Step Two of How to Pass the Bar Exam:
Sign up for a Commercial Bar Review Course
It is a great idea to sign up for a commercial bar review course if you are taking the bar exam. Commercial bar review courses specialize in the bar exam. The bar exam is different than exams you may have taken in law school. So, do not try to use your law school outlines to study for the bar exam! Invest in a commercial bar review course.
Commercial bar review courses include:
- JD Advising (We have a course rated five stars by our students!)
Each course has its strengths and weaknesses, so don’t choose a course at random or just because your friends are signed up! Choosing a bar review course provider is a big decision and an expensive one! So make sure to choose wisely!
How do you figure out which course is right for you?
Try each company’s Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) course!
A good way to see if a bar review course is a right fit for you is to try the commercial bar review course’s free MPRE course. All of the above courses have a free MPRE course. Signing up for each company’s free MPRE course will give you an idea of the course’s:
- lecture style,
- outlines, and
- practice questions.
This is a free way to see if the course is the right fit for you and meshes with your learning style! (As a side note, you can sign up for our free MPRE course here.)
Other ways to learn more about the courses include:
- Go to the company’s website
- Ask the company’s representative at your school about the course
- Talk to whoever is in charge of academic success and bar preparation at your law school about whether a course is a good fit for you
- Ask past students who have taken the course what their experience was with the course
Think about what is important to you in a bar review course!
Consider how you learn best. For example, maybe you learn best by reviewing outlines. Then, you want to compare the outlines that different courses offer to see which one best suits you. (Signing up for a course’s free MPRE course is a good idea to see their outline style!) Perhaps you benefit from getting graded practice essays. In that case, compare how many essays you will get graded with each course. For comparison, students in JD Advising’s premium and premium plus courses get 3–5 essays graded weekly by a personal essay grader.
Many courses don’t advertise the specifics of their course, but you can always figure out what is important and then ask the company representatives what the company offers. It is a good idea to talk to a full-time employee of the company rather than a student representative. Many student representatives will not know all of the specifics about the commercial course they represent. If you are not on campus the same days or times as a company representative, then call or email the company for the most updated information!
How do you save money on a commercial bar review course?
You will notice that good bar prep is not cheap! What is the best way to save money on a bar prep course?
- Negotiate with the vendor. The bar review companies are all competing against one another. Tell the vendor that you are looking for a discount and see if they can provide you with one. If you did well in law school, make sure to tell the vendor this. Many vendors are concerned about their bar exam statistics and will want students who did well in law school to sign up.
- Apply for a bar exam scholarship or discount. All of the above commercial bar review courses have public interest scholarships. Sometimes a bar review course will offer scholarships or discounts to other students as well. Ask your course provider if any are available.
- Become a campus representative (a.k.a. table time representative). Most companies have campus representatives and give their representatives a free or discounted rate on their courses. Being a campus representative is not that time consuming and you can get a great deal on a course!
- If you work, see if your firm will pay for your course. Some firms (especially big law firms) pay for their associate’s bar review course. Ask your firm if they offer this.
Note: Be aware of “early bird” discounted rates that require you to “lock in your rate and commit to the course.” If you do sign up for a bar review course and lock in your rate, note that it might be very difficult to get out of the contract if you later change your mind. Basically, make sure the bar review course is the right one for you before committing!
Do I have to take a commercial course?
We recommend taking a bar review course for the reasons mentioned above! However, there are two common alternatives to using a commercial bar review course.
Alternative #1: private tutoring
Some students work better in a one-on-one setting and will hire a private tutor for the entirety of bar prep. If you do this, make sure your tutor supplies you with outlines, practice questions, and everything you need to pass the bar exam. We work with students one-on-one and this is a successful approach for many students. However, if you are using a tutor to cover all of the bar prep material, it is very expensive. Thus, we often recommend combining private tutoring with a commercial bar review course to keep the cost down.
Alternative #2: prepping by yourself
In an effort to save money, some students opt to prepare by themselves. They purchase outlines and practice questions online and forego a course altogether. This tends to be successful among students who did very well in law school. (But even then, we still recommend those students sign up for a course!) If you struggled in law school, we especially do not recommend this approach.
If your goal is to save money, it is more worth it to try to get a bar review course at a discounted rate, because there is a lot at stake! Indeed, if you try it on your own and fail the bar exam, you are going to end up spending more. You will spend money on the retaker application fee, hotel costs/travel expenses (for a second time), time off work, and you will be losing out on job opportunities and the ability to make money as a lawyer for that period of time. It is worth it to sign up for a commercial bar review course to maximize your chances of passing the bar exam!
Go to the next topic, Step Three: Decide Which Bar Exam to Take.
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