Bar Prep: One Size Does Not Fit All
Published: Apr 06, 2021
You’ve mastered the Socratic method and hit your groove with law school exams, but the bar exam is entirely different animal. Instead of dreading the upcoming exam this July, however, take control of your bar exam preparation by preparing in advance. It’s worth taking the time now to develop a study schedule and select the resources that fit best with your study goals and style. To help, we’ve broken down some bar prep courses and tools below.
Bar Prep Courses
Bar prep courses are costly but worth the investment. An advantage of following a course is that you will have a regimented study schedule. Without a schedule, you will be susceptible to getting lost in the vast amount of material and falling behind. Below are a few bar prep courses that are worth considering:
BARBRI is one of the most popular courses among students and law firms. The course offers in-class video lectures, outlines, online study tools and trackers, and practice exams. The material is available on a mobile app to ensure that students can access it anytime, anywhere. Feedback is provided to assist students in improving their work. BARBRI uses artificial intelligence to assist students in focusing on subjects that are most likely to appear on the bar exam. If you take a BARBRI Bar Review course for the first time and do not pass, then BARBRI will let you retake the same course online for the same state for free.
Kaplan offers on-demand lectures, live lectures, and practice exams to its students. The material is offered on Kaplan’s mobile app to provide on-the-go access. Students have the option to choose between preparation in a classroom setting or an online setting, which is a self-paced, on-demand route. Attorneys are available to answer questions and to provide feedback on assignments. If you complete the basic work recommended by Kaplan and do not pass the bar exam, you will get your money back.
Unlike some prep courses, Themis publishes its pass rates. The company offers a flexible course, which can be accessed on mobile devices. The course includes on-demand lecture videos, handouts, lectures, and practice material. The program includes a personal to-do list, calendar, and progress tracker, which all help students stay organized and on track. Each video lecture is a maximum of 20 minutes long and is followed by assessment questions. Each student is also partnered with a Personal Attorney Adviser—a trained attorney mentor who will help provide feedback on assignments and answer any questions. If you do not pass the bar exam, Themis will give you a free repeat of their course for the next administration of the same bar exam.
Though perhaps not quite as big a name as some of the other bar prep courses out there, BarMax was founded by Harvard Law grads, and the comprehensive program has great reviews. BarMax comes with lifetime access and perks like complete mobile access and personalized feedback. It’s also worth noting that the program uses real MBE questions rather than simulated practice questions. BarMax offers a free trial of its Civil Procedure subject matter jurisdiction content, so you can try before you buy—and the price is a bit more wallet-friendly for those paying out-of-pocket. BarMax is currently available to bar takers in California and in UBE jurisdictions.
Supplementary Bar Prep Tools & Resources
While many successfully rely solely on their bar prep courses, some students prefer to supplement their studies with other resources. Consider some of the following tools to bolster your bar prep.
Adaptibar is a popular choice for those wanting to hone their MBE skills. The questions are retired MBE questions from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which means that you will become familiar with the types of questions that will appear on the bar exam. Further, Adaptibar utilizes a patented adaptive technology that learns and targets your weak areas. The best part? The program is available on an app so you can do practice questions anywhere!
Critical Pass offers both MBE and MEE flashcards for those who like well-organized, bite-sized information to aid their understanding. Each card is a mini-outline of key issues or concepts. There is also an app available, which will quiz you on any subject and track your progress. There is free access to the app, but only for a year from the date of purchase. You can pay to renew access once your free access expires.
Pro Tip: You can buy blank flashcards from Critical Pass so you can stay color coordinated.
Who better to get bar prep material from than those who create the bar! NCBE has free MEE and MBE outlines that are great tools since they list everything that is fair game on the exam. You can also buy a UBE study aid, which includes two simulated MBE tests and two sets of MEEs and MPTs, as well as MBE study aids.
If you are looking for short and condensed outlines, then this is the right place for you! JD Advising offers one-sheet outlines for both the MBE and MEE. They also have free MBE questions and a free guide on highly tested MEE topics.
- Your School
If you feel like you would benefit from additional materials to practice with, contact your law school to see if they have bar prep classes or mentors. Most schools have these resources available for free. Bar prep classes generally focus on strategic MBE skills, while a mentor will be your guide for personalized advice on mastering the MEE.
- Social Media
While not an official bar prep course or supplementary tool, social media can be a seriously useful resource for future bar takers. When I prepared for the bar, Facebook bar prep groups were crucial resources because that’s where fellow bar takers shared their personal experiences and tips in real time. Some people were even kind enough to share their outlines, mnemonic devices, and discount codes for additional tools. Beyond study tips, it was immensely reassuring to read that others shared the same feelings that I had. My family and friends could not relate to what I was going through, but those in my Facebook groups could.
The key to bar exam success is to select the bar prep resources that will work best for you. I hope the above information helps make the process a little bit easier for you.
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