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8 Popular Bar Review Courses That Will Help You Pass the Bar
by Sarah Garvey
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Summary: After graduating law school, the time has come to take the bar. Here are 8 bar review courses designed to get you fully ready for the exam in your state.
Now that you made it through law school, you have one more hurdle to overcome in your quest to join the legal profession: You need to pass the bar exam. Many aspiring attorneys enroll in a bar review course to help them study for and pass the bar exam. A host of different bar review options are available, offering a mixture of in-person and online platforms, study aids, tutoring, workshops, boot camps, and additional services.
Many courses offer “guarantees” of various sorts, in the form of discounts for students who need to repeat the course because they did not pass the bar exam on the first try. Many courses also offer discounts for students who are committed to taking public interest law jobs.
Some of the criteria to consider when selecting a bar review course are cost, materials and format. Do you need a course with all the “bells and whistles” irrespective of cost or are you just looking for a cost-effective refresher course? Are you someone who enjoys live or video lectures or do you prefer to study on your own time with your laptop? Are you someone who needs more help with multiple-choice questions or with writing essays? How much individual attention do you need? How much help do you need allocating your time and crafting your study schedule?
This article provides an overview of eight popular bar review courses. As you make your decision, we encourage you to consult the course websites, the websites and promotional materials of any other course offered in your jurisdiction, online reviews and commentary, and references of law school classmates and faculty, and to evaluate your bar review options according to your personal needs and budget.
One of the oldest and most well known bar review courses, BARBRI offers an assortment of live, video and online course options from coast to coast. BARBRI’s options include features such as the Personal Study Plan, which assesses and prioritizes your daily study agenda, and the Essay Architect, an online interactive method for preparing for the essay portion of the bar exam.
The cost of the full-fledged BARBRI course is approximately $3500, which includes written outlines, lecture handouts and Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) question software. The Essay Advantage Workshop focusing on the Multistate Essay Exam is an additional $199. The BARBRI Private Tutoring Option is available to students for an unpublished price.
Kaplan offers different live, video and online course options in states across the country. Kaplan’s bar exam study accessories include a mobile application with customizable flashcards and unlimited access to MBE questions and essay grading. Students who plan to take bars of adjoining states might be interested in taking joint Kaplan offerings, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, or New York and New Jersey.
Prices vary according to state, options and special deals available at any given time, but range from $1800 to $4000 for certain combined on-site programs. The MBE Final Review On-Demand course, a 3-day course that includes a simulated MBE followed by question review, is $449.
Themis is a fully online course. The Themis Directed Study mode is based on an 8-10 week study period and includes daily tasks along with comprehensive outlines, MBE and essay practice questions, interactive handouts, Milestone Exams, and 24/7 support during the study period.
Themis operates in 37 jurisdictions for $1795.
According to the website, in the Summer 2015 bar exam Themis first-time bar takers exceeded state pass rates in many jurisdictions, including California (69% to 66%) and New York (83% to 79%). Florida was one of the exceptions (66% Themis takers to 69% state-wide takers).
With a historical focus on the New York bar exam, Pieper now offers in-person courses for the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts bar exams, and an online course for the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”). Pieper emphasizes the importance of class lectures and note taking. Pieper also offers a Concentrated Weekends course that is designed for repeat-takers of the UBE.
The cost is $2500 for 150 hours of lectures, essay workshops and MBE practice questions ($1595 for non-Pieper repeat takers). The even more comprehensive Early-Start Home Study is $4095.
Marino is an online course for the UBE and, like Pieper, traditionally emphasized the New York and New Jersey bar exams. The course includes an interactive study schedule, the Marino Memory Booster (which boils every subject down to less than 25 pages), and the Bar Exam Boot-Camp for the final two weeks of study.
The cost is $2850. Marino also offers a custom bar course for $6500 and the Marino Bar Retake Course for $1495. The MBE Maximizer course costs $995.
With a focus on the California bar and repeat takers, Personal Bar Prep emphasizes small group meetings, live lectures on substantive bar topics, and intensive practice MBE questions and essay writing.
Neither cost nor pass rates are published.
Please see the following articles for more information on the bar exam, reciprocity and taking the bar in multiple states.