorporate local ethics rules in their respective bar examinations. Connecticut[1] 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 October 2012 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). Therefore state rules and laws which may or may not differ from the ABA rules are not tested. 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, in the great majority of states, may only be taken after receipt of a J.D. or L.L.M. 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. States that have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which includes the MBE, generally accept UBE and MBE scores from other UBE jurisdictions, but policies and minimum scores vary between jurisdictions. In non-UBE jurisdictions, policies vary even more widely. Some 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, with the exception of UBE jurisdictions that accept scores from other UBE jurisdictions (since the MEE is also part of the UBE).

Passing score[edit]

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[2]). The next highest required score is 85, currently required by 20 states and territories (among them Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia).[3]

Some states have unique requirements regarding the timing of the MPRE in relation to the bar exam. Four states—Rhode Island, Iowa, Kentucky, and Massachusetts—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. Other states have a "window" either preceding or surrounding the bar exam outside of which MPRE scores are not recognized.

Alabama 75 Georgia 75 Maryland NA New Jersey 75 South Carolina 77 Wyoming 85
Alaska 80 Hawaii 85 Massachusetts 85 New Mexico 80 South Dakota 85 Guam 80
Arizona 85 Idaho 85 Michigan 85 New York 85 Tennessee 82 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 85 Utah 86 Puerto Rico NA
Colorado 85 Iowa 80 Missouri 80 Ohio 85 Vermont 80 Virgin Islands 75
Connecticut 80 Kansas 80 Montana 80 Oklahoma 75 Virginia 85
Delaware 85 Kentucky 75 Nebraska 85 Oregon 85 Washington 85
DC 75 Louisiana 80 Nevada 85 Pennsylvania 75 West Virginia 80
Florida 80 Maine 80 New Hampshire 79 Rhode Island 80 Wisconsin NA


  1. ^ "Connecticut Bar Examining Committee". State of Connecticut Judicial Branch. Retrieved March 18, 2016. In lieu of the MPRE, the requirement may be satisfied with a grade of C or better in a course in professional responsibility at a law school approved by the Committee. 
  2. ^ California State Bar: Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination score of 86 effective January 1, 2008
  3. ^ "Ethics Exam / MPRE". Database of Bar Admission and Reciprocity Rules. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 

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