Barmax: Product review

avatarz
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:16 am

Barmax: Product review

Postby avatarz » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:06 pm

I’m providing this review because when I was looking into bar review programs, I couldn’t find all that much written about BarMax. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to answer them and incorporate them into the review.

About me: I’m an evening law student at what was a T20 law school in the top 10% of my class. I worked through all of school and all but one week of bar study. I thankfully passed the July 2017 DC bar – ****edit ***** I recieved my score and it was a scaled MBE score of 162.7 and written score of 151.3.

I. tl;dr review

Barmax is an affordable bar review program with potential as well as many trade offs. If you are self-driven and want to save money, it is a reasonable path to take.

II. Lectures

This is the core of what you buy in a program like BarMax instead of just one of those MBE question banks. The CivPro lecture (the free one) is deceptively good. The rest of the lectures fluctuate in quality. A number of them are by Mehran Ebadolahi (BarMax’s founder) rather than an actual law professor. Also, (when I took it) some of the lectures are old (e.g. one mentioned that gay marriage wasn’t yet the law). BarMax updated the outlines during the July 2017 bar exam with new information but that information was not reflected in the lectures. A few of the lectures deviated substantially from the outline or repeated themselves a number of times.

One of the things I really liked about BarMax was that it only provided approximately 50 hours of lecture, focusing on the materials most likely to be tested. I can’t imagine that the 300+ hours of lectures provided by other bar studying programs would have been beneficial.

III. Digital Flash Cards

I felt these were a bait and switch. Similar to the CivPro lecture, the CivPro flash cards were great. The criminal flash cards were great too. But after that, the rest of the lectures’ flash cards were simply the skeleton outline put into a flash card format. The “flash card” text even still had the roman numerals on them. There were also no flash cards for most of the MEE topics.

I personally don’t care much for digital flash cards. But, if BarMax wants to say it is offering them, it should actually offer flash cards instead of outlines.

IV. Software

As of now BarMax only available on iOS and their website. It’s very important to know that the information does NOT SYNC between those two platforms. So, if you hope to do your bar review on your phone and on your computer at home, it’ll be very complicated to know where you are.
BarMax says an Android version is forthcoming but I wouldn’t hold out for it. I bought an iPad specifically to use for BarMax. The app crashed all the time and I was never able to figure out how to fix it. The tech support provided was not helpful – generally I was told to uninstall and install it again (which did not fix the problem).

The website worked well most of the time, though it could be flaky. Regularly, the lecture would load but half of the outline wouldn’t be there; refreshing the website generally fixed this quickly. Similarly, there would often be a minute or more lag when starting up MBE questions or changing from test mode to study mode.

BarMax’s MBE (website) analytics were down most of the July 2017 bar exam prep period. I saw it working about 12 days out from the bar. The data breakdown it gives is great. It breaks down each MBE subject area into further sub categories; however, you cannot use this to drill the questions that you need to improve in – a big oversight IMHO.

When you want to practice MBE questions you are presented with the option of MBE questions by subject area, the 4 OPT tests, and all questions. You cannot exclude questions you have already answered, you cannot exclude OPT questions (to save them for practice tests), and you cannot select by the sub areas mentioned in the MBE analytics. This is an area in obvious need of improvement and it seems that the underlying data is already in the BarMax system. Hopefully this is something they can improve.

V. MBEs

The BarMax provided explanations to the MBE questions were generally good.

The one glaring issue was that for the July 2017 bar there were only 17 CivPro questions. I understand that they only use real bar questions but I wish they had provided some fake ones. Even though I studied it specifically extensively and looked at many essay questions, CivPro is the one area I felt under prepared in after the exam and it was tested heavily. This is an issue that should resolve as more CivPro questions become available.

VI. Support

If support is critical for you, I recommend against BarMax. I called a number of times for technical support issues and spoke with two or three different people. They could never give me a timeline on the resolution of my issue nor did they ever seem particularly interested in resolving it.
With regards to substantive legal question support, I submitted a number of questions on MBE questions on its forum. BarMax answered some of them but never answered others – I can’t tell you why some were answered and others were ignored. I saw them answering many questions but also many questions over a year old that were never answered.

There was no proactive outreach from the BarMax team (which I didn’t expect) like there is in Themis, Kaplan, etc… BarMax will only work for independently motivated studiers.

VII. MEE/MPT

BarMax provides you with all the MPTs and MEEs from 20+ years of exams. The answers are clear and extensive so I have no complaints here. As I said, I didn’t use their grading service at all so I can’t comment on it.

There was a little lecture on both the MEE/MPT that I thought was at least somewhat beneficial.

VIII. Conclusion

In all, I’m happy I used BarMax. I felt like it gave me good value for what I was paying. Understand that you’re buying a program made by what seems to be a very small shop (the owner does lectures, tech support, and answers MBE forum questions) so don’t expect it to be anything past what it is at the moment you buy it.
Last edited by avatarz on Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

S0M21L
Posts: 54
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:02 pm

Re: Barmax: Product review

Postby S0M21L » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:22 pm

I used Barmax to prepare for the UBE. I passed in my jurisdiction. Outside of my subscription to Barmax, I have no other affiliation with Barmax, so here are some of my thoughts.

I used Barmax through the IOS app on an Ipod touch. Unlike some Ipad users, I did not experience an "app. crash" using Barmax on an Ipod touch, nor did I have to reinstall the Barmax IOS app on my Ipod touch. I simply used the internet to download the Barmax material to the Ipod touch, and then I'd use the Barmax program without internet access. I (actually) really enjoyed the portability of Barmax on the Ipod touch, and the interface, which worked well in landscape mode. For example, I'd listen to Barmax audio lectures (up to 2x speed), pause, rewind the lecture and listen again if necessary, and then review the Barmax outline of that material. This process of repetition, without switching screens, helped reinforce key concepts. Barmax MBE analytics through the IOS app requires you to be connected to the internet for the MBE analytics to update through the IOS app.

Outlines: succinct and thoughtfully organized. Updates to the outlines appeared in a different colored text.

MBE Questions: You could answer MBE questions related to your lecture, immediately thereafter. You could also just drill MBE questions themselves. Questions included a built-in, count-down timer for each question. I liked the "official" Barmax answer explanations in practice mode. I appreciated the forum where users asked specific questions about a particular MBE question and Barmax would answer those questions. I found the answers helpful in learning the material.

I had the opportunity to use Barmax through their website, which I found very easy to use and navigate.

I received a couple of Barmax essay critiques, which I found detailed and helpful. (According to Barmax, the essay feedback is from "former bar exam graders.") Barmax only uses real, released, MBE, MEE and MPT questions from the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The price of the Barmax UBE program is great. They offer payment plans. Barmax claims that you can access your course material for your lifetime once paid.

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ndbigdave
Posts: 234
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2015 12:25 am

Re: Barmax: Product review

Postby ndbigdave » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:31 am

I wanted to add my two cents to the conversation as I also used BarMax as my primary study tool for both Michigan (July 2015) and Illinois (July 2017) where I passed.

I want to add a few points that had not been addressed:

#1 - When you pay for BarMax you OWN IT. Meaning you can use it again if you wish to take another jurisdiction or in the event you didnt pass. You dont have to keep paying again and again (see: basically all other programs)

#2 - BarMax has continued to evolve since the time I bought the program in 2015. There are now better tracking/analytic tools for following your progress with the questions. It isnt quite as nice as Adaptibar, but it gets the job done and ostensibly does the same thing - meaning you dont have to buy adaptibar.

#3 - Though there is only an app for iOS for now, any smartphone can take you to the website where the audio lectures and questions can be found which means you can use your Android device without issue (its what I did for my Illinois bar).

#4 - I have never been a flashcard user, but I can confirm that they arent great and amount to the skeleton outline being copied and pasted onto digital "cards" it can serve a purpose, but it definitely feels like a tacked on after thought.

#5 - I personally though the lectures were excellent. As with any program you will find certain lectuerers more entertaining or with more or less annoying voices, but I think the program does a good job of breaking each larger subject down into subtopics and lecturing for a reasonable amount of time with outlines that are bare-bones and to the point. I liked that I could listen to them on my phone, at my desk and while I went for walks. I felt very comfortable setting the speed to 1.5x or 2.0x and still being able to comprehend - it meant I got through the material more quickly while also being able to re-listen to lectures again.

#6 - BarMax + SmartBar Prep tools is likely as comprehensive/effective of a combo as I can think of while being less than half the price of any traditional program. You get access to roughly 50 hours of audio lectures, all released MBE questions (+Explanations) tracking tools for your MBE progress (similar to but less robust than Adaptibar) the SmartBar prep tools give you long outlines for all of the MEE subjects (which obviously includes MBE subjects) but also their "attack sheets" which are condensed outlines for every subject going from 2 pages to as long as perhaps 10 which are great for those final weeks when you just want to keep it simple but still get a complete overview. The best part? You OWN all of the materials you purchase, it isnt just a limited time license.

I firmly believe if a exam taker got through ALL of the released questions on BarMax while reading all of the explanations, utilizing the tracking tools to recognize strengths/weaknesses (to direct your studying) + thoughtfully listening (and relistening to lectures) the taker would have no issue hitting a passing score on the MBE. SmartBar Prep's tools I reccomend for giving the material necessary for the other half of the UBE or for the essay portion in your state.

I thoroughly endorse the program and can speak from experience that it works, the quality is high and the value is high.

Mobster1983
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:39 pm

Re: Barmax: Product review

Postby Mobster1983 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:23 pm

I am taking the UBE in February (passed in my non-UBE state in July) and looking mainly for video letures to listen to while commuting. It seems like I can get Barmax for $500 (military) and price is one of my main concerns. I still have my Barbri materials and barely got through any of them so plan to use those practice tests (baby came during bar prep so only made it through about 20%).

I have heard mixed reviews about Barmax (even in this thread). I read some reviews saying some of the lectures were just reading the outline and were not very good. I would like some decent lectures with examples since that is how I tend to absord material best.

Looking for a little more feedback on the quality of the lectures for Barmax.




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