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How to Pick a Bar Review Course

Aerial view of a pregnant person sitting on their couch, looking through a booklet and using their laptop while studying

Your law school graduation is a day filled with emotions. You're thrilled to have finally completed law school, and now you're looking forward to reacquainting with friends and family. But you're also facing the sobering reality of the intensive bar review that will take over the next few months of your life.

Here's the good news that's not often relayed to graduates — some aspects of bar review can actually be an enjoyable experience, especially when compared to the rigors of law school.

Consider, for example, that studying for the bar doesn't involve the daily grind of law school classes. And depending on the bar review program you choose, you might be able to prepare for the bar exam from the comfort of your bedroom.

During your bar review, you can:

  • Set aside the theoretical arguments of law school in favor of specific black-letter law answers
  • Use a program specifically designed to help you memorize the law
  • Limit your focus to one thing — passing the bar exam
  • Have a defined endpoint that's close at hand
  • Follow a study schedule already created for you

Passing the bar exam is definitely within your reach, and your bar review program, if chosen wisely, can carry you across the finish line on exam day.

Here's some key information about how to pick a bar review course.

What Should You Look For in a Bar Prep Course?

There's not a single bar review program that's right for everyone, as each offers something different. For example, some programs are tailored to students who've previously taken the bar exam or for students needing help specifically with bar exam essays.

There definitely are the industry giants that everyone has heard of, like BarBri or Kaplan. But before you shell out your hard-earned cash or take out yet another loan, you might be surprised to find a variety of other test prep companies offer courses that may be better tailored to your personal learning style.

As you're deciding how to approach bar study, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I learn better virtually, or do I need workbooks to mark up in an actual classroom setting?
  • Would it benefit me to have more one-on-one individualized tutoring and feedback, or can I learn just as well from reviewing template answers?
  • Would I do better with a fixed study plan with a daily schedule, or would I prefer a more flexible on-demand approach?
  • Does the bar review program I'm interested in have a strong pass rate?
  • Where does the bar review program that I'm considering get its materials (i.e., are they derived from past bar exams)?
  • If a program I'm looking into contains lectures, are the instructors trusted experts who know how bar exams are graded?
  • Does the bar review program I'm researching use metrics to show my progress and identify areas needing improvement?
  • Is it important that my program has a money-back guarantee if I don't pass on the first try?

The best bar review courses often provide some form of lecture, either in person or online, and numerous practice questions.

It's important to understand what is on the bar exam in your jurisdiction before you begin your test prep. The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and most state bar exams include both multiple-choice questions and essay questions, so be sure your chosen prep course covers all your bases.

If you're taking the bar exam in a UBE jurisdiction, you'll want a prep course that includes materials for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

If your jurisdiction utilizes the MBE and state-drafted essays or performance tests, you don't necessarily have to seek out MBE practice questions. The multiple-choice questions provided in most prep courses will be largely the same.

Be sure to include practice exams in whatever bar exam prep course you choose. Flashcards are great, but making sure you can write an effective essay in the allotted time is better.

Bar Exam Review Courses

The table below provides information about a variety of bar review programs to help you choose the best bar prep course for you. Whether you're a first-time test taker or taking the test again, you'll find study aids that can help you tackle the test.

Bar Review Program

Features

AdaptiBar

This online program's algorithm predicts your score based on how you perform on MBE questions so you can see your progress and where you need to improve.

BarBri Bar Review Nationwide review course that provides outlines, law school professors, and multistate and essay testing programs.
Bar Graders Supplemental program to help you gain an edge with essay writing skills tailored to the California bar exam.
BarEssays A searchable database of California bar exam essays from past examinations and designed as a bar exam supplement.
Bar Secrets Provides materials as part of a personalized program or as a supplement to other bar review programs.
BarMax A digital learning platform that utilizes practice questions licensed from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).
Bar Prep Hero

Offers single-subject MBE tests to help students boost scores in areas they're struggling with, such as Constitutional law, as well as an MBE simulator and mixed-subject tests.

Bar Outlines.com

Outlines and study materials from seasoned attorneys specializing in New York, California, and more. Materials are designed for self-study or as a supplement to another bar review program.

BarNone Review

Focusing on California bar exam review with immediate personalized feedback. Tailored study for multiple bar exam takers.

BarPlus Bar Review Offering personal tutoring for multistate and local portions of the bar exam.
BarWinners A comprehensive bar exam review course that offers one-on-one tutoring sessions for the California and Nevada bar exams and the UBE.
Celebration Bar Review and Test Preparation Home study bar review and test preparation courses geared towards repeat test takers.
Emerson's Bar Review An eight-week course of lectures that have been donated for public use.
Esqyr Bar Prep A public benefit corporation focused on providing affordable bar exam resources for the MBE, MEE, and MPRE.
Fleming's Fundamentals of Law Offers instruction in legal research, essay writing, and multiple choice test taking for California and UBE bar review, complete with personalized tutors.
JD Advising Outlines, tutoring, and practice questions for the UBE, MBE, and Michigan bar exams. Some materials are available for free.
Kaplan Bar Review Kaplan Bar Review provides a variety of bar review courses, including LL.M. bar review courses and MPRE prep courses.
LawTutors One-on-one tutoring for law school classes, the MPRE, the LSAT, and the bar exam.
Open Book Bar Prep Providing individually tailored curriculum with a focus on one-on-one instruction for the California bar exam and the “baby bar."
Pieper Bar Review Bar review class that prepares candidates for the New York and Multistate Bar exams. Offers discounts for students who participate in moot court, law review, and public service. Plus, a free MPRE course!
Quimbee Includes licensed NCBE practice questions and essay grading by seasoned attorneys.
Rigos Uniform Bar Review International provider of materials for professional licensing examinations, including the bar exam.
Skillman Method (TM) Providing year-round bar exam preparation courses as well as resources for law school courses.
SmartBarPrep Outlines and study tools for the MBE and bar exam essays.
Supreme Bar Review One-on-one coaching and video lectures.
The Bar Exam Doctor A supplemental online California bar review course for subsequent takers with a focus on essay and performance tests.
Themis Bar Review Online bar review by experts with a focus on affordability.

What's Your Next Step?

No matter what stage of the process you're in, FindLaw has the information and resources to get you to the next level. Whether you're a college student considering law school, you're in the thick of your legal studies, or you're making use of that newly-minted bar number, our attorneys know what it's like to be in your shoes. So stick with FindLaw for Law Students as your free go-to resource for all things legal.

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