Tests to Become a Lawyer

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Law school students must take a variety of tests to become lawyers. While students must take multiple tests each year--usually one per law school course--there are also three key examinations that aspiring lawyers must take: the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) and the bar exam.

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

  • The LSAT is the law school entrance exam that is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The LSAT is used by law school admissions committees to determine which applicants will be admitted to the incoming class in a similar way that the SAT is used by undergraduate school admissions committees. The LSAT is a standardized examination that tests law school applicants' reading comprehension skills, logical reasoning skills and analytical reasoning skills. There is also a writing sample component to the LSAT that does not count as part of the test taker's official score, but is provided to the law school admission office for consideration with the test taker's law school application.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

  • The MPRE is a multiple-choice examination that tests law school students' knowledge and understanding of the commonly accepted rules of professional conduct for lawyers. The MPRE is based on the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct from which many state jurisdictions base their rules of professional conduct. The exam is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which is the same body that creates the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) for each jurisdiction's bar exam. The exam can be taken during the law student's final year of law school or after graduation.

The Bar Exam

  • The bar examination is not uniform among the states. It is a two- to three-day examination generally comprised of the MBE, essay questions and in some cases additional short-answer and multiple- choice questions. The MBE is a 200-question, multiple-choice examination that tests applicants on the common law. The subjects covered in the MBE are contracts, torts, property, constitutional law, evidence, criminal law and criminal procedure. The essay portion varies by each jurisdiction, some jurisdictions create their own essay examinations and others use the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) that is created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. If the state created its own exam, then it will, in many cases, contain questions that are specific to the jurisdiction. If the state uses the MEE, then it will be based on the common law. The final component of the bar exam is a performance test. Again, some states will create their own performance tests, and others will use the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). The performance test is a written test that requires the applicant to draft a legal document, such as a client letter or pleading based on documents supplied by the bar examiners. Again, whether the performance test examines state-specific law or the common law is determined by whether the jurisdiction creates its own performance test or uses the MPT.

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