Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

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RSN

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Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby RSN » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:00 pm

3L here realizing I probably should stop procrastinating and actually figure out bar prep. I've totally ignored the companies tabling at my school and sending me emails until now, but I guess they all raise their prices at the end of the month, so I should probably start looking at my options, much as it pains me to do.

Is there some guide or conventional wisdom on advantages/disadvantages of the major providers, pros and cons of classroom vs. online, and/or other things that I should know but don't know to ask? I've been searching around for something centralized and comprehensive but haven't found anything yet, and my school is not super helpful, to say the least. Have talked to a few recent graduates and friends but they mostly can only tell me about their own experiences, which are generally fine. I apologize if there's some giant stickied thread I'm missing or something, but hopefully starting a new one will be helpful for other people in the same spot who could benefit from some TLS group wisdom.

Thanks!

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:24 pm

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby gta » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:31 pm

I did Barbri and had some friends do Themis. I don't know anyone who did Kaplan.

Barbri and Themis seemed pretty similar. If you're paying yourself, go with the cheapest, which will be Themis.

If the money's all the same because of firm billing or something, I thought Barbri was pretty good and based on what my friends had to say about some Themis stuff, I'd probably pick Barbri if I went back and did it again. I think Themis doesn't send physical books, but Barbri does, which gives more flexibility if you want to do some PQs without a screen or Internet connection.
Last edited by gta on Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby sparkytrainer » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:31 pm

BigZuck wrote:Themis


Really? My firm isn't paying per say, we get a general bonus that we then pay for relocation, bar fees, etc and dont get reimbursed. So I am trying to keep my costs low to save some cash. Themis is significantly cheaper than Barbri. You would recommend?

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Slytherpuff » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:47 pm

Themis can be great even if your firm fronts the cost for you - you get taxed on your bar review course so cheaper would still be better. You get physical books still, but the flexibility of having the course designed to be 100% online is pretty nice.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Estecontre » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:55 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Themis


Really? My firm isn't paying per say, we get a general bonus that we then pay for relocation, bar fees, etc and dont get reimbursed. So I am trying to keep my costs low to save some cash. Themis is significantly cheaper than Barbri. You would recommend?


I would definitely recommend Themis. They do send physical books, but if you have a tablet they have all the content online if that's your kind of thing. I would download the pages and read them if I was on the go or out of town. Their videos are short and make it easy to go through.

At the end of the day, not much changes between the companies except the lectures, questions, and order of the material. It's all going to depend on how you like to study and how you plan to retain the material. People pass and fail all the time with each company and people will say both good and bad things about each. I mainly just needed the material because I just read and re-read their outlines in order to memorize the law.

I would also highly recommend getting supplements if you can afford it (Adaptibar, Rigos, etc.)

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Madmen321 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:12 pm

Not sure if there still doing it but Themis gave me an iPad when I signed up which was sweet. Firm paid for it so you do get taxed but a free iPad is worth paying a few additional bucks in taxes. Probably not relevant if your paying out of pocket or with a stipend since the cost of the iPad is basically added to the course.

Also, Themis will give you text copies of there outlines and the benchmark PTs everything else is online though.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby jdk » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:24 pm

The conventional wisdom is that you are the primary variable.

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RCSOB657

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby RCSOB657 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:42 pm

I wanted more structure than themis, but didn't think barbri was in my price range. Kaplan it is.

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RSN

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby RSN » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:48 pm

Thanks for the feedback so far from everyone. Definitely very helpful.

RCSOB657 wrote:I wanted more structure than themis, but didn't think barbri was in my price range. Kaplan it is.


Can you elaborate here on what you mean by more structure? I thought I had read that Themis was the one that gives you daily schedules of stuff to do, but maybe I'm confusing that with another one.

I also see very few Kaplan mentions here besides this one. I recall that their reputation is not great for LSAT prep, but I'm curious if that carries over into bar review.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby RCSOB657 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 7:53 pm

RSN wrote:Thanks for the feedback so far from everyone. Definitely very helpful.

RCSOB657 wrote:I wanted more structure than themis, but didn't think barbri was in my price range. Kaplan it is.


Can you elaborate here on what you mean by more structure? I thought I had read that Themis was the one that gives you daily schedules of stuff to do, but maybe I'm confusing that with another one.

I also see very few Kaplan mentions here besides this one. I recall that their reputation is not great for LSAT prep, but I'm curious if that carries over into bar review.


Themis, as it currently stands, is self-driven.

Barbri and Kaplan have their own versions of in-person classes. I prefer learning this way.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:57 pm

You learn bar exam by learning bar exam. A good chunk of that is self-taught/self-study. If you think that going to class and just relying on these programs to get you a passing grade is the way to be then you're halfway toward failing already.

Anyway the correct answer is Themis and anyone who says otherwise is wrong and not to be trusted.

/thread

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Stalemated » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:02 am

Anecdotal, but BARBRI's essay book for my state was just awful. We had a character limit on our essays, and BARBRI's "model" answers routinely exceeded three times that limit.

Not helpful at all seeing model answers that are literally impossible to even structurally imitate on the bar.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:22 am

BigZuck wrote:You learn bar exam by learning bar exam. A good chunk of that is self-taught/self-study. If you think that going to class and just relying on these programs to get you a passing grade is the way to be then you're halfway toward failing already.

To the extent that this implies you should be doing more/other than what's assigned in your bar prep course, though, I disagree. To the extent that self study means actually completing what's assigned and that you have to put in the effort to memorize stuff, I agree.

Also lots of people took Kaplan when I was going through it and liked it fine and all passed. Kaplan for the bar is fine and not like Kaplan for the LSAT. Of course, Themis was super new and not trusted yet at that point. Themis is great too.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby NoDayButToday » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:34 am

I did Barbri and found it miserable and unengaging. The way it gauged progress made me feel like I was never doing enough. Unengaging because 4 hour lecture videos, which left me worn out, followed by a long evaluation on the subject. I studied with some Themis people and they seemed much less miserable. I got the impression they had 20 minute videos on discrete topics, followed by exercises on the subject. That appeals to me a lot because that's about how long my attention span is when I'm trying to focus really hard on something. Seems more pedagogically sound, too. So, if I could do it again, I would do Themis.
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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby diogenes89 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:59 am

For my school and state (TN), it was really just a two-horse race between BARBRI and Kaplan.

Most people, including myself, went with BARBRI. They did a fairly great job of prepping us for the essay portion with the materials, though a couple of the lectures left something to be desired. Still, everything was up-to-date in terms of nuances of state law. Compare that with Kaplan, whose materials were discovered to be 2+ years behind in terms of some of the little nuances that get you points. For instance, under Tennessee's Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the cutoff for applicability is 75k residents in a county. Kaplan still had it at its old level of 65k. There were a number of family law-related matters that were outdated. Same for wills.

So, yeah, I think it largely depends on the state or if you're going UBE

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Tony48 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:13 pm

Stalemated wrote:Anecdotal, but BARBRI's essay book for my state was just awful. We had a character limit on our essays, and BARBRI's "model" answers routinely exceeded three times that limit.

Not helpful at all seeing model answers that are literally impossible to even structurally imitate on the bar.


I'd agree with this. One of the BarBri lecturers even said as much. He said that it's impossible to replicate their model answers on the bar and suggested to look at the selected model answers that the bar itself provides. I don't know how other states work, but the Florida Bar provides model answers for past essays (actual submissions) and they are much more concise, compact, and feasible than the lengthy essays BarBri provides.

The only limitation was that the Florida Bar only released answers for essays that covered the last 10 or so year, so you couldn't see all the answers.

Still, it was extremely helpful.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby max_p » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:40 pm

What about Barmax? It's by far the cheapest, so I am a little skeptical. But my firm isn't paying...

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby leib10 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:52 pm

I took Barbri and was a Barbri rep. I felt like their MBE questions were unnecessarily difficult, their essay answers were unreasonably lengthy and detailed, and what was on the practice MBE with Con Law and Civ Pro was NOT what was reflected on the actual test. Plus, the books were difficult to use, the videos were often outdated, the lectures were useless, and there were technical difficulties with the website. Finally, the percentage completion promotes a sense of false security--just because you are studying and completing the course does not mean you are where you need to be.

Texas's results have not come out yet, but I feel like I failed despite completing 100% of Barbri's course. For what you're paying for and what you're getting, go with Themis.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby unlvcrjchick » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:18 pm

I used BarBri for the Nevada Bar 9 years ago and Kaplan’s online course for Utah this past summer and passed using both. Kaplan was half price (Kaplan was $1,800, less the $250 book deposit, so $1,550), and I felt I was getting a comparable course to BarBri. Can’t speak to Themis but I would go with a company that is more well known, and that would be Kaplan. But then, my firm paid for Kaplan so if money is an issue, then perhaps Themis is fine.

I also recommend the Critical Pass flashcards app for the MBE subjects: I felt these helped me with memorization more than the lecture notes, as well as doing tons of practice MBE questions.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:47 pm

leib10 wrote:I took Barbri and was a Barbri rep. I felt like their MBE questions were unnecessarily difficult, their essay answers were unreasonably lengthy and detailed, and what was on the practice MBE with Con Law and Civ Pro was NOT what was reflected on the actual test. Plus, the books were difficult to use, the videos were often outdated, the lectures were useless, and there were technical difficulties with the website. Finally, the percentage completion promotes a sense of false security--just because you are studying and completing the course does not mean you are where you need to be.

Texas's results have not come out yet, but I feel like I failed despite completing 100% of Barbri's course. For what you're paying for and what you're getting, go with Themis.

Everyone who takes Barbri says this when they come out of the test, and everyone who says this passes.

(I actually thought the Barbri MBE questions were super helpful, but I also took the exam a while ago.)

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby leib10 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 6:17 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
leib10 wrote:I took Barbri and was a Barbri rep. I felt like their MBE questions were unnecessarily difficult, their essay answers were unreasonably lengthy and detailed, and what was on the practice MBE with Con Law and Civ Pro was NOT what was reflected on the actual test. Plus, the books were difficult to use, the videos were often outdated, the lectures were useless, and there were technical difficulties with the website. Finally, the percentage completion promotes a sense of false security--just because you are studying and completing the course does not mean you are where you need to be.

Texas's results have not come out yet, but I feel like I failed despite completing 100% of Barbri's course. For what you're paying for and what you're getting, go with Themis.

Everyone who takes Barbri says this when they come out of the test, and everyone who says this passes.

(I actually thought the Barbri MBE questions were super helpful, but I also took the exam a while ago.)



You bring up a valid point: ultimately, whether you pass or not is the ultimate issue. And my school had a 97% pass rate last July for those who completed 75% or more of their Barbri course, and 100% the year before that. That's ultimately what swayed me in Barbri's direction, since the rest is moot in comparison to the pass rate. For my school, Themis had twice as many people fail last year, even though fewer people overall took Themis.

I was on Law Review, and a bunch of other staff members and myself all took Barbri and studied on the top floor of the library. It was helpful having lots of people around who were taking the same course you were, regardless of whether it was Barbri, Themis, or whatever. OP, no matter what company you choose, bear in mind the advantage you have in taking the same course as your friends and the support system y'all will have with each other being close by for emotional support and help with whatever issues come up in your bar prep course.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:07 pm

I did Themis, and a lot of my friends did Barbri and Themis. From what I know and have heard from others, Themis is better for self study types, because they give you a lot of flexibility with pacing and every lecture is recorded. Barbri is more structured and has in-person classes. Either way, you will study a lot, and usually think that you haven't studied enough at the end of each day. If you go with Themis, you too will learn to hate the Progress Bar. Passed Ohio bar first time, and completed approximately 80-ish percent of Themis material.

Good luck.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby sparkytrainer » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:11 pm

Ohiobumpkin wrote:I did Themis, and a lot of my friends did Barbri and Themis. From what I know and have heard from others, Themis is better for self study types, because they give you a lot of flexibility with pacing and every lecture is recorded. Barbri is more structured and has in-person classes. Either way, you will study a lot, and usually think that you haven't studied enough at the end of each day. If you go with Themis, you too will learn to hate the Progress Bar. Passed Ohio bar first time, and completed approximately 80-ish percent of Themis material.

Good luck.


Does themis at least give you a schedule, such as doing x and y today, z tomorrow? I know Barbri does, but I would like at least a schedule outlined, even if its at your own pace.

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Re: Conventional wisdom on Barbri/Themis/Kaplan/others?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:43 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
Ohiobumpkin wrote:I did Themis, and a lot of my friends did Barbri and Themis. From what I know and have heard from others, Themis is better for self study types, because they give you a lot of flexibility with pacing and every lecture is recorded. Barbri is more structured and has in-person classes. Either way, you will study a lot, and usually think that you haven't studied enough at the end of each day. If you go with Themis, you too will learn to hate the Progress Bar. Passed Ohio bar first time, and completed approximately 80-ish percent of Themis material.

Good luck.


Does themis at least give you a schedule, such as doing x and y today, z tomorrow? I know Barbri does, but I would like at least a schedule outlined, even if its at your own pace.


Yes, Themis gives you daily tasks to complete. It starts off pretty easy, but then by 1/4 through (or less) the program, your daily schedule becomes crazy. Hence, you will learn to hate the progress bar that tells you how much you need to accomplish. At the end of the day, you just need to treat it like a job to study every day, and learn to use your time wisely by focusing on your week points. For example, I was pretty good with civil procedure, contracts, and torts, so I didn't go over that material as much. I knew my weaknesses were in property, commercial law, and criminal procedure, so I spent a lot of time focusing on studying those areas. In the end, I managed to pass on my first take by a comfortable margin on both MBE, MPT, and state essays.



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