Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

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Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 30, 2019 5:27 pm

Hi all,

I've become increasingly frustrated with Barbri and some other supplements I'm using (Studicata, Critical Pass flashcards, Seperac). No matter how much I review, it seems that the MBE practice questions I'm doing ask questions that are not even covered in the materials! For instance, CivPro seems to pretty extensively track the FRCP, yet most test prep companies continue to show you just what they believe is going to be on the exam. While this may be enough to pass, it frustrates me to be completely baffled by a question, purely because I had never come across the rule in my study materials. I feel like I'm better off just reviewing the FRCP itself for some of these questions. Anyone have any advice for this dilemma, or suggestions for better prep materials?

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rcharter1978

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby rcharter1978 » Mon Dec 30, 2019 5:39 pm

Are your review materials giving you state specific civ pro questions for the MBEs because that would be weird.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby Bluex12 » Mon Dec 30, 2019 5:41 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:Are your review materials giving you state specific civ pro questions for the MBEs because that would be weird.


No, I'm mainly using the Barbri Conviser Mini Review for a UBE jurisdiction. All my other materials are for UBE as well. Just frustrating to have to add in material to the outlines based on wrong MBE answers.. I feel like I should go into the MBE questions equipped, rather than relying on taking a bunch of MBE questions just to make sure I fill in all the gaps in my commercial outlines.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby Halp » Mon Dec 30, 2019 6:44 pm

You’re going to have a few gaps and will inevitably miss questions because of it. It’s a question of efficiency - you don’t want perfect mastery of all of the subjects. You want to know enough about enough. I had the same worry as you, but IMO the key is to trust BarBri - they really do know what they’re doing with predicting what the bar will ask. BarBri absolutely does not underprepare you in my experience. My vote is “trust the program.” I would not do anything beyond BarBri, Critical Pass, and MAYBE some additional real MBE questions if you really struggle with those.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby TLSposter1990 » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:48 am

Agreed that you need to trust Barbri. It is natural to feel how you are feeling at this stage. Barbri’s practice questions tend to test around the “edges” of the material, but with enough time you’ll see that they are intentionally doing this to drill this certain patterns and information into your brain. All of my classmates and I were very frustrated with Barbri’s system until about 3-4 weeks out when it all seemed to come together. Stay the course, try to get through most of Barbri’s materials (between 80-100%, supplementing with critical pass if desired), and you will be fine.

Good luck!

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Thu Jan 02, 2020 3:30 pm

Here's the thing: that will always happen. Start thinking of the questions as another way to learn the law. Don't get too upset when you answer a question incorrectly--just learn whatever that question was intending to teach. You learn the law both from the outlines and the questions, and it's very unlikely that something will show up on the exam that was not in either the outlines or the practice questions you've completed!

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby fckthebar » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:03 pm

OP, I have a different opinion only because I work with people every day who "trusted the process" and failed. Barbri does not use NCBE licensed materials to my knowledge. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) creates the MBE. NCBE materials are the only reliable ones for practicing MBEs. That's why I will only give my coaching clients authentic and reliable MBEs to use for practice. You can buy them lots of places, including directly from the NCBE.

If you are not using NCBE licensed MBE questions (and not the old ones - the recent ones), then the real MBE you take will not feel like your practice questions. It will be different/harder.

As far as improving MBE subject understanding specifically, I think that the Law in a Flash flashcards by Emanuel are phenomenal. If you read through them, you will understand the minutiae of the law in the same way that the MBE tests. Then you just need to do a lot of MBE practice (with real MBEs only). I also recommend Strategies & Tactics for the MBE because of the strategies portion of the book which is great.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby sleeplessindc » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi all,

I've become increasingly frustrated with Barbri and some other supplements I'm using (Studicata, Critical Pass flashcards, Seperac). No matter how much I review, it seems that the MBE practice questions I'm doing ask questions that are not even covered in the materials! For instance, CivPro seems to pretty extensively track the FRCP, yet most test prep companies continue to show you just what they believe is going to be on the exam. While this may be enough to pass, it frustrates me to be completely baffled by a question, purely because I had never come across the rule in my study materials. I feel like I'm better off just reviewing the FRCP itself for some of these questions. Anyone have any advice for this dilemma, or suggestions for better prep materials?


You should actually review the National Conference of Bar Examiners' MBE (and MEE) topics outline and make sure you've at least covered all the listed topics at some point. Focusing on the Barbri Conviser review as my main skeleton outline and supplementing it with a variety of sources -- including practice questions from NCBE as well as other sources from which I learned a rule for the first time -- worked well for me. That said, study outlines will unavoidably miss some rules that will come up on the exam, because they are outlines and not horn books/treatises.

Also, personally it was helpful to approach the bar exam with a mindset to comfortably pass, not to exhaustively memorize and ace everything that might potentially come up on the exam. Not only is the latter not humanly feasible (if not an absurd goal for those of us who studied part-time due to a full-time job and other personal obligations), it is a poor use of your time given that the UBE disproportionately covers some topics much more than others. For example, if you're spending equal amounts of time studying charitable immunity and negligence, you're doing it wrong. (Personally I also thought life is too short to dwell on the topics that I hated; adequately cover those and move on.)

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:04 am

fckthebar wrote:OP, I have a different opinion only because I work with people every day who "trusted the process" and failed. Barbri does not use NCBE licensed materials to my knowledge. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) creates the MBE. NCBE materials are the only reliable ones for practicing MBEs. That's why I will only give my coaching clients authentic and reliable MBEs to use for practice. You can buy them lots of places, including directly from the NCBE.

If you are not using NCBE licensed MBE questions (and not the old ones - the recent ones), then the real MBE you take will not feel like your practice questions. It will be different/harder.


Barbri and Themis have pretty stellar pass rates. The fact that you exclusively work with people who failed using those programs doesn't mean that the programs are deficient; it just means that you only see the failures. And as far as I know, both Barbri and Themis use real past questions mixed with their own (usually harder) question sets.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby HamlinMcgill » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:03 am

I think the problem that OP is really identifying here is that the MBE tests practically an infinite amount of material. That's not really BarBri's fault. It is frustrating to spend hours and hours with the BarBri materials on a subject, and then you do a practice test that asks something that BarBri never covered. It feels unfair. But unfortunately, that's how the real exam is.

The good news is you don't need to get 100% on the MBE. You don't even to get 80%. You only need 60%-67% (depending on the state). So if you're comfortable with the material on the BarBri outlines (or the ones from Themis or any other reputable prep company), then you'll be fine. You'll still get questions on the real exam that seem totally out of left field. But I don't think there's really another option. You can't just memorize the entire FRCP, all of the restatements, and all of the important Supreme Court decisions of all time. It's just not possible. You need to rely on something that directs you to the material that's most likely to be tested.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby Cmal123 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:01 pm

I had some of the same concerns. But every now and then your going to get a MBE question that comes out of left field. Adaptibar really helped me with this because there are so many questions like that on there. Once I got the answer wrong the first time (and was like wtf) it stuck with me and I was able to spot same issues in other fact patterns.

Above all though, it is a good idea to supplement your study materials and add things as they present themselves, but do not go crazy with it. You will steer off the bar prep course and fall behind on what is most important. Like everyone else has said, the test prep companies are the experts so do (most) of what they tell you to do.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby Pmason#1 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 5:59 am

I saw you are using Seperac. I have heard so many great things about his outlines. Which one did you purchase and how do you like it? I saw he has one just based on the OPE and study aid questions and also outlines and rules. Just curious if you like them? I’m looking for something to help me out on the MBE.
Last edited by cavalier1138 on Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby hooliganlawyer » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:46 am

I feel absolutely the same way. With all due respect, “just trust the X you’ll be fine” attitude is not only a fallacy, it’s also a dangerous suggestion. It’s like saying, “trust your navigation school’s charts, they may be incomplete but 90 percent of the time they will get you where you want because “Everybody” say so. No. This is purely anecdotal. What if you actually need more detailed maps due to other intervening issues? What if you are the 10 percent?
One prepares as best as one can, then throws herself to the gods of luck.

In any case, you’ll find this “not really completeness” is only pertaining to Civ. Pro. I can assure you Seperac is the ultimate outline for every topic other than Civ. Pro. Having said that, I’d still take Seperac outline as the core of all MBE subjects. Besides, I think Joe genuinely cares. I emailed the guy on a 6 am Sunday with this and that question; he answered my question in detail in the afternoon (seriously?). At the time I was not even an active subscriber. In any case, every source, I mean every source is lacking in relation to Civ. Pro. for the simplest of reasons: Subject is still brand new for MBE. It will take a decade for bar prep materials to catch up. Solution? Do what you are doing. Step by step, category by category, go back and forth to practice answer explanations (whatever q. bank), and indeed fill in the blanks. Also, as Strat. & Tact’s state, I think we may need to read the FRCP rules and minutiae too. I was thinking about concluding the post with an Admiral Nelson quote but I was scared to geek-nuke this joyful forum.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:23 pm

hooliganlawyer wrote:With all due respect, “just trust the X you’ll be fine” attitude is not only a fallacy, it’s also a dangerous suggestion. It’s like saying, “trust your navigation school’s charts, they may be incomplete but 90 percent of the time they will get you where you want because “Everybody” say so. No. This is purely anecdotal. What if you actually need more detailed maps due to other intervening issues? What if you are the 10 percent?


It's weird that you classify statistics as anecdotal, but be that as it may...

Bar prep is an extremely stressful time, even more so for most test-takers because they have no idea what to expect or what level of prep is "good enough." This creates the perfect opportunity for "supplemental" bar study companies to sell their products. Sure, the success rates for established programs like Barbri and Themis show that almost everyone who completes the course passes, but what if you--person who is extremely likely to suffer from impostor syndrome--aren't almost everyone? What if you're not as competent as everyone else taking the exam? To be safe, you'd better shell out an extra few bucks on our patented flashcards/essay kits/ouija boards.

People should be encouraged to trust that they know which study methods work best for them. But it's not at all dangerous (much less fallacious) to suggest that the vast majority of people will pass the bar if they stick to a reputable prep company's program. Your anecdotal experience notwithstanding, that statement is true for, well, the vast majority of test-takers.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby hooliganlawyer » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:26 pm

The gist of my post was about combining any material a person finds useful to her own satisfaction and comfort. I did not say X bar prep is bad, Z bar prep is good. I did say: use any source, including the law itself. I did not say don’t believe. I did say be cautious.

If information is not independently verifiable, it is anecdotal. Period. Also, anecdotal does not mean “lying.” Calling claims or statements “anecdotal” is neither rude, nor can imply any sort of character trait, skill, or disorder. On the other hand, belittling people’s choices, or calling them names and demeaning comments about their capabilities is not the “skillful” way of making your point. Perhaps it is the spirit of the times.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby QContinuum » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:39 pm

hooliganlawyer wrote:If information is not independently verifiable, it is anecdotal. Period.

No, that's actually not how "anecdotal" is defined. Something that's "anecdotal" is something that's based on personal accounts rather than facts or research. Hard data, such as the bar prep companies' published statistics, are not "anecdotal" merely because you weren't able to personally confirm it.

hooliganlawyer wrote:In any case, every source, I mean every source is lacking in relation to Civ. Pro. for the simplest of reasons: Subject is still brand new for MBE. It will take a decade for bar prep materials to catch up.

And what exactly do you base this very dubious assertion on? Why would it take "a decade" for bar prep companies to adequately cover Civ Pro? Do you realize Civ Pro has always been a bar subject, well before it was added to the MBE?

hooliganlawyer wrote:I think we may need to read the FRCP rules and minutiae too.

This is terrible advice. No bar prepper, regardless of study style or personality, should waste their limited time and energy perusing the FRCP. That would be enormously counterproductive.

hooliganlawyer wrote:On the other hand, belittling people’s choices, or calling them names and demeaning comments about their capabilities is not the “skillful” way of making your point. Perhaps it is the spirit of the times.

Nice strawman. No one has "belittled" you, "called you names", or made "demeaning comments about your capabilities".

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:57 pm

hooliganlawyer wrote:The gist of my post was about combining any material a person finds useful to her own satisfaction and comfort. I did not say X bar prep is bad, Z bar prep is good. I did say: use any source, including the law itself. I did not say don’t believe. I did say be cautious.

If information is not independently verifiable, it is anecdotal. Period. Also, anecdotal does not mean “lying.” Calling claims or statements “anecdotal” is neither rude, nor can imply any sort of character trait, skill, or disorder. On the other hand, belittling people’s choices, or calling them names and demeaning comments about their capabilities is not the “skillful” way of making your point. Perhaps it is the spirit of the times.


In addition to what Q said, I'm not sure where you see name-calling or demeaning comments in my post.

And just to be clear, you did, in fact, say that recommending someone follow a reputable bar prep program was "dangerous" advice. So you don't really need to say that specific programs are good or bad to still be wrong.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby hooliganlawyer » Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:10 pm

I started feeling like I am in the Twilight Zone.

I am remotely diagnosed with “impostor syndrome,” I lack the skill etc., and the classiest was that I ended up being a “straw man,” all in only a few hours. Hey, at least you did not descend to that level, thanks for that.

Believing In something without inquiry is not dangerous, it is the safest course of action. All this happened because I said not to believe in any unverifiable claim (including mine).

I feebly attempted to say that virtually every material is somewhat lacking in detail for Civ. Pro. due to just being a a new subject. And of course, don’t even look at the FRCP, that part was the silliest. There is no time. Again, I am so sorry.

Now I am retracting all what I said. I was wrong. Commercial Bar Reviews and all the other magic supplement providers are the prophets of the bar examination. Furthermore, now I feel amazing! Thanks for the support! Let me go back to studying.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby QContinuum » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:15 pm

hooliganlawyer wrote:I am remotely diagnosed with “impostor syndrome,” I lack the skill etc., and the classiest was that I ended up being a “straw man,” all in only a few hours. Hey, at least you did not descend to that level, thanks for that.

No one "diagnosed" you with "impostor syndrome" or claimed you "lack the skill", let alone called you a "straw man". If that's how you honestly read my and cavalier's posts, I recommend English tutoring on an emergency basis. Reading comprehension is critical for passing the bar. If you're being serious here, it may make sense to improve your English skills before you tackle bar prep.

hooliganlawyer wrote:I feebly attempted to say that virtually every material is somewhat lacking in detail for Civ. Pro. due to just being a a new subject.

Again, as stated above, Civ Pro is not a "new" bar subject. It's always been on the bar. And even if it was actually a "new" bar subject, there's really no reason to believe it'd take the bar companies an entire decade to figure out how to cover it.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:56 pm

hooliganlawyer wrote:I started feeling like I am in the Twilight Zone.


You aren't the only one.

As Q said, I can't really help you if you don't understand the rhetoric of the prior posts (or what a strawman is). But just to clarify: have you ever taken the bar before? Your posts make it sound like you're studying, but it's not clear if it's your first time.

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Re: Frustration with Bar Prep Materials

Postby TX_Law4316 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:02 pm

Cmal123 wrote:I had some of the same concerns. But every now and then your going to get a MBE question that comes out of left field. Adaptibar really helped me with this because there are so many questions like that on there. Once I got the answer wrong the first time (and was like wtf) it stuck with me and I was able to spot same issues in other fact patterns.

Above all though, it is a good idea to supplement your study materials and add things as they present themselves, but do not go crazy with it. You will steer off the bar prep course and fall behind on what is most important. Like everyone else has said, the test prep companies are the experts so do (most) of what they tell you to do.



I sat for the Texas Bar this past July and used Barbri, Adaptibar, Critical Pass and Emanuel's MBE Bar Review book. Very glad that I used the last three supplements in addition to Barbri. It was mentioned above, but Barbri uses simulated MBE questions. TO get a wider net on MBE questions, it helps to study both Barbri and Adaptibar. Towards the end, I stopped using Barbri for MBE and did 50 Adaptibar questions a day.


I will also agree with the posts above about imposter syndrome. We all feel it during the bar -- that we are the exception to the rule and that Barbri's predictions and metrics will not apply in our case. I was relieved to discover that Barbri's statistics for my scores at the halfway point of bar prep panned out in the end with a passing score. The numbers show that it will hold true for you, too. It may not, but it is in your interest to plan that way. Best of luck!

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