MPRE: Prepare to Pass

The August 2017 MPRE is this Saturday and you should be preparing for it now.  I compare the MPRE to the written test to get your driver’s license- it’s easy IF you know the material. However, if you don’t read the little booklet with the rules of the road, you won’t know how many seconds it takes for a car going 65 MPH to come to a full stop (approximately 316 feet). The MPRE works the same way- you only need to get a little more than 50% of the questions correct but in order to do this, you have to learn the material and how it is tested.

The MPRE covers a lot more material than the driver’s license test so plan to spend 12-15 hours preparing. Not all topics are tested equally so it’s not a great idea to try to learn all the material. Instead, start with the MPRE subject matter outline to see what is tested. For example, there will be at least 7 questions on conflicts of interest but only 1-2 on safekeeping funds. Also take a look at the MPRE Key Words and Phrases which is exactly what it sounds like: key words and phrases the MPRE questions will include. Once you know what is tested, you want to see how it is tested. Use the MPRE Sample Test Questions written by the NCBE. These questions are illustrative of what will appear on the actual MPRE.

Now that you have a sense of the what and how, it’s time to practice. Commercial bar prep companies have free MPRE prep classes that provide detailed outlines and plenty of practice questions. Do them and review them. You can read previous posts here and here on how to get the most out of practice questions.

You want to pass the MPRE so take the test seriously. Put in the time and effort and don’t make excuses. Pass it and move on.

-KSK

July 2017 New York Bar Exam: Registration Period Is Open

Time to Register for the New York Bar Exam

The New York State Board of Law Examiners ,Corporate Plaza, Building 3 – 254 Washington Avenue Extension Albany, NY 12203-5195

The registration period for the July 2017 New York Bar Exam (a UBE jurisdiction) is now open. You have until April 30 to register through the Applicant Services Portal and unlike other jurisdictions New York does not have a late registration deadline. Therefore, if you don’t register by April 30, you are not taking the July exam.

In order to register for the UBE in New York you will need the following:

  • BOLE  number
  • NCBE number
  • A copy of your law school transcript
  • visa or mastercard (no debit cards accepted)

Filling out the application doesn’t take long (10 minutes, tops) but if you think you can get by without any of the above information, think again. The way NY registration works is that the program does no allow you to move from one category to the next until every question is answered. You can’ leave something blank and come back to it. So unless you know exactly how many credits you’ve earned for a stand-alone Professional Responsibility course, clinics, externships, and non-law classes, you better have your transcript handy.

Laptop Registration

You also need to decide if you are going to use your laptop on the bar exam. This might seem like a no-brainer (and it probably is) but before you click “yes” for that non-refundable $100 laptop fee, make sure your particular laptop is supported by the ExamSoft system. Not every jurisdiction permits use of tablet-laptop hybrids, and on the Feb 2017 exam, almost every state banned the new MacBook Pro with Touchbar Function.

Additional Requirements

In addition to passing the UBE you must also meet New York’s other requirements: (1) fulfill your pro bono hours; (2) achieve a passing score on the MPRE; (3) take the NYLC ; (4) pass the NYLE. For those starting law school after August 1, 2016, you must also fulfill the Skills & Values requirement.

-KSK

Changes to the MBE: Substance

A few months ago I wrote about changes to the MBE in the number of scored questions. Instead of 190 scored questions, there are now 175. In addition to this, the NCBE has changed how it tests Evidence and and what it tests in Real Property.

Evidence: There are five categories in Evidence: I. Presentation of Evidence (including impeachment); II, Relevancy (including character evidence and expert testimony); III. Privileges; IV. Writings, Recordings, and Photographs; and V. Hearsay. Up through 2016, the question breakdown was:

  • 33%- 8.3 questions- Presentation (including impeachment)
  • 33%- 8.3 questions- Hearsay
  • 33% – 8.3 questions-Relevancy, Privileges, Writings, Recordings, and Photographs

What has changed? The substance of each category has not changed but the number of questions per category has. Now the new subject breakdown is:

  • 25%-6.25 questions- Presentation, including impeachment
  • 33%-8.3 questions- Relevancy, including character evidence and expert testimony
  • 25%-6.25 questions- Hearsay
  • 17%-4.25 questions- Privileges and Writings, Recordings, and Photographs

Why should I care? There used to be two “big rocks,” Presentation and Hearsay, but now there are three: Presentation, Hearsay, and Relevancy. In addition to knowing Presentation and Hearsay really well, you also need to have a good understanding of basic relevancy and how character evidence and expert testimony work within the general relevancy rule(s). Relevancy used to be a “pebble” with 2-3 questions so you didn’t have to spend a ton of time on it. Now you cannot afford to skim. So, without sacrificing Presentation and Hearsay you have to figure out how to devote more time to Relevancy.

Real Property: There are five categories in Real Property: I. Ownership; II. Rights in Real Property; III. Real Estate Contracts; IV. Mortgages/Security Devices; and V. Titles.

What has changed? The weight given to each category is the same (20%, 5 questions) but the content has increased. The following six topics have been added to Real Property:

  1. Ownership: Conflicts of law related to disputes involving real property
  2. Rights in Real Property: Property owners’ associations and common interest ownership communities; Transfer of easements, profits, and licenses
  3. Titles: Requirements for transfer by deed; Drafting, review and negotiation of closing documents; Persons authorized to execute documents

Why should I care? You might be thinking, “No big deal. So there might be a question on property owners’ associations, I can do that.” Multiply that by 6. There are 6 topics so there is the very real possibility of getting at least one question from each. This is almost 25% of all the Real Property questions. You might be thinking, “No big deal. They won’t test all 6 new topics.” You could be right but do you know which topics won’t be tested? You might be comfortable taking a chance because, it’s only one topic. So where do you draw the line? 1? 2? 3? What about the other MBE subjects? Is it ok to blow off 1 topic from each? Now you are at 7. It’s a slippery slope and you have to be careful where you draw the line.

The purpose of this post is not to scare you. The purpose is to inform you of what to expect so you can plan and prepare.

-KSK

2017 MPRE Registration Fee Increase

For those of you planning on taking the MPRE in 2017, the NCBE has increased the test fees. On-time registration is now $95 and late registration is $190. You might not be thrilled about the price increase but $95 is better than $190 so be sure to register on time to avoid paying double. Below are the 2017 test dates and registration deadlines but you don’t have to wait until the deadline to register. In fact, registration for ALL the 2017 test dates opens on December 12th. Your best bet is to plan ahead, pick a test date, earmark $95 and register as soon as you can.

Test Date                          Regular Registration             Late Registration
                                                            $95                                            $190

March 18, 2017                    January 26, 2017                       February 2, 2017

August 12, 2017                   June 22, 2017                             June 29, 2017

November 4, 2017             September 14, 2017                 September 21, 2017

More information on the MPRE including how to register and score services is available on NCBE website.

Not sure how to study for the MPRE? Check back in February as the Bar Exam Wizard will have a post (or two) on MPRE study strategies. In addition, most commercial bar prep companies offer free MPRE courses with no strings attached (you don’t have to sign up for the bar prep course in order to get the MPRE course).

-KSK