Tackling the MPRE as a 3L

The MPRE – 3L PerspectivePlease welcome back 3L guest writer Shirlene Armstrong to discuss what it’s like to take the MPRE as a 3L and how to prepare!

In case you did not know already, I am a 3L, and I am about to enter my last semester of law school (I’m not panicking, you’re panicking). Not only am I dreaming about post-grad life, I just took the MPRE last month. Unlike the bar exam, you do not have to wait until graduation to sit for this exam. To make life a little easier, many students take the MPRE in their 2L year or during the summer before their 3L year. For me, that just did not work with my schedule, and I had to plan accordingly. I am usually a futuristic and try to get everything situated so I don’t stress out over something simple. This time, my busy life got the best of me so I took the MPRE a little later than most of my fellow law students. This is the tale of my preparation and actually taking the MPRE.

The Test

What is the MPRE? Short answer: it is the shortest exam you will have to take as a law student that is required in most states in addition to the bar exam itself. When talking to lay people, I have personally referred to the MPRE as the “ethics exam.” The MPRE stands for Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The focus? Well… professional responsibility in the legal field. The MPRE tests only the Model Professional Responsibility rules which explain lawyers duties and responsibilities to their clients, to other professionals, and to the world at large. This exam is 60 multiple-choice questions but only 50 questions are graded on a scaled basis. The format for the answers are “yes, yes, no, no” with various different topics (e.g. conflicts of interest).

Let’s Get Down To Business

I had received a lot of advice from colleagues regarding the MPRE. The overall consensus was that if you take the preparation seriously and actually study, you will do just fine. I was still pretty nervous about the MPRE and was worried that I would not do well. To study for this exam, I completed a free MPRE course with my bar prep provider. This consisted of lectures, practice questions, practice exams, outlines, and reviewing everything multiple times. For weeks I ate, slept and breathed the MPRE. This really got me into the mindset of taking a standardized exam (since my last one was over 3 years ago with the LSAT), but I still couldn’t fully shake off the nerves.

Testing Day!

Don’t let the subtitle fool you, I was not excited about testing day. Unfortunately for me, I had aggravated my previously thrown-out back (I swear I am 80 not 24 years old) LITERALLY ONE WEEK PRIOR TO THE MPRE. I had to take extra time off of class and work so that I could rest and recover. This also meant I had to take time off of studying as well. So I did not feel as confident as I wanted to feel going into it. However, I woke up, prepared a bit, and headed off to my testing center. The process was much more relaxed than I remembered with the LSAT, and you were even allowed to leave early. Again, unfortunately for me, I was on my last question right when they called 15 minutes left, meaning I had to sit in my seat for the remainder of the exam period. Typically I take most of the time to complete exams, however I am not a fan of multiple-choice because I tend to second guess my answers. But after 15 minutes of agony, time was called, and I was officially done with the MPRE.

And Now… The Waiting Game

Everyone’s least favorite part of law school, waiting for exam results. You study hard and prepare for weeks, then you finally sit and take the exam, then silence and anxiety. The most stressful part of any exam is waiting to see if you did well. However, the MPRE waiting game is much worse for me. I am about to enter my last semester of law school and have to focus on graduating and the bar exam. So I am left here wondering “did I pass??” “will need to register for the next MPRE?” “what am I going to tell my mom??” Personally I felt way more confident before the exam and when I completed practice tests. Maybe it is just the jitters, but I am still worried and waiting.

MPRE, Check…. Next Stop, Bar Exam

Regardless of what the results will say, I did survive the MPRE testing experience. It took a lot of time and commitment to study every day for the MPRE on top of preparation for my classes, actually attending class, working, and all my extra activities. However, I managed to make it through relatively okay. Thus, the stress of the MPRE is behind me (minus the waiting of course!), and I now have to gear up for my next big obstacle: graduation and taking the bar exam.


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About Shirlene Armstrong

Shirlene Armstrong is a first-generation student in her last year at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. At Wayne, Shirlene has been involved with numerous organizations and clubs, including mock trial, LexisNexis, the Women's Law Caucus, and the Journal of Law and Society. Shirlene enjoys mentoring others and sharing what she has learned on her legal journey and continues to work hard in accomplishing her dreams.

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