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So you didn’t pass the MPRE the first, or second, or fifth, time around. What did you do wrong? What can you do differently?

First and foremost, do NOT beat yourself up. This does not mean you didn’t study hard enough (though maybe it does!), or that you’re not ethical, or that you don’t know the rules. It could be that you didn’t study the RIGHT way.

1) What you needed for professional responsibility class is not identical to what you need for the MPRE:

The course that many of you are required to take, called professional responsibility or ethics, is not necessarily geared towards helping you master the MPRE. Some professors may bring up the MPRE, or give you practice MPRE questions, but most are geared towards discussions, towards the gray area and towards what we SHOULD do as professionals. The MPRE tends to focus on where the rule draws the line.

2) Pay Attention to Key Words:

Sometimes it’s not that you don’t know the rule, or even how to apply it, but you misread the question. Maybe the question asks about civil liability, which means was the attorney negligent, versus is the attorney subject to criminal sanctions, litigation sanctions or discipline. The difference is very distinct, and sometimes the answer can change drastically based on those little words.

3) Study by practicing, and learning from the questions:

The MPRE is a test that you master by practice, not by continually reviewing substance. Yes, you DO need to know the rules, but merely reviewing the rules over and over again will not do the trick. You need to practice the questions, and learn from those questions. Master the way the rule is applied, and why one question turned out one way, while another turned out to have a completely different answer. Students are tempted to assume that they don’t know enough rules, but that’s not necessarily the case, sometimes it’s the way those rules are applied.

4) Pay attention to nuances:

One thing to learn from the questions is the tiny nuances you might not pick up studying the rules. For instance, you might master the rule that you can not comingle funds, and even have the exact rule number memorized verbatim. However, only the questions will show you the various ways that rule gets applied, and that’s how you REALLY master the MPRE


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