Bar Exams, BAR/BRI, pls hndle thx

Pls Hndle Thx: Do You Need to Take a Bar Review Course?

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

Dear ATL,

I’m in my last year of law school and will be taking the bar this summer. I was wondering if you had some advice on the necessity of a bar review course. The opinions I’ve received from friends who have passed the bar has been split. They all say that it helped keep them “on pace” or “forced them to study” which I’m frankly not worried about. Is there going to be enough new law in one year to sink your bar exam if you’re studying from the previous year’s materials?

— Pay to Play

Dear Pay to Play,

Upon realizing that Suze Orman’s Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke was not itself filled with money, I recently sat down with a “financial advisor”…

The advisor asked me why I wasn’t contributing to my 401(k) or saving for retirement. I explained to him that 401(k)s are a scam because if I die before 59 I won’t get to see a dime of it unless I VOLUNTEER to get punished for accessing my own money beforehand. Um, no thanks. My long-term personal investment strategy has been to invest in things like skinny jeans with belted voluminous tops, teeth whitening, designer bags purchased off eBay, ceramic plate flat irons, Spanx, plastic surgery, perfume and other implements of feminine deception that will eventually trick someone repulsively rich into either splitting their retirement with me or at least give me an elective share. I arrived at this strategy when I discovered that being a lawyer wouldn’t make me rich. Not by a long shot.

But you’re not at that point yet. You have your whole demoralizing career ahead of you. You’ve already invested $200,000+ in this whole JD thing. Is another $2,000 for a bar course really going to put you over the top? Failing the bar is like tanking first semester 1L year – that s**t HAUNTS you for the rest of your career. I remember when JFK Jr. died in that plane crash, and the first thing I thought when I heard the news was: um, didn’t that guy fail the bar? Literally twice?

Of course, taking a BAR/BRI class doesn’t guarantee you’ll pass, but just like Princeton Review and the SATs, you have to attend the live sessions AND buy the books, because everybody else is and if you don’t, you’ll be left behind. As it was, I only passed the bar by two points and I took BAR/BRI and PMBR and I wore my lucky Marines t-shirt and I had a deal in place with God. If I had just studied from the previous year’s old, stolen books, I would have most certainly failed. Chilling.

You need every scrap of help you can get on this exam – unless you’re taking the exam in joke states like Montana or Florida – including the help of BAR/BRI live. This will still hold true even if University of Phoenix Chubb Institute DeVry owns it.

I hope this helps.

Your friend,
Marin

Of course you should take a bar prep course. What kind of idiot “friends” do you have who are telling you anything different? You know people who passed the bar exam without taking a course? Or do you have friends who passed the bar and took a course but feel like they didn’t need it?

If it’s the latter, then they have no way of know what might have happened if they had not taken a bar review course. Hell, even the anxiety from trying to study for this thing without doing what 95% of your peers are doing could significantly influence ultimate performance. For all you know, the friends who are advising you to not take a course are secretly hoping you fail so they have one less lawyer to compete with for jobs.

If it’s the former, if you have friends who didn’t take a course and still easily passed, well that’s great. More power to those people.

Now, to sound like your mother: if all your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived, would you jump off of it too? I’ve got friends who drive drunk, I’ve got friends who have unprotected sex with women they’ve just met, and I’ve got friends who go to law school at Cooley.* Just because I have friends who do these things and aren’t dead doesn’t mean doing these things is a good idea!

* I don’t actually have friends who go to Cooley, but the it worked best in the tricolon I was setting up. Style > substance.

As you know, I don’t usually advise people to do what everybody else is doing just because everybody else is doing it, but this is the exception. You know nothing about what the bar is like, how hard or easy it is, or whether or not you’ll take to the material. Lots of smart people fail and lots of dumb people pass.

Why do you think that is? It’s because passing the bar has very little to do with any other intellectual experience in your life. It’s a novel, unnatural experience. Let’s say you spend your days at the firing range and your nights playing Call of Duty. You’d still have no relevant experience to tell you how you would react if somebody dropped you into the middle of a war. You’d need training before you knew how to handle it.

The bar exam is war — war on your brain. Not because it’s particularly difficult, but because the test is trying to kill you. The test doesn’t want you to pass. The test doesn’t want you to show your knowledge. The test wants you to cry, fail, and never try to enter the legal profession again. That’s different than other tests you’ve taken, and the consequences (a stunted or wholly aborted career) are greater than on any other test you’ve taken.

Take. A. Class. Take any of them. Take all of them. Just don’t be such a narcissist. Show some humility in front of the test and let other people help you prepare for it.

— Tool of the test prep establishment… who passed the bar on his first try with no problem.

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

Earlier: Prior editions of Pls Hndle Thx

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87 Responses to “Pls Hndle Thx: Do You Need to Take a Bar Review Course?”

  1. Asian_Bro says:

    Screw bar review, cheat off the Jewish dude.
    Statistically, Asians score worse on bar exams.

  2. Bonobo_Bro says:

    “I’ve got friends who have unprotected sex with women they’ve just met.”

    Is there some reason I should not be doing this Elie?

    • Brosef Stalin says:

      Because the one week waits between taking an STD test and getting a result back have been the six worst weeks of my life…

      – bro who will probably go out and raw dog some slam piece tonight

    • Asian_Bro says:

      It’s a bitch changing your name and social security number every time you want to avoid child support.

  3. The_Haterade says:

    “Style > substance”

    I wonder if anyone is going to have a comment on that little nugget. I cannot tell at this point if Elie is baiting everyone on purpose or not.

    • Bonobo_Bro says:

      I’m thinking the link to Grammar.com means Lat has gone all tiger mother on the big guy; e.g. “no tacos until you finish your grammar and spelling homework Elie!”

  4. dman789555 says:

    Seriously for the asker, play bar reviews off each other if you are worried about cost. Sure, you think now you will safe pace and study fine and not worry about being motivated. I’m sure you will. But the bar reviews have tons of stuff from 1st year of law school that everyone has forgotten the finer points of law on by now. Course it also depends where you take it, like in California where if you pass you dont know how you did, just you passed (couldve been barely or couldve been easily). But do you want to wait another 6 months if you dont? Dont risk it and ask for discounts, this will work if you want one bar review’s services but they are a bit more expensive than another.
    Anyway, the key to the bar is writing anyway, and how you present your answer. Follow an extremely strict IRAC style and you will do fine. Unlike previous important tests in your life (that you also paid much less for!) the bar has only 1 grader per essay typically and they spend SO LITTLE time per essay. Make sure you sound great, right wording, IRAC perfection etc and you should be fine as long as you studied ok. The writing style is more important than forgetting a few points of law.

    • 4mr4L says:

      I have to disagree to dman here. I took and passed the bar (in MA) last year, and I believe that IRAC is just about guaranteed to kill your score. You just don’t have enough time. And, if you look at actual graded answers, they’re nothing like IRAC.

      The MA bar wants you to do 1 thing: “D is guilty of _____ because he _______.” That’s it. They want you to lay out all the crimes that were committed and why. They don’t want a 1L legal analysis. They want you to tell them the who, what and why, then move on. Use the word “because” a lot.

      If you use IRAC, you will simply not have enough time to finish the exam. The BarBri exams have these insanely long answers. Do NOT try and replicate that. Keep it brief, and you’ll be fine.

      Oh, and yeah, if you don’t know something, just make it up. You may actually be right.

      • 4mr4L says:

        Whoops! I have to disagree WITH dman here. Sorry.

      • WickedSmaht says:

        I disagree. I took MA & CT. I think IRAC is an easy way to keep it concise and not get off topic. There is plenty of time to answer each question in MA because you get 36 minutes per essay instead of 30 like CT and many other states. One thing that gave people trouble in MA is that you have a limited number of pages to answer the question. I’m not normally verbose and there was a question or two where I ended on the last page (A problem that I didnt come close to having in CT.)

        And honestly, the best approach is to get a group of friends together and share the cost of barbri and watch the videos online. You’ll have to wait a few days for some videos to appear online but if you’re seriously worried about cost, that is the way to do it. However, w/ barbri you’re also paying for the new materials which is a big consideration. It would be a total mindfuck to go thru all the practice questions using questions that were marked up by someone else, in my opinion.

        • Blahblah says:

          IRAC is gay. HTH.

        • Guest says:

          You can also resell materials when you’re done. I took (and passed) MA a few years after my first bar admittance. I used BAR/BRI for the first bar exam, and just bought study materials for the second.

          If you haven’t already taken a bar exam, study materials aren’t going to help you much. It’s hard to put together a “practice bar exam” and even harder to grade one, so it’s tough to know what you’re actually studying for. Just let BAR/BRI tell you where you’re going – it’s a lot easier, and it should be less stressful.

        • Guest says:

          You can also resell materials when you’re done. I took (and passed) MA a few years after my first bar admittance. I used BAR/BRI for the first bar exam, and just bought study materials for the second.

          If you haven’t already taken a bar exam, study materials aren’t going to help you much. It’s hard to put together a “practice bar exam” and even harder to grade one, so it’s tough to know what you’re actually studying for. Just let BAR/BRI tell you where you’re going – it’s a lot easier, and it should be less stressful.

      • Guesty McGuesterson says:

        I disagree. You absolutely CANNOT pass the bar unless you know the Rule in Dumpor’s Case.

  5. Guest says:

    Trick question. A real bro gets his bar expenses paid for by his firm and doesn’t give a crap about cost.

    • papercup says:

      A real bro uses his bar stipend to go on vacation and passes the bar without having to listen to any miserable lectures from a shitty tv in a classroom somewhere.

  6. Bonobo_Bro says:

    Doesn’t this kid have more important shit to focus on, like planning spring break, a bar trip etc.?

  7. Guest says:

    Not for nothing Elie, but didn’t you just post yesterday how preposterous it is that we need these finishing schools after three years and 100K in tuition at a place called LAW school? I understand though that the reason these things exist is because the ABA frowns on bar review courses being offered in law schools. Teaching the law of your jurisdiction in law school- I can see why that is categorically less important than the class I took on Trans-gender perspectives on the UCC i took in my third year. Thanks for not offering classes to cover the first year CLE requirements too! Again, much less useful in practice than that UCC course.

    But I digress. My advice to the poster is to grow a set and go without. These schools pray on your insecurity. But you did just finish three years of law school and have taken, presumably over a dozen law tests already. This one is no different, just more important. The procedure is the same. Buy a commercial outline and study it until your eyeballs bleed.

    -Guy who wants his two grand back.

    • Bonobo_Bro says:

      Son, we live in a world that has bar exams, and those exams have to be prepared for by men with bar review courses. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, non TTT law school? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for your few grand, and you curse Barbri. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That your loss of a few grand, while tragic, probably saved your chance at joining this shitbox profession. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves bar passage rates. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like deposit, mini review, sample questions. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent teaching kids to pass one of the most pointless tests in the world. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very bar preparation that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a checkbook, and make a deposit. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to

      -Col. Dick Conviser

      • Guest says:

        I direct you to the recent chiding one commenter took for shoe-horning a glengary quote where it did not belong.

        • Bonobo_Bro says:

          I kind of got half way through it and saw it wasn’t going as well as planned but just decided to throw it out there anyway; my apologies if you felt subjected to a sub par, and rather long Few Good Men satire.

        • The_Haterade says:

          And I stand by the fact that the use of Glengarry quotes is an art not a science and not to be taken lightly. A Few Good Men, on the other hand, not the sacred.

    • Guest says:

      The kind of review course you need may depend on whether you’re in a state with an easy bar or hard bar. For the easy states, I have no idea – maybe a commercial outline would be OK. But if you’re in a state with a hard exam, you will probably need a course taught by actual people (or at least, originally taught by people and then recorded). The real courses will probably be better, you’ll be forced to pay attention to subjects you have no interest in and may never use, and they’ll also give you guidance about how to take the exam itself. An outline won’t adequately explain the importance of bringing earplugs, for example (to muffle the sounds of fellow-test-takers’ groans, yelps, and weeping). A written outline may be also be OK for someone who has already taken and passed one bar and is taking another state’s exam, but that’s not your situation.

  8. Savage Manatee says:

    What’s a Bar Exam?

    Elie Mystal;

  9. Jerry Sheindlin says:

    bar bri is key. bar exams are lame and nothing like law school. very little substance, all style. you can pass the bar without knowing much. but you do need how to TAKE the exam and how to phrase stuff so examiners eat it up. gotta give bar bri credit – they could get a monkey ready to pass.

    and if you fail, it’s going to cost you immeasurably as you wait a minimum of aother six months for the chance to become a lawyer, and you’ll wish you spent the 2K.

  10. Lawman23435 says:

    Why is Florida a joke?

    • Bonobo_Bro says:

      Because it’s not NY or Cali, you must be new here.

    • guest says:

      Seriously, I too would like to know why it’s a joke. I’m taking the FL in two weeks. I took and easily passed the AL bar in July without taking a bar prep course (I know, proceed with the jokes about AL being a “stoopid” state), so it would give me peace of mind to know that Marin is not completely talking out of her ass.

  11. The Glass Cock says:

    There is no need to study for the bar exam. Kash didn’t study for it.

  12. Guest says:

    WTF? Unless you went to a POS degree mill (redundant?) like Cooley or Franklin Pierce (even more redundant?), you shouldn’t have learned state tort COAs that will be on the bar. If you did go to said schools, you should take bar review because, let’s face it, you’re not too bright.

  13. Partner Emeritus says:

    When I graduated law school over 43 years ago, there were no commercial bar review courses. I am sure there are a few veteran attorneys who can remember the self-study method. In my opinion, the bar exam, at least for NY, has been dumbed down for the current generation of test takers that are not genetically inclined to do well on these exams. The current pool of law students have it easier, especailly since when I took the bar exam, there were no Thomas Cooley graduates to pollute the bar, which has now become an association of the unwashed polloi.

  14. Cf. says:

    Know thyself.

    I bought used bar/bri books on ebay. I studied them hard for several weeks before the exam. I passed the NY bar and scored a 168 MBE.

    Is it possible for everyone to do this? No. But if you’re disciplined and you did well on your first year exams you can probably do it and save a lot of money.

    • BOB says:

      I agree. It depends on the person. I purchased books off of ebay and got my hands on the bar bri VHS tapes of the lectures. Saved about $1500. Passed the exam. You have to be disciplined. Do enough MBE questions, follow the outlines, and you should be fine. Now, if you are prone to anxity attacks, you should go. If you lack confidence in yourself, go. Bar/Bri, however, is not necessary. Go get the books and do it yourself.

    • MC says:

      Agreed. Didn’t do bar review. Spent maybe 120 hours doing all the barbri questions from the previous year. Passed.

    • Ephesians2:8 says:

      Yep. I passed FL and CA on the first try with only (slightly outdated) Bar/Bri books I bought on eBay for cheap. If you don’t have a firm paying for the course and you don’t have $4000 to blow, I can’t imagine why you’d take a bar prep course. From observing my friends, I think Bar/Bri ends up making you needlessly anxious and gives you a ton of busy work. Diminishing returns, people.

  15. V20 secure says:

    Unemployed JD or Unemployed Esq., which looks better when you are living in your parent’s basement. At least if you pass you can hold up your certificate of admission from your state’s supreme court as you panhandle at interstate exits.

    • Guest says:

      Yeah but that two grand will stave off default for an extra month. Or you can use it for 2000 evenings of pleasure with your favorite $1 crack whore.

  16. Benjarvus Green & Ellis LLP says:

    You don’t need a bar review course, you need an 8ball and a bottle of jack…works every time.

    – Guy who didn’t take LSAT course and paid for it dearly. Learned lesson and took BarBri.

  17. Cooley4Life says:

    Follow your friends’ advice. The bar is already full and we don’t need any more competition.

  18. take the class you idiot says:

    I’m taking my 3rd bar in 2 weeks. (Passed states 1 and 2). Took BarBri for the first one, not for 2 and not for 3, but absolutely recommend taking BarBri or equivalent for #1. If for no other purpose, you won’t freak out when you get to something on the exam that you don’t know because you’ll think “if BarBri didn’t teach it, no one else in here knows it either.” After you get through (and pass) one state bar, if you have to take another, it’s not worth it, but you really should take it for the first one. The bar isn’t just some SAT or LSAT.

  19. V10 Interrupted says:

    In 1986 I was a summer associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. I fell for an older, very sophisticated woman on the Upper East side. I was terrified of her learning that I come from a modest background.

    To deceive her, I borrowed $10,000 from a loan shark for VIP passes to a Sinantra concert. She was unimpressed and called me “classless Jersey trash.” To add insult to injury, I couldn’t afford to pay back the loan.

    I begged Partner Emeritus, my firm mentor, to help me avoid a painful collection process. Needless to say, he was of no help. In fact, he reported to the board of bar examiners. I have never worked in the legal profession since.

    • Bonobo_Bro says:

      Is this a reference I’m not getting or just some creative writing? Either way if you’re looking to pick sophisticated Upper East side chicks just go to Dorrian’s and ask them if they’d like to go for a walk in the park, works every time.

    • Partner Emeritus says:

      You deserved your fate in life, especially after you eschewed my advice to take her to a more affordable Tom Jones concert where I am sure your date would have taken off her undergarments.

  20. V20 secure says:

    Hey Pay to Play

    Do you understand the profession you foolishly believe you are about to enter? I am not sure what is worse, asking “professional legal bloggers” for advice on the bar exam* or not realizing that you need a bar review course to have a realistic probability of passing the exam.

    * Last time I checked, professional bloggers do not need a professional license to provide adivce

  21. Guest says:

    Advantages to taking a bar class- If you even follow 75% of what they tell you to do you’ll pass with no problem.

    Advantages to taking bar without the class- if you manage to pass, you can be a douche bag in the above the law comments about how you didnt take a bar exam.

    • Da Truth says:

      Are you insecure?
      Are you stupid or only of average intelligence?
      Does your family history include mental illness?

      If you can honestly answer “no” to all these questions, you don’t need a class. You need to buy the books off a friend or eBay, study about four hours a day for the month and a half before the exam, and have a vacation-like summer.

    • BOB says:

      I am not a douche bag…I didn’t have the money to pay for the course and didn’t want to take out a private loan. If you have the tapes and the books, why in the hell would you pay full freight to go sit in a room when you do you own thing on your own time/

  22. tastes_like_burning says:

    Along the lines of “take the exam you idiot,” I have taken and passed three bar exams with good MBE and essay scores. Took Barbri for the first one (and used those key PMBR lecture tapes), then I used old books for bars 2 and 3. If you are really disciplined and have all the right materials you can easily pass the bar w/o the expensive course. Howevah, Marin and Ellie are right, its not really that much more money, the course will give you confidence, and it will force you to study. Failing the bar in this market is fucking death, not really worth the risk. Notwithstanding that wisdom, the bar isn’t rocket science and you only need to get like a 55% to pass it. Also, the barbri lectures are mostly booooooring.

    • Da Truth says:

      I don’t think “confidence” means what you think it does.

      Seriously, if you need a bar review class to build up your confidence your destiny is a mediocre legal career.

  23. guest says:

    Bar Review courses are a nice place to pick up Lawyer babes. As studying for the bar lowers their standards in men. And their not really looking for anything long term…win-win.

  24. the peoples champ says:

    Went to a t3, passed the bar without bar prep, and i have a job… there is hope in this world for the underdogs… a lot of insecure people in these comments tho!

    • Guest says:

      You didn’t need barbri because you had three years of crim pro to pass the bar. Congrats, I took 1 day of it and ready the barbri pamphlet and passed.

    • Guest says:

      OK, glad it worked out well for you. But a lot of people who went to a t3 and didn’t do a bar prep course failed the bar and don’t have jobs. Not saying it’s impossible to pass without a course, but it can help. It’s especially useful if the exam tests subjects you never had in law school and you have no idea where to even start. The question was whether it’s a good idea to take one, and for most people it is.

  25. UGA says:

    Did not take prep class. Read commercial outlines and practiced MBE questions all day for the month before the exam. Used “bar” loan to clear up credit issues that would have kept me from being allowed to take the exam in the first place. Passed. By how much? Don’t know, I didn’t bother to find out once I knew I passed. Eschewing what “everybody” is doing my own way FTW…

  26. just a typical dude says:

    I have driven drunk literally hundreds of times, bare-dicked I think five girls I just met that night (that actually is kind of dumb), and yes did not take a bar review course and passed the NY Bar. Never jumped off a bridge though.

  27. Guest34325562 says:

    On the balance it helped taking BarBri because it covered areas like family law that I never took in law school. However they bombard you with crap. You have to focus on the key stuff and blot out the white noise. If your bar has an overlap between the multistate part and the state law essay questions (Maryland does, Virginia does not for example) all the better. Focus on those core areas first. Study the multistate convisor outline they provide like the bible and take lots of practice tests. The essay topics you can bs far more easily but the multistate will destroy you if you do not take it seriously. I took the multistate seriously and passed with enough a score to wave elsewhere. My friend who took the same course but did not take the multistate seriously failed the bar.

  28. Johna says:

    BarBri classes are for the weak and feeble minded and people who enjoying being ripped off. All you need to do is borrow someone’s books and you’ll be fine. Passed the PA Bar on reading someone’s 5-year old barbri books for 2 weeks.

  29. MetOpera says:

    Hmm, never even occurred to me to waste money on a SAT course, so if that’s the basis of comparison, my take-away from Marin is that Bar Review courses are worthless.

  30. Bingo says:

    You are a fool if you do not take a bar review course.

  31. Guest says:

    Didn’t study, didn’t buy/borrow old books, didn’t take a course. Got high, played FIFA, masturbated intensely. Passed the CA bar exam on my first try.

    • ShortBusBarPass says:

      Amen. Taking a bar review course is a miserable waste of money. It’s just another example of the study-aid industrial complex built to take advantage of law students’ shocking risk aversion and lack of self-confidence.
      You do not need BarBri. The bar exam is not difficult. AmeriBar is a third the price and works just as well.
      Speaking of, I’d sell any of you 3Ls my New York AmeriBar books from last year.

      • Anon says:

        Study-aids aren’t about risk aversion and lack of self confidence. They are about not studying or reading all semester and learning Civil Procedure II the night before the exam. Holla.

  32. guest says:

    If this is a serious question, here’s my answer: I used law in a flash, some audio study aids, and a conviser mini review that was two years old, plus MBE exam questions and prior essays. I graduated at the bottom of my class at a T1 school and I was taking care of my daughter so four hours was a really good day for me. If I can pass it without a prep course, I’m pretty sure everyone can. It’s just a matter of putting in the effort.

    Maybe you could try studying by yourself for a month before Barbri starts, take a practice exam, and see how you feel then.

    • Guest says:

      “Maybe you could try studying by yourself for a month before Barbri starts, take a practice exam, and see how you feel then.”
      This is a good suggestion, as long as you have some accurate way of knowing how well you did on the practice exam. You may or may not need a course, depending on what state’s bar you’re taking, how much you already know about the bar subjects, how good you are at whatever test format they use, and probably a bunch of other unplannable factors like how you feel on the day. But you can’t easily evaluate most of those yourself until you’re actually sitting down to take the exam. Taking a practice exam would be one way of gauging whether your performance will be strong enough without a review course.

      Btw, while there are lots of people saying they passed without taking a course, I notice no one has admitted to failing, either with or without a course.

    • Guest says:

      “Maybe you could try studying by yourself for a month before Barbri starts, take a practice exam, and see how you feel then.”
      This is a good suggestion, as long as you have some accurate way of knowing how well you did on the practice exam. You may or may not need a course, depending on what state’s bar you’re taking, how much you already know about the bar subjects, how good you are at whatever test format they use, and probably a bunch of other unplannable factors like how you feel on the day. But you can’t easily evaluate most of those yourself until you’re actually sitting down to take the exam. Taking a practice exam would be one way of gauging whether your performance will be strong enough without a review course.

      Btw, while there are lots of people saying they passed without taking a course, I notice no one has admitted to failing, either with or without a course.

  33. No Bar/Bri says:

    Took and passed 2 state bars without bar/bri. Just buy the books on Ebay. First time around I scored a 171 on the MBE.

    • A to the K says:

      I did the same thing. Got the big BarBri questions book and the PMBR CDs from eBay. Put the CDs on my iPod and went through the lectures while working out. It’s going to take a little longer than you think because you’re going to have to go back and repeat some of the more challenging sections (property, mostly), but you can get through those between graduation and the second week in June. As you finish a subject on the CDs, begin doing practice questions on that topic. I passed in Virginia so I don’t know my score, but my practice scores were very good.

      The essays, well, that’s state-by-state, but eBay can help you there, too. I got Virginia BarBri notes, and that was a pretty good guide. But what helped more than anything was just doing the free questions that you can get from the bar website.

      The courses are a scam, really. You’re just going to do what you did in law school: read Deadspin and Egotastic. Your time is better spent doing questions and understanding why the correct choice is correct and the other three are wrong.

  34. No Bar/Bri says:

    Took and passed 2 state bars without bar/bri. Just buy the books on Ebay. First time around I scored a 171 on the MBE.

  35. Don't fall for Bar/bri says:

    I just bought used Bar/Bri books, and used those to study for the CA Bar. I am SO GLAD I didn’t go through the class, which people around me said didn’t teach them a whole lot anyway. I went to law school in another state, but it didin’t make a difference. I passed, but that still didn’t help me find a law job. Good luck!

  36. Elwyn says:

    You don’t need a full bar review course for the CA exam unless you can’t stick to a schedule on your own. The bar review courses are a huge waste of time. The lecturers just read the outlines at you while you try to fill them in to “stay engaged.” It’s much better to read the full outline yourself. Some lecturers screech, clear their throat every few minutes, or have other annoying habits that make them impossible to listen to.

    Buying a set of books is all you need to do. Work through the MBE questions, read every answer whether you got it right or wrong. For the essays, just memorize rule statements. There isn’t really a good way to study for the PTs because they’re unique. You can read through a few to get a feel for how the File and Library work. The PTs aren’t really hard material but there is a lot of it to go through and write in 3 hours. The bar is neither “the biggest academic challenge of your life” nor “the hardest test you’ll ever have to take.” It’s really just a test of how well you can memorize, and a bar review course won’t help you with that.

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