Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam - PACE®


For additional information regarding PACE®, please contact DAPA's  PACE® Ambassador.

What is PACE®?

PACE® is a competency based exam.  Test results provide an evaluation of the skill level in paralegal practice.  The exam was developed by a professional testing firm in conjunction with an independent task force including paralegals, lawyers, paralegal educators and content specialists from the general public who are legal advocates.  It is administered by computer in a proctored testing facility, consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and must be completed in four hours, although many candidates complete it in two hours.

The questions are not practice-area specific, but are hypothetical issues testing advanced application of general knowledge, paralegal experience, and critical analysis ability to identify the correct answer.  The exam covers tasks that experienced paralegals routinely perform, regardless of the practice area or geographic region in which they live. These tasks were organized into 5 domains: Administration of Client Legal Matters (23%); Development of Client Legal Matters (30%); Factual and Legal Research (20.5%); Factual and Legal Writing (20.5%); and Office Administration (4.5%).  Ethics are included in all of the above domains, as are technology and terminology. 

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What does RP mean?

RP is the designation for the paralegal who has successfully passed the PACE® exam; it stands for Registered Paralegal.

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What are the requirements for taking PACE®?

Because this exam is for experienced paralegals, the requirements are more stringent than for paralegal certification exams such as NALA's CLA exam. Requirements include both experience and education. These can be found in detail on the  NFPA PACE® Eligibility and below 

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What's the best way to study for the test?

The right answer to this question is: whatever is the best way for you. Some people study better in groups while others do well studying alone; some people prefer online review courses. This is entirely up to you.

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Are there any special study materials?

NFPA sells a PACE® Study Manual online, or check with your PACE® Ambassador. This is a “must” for preparing for the exam, so be sure you have the latest edition. There is a bibliography of other valuable references in the PACE® Study Manual. Other people like to gather additional materials such as flash cards, bar charts and manuals containing Federal Rules.  It’s always a good idea to spend some time in the law library as well. The PACE® Ambassador can also provide you with a suggested list of additional study materials.

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How do I join a study group?

DAPA forms study groups as members request them. These groups meet on a schedule they set themselves, at a mutually agreed location.  Check out DAPA's calendar for PACE study group meetings or contact DAPA's President at for more information.

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What about the online review course?

The course is offered through American Institute for Paralegal Studies (AIPS) in conjunction with NFPA.   Detailed information can be found on NFPA's Online Review Course page, including start dates for this year's courses.  The courses run for seven weeks, and are particularly effective for those who enjoy distance learning opportunities.  Additionally, the online practice test (which is $50.00 if purchased individually) is included in the package.

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How do I sign up to take PACE®?

The PACE® Application can be found online here.


If a candidate does not pass PACE®, there is a six (6) month waiting period, from the date PACE® was taken, before the paralegal becomes eligible to re-take the exam. Candidates must submit anothercompleted application and $225 Application Fee ($250 for nonmembers) to re-take the PACE®.  PES will maintain support documentation for a period of two years. 

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I'm an RP, now what?

Congratulations!  In order to maintain the RP credential, you must fulfill the CLE requirements detailed on NFPA's PACE® Credentialing page. Please note that your renewal date is the date you took the exam, not the date you receive your official notice of passing the exam. You may obtain CLE a number of different ways, including attending seminars or taking on-line courses. Additionally, writing articles, speaking, and making presentations can be considered CLE; however, in order to allow for NFPA CLE approval, you must submit those activities to the NFPA CLE Coordinator well in advance of the date of your renewal.

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Where are the tests administered and how often?

The test is administered by Professional Examiniation Service (PES).  Candidates for PACE® take the exam in a controlled, proctored setting at select Prometric (formerly Sylvan Learning Center) testing facilities.  There are hundreds of such facilities throughout the United States and many major U.S. cities have multiple facilities. The computer-generated test consists of 200 multiple choice questions taken within a four hour period.  When an applicant receives a candidate eligibility letter, he or she is given an 800 number for ProMetric-Sylvan Technology Centers through which the candidate schedules a personal exam date and time. The exam must be taken within 90 days of the date of this letter, and there will be a deadline date stated on the letter.

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How will I know I passed?

PES is now offering “instant results” immediately after taking the test; however, the final results are not available until the scoring runs occur at the end of March and the end of September. Until this time, the official RP designation may not be used.

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If you still have any additional questions check out NFPA's PACE® FAQ page or feel free to contact DAPA's Pace Ambassador at

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