Questions to ask when choosing a bar exam course

By Ashley Heidemann

Many seasoned attorneys think “Barbri” when they think of bar exam preparation. At one point, Barbri was one of the only bar exam preparation companies that students were aware of. But that has changed.

Now, there are a variety of bar exam preparation companies that are available to students. These companies distinguish themselves on various factors – for example, some focus on affordability, whereas others focus on accountability and a personalized approach.

Two courses, other than Barbri, that are well known on law school campuses are Kaplan Bar Review and Themis Bar Review. These companies offer bar exam preparation options that allow students to use online portals to watch lectures and complete practice problems.

There are also more affordable, low-cost bar exam preparation options for students. For example, the National Jurist recently wrote an article about Sidebar, a bar exam preparation option that offers bar exam materials without lectures at a low cost.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are higher-cost and more personalized bar exam preparation options. For example, JD Advising offers a bar exam preparation course with small classes, weekly graded essays, and check-ins.

If you are planning on taking the bar exam, you should carefully consider what will be most beneficial to you before signing up for a course. Whether you value flexibility, accountability, or affordability may have a big impact on the bar exam preparation option that you choose. One course may be more suited to your needs than another course.

Some questions you should seek answers to are the following:

- Are bar exam lectures live or prerecorded?

- How many essays are graded throughout the course?

- Can I ask questions during or after lecture?

- What materials do you offer with the course?

- Do you offer released multiple-choice questions?

- How much does the course cost?

Keep in mind that you may put more weight on some of these questions than others. If you are looking for a course to hold you accountable, you may value live lectures and frequent essay grading. If you are looking for a flexible course option, you may value the opportunity to watch prerecorded lectures and work at your own pace.

We encourage you to keep an open mind and communicate with the bar review companies that are best suited to you so that you can pick the one that is most likely to lead to a successful result. Doing your homework ahead of time can make a big difference!

Ashley Heidemann is the owner and founder of JD Advising, a law school and bar exam prep company.