Bar Exam Review Guide

As you well know, graduating from law school is only half of the battle. If you want to practice law, you also have to pass the bar exam, a two-day test that asks you to recall legal concepts that you likely long ago put into the recesses of your mind. 

Well if you’re about to take the bar, it’s time to reboot. 

And luckily for law students today, finding help is as easy as pulling out a smartphone and searching, “bar exam prep.” (We got 31 million hits in 0.72 seconds, FYI.) Other help is also at the ready. Your school may partner with a prep company for one. Alumni — who have been battle-tested by the bar — can be of great assistance too. 

Barbri is the nation’s oldest and largest bar prep program. But a lot of companies have surfaced in recent years, thanks to online technology and the growing popularity of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which is used by 36 states. This competition gives students plenty of affordable, high-quality options. 

Here’s a list of 16 companies to consider when seeking a bar exam review guide. Our advice: Look for one that fits your budget, study style and comfort zone. 

AdaptiBar is an online Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) simulator that includes every licensed MBE question and uses patented adaptive technology to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses to predict your MBE score. The technology then tracks your performance by subtopic and creates performance graphs that pinpoint where you need to spend more study time. Most examinees use AdaptiBar as a supplement to a full-service course. 

The cost for this service ranges from as little as $15 to $450.  If users complete more than 1,300 questions and achieve an overall accuracy rate of 70% or higher but then fail the bar exam, they can re-enroll free of charge or receive their money back.

AmeriBar is an online, self-directed course that comes with a tutoring option as well. It caters to repeat test-takers and at-risk examinees. The course is built around 80 hours of online lectures, which are supplemented by outline and essay practice, a performance test and MBE questions and answers. The cloud-based program allows users to study anywhere. It costs  between $1,495 and $2,595, and if you don't pass the bar, you can take course again for free.

Barbri is the industry leader, with more than 1.3 million lawyers having used the company’s program since the 1960s. Today, more than half of all law students turn to Barbri, which offers a comprehensive course in every jurisdiction, including both live courses and online lectures. Of late, it has expanded its online program to include progress tracking. The program, which sets a study schedule, also tracks students against other Barbri users in their states, and, since so many people take Barbri, the results are quite accurate.

This full-service course has a price tag of between $1,999 and $3,999. If you don’t pass, you can take the course again for free.

BarMax was designed by Harvard Law School alumni to create a more affordable prep option. The full-service, lecture-based course is offered online and through both iOS and Android apps, which allows you to study wherever you want and on your own schedule. The course includes 50 hours of audio lectures, outlines of lecture notes, printed books, flashcards and 10 writing revisions by former exam graders. 

This course costs from between $399.99 to $2,199.99, but if you don’t pass the bar, you can either continue to take advantage of BarMax's lifetime access or opt for a refund.  

BarWinners, which came under new ownership in 2019, serves students by providing focused bar preparation for California, Nevada, and UBE examinees. 

Costs range from $3,600 to $4,750. If students complete 90% of the assigned work on time but fail the bar exam on their first try, students may take the BarWinners course again at no additional cost. 

Celebration Bar Review provides a full-service bar review including subject outlines, video and audio lectures, practice questions, model and sample answers in an online format. All mentoring is done one-on-one in a recorded Zoom call. Celebration Bar Review specializes in assisting repeat and non-traditional applicants, including foreign trained attorneys.

There are four levels of service to choose from: an affordable basic course priced per month to an eight-call, 15-call and 25-call packages, and there is an option for 12-month payment plans. No need to worry about wasting your money, Celebration Bar Review offers a Lifetime Pass Guarantee with no strings attached. Just pay once and remain in the course until you pass. Additionally, you may also postpone your preparation at any time and as often as needed without a fee.

Critical Pass offers custom-designed flash cards to aid test-takers. Students use Critical Pass as an add-on to a full-service bar review course and as a way to save the time it would take to make their own flash cards. Its 380 MBE cards and 120 Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) cards are color-coded, cross-referenced and organized by subject and sub-topic.

This service costs between $99 and $249. 

E-Z Way Tutoring is a one-on-one virtual tutoring service for all parts of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) - MBE, MPT and MEE's. Edward Zurav has been tutoring law students for 35 years and is an expert in the legal profession. All students are privately tutored by him, and he says they will learn more in a two-hour session that most tutors can accomplish in 20 hours.  

Zurav charges $200/hour for students who want to pay an hourly rate. Additionally, if students want to get 10 or 20 hours of tutoring the cost drops. For 10, two-hour sessions it costs $2,800 ($3,500 for nights and/or weekends) or for 10, two-hour session students can expect to dish out $1,600 ($2,000 for nights and/or weekends). If you don't learn more about how to learn law and study for the exam in the first lesson, you can request and obtain a full refund, but you must request your refund BEFORE the conclusion of the first lesson.

Fleming’s is a full-service bar review provider that focuses on the California bar exam. It offers five programs: two traditional courses, an online course, a personal tutoring option and an essay analysis.  Each course combines substantive law lectures with ongoing essay, MBE and performance training. Students are given weekly writing assignments that are submitted to the Fleming’s staff of attorneys for a personal evaluation. 

This service starts at $995 but can cost as much as $6,400. If you take the same course more than once, Fleming’s offers a 50% off discount. 

JD Advising offers a personal study plan that uses efficient, organized, and color-coded outlines, telling students what has been tested and when so they study effectively for the bar exam. It uses only real released NCBE bar exam questions so students can feel confident knowing what the questions will look like on exam day. It also provides each student with a personal essay grader to grade each student's essay and provide feedback to ensure they are on track to pass the bar exam. 

For this service students will pay $999 but if you don't pass the bar for you can take this same course again for free. 

John Pieper has offered a full-service bar review in New York since 1975. Along with his sons, Damian and Troy, Pieper has expanded the program to cover all UBE states and offers recorded lectures online. In addition to 150 hours of lectures, students receive 1,500 practice MBE questions, unlimited graded MEE essays and outline books. 

Pieper requires students to take handwritten notes during lectures, a process that past students say has helped them better memorize the material. 

Students pay anywhere from $1,595 to $2,495 for Pieper’s services. Private tutoring is also available for an additional fee. Pieper guarantees that students who take the full course will pass the UBE exam on their first try or they can repeat the course free of charge.

Kaplan Bar Review is another giant in the bar review lineup. It offers full-service in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. All of Kaplan’s courses include interactive live-streamed lectures and a library of on-demand lectures.

Like Barbri, Kaplan, because of its size, has the resources to offer a number of support options for its students. The programs cost between $1,499 and $3,999. 

Kaplan offers a money-back guarantee as long as students attend 90% of lectures and complete the assigned multiple-choice questions, simulated exams, quizzes and required practice essays and personalized homework.

Quimbee Bar Review is a comprehensive, practice-oriented and self-directed study program that includes video lessons, outline readings, quizzes, practice essays and performance tasks. 

Students can test themselves on questions from past bar exams throughout the course and get a true taste of the exam day experience with a simulated MBE. 

All coursework is completed online and available on-demand. The system tracks and organizes students’ performance and progress, showing them which subjects they’ve mastered and which subjects require additional study.

Quimbee offers a money-back guarantee ranging from $499 to $999 for students who do not pass the bar exam the first time and who completed 75% of the assigned study schedule.

Reed Bar Review offers full-service online courses and one-on-one tutoring in all states except Louisiana. The company is run by Hugh Reed, who has passed the MBE more than 30 times and is licensed to practice in numerous states. The tutoring can complement other traditional bar reviews or act as a stand-alone program.

Students get feedback from attorney-coaches and continuous diagnostic testing that highlights their strengths and weaknesses. The course uses the most current and relevant MBE questions and comes with a price tag of between $1,295 and $3,345. Students who complete 90% of assignments can retake the course until they pass the bar exam. 

Rigos is one of the most economical ways to study for the bar exam. It’s popular for its outlines, which students use at the tail-end of their bar study. 

The five study books it offers can be purchased individually for as little as $49.50 or as a set for $499. At an extra cost, Rigos offers a grading service, online audio lectures, practice exams and Q&A software drills. Rigos gives a full refund to any student who does not pass the bar after completing its full program. 

Side-Bar is a full-service bar prep company that offers a self-directed, progressive study schedule. There are no lectures to watch, no flash cards and no customization of a student’s particular strengths and weaknesses. Instead, the prep offers specific methods, techniques and tips to succeed with both the essay portion and MBE questions.

Side-Bar costs $699 but it guarantees your money back within seven days of purchase.  The subscription price includes access to all materials for 18 months.

SmartBarPrep’s study tools and strategies streamline an examinee’s study time by helping him or her practice more effectively and prioritize the highly tested topics and rules.

All of the study materials are an instant digital download in PDF format (except for the Smart Flashcards). The Smart Flashcards are run through an app that can be used on your phone, tablet or computer. The Smart Flashcards use cognitive science and adaptive learning to enhance the learning experience by focusing on your weak points, the company says. 

The cost is between $124 and $499. There is 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the study materials, with the exception of the MBE practice questions.

Studicata Bar Review is a standard eight-week UBE preparation program. The emphasis of Studicata Bar Review is placed on providing a path for students to complete and review enough high-quality MBE, MEE, and MPT practice questions and essays under exam conditions to pass the bar exam with confidence.

Students can choose from four different tiers at Studicata. There is also a free option.

Themis Bar Review, an online lecture-based program, is one of the more popular bar review courses in the nation. Based on the most current research on memory retention and comprehension, the Themis course is designed to help students study efficiently and effectively.  

Themis keeps lecture segments short; they average between 15 and 20 minutes. This methodology improves retention and combats mental fatigue, the company says. The cost is between $1,495 and $2,395. First-time exam takers who don’t pass can retake the course for no additional fee.

Editor's note: this story is available in the January-February issue of The National Jurist. To subscribe to the free, digital copy click here