Graduation marks the end of grueling law school exams… and the beginning of preparing for the worst exam of your life.

Most recent grads are heading straight from law school classes into bar exam prep classes, and so 3Ls have been bombarded for the last nine months with spam informational emails from bar prep companies touting their costs, features and success rates.

A new entrant into the bar prep field this year is BarMax, an iPhone-based course that’s significantly cheaper than BAR/BRI and Kaplan. In better times, when graduates could count on new employers to foot the bill for prep courses, they likely wouldn’t have considered a tele-course, but the high numbers of grads without firm jobs may bode well for the app.

How will having a cheap choice affect the market? And how does one decide between the options?

Kaplan and Bar/BRI are competitors when it comes to selling you their product, although they have allegedly cooperated before (inspiring a class-action suit). An enterprising young JD/MBA has produced some helpful charts comparing Kaplan, BAR/BRI, and BarMax, which he shared with us.

UPDATE: Here is a revised version, per additional information from Kaplan:


How will the Southwest of bar exam courses affect the market? Well, BAR/BRI has already made some changes to its pricing model:

Those are the cold, hard numbers. What about actual bar exam studying advice? One ATL reader who breezed through the NY exam in July 2007 says:

While I did well in law school, I did not graduate at the top of my class and have never been a fantastic test taker. That said, I took the NY Bar Exam in July of 2007 and thought it was easy. The key to passing is: attitude, preparation, and writing ability.

  • For the essays it is important to remember that you don’t have to memorize the law, you can figure it out as you go and even get points for stating an incorrect law if you write coherently and use facts to back your statements.
  • Simplicity wins the day. Literally, every essay on my test included a statement such as, “According to NY CPL, the law is ____. In this case, the court would rule ____ because the plaintif ____(facts).”
  • Don’t create outlines or flashcards on your own (unless that is more important to our learning process than using the outline/flashcards). I bought outlines and flashcards off the web and it did me right.
  • Don’t skimp on money for courses, materials, or convenience items. Seriously, you just spent a ton on law school and now you’re worried about a $10- taxi ride or meal?
  • Check out the real statistics of your exam. NY and California appear to have horrible passing rates, but upon closer examination one realizes that the passage rate for first time test takers, educated in the US, who attended an ABA accredited school is closer to 80% than the average passing rate of 60%.
  • There is an advantage to taking the course with friends so that the course is not entirely about law. A friend and I took the course together at a different law school than our own and had a good time. We did some studying together and enjoyed many Starbucks (only option) and conversation as we made fun of gunners rushing off to study. We both passed with flying colors.

Successful bar exam takers, your fellow almost-lawyers would appreciate advice and opinions about the prep courses, in the comments.

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Mike Ghaffary, the JD/MBA Behind the $1,000 Bar Exam iPhone App
Bar Exam Open Thread: Reviewing Bar Review

Disclosure: Kaplan and BarMax are ATL advertisers. And we enjoyed the Barbri Girl video, a finalist in our 2009 law revue video contest.


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