Choosing a Bar Exam Prep Program Podcast (Episode 003)

by Dustin on

Choosing between one of four bar exam prep program options!

This podcast has been brought to you by helping you pass your bar examination.

Alright guys, it’s time to talk about which bar exam prep program you should take that is going to be most effective in helping you pass your bar exam. A written article that’s get pretty detailed on the website and this is the follow up podcast to that as well. Basically I break it down into probably four different options, the first is Barbri, the second is Themis, third is Kaplan and the forth is some kind of self study program either on own or through another less expensive and less organized or formalized bar prep program.

The first is Barbri I’ll talk about them first. They are the most well known, most people take Barbri they have a very good passage rate and they do very well you know amongst all different schools and all different states, the only thing is they come with the hefty price tag at around $4,000, if you were fortunate to sign up during your first or second year you may have gotten a discount, but if you didn’t it’s going to be about $4,000 and in a way that’s expensive but also you know it’s kind of have the attitude where you can just add it to the tab of the law school experience, law school get pretty expensive and by reason other expense that comes with it, so it’s pricey but it does pay off, they do prepare you very, very well.

I have taken them and I’ve known a lot of people that taken them that passed and that were successful with them. One thing Barbri does very well as they prepare you at a level really higher than you need to pass the bar exam. For example they will grade your essays and when they grade your essays they you taught a lot harder to pass the Barbri essay than it is to pass an actual bar exam essay. The home work that they give you is also a lot more than you need to do, I’d say  if you do it would  be about 80%, 75% of the actual homework that they give you, you probably still end up passing the exam. Barrrie doesn’t actual publish their actual pass rate, but you figure somewhere in the 80% tile at least and I’m sure each of you have had friends that have pass with Barbri.

The structure of Barbri is also very good especially if you are the type that likes to go and sit in class or the type that likes to have their classes scheduled as oppose to doing it online which I will get into later with Themis. Barbri is very good at that, I think their classes for the summer term start around 9 am. The classes for the winter term start around 6 pm. The classes are set up you go in and you have a guess lecture either the lecturer actually be there or there will be a TV screen with the lecturer. I don’t mind the TV screen at all, I think its fine, you basically getting the same experience as if the lecturer was actually there.

So if you like that kind of structure where they set it up for you and they go and if your are late the you miss out, then that’s good for you, Barbri is a good program as well because of that. Barbri also happens to be the longest running and most experience bar prep program on the market and that is very helpful when you are taking an exam as big as the bar exam, you want that experienced leadership behind you helping you pass your bar exam. Also check on this because they tend to change this sometimes, but if for whatever reason you take the exam with Barbri and you don’t pass a lot of time they will let you use Barbri again if you to either at a very discounted rate or free. I believe it free right now, but that has changed over the years in the past. So check with them before signing up with Barbri.

Now if you don’t want to do the Barbri thing or looking for something a little bit cheaper different, cheaper look no further than Themis bar view that’s T H E M I S. They are also a phenomenon program they are very new, they are comprise of mostly prior Barbri people that have made this program. They are also very inexpensive. Barbri’s price tag is around $4,000, Themis is about $1,500 depending on the jurisdiction where you take the test, which is about a third of what you’ll pay for Barbri, and guess what their pass rates are just as good maybe not quite as good, but just as good or right on up there. Themis on like any other bar prep programs actually publishes their pass rates online and in every state except California.

Their pass rate is close to 90% or higher in California I believe their last bar passage rate was 75% at the time of this recording which was in March of 2012. 75% for California is very good and be close to 90% for most other jurisdiction is also very, very good and especially since the price tag is only a third of what Barbri is charging. So what’s the catch you might say why people would pick Barbri instead of Themis if it’s just as good and only a third of the cost. Well Themis their program is all online based, so you don’t actually have a classroom where you can go and sit down with live lecturers and that already set up for you.

It’s all online based, that can be a bad thing and a good thing for some people. Good thing you can watch it wherever you want, wherever you want on your own schedule on your own time. They do have people that watch your progress or if you are slacking and you are not doing the work you need to, they will call you, they will send you emails, they will also grade your exams that you send in to them, but if you are the type that really like to just have that schedule set up and you don’t maybe trust yourself to be able to wake up at 9 am and do the work you need to do that you are going to wake a couple hours or goof off and if you think you’ll fall behind because of that either get a little more disciplined or try and go with Barbri. I have had some friends who took Themis and they were satisfied with it, so they are good program, they are trustworthy if that’s the path you want to take, do please take them they are a great program.

Now the next one is Kaplan, I still haven’t found a reason why you’d take Kaplan. Kaplan is pricey they are almost as pricey as Barbri and it doesn’t seem like they have the pass rate that Barbri does. A lot of you probably know Kaplan you probably use them in one form or another for taking your LSAT. However for the bar exam they are new, they are maybe a little bit older than Themis but they have not gotten up to that level where they are really providing strong results and helping students pass their bar exam, and also unfortunately their prices are just very high.

If you are going to pay that much money, you might as well ditch in a couple of extra hundred dollars and go with Barbri who is very well established in the field. Now Kaplan did add a Themis type program where it’s pretty much online based and it’s almost the same price as Themis it’s a little bit more expensive, but again Themis has a very a much stronger track record in that department than Kaplan. So as at the time of the recording of this podcast, I would say avoid Kaplan and go with Barbri or Themis.

Then there is of course the other option that I mentioned in the beginning. There is the self study route or going with maybe a lesser known bar prep program or even a private tutor. Private tutors can get pretty expensive, they can be almost the same price as Barbri, maybe up to three, four thousand dollars depending on the tutor. Having spoken to a lot of people who have done this, I know if you have taken the bar exam before and didn’t pass and maybe used Barbri before or Themis before and didn’t pass and you feel maybe that your writing could be improved then going with the private tutor at least partially to improve you writing, to improve the way your approaching test could be very useful. The one thing unfortunately that Barbri I know doesn’t really provide is very strong support for developing your writing as a bar exam taker.

They do grade your exams, they will give some feedback but if you’re kind of struggling with writing and how to write, which is very important y the way for the bar exam. When you are writing you need to write and sound quote end quote like a lawyer as you are writing. So if you are struggling in this department then perhaps going with a private tutor or finding someone who at least just grade your essays in addition to whatever you are doing could be very, very beneficial. There is also the peer self study route some people like to buy the books from Barbri but not actually take the program and maybe get the Barbri pay schedule and just go through what is Barbri’s homework tell you to do. That can work, some people have done it in the past, some people haven’t done it in the past, and you’ll certainly save a lot of money.

Again personally I like going to the lectures to kind of get to know quote end quote on the inside a little bit of how things work that you don’t quite get by just using the books, but if you feel comfortable doing that and you think that will help you pass, then by all means do it. If you thinking of going to self study route I recommend you check out a book written by a co-bar exam blogger and friend of mind that I met through my bar blogging experiences her name is Jessica Kline, she is author of the be a goat blog and there is actually a link on the website if you go to on the top left side there is a picture of a book and a goat icon, that’s the book that she wrote, she self studied for the bar exam, no she actually didn’t pass the first time, ended up passing the second time and basically gave her advice and tips on what she thinks other people should do to help them pass if they are self studying.

It’s a great book, I read it myself you can actually click the link there on the website it will take you to her website and her book. If you do happen to buy the books through my affiliate link just so you know as a discipline I do get a small affiliate commission if you do that. That is not the reason I am recommending the book, I just want to get that out there the open. So that is a good book if you want to go with the self study route, it has got a lot of good tips and tools and give some of the other lesser known kind of programs that could help you pass the bar exam like what kind of flash cards, what kind of programs to used for the multiple choice portions or to have your essays graded. It gives useful tips like that to help you pass your exam as well.

So that is about generally what I have to say about which bar exam prep program to take. Again in summary I recommend either Barbri or Themis. Barbri and Themis both have great bar passage rates and Barbri is more expensive about 3 times more than Themis. Themis advantage or disadvantage however you want to see it they do everything online whereas Barbri you have to actually could sit in class go and sit in actually lecture situation.

At this point I would advice staying away from Kaplan and if you do want to do the self study route, check out that book on the be a goat blog or ask some friends who have done self study route too and see what they say and what they done to help them pass. Self studying is definitely a way you could pass. I do recommend going with some kind of bar prep program, but if you prefer self study route and you feel that’s what your style is more then by all means do that just make sure you prepare yourself and you know what is coming, because the bar exam is all about preparation and knowing how to prepare and what to prepare to pass the bar exam.

So I hope this podcast was helpful to you guys. Please check out the website and good luck on your bar exam. Take care and have a wonderful day.

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