Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Selecting Your Bar Review

If you have not already, it is important to think about signing up for a commercial bar review course.  In these economic times, many students ask me if taking a bar review is really necessary.  Resolutely, my answer is always yes, a bar review is necessary to achieve success on the bar exam.  Take your time to determine your options and how they will suit your individual needs.  Bar prep courses are an investment, but one that is wholly worth it.  Here are a few things to consider when selecting your bar review course.

 

  • Determine your learning style.  This may sound odd but I believe that knowing how you learn will help you select your bar review course.  There are a few resources online(VARK and An Index of Learning Styles) or you can purchase a KOLB inventory and complete it on your own.  Once you understand your learning style, you can ask the right questions and know what to look for when researching the bar review options in your jurisdiction.
  • Figure out where you want to be licensed.  Some bar review companies only offer courses locally, while others are available nationwide.  Once you have decided where you want to take the bar exam, contact the bar review providers that offer courses in those areas.  Contacting their offices directly will allow you to find out where, when, and how their course are delivered.  This will also familiarize you with the specific individuals that you will be working with during your eight week bar prep course.
  • Bar prep is a customer service industry.  It is expensive and you want to make sure that you are getting what you pay for.  Take note of the interactions you have with the representatives of the company.  Are they responsive to your questions, do they provide examples of their product for you to review, do they want to accommodate your needs, and are they friendly and accessible?  You want to have a good, no great, relationship with your bar review provider since you will be relying on them to help you take the most difficult exam of your life.
  • Speaking of cost, do not jump at the course with the lowest cost before truly considering whether it will be a good fit for your individual needs.  Yes, the price of the bar prep course is a consideration, but it should not be the only factor you consider.  Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.”  Think about this when you research your options.  When you call their office to find out about the specifics of the course, you can also ask about whether they offer scholarships, payment plans, or cost saving employment opportunities.
  • Look at the actual materials and schedule that you will be using during your bar review.  This will help you decide whether their philosophy and pedagogy will meet your needs.  It will also give you a heads up on what to expect during bar prep. (Sometimes this is a huge eye-opener.)
  • Consider signing up earlier, rather than later, for a bar prep course.  I am treading lightly here because I know there is some debate about whether 1Ls should even be considering bar review but hear me out.  Bar review companies are very competitive.  By the nature of this competition, they offer promotions and extras to students when they sign up early for their bar review course.  These extras can prove to be helpful study aids during law school and can help students get a jumpstart on their bar preparation.  I advise students to take advantage of as many of the free extras as they can and only put a deposit down on a course when they have considered many of the above mentioned factors.

Lisa Young

 

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