NALA exam tips

How Do I Prepare for the NALA CP Exam?

You can prepare for the NALA CP exam by reviewing the test outlines and by taking advantage of the exam preparation materials and products offered through NALA and other sources. But even with those resources available to you, everybody appreciates knowing a few tips for the best ways to prepare.

NALA – The Paralegal Association’s Certified Paralegal (CP) designation has served as the nation’s leading voluntary credential in the paralegal profession for decades. Once you become a paralegal, the CP designation serves as a mark of excellence and demonstrates to employers that you have gone the extra mile to prove your competency and commitment to the profession.

For many, the CP designation means more professional opportunities, with some employers either requiring or preferring paralegals with the CP credential. It can also mean a higher salary, and a pathway to advancement in the field.

Now that you’ve determined that the CP is right for you and your paralegal career, it’s time to learn more about what it is and how to get it. And that all starts with learning the ins and outs of the exam that you’ll need to pass to earn this NALA credential.

The NALA CP exam consists of two parts, both of which you’ll need to pass to earn the credential. The NALA Knowledge Exam is taken first, followed by the NALA Skills Exam.

Now that you know why you need to take the NALA CP exam, it’s time to prepare.

There is no shortage of paralegal tips and tricks for professionals serious about developing and demonstrating expertise in the field. But before you even get a chance to do that, you need to establish yourself as someone who will stop at nothing to advance your skills and expertise. And that starts with passing the NALA CP exam.

We got good news for you – we have some tips and tricks on that too.

Some Standard and Not-so-Standard NALA CP Study and Exam Preparation Resources

The resources provided by NALA are designed to help you understand what to expect on the NALA Knowledge Exam and the NALA Skills Exam and help you prepare for success. While NALA offers study materials and exam prep resources, they are not required to take and pass the CP exam.

NALA’s selection of continuing legal education courses can be used both as study guides to take the CP exam and as sources of CLE. Options for study include:

On-Demand Webinars

NALA offers on-demand webinars that serve as courses that are aimed at CP Exam preparation and review:

  • CP Review – Course Bundle
  • CP Review – Civil Litigation and Torts
  • CP Review – Contract Law
  • CP Review – Corporate & Commercial
  • CP Review – Criminal Law and Torts
  • CP Review – Professional & Ethical Responsibility
  • CP Review – Real Estate & Property
  • CP Review – NALA Skills Exam – Essay Writing
  • CP Review – US Legal System and Procedure

Most of the above on-demand webinars will earn you about 1.5 CLE hours and cost $45 for NALA members and $65 for non-members. Because they are offered on-demand, you’ll be able to take them whenever it’s convenient for you.

For example, the CP Review Skills Exam focuses on learning how to identify relevant facts and issues, how to apply law to facts, how to analyze issues and form conclusions, and how to organize and clarify information.

You may choose webinars focused on topics that you want to brush up on, or you may also choose the CP Review Course Bundle, which consists of all nine CP review courses. The course bundle is worth 10.75 CLE hours and is $166 for NALA members and $246 for non-members.

Learn more about taking CP Review on-demand webinars here.

CP Practice Exam

NALA’s CP Practice Exam includes an online test bank of questions and an accompanying CP Practice app that allow you to test yourself on the content for the Knowledge exam. The cost of the CP Practice exam is $59 for NALA members and $79 for non-members. You’ll have access to questions related to all topics covered on the Knowledge Exam.

You’ll have access to the practice exam and smartphone app for one year from your time of purchase. Learn more about the CP Practice Exam here.

NALA CP Exam Book

If you want a trusted printed resource, NALA’s Certified Paralegal Exam Fundamentals book is right for you. All topics related to the CP exam are covered in this 350-page resource, which was written by attorneys, paralegals, and paraeducators who provide professional insight into what you’ll need to know before taking the exam.

Learn more about the Certified Paralegal Exam Fundamentals book here.

CP Study and Exam Preparation Resources Through NALA Affiliated Associations

About 22 state and local paralegal organizations offer exam review programs to help you prepare to take the CP Exam. Many offer weekly study groups, while others offer annual programs that are taught by CLA/CP and attorney instructors.

Learn more about CP exam review resources through state and local paralegal organizations here.

NALA Skills Exam Prep: Sample Skills Exam Essays

If you want a good idea of what to expect on the NALA Skills Exam and you’re looking for NALA skills exam prep, check out the sample essays they provide on their website. Each of three sample essays include NALA skills exam examples that allow you to better understand what to expect and how to answer the questions found on the Skills Exam.

Find these NALA skills exam samples here.

CP Study and Exam Preparation Through NALA Conferences

NALA hosts an educational conference and expo every year. During this three-day event, leading experts in the profession offers dozens of sessions for advancing your knowledge and proficiency in the paralegal profession, including sessions aimed at CP Exam Review.

NALA’s upcoming educational conferences include:

  • 2022 – July 14 – 16 JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa – Phoenix, AZ
  • 2023 – July 12 – 14 The Westin Copley Place – Boston
  • 2024 – July 11 – 13 Louisville Marriott Downtown – Louisville, KY
  • 2025 – July 10 – 12 Harrah’s Resort – Atlantic City, NJ

Learn more about NALA’s educational conference and expo here.

Everything You Need to Know About the Exam – From Qualifying to Content

Perhaps the number one tip for preparing for the CP exam is to get familiar with it, like really, really familiar.

Here’s exactly how this two-part exam will be structured:

NALA Knowledge Exam

The Knowledge Exam is the first examination you’ll need to take and pass. It’s a multiple-choice exam that’s worth 100 points and is broken down into the following topics.

  • United States Legal System: 15 points
    • Sources of Law
    • Judicial System
    • Remedies
    • Administration Law
  • Civil Litigation: 15 points
    • Jurisdiction
    • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Contracts: 15 points
    • Formation, Rights & Duties
    • Enforcement and Defenses
  • Corporate/Commercial Law: 10 points
    • Business Organizations
    • Rights and Responsibilities
    • Criminal Law and Procedure Transactions
  • Criminal Law: 5 points
    • Criminal Procedures
  • Estate Planning and Probate: 5 points
    • Estates and Trusts
    • Wills
  • Real Estate and Property: 10 points
    • Property Rights and Ownership
    • Transactions
  • Torts: 10 points
    • Intentional Torts
    • Negligence
  • Professional and Ethical Responsibility: 15 points
    • American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct
    • Unauthorized Practice of Law

Total points: 100

NALA Skills Exam

Once you’ve taken and passed the Knowledge Exam, you’ll receive approval from NALA to take the NALA Skills Exam, which is a written essay exam that’s worth 30 points and is scored according to:

Skills Exam

  • Writing: 12 points
    • Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation
    • Clarity of Expression
  • Critical Thinking: 18 points
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Analysis of Information
    • Decision Making

Total points: 30

The Knowledge Exam is offered throughout the year at PSI testing centers across the country. The Skills Exam is administered during four testing windows each year: February, April, July, and October and is taken at PSI testing centers across the country.

How long is the NALA CP Exam? You’ll have three hours to complete the Knowledge Exam and two hours to complete the Skills Exam.

How to Qualify to Take the NALA CP Exam

Before you can take the NALA CP exam, you’ll need to apply through NALA and qualify to take the exam by meeting one of the following:

  • Enrolled in or graduated from a paralegal program that meets one of the following:
    • Approved by the ABA; or
    • A post-baccalaureate certificate program in paralegal studies; or
    • A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies; or
    • A paralegal program that consists of at least 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours), which includes at least 15 semester hours of substantive legal courses
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in any field and at least one year of experience as a paralegal OR at least 15 semester hours of substantive paralegal courses
  • Earned a high school diploma and at least seven years of experience as a paralegal AND at least 20 hours of continuing legal education completed in the last two years

Once you’ve applied and paid the NALA exam fee (NALA member: $250, Non-NALA member: $275, student NALA member: $125, student non-NALA member: $150), NALA will send you verification that your application has been accepted, along with a Testing Ticket that you’ll use to log into the NALA portal and schedule your CP Knowledge Exam once you receive notice from PSI that they’ve opened up appointment times. You’ll need to also pay the PSI testing fee when you schedule ($55 for the Knowledge Exam and $40 for the Skills Exam).

Once NALA informs you that you’ve passed the Knowledge Exam, you’ll wait to receive word again from PSI regarding when to schedule your appointment to take the Skills Exam.

Failing the NALA CP Exam: What to Expect

Group taking NALA test in classroomWhile you hope that all your exam preparation produces great results, you may be faced with a failing grade on one of your CP exams. But not to worry; not all is lost. NALA provides multiple opportunities for you to take your CP exam and get a passing grade.

How many times can you take the NALA exam? You’ll have three attempts to pass the Knowledge Exam and three attempts to pass the Skills Exam within one year (365 days) of receiving authorization to test from NALA.

After receiving authorization to test from NALA, you’ll have three attempts to take and pass the Knowledge Exam within a calendar year (365 days). You must wait at least 90 days between each exam attempt, and you’ll need to pay another $60 to NALA to retest. Similarly, you’ll have three attempts to take and pass the Skills Exam within a calendar year, and you must wait at least 90 days between each exam attempt and pay NALA another $60 exam fee.

If you aren’t able to pass the Knowledge Exam within three attempts or during the one-year period, your application will be voided and you’ll need to start the process over again, which includes applying with NALA.

If you aren’t able to pass the Skills Exam within three attempts or during the one-year period, your application will be voided and you’ll need to start the process over, which includes applying with NALA and taking the Knowledge Exam again before moving on to the Skills Exam once again.

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