BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

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blsingindisguise
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BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby blsingindisguise » Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:56 pm

At the outset, let me make clear that I have no financial interest in any bar prep company. I am a recent graduate who will be sitting for the July NY bar, and I prepped for the bar using an on-site video course.

BARBRI continues to be by far the dominant market player in bar preparation. An antitrust lawsuit appears to have helped to open the market up to some competition, but at least in NY BARBRI is so much the default choice that the few people who take other courses are treated like curiosities. The self-reinforcing conventional wisdom is that Barbri is for people who don't want to take chances, and this seems to justify the exorbitant price tag in the range of $3500 -- a lot of money to pay for some books and the privilege of watching videos in a crowded lecture hall.

Yet I've found that my BARBRI experience has made my studying unnecessarily frustrating and difficult, and if I could do it again I'd find a cheaper, simpler course. My views are hardly universal, but I've heard others express similar feelings. I'd like to at least list some of the pros and cons (cons first) so that others might make a more informed choice. I'd also like to add that my employer does not pay for bar courses (whereas many large firms do) so this is a consideration.

CONS:

1) The videos themselves -- one of the selling points of BARBRI -- are just not very good or worthwhile. Maybe 10% of the lecturers are dynamic enough to hold your interest for the 3-4 hour sessions. Many move too quickly through the most challenging material. Many simply don't cover enough law at all. At least a few were terribly disorganized, such that it was a struggle to interpret lecture notes. There's also just something really miserable about having to sit through 3-4 hours of a badly taped, bad audio quality large screen video lecture in itself.

2) The video lecture "handouts": most lecturers use fill-in-the-blank handouts that you work through during the lectures. I found that these tended to make my mind completely shut off, listening only for the blanks to fill in.

3) Barbri advises you to take these fill-in-the-blank lecture notes and retype them into outlines. I found this to be a tedious and exhausting process that failed to help reinforce material (because I was just typing as fast as I could to get finished) and took up time that could have been much better spent doing something else. I eventually stopped.

4) The workload is highly unrealistic and inefficient. Barbri's "interactive paced program" simply gives more work than 90% of takers can accomplish, and for me this was demoralizing (there's a little percentage bar that moves as you check things off, and if you can't keep up, you watch it fall further and further behind). The weighting also seemed off -- too much time was devoted to "essay strategies" and to the MPT, as an example.

5) A confusing array of materials -- Barbri gives you so many different books and online materials that it's sometimes hard to know what to do. For example, there are "Conviser Mini Review" outlines, full outlines, and lecture handouts for each MBE subject, and the information is often presented in different ways in each so that they don't reinforce each other well.

6) MBE multiple choice questions are almost nothing like the real questions. Barbri's questions are trickier in terms of logic and reading comp, but don't test as much substantive law knowledge as the bar. The bar is much more likely to ask you a Q where you just straight up have to know a UCC provision to get it right, but it might be a more obscure provision than the ones tested commonly by Barbri (although, ultimately, the real questions tend to be easier).

7) Barbri's "harder than the real thing" essays -- don't find these helpful. Also don't like the fact that the graders grade harder than the real exam (what I've heard) -- again, just demoralizing to me.

The Pros:

1) Having some kind of program was I guess better than nothing.

2) The simulated MBE at the actual bar location is very very useful (but there may be a way to do this without the whole course).

3) Seeing percentiles is reassuring -- if you know that you're even in the top 50% of BARBRI students you know you have a damn good chance of passing.

4) The "Conviser Mini Review" is an excellent and comprehensive outline of every topic. I wish I had just studied from this one book all along.

5) The "everyone else is doing it" factor -- but that's sort of self-evident. If you're the kind of person that's so terrified of going against the grain, i.e., a law student, maybe taking Barbri will reassure you. There is, to be fair, lots of reassurance in the course. They're constantly reminding you that you just need to do x and y to be on track, and the lecturers are always telling you their CRAZY stories about the dummy in front of them at the exam, and some people find this to be a security blanket. I found it irritating and babying and a time waster.

Anyway, it's not like you're going to fail BECAUSE you take barbri, so it isn't like taking barbri is going to be a catastrophe for anyone. I just think that price-sensitive students might consider other options and realize that as long as you have a little bit of self-discipline and did decently in law school, you can probably pass quite easily without Barbri. I don't know anything about the cheaper options. I know Themis is cheaper, and I've heard it's fine but a bit no-frills. There are all kinds of books, flashcards, etc. You have to figure out what works for you. But don't get sucked into taking Barbri just because it's the thing to do, at least not if you're footing the bill.

RCRARollin
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby RCRARollin » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:17 pm

I agree 100%.

I wish they had MBE questions there were just like the ones we will encounter. Perhaps my biggest gripe with BARBRI.

Also, their grading and essays are completely unrealistic. I didn't pay this amount of money to be "scared" into studying more, I want to know how my performance shapes up to a real passing answer.

Lastly, the Conviser Mini Review should really be all the material that they give you. It is all that you really need.

I did find the videos somewhat helpful, however.

For what I am paying for the course, I give BARBRI a B-. In the end, it was still worth it if I pass.

blsingindisguise
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby blsingindisguise » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:35 am

One other thing I will add is that the NCBEX website offers real Q's for purchase. I didn't know this until recently. I would bet that a motivated student could pass with well-written bar-oriented subject outlines for each subject, a book of practice essays and all three sets of NCBEX Q's, and that this would probably cost under $500. That might be going a little minimal, but I think it could be done. Certainly passage is doable with a cheaper course.

ran12
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby ran12 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:58 am

Out of curiosity, what are the different bar prep courses that people recommend besides Barbri and Kaplan.

areyouinsane
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby areyouinsane » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:07 am

Dood why are you sweating the bar? The "test" I took in 1983 to join the "Inspector Gadget Fan Club" was a lot harder. The bar is by far the easiest "professional" licensing test out there, and the pass rate of 90%+ for first time takers in NY backs this up.

They might as well just get rid of it and admit everyone at the same time you get your driver's license, kinda like the "Motor Voter" act. Just make everyone over 17 an automatic lawyer and get it over with.

Oh BTW there is some tool named Pieper who runs his own bar prep. I think his class is for those who are truly mentally challenged (like Hofstra/Touro grads). He uses like shapes and crayons & shit to prep these dunces.

EliHBCU
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby EliHBCU » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:49 am

Agreed. If I had to do it again, I would not pay for BARBRI.



@ran12 there are a couple others that I know about: Themis (sp?), adaptibar, and then there are private courses.

hasmith
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby hasmith » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:57 am

I have been using Themis to prep for the IL bar. We will get the results until Oct, but I have been extremely happy with the course. Apparently the guy who started adaptibar has some kind of affiliation with our school so I was able to get that course for free. I have really enjoyed that as well. For me, I learn best by doing practice questions. Adaptibar has something close to 1500 sample questions. After awhile, you see that the examiners ask largely the same questions. Hope everyone taking the bar does well!

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Nogameisfair
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby Nogameisfair » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:00 pm

I think most of what barbri does is to 1) justify the $4k you spend, and 2) to sooth people's nerves. Honestly, you could get the "education" thing just by reading the outlines and doing the sample questions/essays. On the other hand, I think Barbri is the way to go if someone else is paying for it.

ran12
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby ran12 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:49 pm

EliHBCU wrote:Agreed. If I had to do it again, I would not pay for BARBRI.



@ran12 there are a couple others that I know about: Themis (sp?), adaptibar, and then there are private courses.


Thanks

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nealric
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby nealric » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:21 pm

I took barbri because the firm payed for it. If I had been on my own dime, I might have looked for cheaper alternative.

Honestly, half the point of barbri is to get you to study hard. The paced program is unrealistic to make you study hard. They intentionally give poor essay grades to make you study hard. The midterm MBE is intentionally harder than the real thing. But, if you let them play their mind games and you managed to graduate from law school outside the bottom 1/4 of your class, you are going to pass the bar absent extenuating circumstances.

blsingindisguise
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby blsingindisguise » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:10 pm

areyouinsane wrote:Dood why are you sweating the bar? The "test" I took in 1983 to join the "Inspector Gadget Fan Club" was a lot harder. The bar is by far the easiest "professional" licensing test out there, and the pass rate of 90%+ for first time takers in NY backs this up.

They might as well just get rid of it and admit everyone at the same time you get your driver's license, kinda like the "Motor Voter" act. Just make everyone over 17 an automatic lawyer and get it over with.

Oh BTW there is some tool named Pieper who runs his own bar prep. I think his class is for those who are truly mentally challenged (like Hofstra/Touro grads). He uses like shapes and crayons & shit to prep these dunces.


That's part of my point though. The real bar Qs are so much easier than Barbri's that I just feel like "Why did I destroy my entire summer and make myself so miserable?" I probably could have put in 4-6 hours per day with subject outlines and practices Q's/essays and been about where I'm at now, and instead I went through Barbri's massively inefficient and aggravating nonsense.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:12 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:At the outset, let me make clear that I have no financial interest in any bar prep company. I am a recent graduate who will be sitting for the July NY bar, and I prepped for the bar using an on-site video course.

BARBRI continues to be by far the dominant market player in bar preparation. An antitrust lawsuit appears to have helped to open the market up to some competition, but at least in NY BARBRI is so much the default choice that the few people who take other courses are treated like curiosities. The self-reinforcing conventional wisdom is that Barbri is for people who don't want to take chances, and this seems to justify the exorbitant price tag in the range of $3500 -- a lot of money to pay for some books and the privilege of watching videos in a crowded lecture hall.

Yet I've found that my BARBRI experience has made my studying unnecessarily frustrating and difficult, and if I could do it again I'd find a cheaper, simpler course. My views are hardly universal, but I've heard others express similar feelings. I'd like to at least list some of the pros and cons (cons first) so that others might make a more informed choice. I'd also like to add that my employer does not pay for bar courses (whereas many large firms do) so this is a consideration.

CONS:

1) The videos themselves -- one of the selling points of BARBRI -- are just not very good or worthwhile. Maybe 10% of the lecturers are dynamic enough to hold your interest for the 3-4 hour sessions. Many move too quickly through the most challenging material. Many simply don't cover enough law at all. At least a few were terribly disorganized, such that it was a struggle to interpret lecture notes. There's also just something really miserable about having to sit through 3-4 hours of a badly taped, bad audio quality large screen video lecture in itself.

2) The video lecture "handouts": most lecturers use fill-in-the-blank handouts that you work through during the lectures. I found that these tended to make my mind completely shut off, listening only for the blanks to fill in.

3) Barbri advises you to take these fill-in-the-blank lecture notes and retype them into outlines. I found this to be a tedious and exhausting process that failed to help reinforce material (because I was just typing as fast as I could to get finished) and took up time that could have been much better spent doing something else. I eventually stopped.

4) The workload is highly unrealistic and inefficient. Barbri's "interactive paced program" simply gives more work than 90% of takers can accomplish, and for me this was demoralizing (there's a little percentage bar that moves as you check things off, and if you can't keep up, you watch it fall further and further behind). The weighting also seemed off -- too much time was devoted to "essay strategies" and to the MPT, as an example.

5) A confusing array of materials -- Barbri gives you so many different books and online materials that it's sometimes hard to know what to do. For example, there are "Conviser Mini Review" outlines, full outlines, and lecture handouts for each MBE subject, and the information is often presented in different ways in each so that they don't reinforce each other well.

6) MBE multiple choice questions are almost nothing like the real questions. Barbri's questions are trickier in terms of logic and reading comp, but don't test as much substantive law knowledge as the bar. The bar is much more likely to ask you a Q where you just straight up have to know a UCC provision to get it right, but it might be a more obscure provision than the ones tested commonly by Barbri (although, ultimately, the real questions tend to be easier).

7) Barbri's "harder than the real thing" essays -- don't find these helpful. Also don't like the fact that the graders grade harder than the real exam (what I've heard) -- again, just demoralizing to me.

The Pros:

1) Having some kind of program was I guess better than nothing.

2) The simulated MBE at the actual bar location is very very useful (but there may be a way to do this without the whole course).

3) Seeing percentiles is reassuring -- if you know that you're even in the top 50% of BARBRI students you know you have a damn good chance of passing.

4) The "Conviser Mini Review" is an excellent and comprehensive outline of every topic. I wish I had just studied from this one book all along.

5) The "everyone else is doing it" factor -- but that's sort of self-evident. If you're the kind of person that's so terrified of going against the grain, i.e., a law student, maybe taking Barbri will reassure you. There is, to be fair, lots of reassurance in the course. They're constantly reminding you that you just need to do x and y to be on track, and the lecturers are always telling you their CRAZY stories about the dummy in front of them at the exam, and some people find this to be a security blanket. I found it irritating and babying and a time waster.

Anyway, it's not like you're going to fail BECAUSE you take barbri, so it isn't like taking barbri is going to be a catastrophe for anyone. I just think that price-sensitive students might consider other options and realize that as long as you have a little bit of self-discipline and did decently in law school, you can probably pass quite easily without Barbri. I don't know anything about the cheaper options. I know Themis is cheaper, and I've heard it's fine but a bit no-frills. There are all kinds of books, flashcards, etc. You have to figure out what works for you. But don't get sucked into taking Barbri just because it's the thing to do, at least not if you're footing the bill.


Some thoughts on your thoughts, just as an alternative view from someone who used BarBri, found them effective, and passed the bar last summer. I’m not writing to argue, and with all things, everyone’s experiences may vary. I just have the general view that you got this far, dropped a ton of cash for your degree, but you’re going to put your foot down over $3,500 for the bar exam course? Take out a bar loan, pay it off over 15 years. Bar prep is NOT the time to get fiscally conscious. Yes, it is expensive, but it works.

1) I'm sorry that you didn't realize you NEVER had to actually go to the class and could have watched every video at home, on your computer, at 33% faster speed (google for the keyboard commands). This makes a 3 hour lecture take 2 hours, and the increased speed prevents the mind from wandering. Plus, that is one more hour a day to study sample questions, not to mention time saved commutting to class. This was important because I was a top of the class student, and YES, a lot of the lectures seemed boring, but speeding up the pace kept me on my toes and engaged.

And you know what? The most dynamic professor in the world can’t make Property exciting.

Regarding “moving quickly through the challenging material,” and “not covering enough law at all,” how do you know????? How do you know how much law is important to cover? You have to simplify, not get more complicated. I respectfully disagree and note that BarBri studies bar exams for a living, noting trends in questioning, frequency of topics covered, etc., and I think you may be underestimating something – BarBri knows what is important to cover, and what is not. If the glossed over something, don’t worry about it.

2) Again, don’t go to “class” when you can watch the videos at home. (I know some people need the structure of going to a “class,” so do what works for you.) You also have to bear in mind – BarBri is designed to make the dumbest student pass the bar. This is IMPORTANT to understand – if you did well at law school, the lectures may seem remedial – BUT YOU DON’T WANT THINGS TO BE ANY MORE COMPLICATED THAN THEY HAVE TO BE. If you find them too easy – that is a good sign.

3 & 4) I never retyped anything. Moreover, you have to realize, again, BarBri is designed for the dumbest student. I skipped TONS of things they said to do. I didn’t take the MBE preview at the beginning. I barely did any practice essays. I didn’t go to the class “location” once. I would watch lectures days later than my “paced program” would tell me to. All I found important was – watch the lecture, do the practice multi-state questions, and read the convisor mini-outline. For major, core topics, like Contracts, Torts, whatever, that compose a significant part of the exam, I may have reviewed the major outline.

At least in my state, several of the professors explicitly told us to skip the “required reading,” because you literally did not have the time. Those same professors told us something you have to trust in:

Everything you need to know is in the lecture outline. They were right – everything you need to know is in the lecture outline. Yes, you *might* get a question on an obscure legal issue that was not really covered in depth in the lecture, but the time you would have to spend to master that obscure point combined with the improbability of actually getting tested on that point makes it worthless to study. Be thankful someone simplified it for you. You DO NOT WANT more detail than you need, and you do not need any more detail than the lecture outlines.

5) You start from and study with the lecture outline, you (maybe) read the convisor outline, and if you really don’t understand something, you have the full outline. But, you never “have” to read the mega-outline – and some professors straight up told us not to.

All the materials are to ensure you have everything you could ever want, but they are NOT all necessary to pass.

6) I don’t understand how you know this, that the BarBri questions are “different” than the real thing. You haven’t taken the bar. You even say the real questions are “easier,” so what are you complaining about? It is GOOD to practice at a higher difficulty level, so the real thing will in fact seem easier in comparison. This is not a flaw, it is a design feature you should be THANKFUL for.

7) I didn’t do many essays at all, so I can’t speak to this. If something seems needless or stupid – SKIP IT.


PROS:

You noted that “I wish I had just studied from [the convisor] book all along.” Yes, you should have. The big outline was insurance for BarBri to say they gave you literally everything – but TRUST THE LECTURE OUTLINES. The professor who wrote it has studied how that topic is tested on your state’s bar.

Another HUGE pro I really liked – entering your MBE practice question results online to assess your performance, and identify what areas you need to work on. That alone was amazing.

You dropped $100k+ to go to law school. While I know BarBri is expensive, why gamble with an untried bar exam prep program right at the end when it matters most? Passing the bar allows you to begin using your law degree to make money – even if you don’t have a job lined up, you’ve first got to pass the bar before you are a lawyer. Don’t cheap out; take out a bar loan if you can’t afford it, and have faith in the program that has worked time and time again for students of all ability levels.

And no, I do not now, nor have I ever, worked for BarBri.

blsingindisguise
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:17 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:Some thoughts on your thoughts, just as an alternative view from someone who used BarBri, found them effective, and passed the bar last summer. I’m not writing to argue, and with all things, everyone’s experiences may vary. I just have the general view that you got this far, dropped a ton of cash for your degree, but you’re going to put your foot down over $3,500 for the bar exam course? Take out a bar loan, pay it off over 15 years. Bar prep is NOT the time to get fiscally conscious. Yes, it is expensive, but it works.

1) I'm sorry that you didn't realize you NEVER had to actually go to the class and could have watched every video at home, on your computer, at 33% faster speed (google for the keyboard commands). This makes a 3 hour lecture take 2 hours, and the increased speed prevents the mind from wandering. Plus, that is one more hour a day to study sample questions, not to mention time saved commutting to class. This was important because I was a top of the class student, and YES, a lot of the lectures seemed boring, but speeding up the pace kept me on my toes and engaged.

And you know what? The most dynamic professor in the world can’t make Property exciting.

Regarding “moving quickly through the challenging material,” and “not covering enough law at all,” how do you know????? How do you know how much law is important to cover? You have to simplify, not get more complicated. I respectfully disagree and note that BarBri studies bar exams for a living, noting trends in questioning, frequency of topics covered, etc., and I think you may be underestimating something – BarBri knows what is important to cover, and what is not. If the glossed over something, don’t worry about it.

2) Again, don’t go to “class” when you can watch the videos at home. (I know some people need the structure of going to a “class,” so do what works for you.) You also have to bear in mind – BarBri is designed to make the dumbest student pass the bar. This is IMPORTANT to understand – if you did well at law school, the lectures may seem remedial – BUT YOU DON’T WANT THINGS TO BE ANY MORE COMPLICATED THAN THEY HAVE TO BE. If you find them too easy – that is a good sign.

3 & 4) I never retyped anything. Moreover, you have to realize, again, BarBri is designed for the dumbest student. I skipped TONS of things they said to do. I didn’t take the MBE preview at the beginning. I barely did any practice essays. I didn’t go to the class “location” once. I would watch lectures days later than my “paced program” would tell me to. All I found important was – watch the lecture, do the practice multi-state questions, and read the convisor mini-outline. For major, core topics, like Contracts, Torts, whatever, that compose a significant part of the exam, I may have reviewed the major outline.

At least in my state, several of the professors explicitly told us to skip the “required reading,” because you literally did not have the time. Those same professors told us something you have to trust in:

Everything you need to know is in the lecture outline. They were right – everything you need to know is in the lecture outline. Yes, you *might* get a question on an obscure legal issue that was not really covered in depth in the lecture, but the time you would have to spend to master that obscure point combined with the improbability of actually getting tested on that point makes it worthless to study. Be thankful someone simplified it for you. You DO NOT WANT more detail than you need, and you do not need any more detail than the lecture outlines.

5) You start from and study with the lecture outline, you (maybe) read the convisor outline, and if you really don’t understand something, you have the full outline. But, you never “have” to read the mega-outline – and some professors straight up told us not to.

All the materials are to ensure you have everything you could ever want, but they are NOT all necessary to pass.

6) I don’t understand how you know this, that the BarBri questions are “different” than the real thing. You haven’t taken the bar. You even say the real questions are “easier,” so what are you complaining about? It is GOOD to practice at a higher difficulty level, so the real thing will in fact seem easier in comparison. This is not a flaw, it is a design feature you should be THANKFUL for.

7) I didn’t do many essays at all, so I can’t speak to this. If something seems needless or stupid – SKIP IT.


PROS:

You noted that “I wish I had just studied from [the convisor] book all along.” Yes, you should have. The big outline was insurance for BarBri to say they gave you literally everything – but TRUST THE LECTURE OUTLINES. The professor who wrote it has studied how that topic is tested on your state’s bar.

Another HUGE pro I really liked – entering your MBE practice question results online to assess your performance, and identify what areas you need to work on. That alone was amazing.

You dropped $100k+ to go to law school. While I know BarBri is expensive, why gamble with an untried bar exam prep program right at the end when it matters most? Passing the bar allows you to begin using your law degree to make money – even if you don’t have a job lined up, you’ve first got to pass the bar before you are a lawyer. Don’t cheap out; take out a bar loan if you can’t afford it, and have faith in the program that has worked time and time again for students of all ability levels.

And no, I do not now, nor have I ever, worked for BarBri.


I think my biggest problem with your thinking here is "it's expensive but it works" and "this is not the time to be fiscally conservative." You were a high performing student. You could have passed the bar by studying out of one book and doing a handful of practice questions. "I passed so it works" -- this is what you might call rainmaking. 85% of bar takers pass the bar first try (in NY). Barbri ups that to what, 90%? It's not that significant a bump, and that's compared to the general passage rate. If Themis, at 1/3 of the cost, passed, say, 87% of people (I don't know their numbers) would you say it "doesn't work"? Also remember that Barbri's numbers do not equal your chance of passing. Again, you're a top student, you would pass as long as you studied.

For what it's worth, I went to law school for free, so, ironically, maybe that's why $3500 seems like more money to me. But it SHOULD seem like a significant amount of money. If it were by far the best, or the only way to pass, then of course by all means it's worth it. If there are cheaper, easier alternatives, why hassle yourself?

Otherwise some of your comments just don't seem to match up with the course I took. It's probably changed since you took it. First of all, the Barbri people repeatedly tell you to fill out the lecture "handouts" and then retype them and study from that. The CMR (the book I found best) is "optional".

Second, watching at a faster speed is no longer an option, because Barbri has changed the software it uses for videos and it can't be done.

Third, if everything you need to know is a single book, then great, give me that book and charge me for that book, not 20 books.

Fourth, my point isn't that the lecturers don't make the subjects fun -- I was a top student also and I don't have any problem with non fun lectures. My problem is that a lot of them were just not organized in a way that's conducive to learning the material. Some of them were terribly disorganized so that they didn't really form a proper outline at all.

Anyway, the bottom line for me is that I do not believe that Barbri significantly increased my chances of passing over self-study, and I do believe that it wasted a lot of my energy.

blsingindisguise
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:20 pm

Oh, and in re "how do you know" about the real MBE -- it's quite simple. I did real MBE questions. I would actually say that in the end I found them to be much easier than Barbri questions, because Barbri Q's were long and tortuous and a lot of what I got wrong had more to do with the crazy wording of the Q and the answers than knowledge of the law. Some people like this because they feel like it prepares them for the real thing better. I prefer to know what to expect and prepare accordingly.

adastra69
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby adastra69 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:45 am

Mod edit:

suspiciously spammy.

w2e
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby w2e » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:25 pm

I'm doing Themis for NY bar. Really happy with it so far based on the format (lectures broken down into 20 minute sections followed by practice questions). My firm gave me a flat stipend from which I have to pay for the bar and living expenses so it made sense to take the cheap option with a high passage rate.

hiima3L
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby hiima3L » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:31 am

blsingindisguise wrote:Oh, and in re "how do you know" about the real MBE -- it's quite simple. I did real MBE questions. I would actually say that in the end I found them to be much easier than Barbri questions ...


Any suggestions for resources for MBEs?

Also, I'm really glad to hear this. I'm just barely scraping by on BarBri's questions and it's driving me nuts.

hiima3L
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby hiima3L » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:54 am

One month into my BarBri course and I am extremely glad I didn't pay for it. It is seriously so unnecessary I can't believe year after year people pay $4k for it. However, like everything law school-related, whether it will be helpful to someone depends on a lot of factors.

Here are my thoughts:
-Lectures are COMPLETELY unnecessary. I signed up for the live class because I knew it'd be the only way I could force myself to go, and I end up just doing my homework during them. They are such an inefficient use of time that just studying and doing MBEs/essays is way more helpful for understanding things. I do, however, like hearing the profs' insight into what is tested and how much it is tested. But that does not justify the ~$3500 for the lectures.

-It seems like they really overwork you, but I don't think it's really too much. The most assigned in any given day (Sundays) will take you 8hrs tops. That said, I think trying to do an essay the afternoon after learning the material the morning of is ridiculous and borderline counterproductive, unrealistic and inefficient at best.

-Their everything-under-the-sun outlines are absurd and completely unhelpful. There is no point to include them when their profs explicitly say don't even bother looking at them.

-The iPhone app is awesome. It makes it feasible to be productive when commuting or waiting around. I seriously love that thing.

-I like the structure and that they just give you all the materials, but, again, I don't think it justifies $4k whatsoever.

TL;DR You don't need to take BarBri. Just get the outlines and books from one of the hundreds of previous students and study on your own. Aside from the app, I don't use anything that requires being enrolled in the course.

Of course, I haven't even taken the bar, so I may be completely wrong and may be swallowing my words in a few months. But based on my a number of neurotic friends who are doing every single thing that BarBri assigns to a tee, they don't seem to be learning it any better than I am by going by my own pace with BarBri materials.

underwhere759
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby underwhere759 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:50 am

"4) The workload is highly unrealistic and inefficient. Barbri's "interactive paced program" simply gives more work than 90% of takers can accomplish, and for me this was demoralizing (there's a little percentage bar that moves as you check things off, and if you can't keep up, you watch it fall further and further behind). The weighting also seemed off -- too much time was devoted to "essay strategies" and to the MPT, as an example."


Does every paced program have one of these little percentage bars? I am doing Delaware (which is an affiliate-so a little different) and I don't see one of those anywhere. I think it would actually be useful for me to see how far I have come and how much more I have to go-for motivational reasons.

Younger Abstention
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby Younger Abstention » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:56 pm

Barbri isn't geared toward elite law students who post on TLS... they want to get their pass rates as high as possible, hence the difficult material and intense work schedule.

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A'nold
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby A'nold » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:58 am

I've completely started doing my own thing with the materials. I don't care how much they say it is a good idea, I will not sit there and waste my time doing essays when I don't even have 10% of a subject's BLL memorized yet. What the hell? It boggles my mind that anyone thinks this is a good idea. Even if it works for most people, I cannot do that. I need to know the rules before I can apply it comfortably enough to feel like it is "real" and put any amount of effort into my answers. /rant.

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iShotFirst
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby iShotFirst » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:16 am

I really dont want to pay, but BARBRI and the other prep companies trade well on the fear factor (amplified by law school atmosphere) of imagining if you didnt take it and then failed. This pitch is hard for me to resist unfortunately.

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A'nold
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby A'nold » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:47 pm

iShotFirst wrote:I really dont want to pay, but BARBRI and the other prep companies trade well on the fear factor (amplified by law school atmosphere) of imagining if you didnt take it and then failed. This pitch is hard for me to resist unfortunately.

Well, as someone that couldn't resist, I'm with you. :)

2012JayDee
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby 2012JayDee » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:20 pm

I picked Kaplan over Barbri simply because of the MPRE
I tough Kaplans MPRE prep was much better than Barbri's. The Kaplan questions were spot on for the actual test. Whereas Barbri was asking yes/no questions and true/false which is useless. So I felt like the Kaplan MBE would probably be similar. And I also heard that they paid people to take the test and bring back real questions--they practically validated this at one point. Perhaps they've found some legal way to do it or w/e.
But I'm pretty happy w/ Kaplan. It sounds like it's organized quite differently than Barbri for certain things and just like Barbri for others.
Yes there's a live class and there is a class that shows a video and there is the video available online that you can watch from anywhere. The watch from anywhere video is the right thing to do here in all cases. If you sign up for a class with a live teacher there are obviously pros to attending. You actually listen to a live person, that person will take breaks and at the breaks answer your questions, it's motivation to get up and get the stuff done. But if your choice is between sitting in a large auditorium watching a video or sitting at home and watching the same video then sitting at home seems like the clear winner. And considering you can subsitute sitting at home for sitting at a coffee shop, library, park, work... it just seems pointless to go to a place if you can access the video on your own.

The outline/notes seem to be a big difference. The Kaplan notes are very well organized. There's 20 books but they're broken into categories.
There's 2 main books for MBE study. The big red book which has thousands of MBE question/answers, The full on outline with way more information than you could ever need to pass, and the fillin the blank outline. This is the follow along outline that has blanks where you can write down the rule and the exceptions. Another reason to watch the video at home is that if you miss something you can rewind--but you can also just look at the big outline and fillin the blanks. There's a word doc for each section that allows you to type up the outline if you want instead of typing but neither is required, and they definitely don't recommend you do both.

The videos for Kaplan are usually 2 1/2 to 3 hours max. I think only a couple were 3:15. Some videos are more bearable than others but mostly they get the information out clearly and you understand where they're going. It does't make the material less boring but they get it done rather efficiently (for the most part).

Online quiz
The online practice questions seem to be easier than the book questions and are supposed to be more bar like. The fact patterns aren't as long and there aren't as many tricks in the questions, but they still require you to hone in on the law. And after every section it measures specifically where you are weak relative to that subject. The test gives more weight to heavily tested subject. For example you will likely need 60-70% of the questions on negligence correct to be "in the green", but to be considered to have done okay in defamation you only need 4/10 questions right. The test realizes you don't need to be that good in less tested areas. So you don't do a bunch of questions on areas that are less tested just because you don't know them.

There are also check point quizzes that tailor the questions to your strengths/weaknesses. If you're missing a certain area of a subject matter it will give you 10 questions just in that area and you can read the law, exceptions, and answers to the questions which further reinforces that subject. The questions in the book and the online questions truly help to reinforce the MBE portion.

I don't think I would be confident going to sit for the bar without a review course. There's way too much info, 1/2 the stuff tested on the bar wasn't even taught in law school, and they just give you the law straight out without giving you a long drawn out case from which you are to infer what the holding of the case and the exceptions are and how they relate. They put everything right out there and then give you a way to apply it to multiple choice and to the essays. Bar courses are definitely expensive but in the scheme of things I'm willing to fork over $3k to ensure I don't have to waste any more time on this thing. If I don't pass the test the first go round I wouldn't pay for the course again because I'll know exactly what to study and how the information is organized. The prep course can't make me remember or apply so there would be no need to repeat when really it would just be a failure on my part to learn the material well enough to pass.
I head a number of people before me say they felt barbri was disorganized and hard to understand. I also knew a few that took the barbri course and took the kaplan mbe and at minimum they recommended that to me. So far I'm confident that the course itself has more than enough for me to pass. Whether I actually want to do the work on a daily basis is an all together different story.
Honestly, I think it's much more helpful for law students to hear about the various courses from people that are in the courses and people that have actually passed the bar using the courses. The reps at most schools are just other law students that are going off what the flyer tells them. I waited until 3L to even consider a prep course. There's really no way to know which course you'll like until you've dropped the money. But hearing everything there is to hear about how they're organized is probably going to help someone.

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A'nold
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Re: BARBRI Bar Prep: A dissenting view

Postby A'nold » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:29 pm

My friend is doing another prep company (Rigos I think) and he says it looks much more organized than Barbri. Maybe I should take a look at it and report back if I get the time (yeah right).




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