Academic Success & Bar Preparation

The Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department is available to all enrolled students and graduates of Detroit Mercy Law seeking assistance with law school study skills and preparation for the bar examination. Charisse Heath, the Assistant Dean of Academic Success and Bar Preparation, and Sarah Garrison, the Director of Bar Preparation, are available to meet with students on an individual or group basis.

Vision Statement ▼

The Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department seeks to be recognized, valued, and understood by Detroit Mercy Law students as an essential resource for developing and improving the academic strategies and skills needed to excel in the classroom, on assignments, on exams, and, ultimately, in legal practice.

Guiding Principles ▼

The Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department at Detroit Mercy Law will

  • Provide a respectful, responsive, and welcoming learning environment
  • Promote self-motivated learning, critical thinking, and rigorous legal analysis
  • Encourage students to cultivate sound study habits
  • Challenge students to strive to become professional, competent attorneys

Services ▼

The Academic Success Department meets with students on an individual or small group basis to discuss various aspects of law school study, including the following:

  • reading and briefing cases
  • taking meaningful class notes
  • participating in class
  • using laptops carefully and appropriately in law school
  • studying in groups effectively
  • using supplemental study aids advantageously (we offer a lending library of study materials available for all students)
  • reviewing and synthesizing material
  • managing time and avoiding the tendency to procrastinate
  • balancing school, work, and home life
  • preparing for and taking exams
  • meeting with professors
  • course selection for upper class students to prepare for the bar examination

The Academic Success Department is also pleased to provide the following services:

  • Meeting with 1L and upper class students to review writing assignments.
  • Meeting with students in academic jeopardy.
  • Providing, on an individual basis, assignments and exercises, and feedback on those assignments and exercises, to improve students’ writing and analytical skills.
  • Providing a skills lab entitled Critical Legal Skills for 1L students which focuses on building the analytical, writing and organizational skills necessary to enhance students’ ability to perform well in law school, on the bar examination, and in the practice of law. The lab involves, among other things, writing assignments, practice essay examination questions, quizzes, and comprehension exercises.

The Department also consults with students and graduates on a variety of bar related topics:

  • Assistance with the bar exam application process (in any state)
  • Counseling on matters of character and fitness
  • Personalized study plans, strategies, and goals for the duration of the bar prep period
  • Feedback on essay questions
  • Individual consultations throughout the bar prep period
  • Provision of practice questions and feedback to improve bar exam skills

For-credit courses are also offered each semester. Classes are specifically designed to jump-start studying by providing enhanced writing and test-taking skills with multiple opportunities for individual feedback.

  • Bar Exam Strategies (2 credits)
  • Multistate Bar Exam Strategies (1 credit; pass/no pass) This class will not be offered during the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Both courses available to Detroit Mercy Law alums at no charge.

Bar Examination Information ▼

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners requires all those seeking admission to the bar to have a JD from a U.S. accredited school, obtain a favorable recommendation from the State Bar of Michigan Character and Fitness Board, receive a score of at least 85 on the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam, and receive a scaled score of at least 135 on the bar exam. For a complete set of regulations, visit the Michigan Board of Law Examiners’ website.

Muti-State Professional Responsibility Exam ▼

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) that is administered three times per year (April/March, November, and August). It is required for admission to the bars of all but three U.S. jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico). The purpose of the MPRE is to measure an examinee’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct.

MPRE requirements are different in each state. Michigan requires examinees to receive a score of 85 to pass the exam. Registration is required to sit for the exam. Registration deadlines and fees to sit for the MPRE are below.

 Test Date

Regular Registration Deadline
Fee: $84

Late Registration Deadline
Fee: $168

Sat., August 13, 2016

June 23, 2016

June 30, 2016

Sat., November 5, 2016

September 15, 2016

September 22, 2016

Sat., March 18, 2017

January 26, 2017

February 2, 2017

Sat., August 12, 2017

June 22, 2017

June 29, 2017

Sat., November 4, 2017

September 14, 2017

September 21, 2017

** Exact test dates and registration deadlines change each year. Visit for current information.

 It is strongly recommended that students take the MPRE before they sit for the bar exam, but a student can choose to delay the MPRE until after the bar exam. One cannot be admitted to the state bar, however, until they have received a favorable score on the MPRE.

Studying for the MPRE should take 3-4 weeks if students devote 2-3 hours a day to study aids and practice questions. Each commercial bar vendor has MPRE materials (lecture, outline, practice questions) available for free. It is strongly recommended that students utilize at least one (or more) of these sources of information and that they do many practice exams before the actual testing day.

To register or find more information on MPRE testing dates and locations visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners website at

Bar Exam Application and Character and Fitness ▼

Before you can take the bar exam, you must apply to sit and be recommended or admission by the State Bar of Michigan Character and Fitness Board of Michigan (C/F Board). The application process can be confusing and tedious, but is manageable if students give themselves time and remain focused. It is the job of the C/F Board to ascertain from student’s personal and professional history if they are good candidates for the Michigan bar.

The filing deadlines and application fees to sit for the bar exam are below:


Application Deadline

Application Fee

Late Application Deadline

Late Application Fee


November 1


December 15



March 1


May 15


 The filing deadlines and application fees for the C/F Board are below:


Application Deadline

Application Fee

Late Application Deadline

Late Application Fee


November 1


December 15



March 1


May 15


The application process can be a great source of anxiety for students. The Academic Support and Bar Preparation Department will host workshops on how to manage the application process and compile the required documentation. Students should contact Sarah Garrison, Director of Bar Preparation, with questions or concerns.

Michigan Bar Exam ▼

The Michigan Bar Exam is a 2-day exam. It is offered the last Tuesday and Wednesday in February and July of each year. The exam takes place in East Lansing, Michigan on the Michigan State University campus.

The first day of testing is the essay portion of the exam. This section focuses specifically on a examinee’s knowledge of Michigan law. The second day of testing is the multiple choice portion of the exam. The Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE) is drafted and graded by the National Conference of Bar Examiners in Madison, Wisconsin.

Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE) ▼

With the exception of Louisiana , every state in the country uses the MBE as a component of their bar exam. The MBE is a one-day, 200 multiple-choice question exam focusing on the seven core subjects listed below. Examinees are given 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon to complete this test.

            Constitutional Law                             Civil Procedure (added in February 2015)

            Criminal Law                                      Torts

            Evidence                                            Real Property


The MBE test these subjects from a federal perspective. To learn more about the MBE, including practice material and subject matter outlines, visit the NCBE website.

Michigan Essays ▼

In addition to the MBE, states will require examinees to sit for a state-specific portion of the exam. In Michigan, examinees are required to complete 15 essay questions. The questions are written and graded by members of the State Bar of Michigan and should be answered using Michigan specific law. Examinees are given 3 hours in the morning to complete 9 essays and 2 hours in the afternoon to complete 6 essays. Each essay should take about 20 minutes to complete.

While there are only 15 essays on the exam, the writers have 24 testable subject areas from which they can choose to create the questions. You will notice that the MBE subjects are also included in the list as an examinee will be tested on this material twice. The following subjects can be tested on the essay portion.

Agency                                                                       Negotiable Instruments

Civil Procedure                                                           No-Fault Insurance

Constitutional Law                                                     Partnerships

Contracts                                                                   Personal Property

Corporations                                                              Professional Responsibility

Creditor’s Rights (including mortgages)                      Real Property

Conflict of Laws                                                          Sales

Criminal Law                                                               Secured Transactions

Criminal Procedure                                                     Torts

Domestic Relations                                                     Trusts

Evidence                                                                     Wills

Equity                                                                         Worker’s Compensation

Most essays will focus on only one subject area at a time, but there have been times when two subjects will be combined such as Torts and No-Fault Insurance. Essays are scored on a scale of 1 to 10. While examinees should strive for the highest score possible on each essay, a 7 is considered passing. An average of 7s on the exam will give you a passing essay score.

Planning to Sit Outside of Michigan? ▼

The NCBE website has information on each jurisdiction. The NCBE also publishes a pamphlet called the Bar Admission Guide which contains detailed requirements for each state. Sarah Garrison, Director of Bar Preparation, can also help students navigate the application and studying process for exams outside of Michigan.