Tuesday, December 12, 2017
In this two-part series, I hope to provide you with the information you'll need to make an informed decision when you select which commercial company (or companies) you'll use to prepare for the bar exam. In Part 1, I'll introduce you to both full-service review courses and specialty supplemental options. Then, in Part 2, I'll offer some tips on how to make your final decision and how to get the best price.
The three most popular companies offering comprehensive, full service bar review preparation programs are Barbri, Kaplan, and Themis.
Barbri is the oldest and most popular choice, and also tends to be the most expensive, with programs currently starting at $2,895. Barbri offers live lectures at select cities nationwide and pre-recorded online lectures for those students studying in cities without live lectures. According to a Barbri representative, "For nearly 50 years, BARBRI has helped over 1.2 million law school graduates pass the bar exam across all 50 states, in all jurisdictions. Our courses include access to cutting-edge learning technology like our Personal Study Plan, Essay Architect, and LawMaster Study Keys. With BARBRI, you’ll have the ability to complete the course completely online or attend a lecture in a classroom setting – we’ve got all your bases covered! When it comes to your bar exam, don’t leave it up to chance and go with the most experienced and tested course!"
Kaplan began decades ago as a multiple-choice focused company (then-called PMBR), and now offers a full-service package starting at $1,599. According to a Kaplan representative, Kaplan Bar Review offers a comprehensive bar review course that is tailored to each student, and includes: (a) over 4,000 practice MBE questions; (b) unlimited essay grading with over 200 practice essays, each graded by barred attorneys; (c) two full-length MBE practice tests and one full-length practice bar exam under timed conditions; (d) a personalized final study plan tailored to each student’s unique strengths and weaknesses; and (e) a money-back guarantee. Kaplan offers both live lectures in select cities and pre-recorded online lectures. In addition, Kaplan has a Price Match Guarantee, pledging to offer their course for $100 less than the price of any other company’s course.
Themis, is the newest of the three companies, and has quickly made a name for itself, with comprehensive on-demand courses starting at $1,845, before applicable discounts. Unlike its competitors, Themis does not offer any live lectures; all the lectures are pre-recorded. Themis representatives boast that "Themis is built around learning science to help you study for the bar more efficiently and effectively. Themis is the only company that releases their pass rates, which are almost always better than students who choose to take another course. And with Themis, the course schedule adapts as you fall behind or work ahead, helping to keep you focused on what you need for exam day. Also, Themis lectures are broken up into manageable chunks, allowing students to spend more or less time with a particular topic as needed."
In addition to the three juggernauts, numerous other companies offer a variety of a la carte services.
Adaptibar focuses exclusively on the multiple-choice component of the bar exam, offering 1,745 practice questions, most of which were obtained through a licensing agreement with the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The MBE course cost $395.
AmeriBar is lesser-known than some of it's full-service competitors, but offers a full course starting at $1,365. AmeriBar also sells each exam component separately (e.g. $695 for the multi-state section), for those who want to create their own study package. According to their website, AmeriBar's full review program includes "3,000+ pages of hard copy books; 1,000+ learning questions; 1,400+ actual released MBE questions; and 200+ essay questions."
Critical Pass sells pre-printed flashcards covering the multiple-choice subjects. The 380 cards are color-coded, cross-referenced, and organized by subject and sub-topic, including indexes for each subject. Currently retailing for $149, the price includes free shipping and access to a companion mobile app.
Strategies & Tactics for the MBE, part of the Emanuel Bar Review, offers advice on how to analyze multiple-choice questions, including details on how to handle each MBE subject, step-by-step strategies for analyzing different question types, tips about how subtle differences in wording can completely change the meaning of an answer, and strategies for "rewording" questions in your mind to make them easier to analyze. The 6th edition of this workbook currently retails on Amazon for $75.
Rigos offers several different packages ranging from outline books ($400 for the set of 5) to a full UBE course ($2,495). Rigos is perhaps most popular for its creation of acronyms and mnemonics to help you easily memorize elements covering frequently asked legal concepts. Rigos also offers a free MPRE course and a free 30-question multiple-choice assessment.