So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

sundontshine
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby sundontshine » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:10 pm

I agree with the most recent posters. I spent about $80 on Critical Pass flashcards, $50 on BarOutlines, and passed on my first attempt. Unless your firm is footing the bill, or unless you previously failed, it's borderline insane to spend thousands of dollars on Barbri, Kaplan, or Themis.

I do agree that some of the BarOutlines stuff has some pretty bad spelling and grammar errors and formatting issues. And maybe some of the state specific law was wrong - I never noticed. But, it was worth overlooking those minor issues to save a couple thousand dollars.

Canada99
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Canada99 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:14 pm

I did Themis and just found out today that i passed NY!! 160.2!! I guess you could just pay for outlines and flashcards, but I think, in general, most law students are too paranoid for that.

For what it's worth, I was a foreign student (i.e. no Conlaw, Crim, Evidence or any NY law), so Themis had to teach me all the new subjects from scratch. I worked full time except for the final two weeks, so thought Themis was great for flexibility.

marcussmart
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby marcussmart » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:25 am

I successfully self-studied, 6 weeks full-time study, for $350. I am very independent, moderately disciplined, and learn best through practice rather than lectures. Had to learn property and civ pro (for state essays) from scratch because our courses in law school were very theoretical for the former and very focused on a narrow, applied subset of concepts for the latter.

$100 on baroutlines (online plus hard copy): the MBE outlines were good, state outlines were OK, question bank pitiful, and support from the company useless (early on, I asked a question by email about where an online lecture had a statement explaining something one way, and the hard copy outline explained it the exact opposite way; the person who responded to the email totally ignored the question and just gave some generic response).

$100 on BarMax's MBE question bank: this is an iOS app with a question bank containing every released MBE question, including all 4 NCBE OPEs. About 1600 questions total. By late June more than ninety percent of the questions had detailed answer explanations which I found most useful; a fair number of questions also had good explanations for why the wrong answers were wrong. This was my main study tool; my scores increased on average from around 50-60% in the first week to 75-85% for full 3hr practice exams at the end. I was targeting 75% to feel comfortable going into the MBE.

$150 on a Barbri book of 200+ essay questions with sample answers off EBay. Had originally planned to write out thorough practice essays for every question. Settled for outlining the majority over a 2day stretch, primarily to issue spot and make sure I wasn't totally off track. Also helpful for supplementing state outlines, since many sample answers would clearly explain relevant state exceptions.

$0 on supplemental outlines, flash cards, and flow charts from reputable sources easily found via Google.

bklynattorney
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby bklynattorney » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:20 pm

Knowing how I study, I knew that I needed a course that gave me adequate direction; this latter point was especially important as I knew that I was going to be working full time during bar review. Thus, for me at least, the only real options were Barbri or Kaplan; these were the only two companies offering their courses at my law school. While most of my classmates were doing Barbri, I decided to go with an online Kaplan course as they had a better guarantee (Kaplan offered a full refund if you failed the bar, while Barbri just let you retake the course). Not to mention that Kaplan was well over $1,000 cheaper than Barbri ($1,500 for Kaplan when counting $500 promotional rebate and $250 book deposit return vs. $2,600-$2,800 for Barbri...I took the NY Bar).

I only finished well under 75% of the Kaplan course due to work obligations/not adequately budgeting time, but I had gained a solid foundation nonetheless. Acknowledging that this is very anecdotal, I note that none of my friends/classmates failed their respective bar exams using Kaplan, while two failed after completing Barbri. Based on the refund policy alone (now I wouldn't have qualified for the refund as I didn't finish the course, but that's another story), I'd go with Kaplan. After all, if a course sucks, I won't be satisfied with having the opportunity to merely retake that course; I'd prefer my money back to pursue other options. The other points are bonuses, especially the relative price of the courses.
Last edited by bklynattorney on Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kingofcream
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby kingofcream » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:13 am

Just found out I passed NY. No idea what my total score was yet, but my MBE was 150 point something. Not the highest in the world, but not razor's edge either, and who cares as long as you pass right?

Anyway, I used Kaplan since I was paying out of pocket. They bought PMBR a few years ago, which was really highly recommended by...my mother, who took the bar over 20 years ago :?

I usually think Kaplan is complete shit. I thought their SAT stuff was horrible, their LSAT stuff was horrible, so I was wary going in but I just couldn't afford BarBri and Themis seemed too cheap and too new for comfort. It helped that I rocked the MPRE studying only from the Kaplan book, so they redeemed themselves in my eyes after that.

But it was pretty solid. My wife took the bar at the same time and used BarBri and I was sort of blown away at all the busy work they give you. Kaplan had a few blank days in the calendar, which I presume are for catchup and review, I just them used as days off.

I blew off most if not all of the practice questions they give you to do after lectures, BUT, the last 2-3 weeks I went hardcore at the Qbank. It's all about the Qbank. There are only so many testable topics within the subjects covered, and of those testable topics, only so many ways to ask questions. The MBE is just as much (if not more) about recognizing certain kinds of questions and patterns as it is knowing the actual material. Kaplan also graded as many essays as I wanted via the essay bank. Essays are a great way to solidify some knowledge and even learn stuff you missed from lectures. Don't wait until the last week to do practice essays, it's half of the fucking bar exam. 60% actually. And nobody gives a fuck about the NY multiple choice. I felt confident about maybe 5 of those questions.

So my advice is: marathon, not sprint. Don't burn yourself out at the beginning. Make studying a slow jog until the last 2-3 weeks, and *then* sprint. I studied 4-5 hours a day until about 18 days before the test, and then I went to about 8-10 hours a day. I didn't finish most of the Kaplan course, but I made sure in those last 2-3 weeks that I was going hard on the MBE practice sets (mixed sets!) and outlining practice essays (get a few graded for style but don't waste your time writing them all out).

Anecdata:

The two people I know who used Themis (one for PA, the other for NY) both failed. One of them sort of slacked off so I'm not surprised and I don't think it's a reflection of Themis, the other one did actually seem to study pretty hard. Everyone I know who took BarBri (i.e. most people I know) except for 1 person passed-they overwhelm you with assignments but it seems to work. I passed with Kaplan, and the few other people I know passed NY with it as well.

Miscellaneous Kaplan Stuff:
I mostly found their flex cards and checkpoint quizzes to be a waste of time. Also, one sheets seemed kind of tedious and pointless to me.

Highly Recommend: Critical Pass Flashcards for the MBE
Unless you're a fucking robot, you're gonna get behind on your videos. And let's face it, when you're 6 3-hour lectures behind, passively watching professors speak isn't the best use of your limited time, at least in my opinion. And no, filling in the cute little blanks in the lecture notes Kaplan gives you isn't active enough for me. When I got more than 5 lectures behind, I declared lecture bankruptcy and made up for it with some practice MBEs and some flashcards. I wish I had done it sooner, I waited until the last week to use the flashcards but they are a godsend. I probably never would have cracked the outlines if it weren't for these.

I can't stress that enough: if you get significantly behind, you must not be distracted by all the lectures and silly little quizzes. It's not high school, there isn't a homework check. Focus extra hard on practice MBE questions and practice essays, that's the most important thing. Why did I keep getting behind? Well there's so many damn subjects, and so much work to do, and I only have so much focus. Many days I blew off lectures because I felt like I needed to devote the day to practice questions and I didn't have the energy to watch lectures afterwards.

And everyone feels like shit after they take the bar. I was convinced I failed. Don't be overwhelmed. No human being can do all of the work that a bar prep class assigns you, and you don't have to do all of it in order to pass.

Good luck, and don't let the bar destroy you!

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kingofcream
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby kingofcream » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:27 am

bdubs wrote:
ValerOn1820 wrote:The lectures all look like they were recorded in a 1980's public access cable channel basement, but they do the job.


LOL seriously. But yeah, Kaplan is solid. And the Q-bank was a godsend. I didn't have the time to do even half of them and passed handily. Very good resource.

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Leira7905
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Leira7905 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:14 pm

Passed Texas with a 162 MBE - Kaplan. I recommend it.

Prime
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Prime » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:58 am

Pick a program and run with it. If you took the classes in law school then this should be a 'refresher' course for you. I didn't take a whole lot of non-bar classes (academic supervision restriction) so I was familiar with a lot of the material.

I ran with Themis due to cost and I 'mostly' enjoyed the experience.

Texas - 145 MBE and 750 overall.

Canada99
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Canada99 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 1:58 pm

Prime wrote:Pick a program and run with it. If you took the classes in law school then this should be a 'refresher' course for you. I didn't take a whole lot of non-bar classes (academic supervision restriction) so I was familiar with a lot of the material.

I ran with Themis due to cost and I 'mostly' enjoyed the experience.

Texas - 145 MBE and 750 overall.


Totally agree with this. I think all the major prep programs are similar and you can get in trouble over-thinking it. For the entire month of July, I kept the mantra "In Themis We Trust" (but, could obviously substitute BarBri, Kaplan, etc.). Rather than starting to panic and reading forums (especially in the final few weeks) about how great other programs are, you just need to trust in the one you're using and focus on completing as much as possible.

My situation: I am a foreign attorney and my company was paying for everything (I mean everything: 1st class flights, meals, hotels, any bar prep material under the sun). So, I signed up for Themis (on a friend's recommendation), Adaptibar and bought all the Critical Pass flashcards. However, I only did a couple Adaptibar questions and unwrapped 2 of the flashcard sets and just realized that it was basically all the same as Themis. So, rather than screw around with a bunch of different programs, I just plugged away at Themis and did as much of it as possible (finished ~95%). This is not a pro-Themis post as much as a "pick one program, trust in it, and study, study study."

tl;dr: Pick one program and study like hell.

In Limbo
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby In Limbo » Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:11 am

I passed with about 60 points to spare with Kaplan. The videos can all be watched at 1.5X speed. It won't matter if you get everything down, the MBE stuff will be reinforced repeatedly through practice questions. I did about 1000 MBE questions, plus the two full length exams. My MBE score tracked almost exactly what I made on the last full exam, so I feel the questions are a pretty accurate representation of the bar exam. Made 141 scaled. In hindsight, a supplement pertaining to strategy would have been helpful here. This is Kaplan's strength and I feel I could have done better, had I done more practice questions.

The essay prep was decent. Kaplan's database only goes back until I believe 2009 in TX, so you'll have to go the BLE website for the older ones. Which is worth doing, because I would say at least 2 essay questions were verbatim repeats from previous years and a lot of other questions had subparts that repeated. If you are doing poorly on the MBE, you can easily cover it with essay score. I personally wrote out about 70% of past essay questions and outlined the rest. Then broke it down into an outline where I saw repeated questions. You'll see what I mean when you start working practice problems. Also, get in the habit of writing full length essays out early on. Even if you don't know anything about a subpart, grind out a made-up rule to try and vulture points. You'll need this skill in the bar. The grading submissions are terrible close to the end when everyone is submitting essays. That's why I recommend doing it early, so you'll know what they are looking for.

I worked three full-length MPTs. This section is not difficult, but I think a little practice helps with the time crunch element. The key here is to hit all main points within the allotted time. You won't get to everything. I did well on this section. Anymore practice than this and you are wasting your time.

Do not watch the P/E lecture from Kaplan. Waste of time. Just work practice sets over and over. Memorize the answers. They all repeat. No excuse to not do well on this. Basically free points.

For me, the prevailing message is practice. Reading outlines or any other passive learning techniques did not help. Quiz yourself, write stuff down repeatedly, say it out loud, etc.

Best of luck on the February exam!

bklynattorney
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby bklynattorney » Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:53 pm

In Limbo wrote:Do not watch the P/E lecture from Kaplan. Waste of time. Just work practice sets over and over. Memorize the answers. They all repeat. No excuse to not do well on this. Basically free points.


While I generally agree with the bulk of your post, I say skip nothing! Kaplan has a money back guarantee if you fail the bar. However, while I hope everyone passes, sadly everyone does not and Kaplan isn't likely to refund your money if you didn't actually finish the course.

sparty99
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby sparty99 » Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:52 pm

kingofcream wrote:Just found out I passed NY. No idea what my total score was yet, but my MBE was 150 point something. Not the highest in the world, but not razor's edge either, and who cares as long as you pass right?

Anyway, I used Kaplan since I was paying out of pocket. They bought PMBR a few years ago, which was really highly recommended by...my mother, who took the bar over 20 years ago :?

I usually think Kaplan is complete shit. I thought their SAT stuff was horrible, their LSAT stuff was horrible, so I was wary going in but I just couldn't afford BarBri and Themis seemed too cheap and too new for comfort. It helped that I rocked the MPRE studying only from the Kaplan book, so they redeemed themselves in my eyes after that.

But it was pretty solid. My wife took the bar at the same time and used BarBri and I was sort of blown away at all the busy work they give you. Kaplan had a few blank days in the calendar, which I presume are for catchup and review, I just them used as days off.

I blew off most if not all of the practice questions they give you to do after lectures, BUT, the last 2-3 weeks I went hardcore at the Qbank. It's all about the Qbank. There are only so many testable topics within the subjects covered, and of those testable topics, only so many ways to ask questions. The MBE is just as much (if not more) about recognizing certain kinds of questions and patterns as it is knowing the actual material. Kaplan also graded as many essays as I wanted via the essay bank. Essays are a great way to solidify some knowledge and even learn stuff you missed from lectures. Don't wait until the last week to do practice essays, it's half of the fucking bar exam. 60% actually. And nobody gives a fuck about the NY multiple choice. I felt confident about maybe 5 of those questions.

So my advice is: marathon, not sprint. Don't burn yourself out at the beginning. Make studying a slow jog until the last 2-3 weeks, and *then* sprint. I studied 4-5 hours a day until about 18 days before the test, and then I went to about 8-10 hours a day. I didn't finish most of the Kaplan course, but I made sure in those last 2-3 weeks that I was going hard on the MBE practice sets (mixed sets!) and outlining practice essays (get a few graded for style but don't waste your time writing them all out).

Anecdata:

The two people I know who used Themis (one for PA, the other for NY) both failed. One of them sort of slacked off so I'm not surprised and I don't think it's a reflection of Themis, the other one did actually seem to study pretty hard. Everyone I know who took BarBri (i.e. most people I know) except for 1 person passed-they overwhelm you with assignments but it seems to work. I passed with Kaplan, and the few other people I know passed NY with it as well.

Miscellaneous Kaplan Stuff:
I mostly found their flex cards and checkpoint quizzes to be a waste of time. Also, one sheets seemed kind of tedious and pointless to me.

Highly Recommend: Critical Pass Flashcards for the MBE
Unless you're a fucking robot, you're gonna get behind on your videos. And let's face it, when you're 6 3-hour lectures behind, passively watching professors speak isn't the best use of your limited time, at least in my opinion. And no, filling in the cute little blanks in the lecture notes Kaplan gives you isn't active enough for me. When I got more than 5 lectures behind, I declared lecture bankruptcy and made up for it with some practice MBEs and some flashcards. I wish I had done it sooner, I waited until the last week to use the flashcards but they are a godsend. I probably never would have cracked the outlines if it weren't for these.

I can't stress that enough: if you get significantly behind, you must not be distracted by all the lectures and silly little quizzes. It's not high school, there isn't a homework check. Focus extra hard on practice MBE questions and practice essays, that's the most important thing. Why did I keep getting behind? Well there's so many damn subjects, and so much work to do, and I only have so much focus. Many days I blew off lectures because I felt like I needed to devote the day to practice questions and I didn't have the energy to watch lectures afterwards.

And everyone feels like shit after they take the bar. I was convinced I failed. Don't be overwhelmed. No human being can do all of the work that a bar prep class assigns you, and you don't have to do all of it in order to pass.

Good luck, and don't let the bar destroy you!


How much time did you spend studying the NY part? How did you manage that? It is so many subjects

imacpa
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby imacpa » Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:29 pm

I originally took Kaplan when I first studied for the Cal bar. Ultimately, I didn't pass the Cal bar with Kaplan but I wouldn't necessarily say it was due to Kaplan. What I liked about Kaplan was the Q-Bank questions and the Redbook which is the best as far as MBE prep is concerned. I would still endorse Kaplan but only because of the Redbook (now Blue) as it helped me on the MBE.

I later used Baroutlines to solely prep for the TX bar (which I passed) along with a used Barbri outline book which was specific for Texas. Baroutlines was useful but like someone mentioned before it was full of misspellings and some of the law was outdated. Even though I passed I would not fully endorse Baroutlines because their customer service department is not responsive. I had an issue with an inaccuracy in their bar prep material and I emailed and called their number but they never return my call or email. But for the Texas bar it was sufficient because their outlines was adequate but I used the Barbri Texas yellow book as a supplement which I brought off of Ebay. The Barbri Texas book outlines were very detailed and it provided sample essay answers from the Texas bar going back to at least 1999. This really helped me with how to approach the essays on the TX bar exam.

Another MBE prep alternative I would also recommend is Best Multis MBE. In my opinion, it is just as good as the Kaplan's MBE prep material which includes a bank of approximately 1,000 questions including an explanation of the correct answer.

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Lawst
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Lawst » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:19 am

Passed NY and NJ with Kaplan, which I got for free as a rep. In retrospect, I should have done more MBE questions and started my practice essays sooner than I did. It worked out in the end, but it was stressful getting caught up, especially the essays. I think I spent too much time trying to fill in the blanks while watching the video.
I didn't do the onesheets. At all. I also didn't bother with the flexcards.
I did like the checkpoint quizzes.

Also, I supplemented with Lean Sheets, which were good for boiling down the basics of how state and MBE law differed. But also make sure your state law differences are on there - they don't have state specific for every state.

Bearlegdairy
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Bearlegdairy » Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:59 pm

Themis user. Passed the California bar. They only provide scores to those who fail the exam, so I'm not sure if I passed with flying colors or barely squeaked by. I was pretty happy with Themis, though my essay grader was not the best. Nevertheless, I felt pretty well prepared before the exam, and although I walked out thinking I failed, the more I thought about it, the more confident I felt. So I'd recommend it, particularly if you're on a budget or you like to study at odd hours (Themis is online only).

I also used Critical Pass flash cards, for what that's worth.

a_ela1
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby a_ela1 » Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:38 pm

I asked this in another thread but I'll post it here too. Does anyone know of a good resource for CA essay approaches? Preferably ones that give you the basic rule statements for memorization? I already know that's my weakest area so I want to get a jump on it now. Last time I did Kaplan and I hated having to take notes from their 30 minute essay lectures, while their professors rattled off issues to look for, rather than just having it spelled out on paper for me.

NYtoCA
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby NYtoCA » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:11 am

a_ela1 wrote:I asked this in another thread but I'll post it here too. Does anyone know of a good resource for CA essay approaches? Preferably ones that give you the basic rule statements for memorization? I already know that's my weakest area so I want to get a jump on it now. Last time I did Kaplan and I hated having to take notes from their 30 minute essay lectures, while their professors rattled off issues to look for, rather than just having it spelled out on paper for me.


The Bar Code (Whitney Roberts) is a very good resource to learn structure to maximize points - it also has very comprehensive rule statements. I think some of the rule statements are too long to memorize word for word. You really get to internalize/memorize them by practicing essays over and over. I have a terrible memory so I just paraphrased them the best I could. If you have a baressays.com account, the model answer written by the baressays folks also has super comprehensive rule statements (again, probably too long to be practical), but by reading them you'll see what rule statements appear over and over again. In fact, for my weaker subjects, towards the end, I spent a couple of hours opening random essays grouped by subject and literally typing rule statements. By doing this, I saw that certain PR rule statements (COI, confidentiality, withdrawal, for example) came up a TON. It may have been overkill but nothing's overkill when it comes to this exam. You can do this!

midge123
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby midge123 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:58 pm

I did Kaplan for Illinois and passed (no idea what my score was since they don't release it). I highly, highly recommend Kaplan over Barbri if you're at all concerned about the MBE. I have traditionally been terrible at law school multiple choice tests (fine on the LSAT, fine on essays, my problem was only multiple choice exams in law school).
I thought the Kaplan MBE practice questions were spot on. Another Kaplan student and I discussed it after the bar and we both felt there were loads of real MBE questions on the day of the bar exam that seemed to be almost word for word the same as practice questions Kaplan had. Barbri, on the other hand, didn't seem to come nearly as close to the real thing. My roommate studied with Barbri and we compared notes and questions often during the summer. We'd just holler across the apartment to compare questions sometimes. The Barbri practice MBE questions were really different in format, complexity, and what they seemed to be testing. He was pretty ticked when the real MBE questions felt so different from his practice questions.
Obviously people pass with both Kaplan and Barbri but from my experience, I highly recommend Kaplan if you're concerned about the MBE.

BigBob327
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby BigBob327 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:12 pm

I took Marino Bar Review for the NY Bar and I passed. I thought the materials were really good, especially considering the whole course cost like $2000 less than the other Bar review courses I looked at.

ringdabell
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby ringdabell » Tue Dec 16, 2014 11:27 am

Hi. I have posted previously asking about AmeriBar (for CA) but didn't get a response.. has anyone ever used or heard about AmeriBar? I would really appreciate your advice. Thanks!

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notedgarfigaro
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby notedgarfigaro » Tue Dec 23, 2014 8:06 pm

Marino bar prep can go fuck itself, I passed two months ago and they're still spamming my email box about the feb bar...and I have no clue how they got my email address.

Neve
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby Neve » Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:33 pm

kingofcream wrote:Highly Recommend: Critical Pass Flashcards for the MBE
Unless you're a fucking robot, you're gonna get behind on your videos. And let's face it, when you're 6 3-hour lectures behind, passively watching professors speak isn't the best use of your limited time, at least in my opinion. And no, filling in the cute little blanks in the lecture notes Kaplan gives you isn't active enough for me. When I got more than 5 lectures behind, I declared lecture bankruptcy and made up for it with some practice MBEs and some flashcards. I wish I had done it sooner, I waited until the last week to use the flashcards but they are a godsend. I probably never would have cracked the outlines if it weren't for these.


Agreed. Critical Pass is a huge time-saver and worth the cost of not repeating the bar exam.

For the MBE, there are three main tools you can use to supplement and ultimately strengthen your MBE score: (1) Critical Pass MBE Flashcards (excellent if you like learning by flashcards; referral link - http://criticalpass.refr.cc/3W6LZL6). (2) Adaptibar (wish I had used this since I've heard great things, especially if multiple choice questions aren't your strong point; http://www.adaptibar.com/); and (3) Emanuel's Strategies and Tactics for the MBE (contains tricks and tips and a ton of practice questions, all taken from former MBEs; available on Amazon).

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TheGreatWhiteHorse
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby TheGreatWhiteHorse » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:09 pm

I agree with all of these alternatives to the big bar review courses. I took the brutal Michigan bar exam and I used Themis. The outlines are full of crap that you will never get into on the actual exam. I felt that the MBE questions were decent, but not for the sticker price. Also, the big services don't do a very good job of teaching the state-specific essay materials. They purposely grade practice essays (of which there are far too few) on a ridiculously hard curve. Meant to inspire harder study, I guess. However, amidst the sheer panic and worry of bar prep, the last thing I needed was an artificially low score on an essay with only a model answer to compare mine to.

I stopped with about 60% of the course completed and bought a Deconstructing the Michigan Bar Exam Essays book. I read all 700+ pages of that book and the year after year of reprinted questions with actual student answers it contained. THAT BOOK was the reason I passed the bar exam.

I highly recommend saving your money and finding alternative means to do a few hundred MBE questions (at least) and then really focus on your state-specific materials.

TwoBars
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby TwoBars » Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:15 pm

Do you need to take a bar review course to pass? No, but it sure makes preparing for the exam more focussed.

The big thing that the courses provide is an organized set of materials and a logical approach to studying. The review courses are perhaps most useful when taking a bar exam in a state other than where you went to law school since all the pertinent state material is provided. It is not an easy task to collect all the information you need for any given bar exam. This is a big part of what you pay for with a course - the outlines and practice questions.

I took BarBri for SC back in 2011. Passed SC. BarBri was about the only option for SC since all the professors basically did the BarBri lectures and study materials for the essays. I recall the MBE materials from BarBri to be excessive in the sense that it was overly cumbersome to sift through the material. However, the materials do provide a good reference source when practicing law. Since the MBE is a relative minor part of the SC exam, I did not spend much time studying for the MBE. I do recall that the BarBri practice questions for the MBE were exceedingly frustrating and demoralizing. I understand that the practice questions should be harder than the actual exam, but BarBri questions were over the top difficult to the point I did not feel the questions were helpful. I ended up doing the NCBE practice tests available. I probably only did 600 total practice questions for the MBE. Ended up with a 140.

For the Feb 2015 Florida exam I took Themis since I knew I wanted to study from home at my own pace. I easily passed with a 152 MBE and 160 for the Florida portion. The outlines and practice questions were all good. The practice questions were challenging but not ridiculously so like the BarBri questions were. The MBE in Florida is 50% of the score, so I spent much more time preparing for the MBE this time around. Themis provides somewhere around 2,000 practice MBE questions all total which I felt was plenty. Since Florida has multiple choice, there were 1,000+ florida practice questions. After taking the actual bar exam, I felt the practice questions were a reasonable facsimile to the actual exam.

Overall I liked the Themis online platform for the course. It was particularly helpful that the results of practice multiple choice questions were broken down by topic areas which made it easy to identify weak areas. Some people on this forum gripe about the amount of work assigned each day and the quality of the lectures. Personally, I did not feel as though too much work was assigned on any given day, but I started a couple weeks earlier than the "official" start date and made it a point to keep pace. If you don't keep up and do nothing for several days, then the amount assigned will naturally increase. That said, not everything assigned necessarily takes hours to complete. The lectures take up the most time but can be watched at 1.5x or 2x speed. I found the lectures for the MBE subjects were very good and done by excellent professors, and I benefitted from watching those lectures (it's only 7 subjects). The Florida lectures were more of a mixed bag, some were good and helpful, others not so much. It's not really any different than law school where some professors were great and others not so much. Regardless, as painful as it may be to sit through all the lectures, I found I learned something new or at least got a better understanding of something from each lecture (some more than others). I found it interesting to hear a different professor's take on various subjects and found some lectures were much better than what I had in law school and others not so much. Bottom line, watch the lectures as painful as it may be.

Personally, I am not an outliner and do not condense outlines or create various topic outlines. It's just not how I like to study. I prefer to read through outlines and add my own notes to it. The Themis outlines were very good overall as were the BarBri outlines. I think getting outlines is the biggest benefit of using a review course. All the courses have done a good job of condensing and outlining the information you need to be successful on the bar exam. It is your job to actual read the outlines and digest the material. How you do that is ultimately up to you. However, the review courses provide a logical schedule and approach to learning the material. The courses provide the materials you need and a suggested schedule on how to order your review which I found helpful. The review course will not pass the exam for you, you must put in the effort to learn the material. If you put in the effort, you will pass. People typically fail because they did not adequately prepare or had some personal crisis at the time of the exam.

Themis is less expensive than other review courses, but that does not mean you get an inferior course. I thought Themis adequately prepared me to pass the Florida bar exam, and I recommend it to anyone. However, it is worth repeating that you have to put in the effort to learn the material provided by any of the review courses. All of the courses provide the materials you need to be able to pass the exam. The key is you have to actually study and learn the material over a 2.5 to 3 months period since so much of the information builds on itself.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So ya need a bar program: Barbri, Kaplan, Themis, Self, etc

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:54 am

I already paid the $50 deposit for BarBri during my 1L year. The full price for my state is $3,895(!). I just realized that Themis offers a public interest discount at the very reasonable price of $1195. I've used and liked Themis materials for the MPRE, and I'm thinking of switching over. Any viable reason to stick with BarBri? Will Themis refund my BarBri deposit? Keep in mind that I am in the bottom half of the class and thus more likely to fail the bar which is why I am kind of apprehensive of taking a less-established course. Any perspective from Themis bar passers would be appreciated.

Also, is Themis all-online or do you have to go to the lectures? I'd prefer not to have to commute into the city each day to watch a video.




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