When I took the Utah Bar Exam in July 2015, I looked at all the major options–BarBri, Themis, Kaplan, Adaptibar, etc. But I didn’t end up choosing any of those courses. First and foremost, I saw their price tags–anywhere from $1,500-$3,500. When you’re still in law school, those prices are not very appealing. Second, I noticed that most of them gave you many books and what seemed to be thousands of pages of material. All I wanted was about 20-30 pages of outlines for each bar topic.
After my research, I was learning toward Themis because it was on the cheaper end and had an online-only option. But then my friend told me about BarMax. With BarMax, you get short outlines for each topic area (just what I wanted), audio lectures for each topic, hundreds (maybe thousands) of actual MBE questions, and many practice essay questions. You also get all of this on an easy-to-use app that you can use on an iPad or iPhone.
The best part was that the regular price was (and is) only $999. Because I was about to do a judicial clerkship, they gave me a non-profit/government discount that made it only $500. I didn’t have an iPad when I signed up, so I had to buy one, which I got at that time for about $200 (iPad mini 2). The great thing is that I used my iPad to study for the Utah exam as well as the Nevada exam, and I’m still using it in my law practice today, so it was a good investment and the full cost was still much cheaper than the other courses.
BarMax might not be for everyone. You have to do well at learning on your own. For me, sitting in class watching a lecture is a colossal waste of time. I can learn so much more in the same amount of time by studying on my own. BarMax does have audio lectures for each topic, but you can listen to them at 1.5x or 2.0x speed, which saves a lot of time. Some of the lectures were more helpful and interesting than others, so I just skipped the ones I didn’t think were worth the time. If you don’t have enough discipline to study on your own, then it might be worth paying for a more expensive course that offers in-class lectures.
I used the BarMax outlines as a starting point, and then added to or subtracted from them and adapted them to my study style. The outlines had just enough information in them–not every single thing you need to know, but enough to pass, which is the goal. BarMax also has flashcards, but I’ve never found flashcards to be useful; I memorize straight from the outlines.
BarMax only has a version for the UBE and California exams, but I also used it for Nevada. A friend gave me his Nevada outlines from when he took it, and I supplemented my BarMax-based outlines with the Nevada-specific law, which was probably only about 3-5% of my outlines.
The most important question is this: does BarMax work? Or should you spend more money for a more traditional course to make sure you pass? My advice is that if you can study well on your own, then BarMax is sufficient and a great deal. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I passed two exams using BarMax. And, by the way, BarMax isn’t paying me for writing this; I’m just sharing my experience in choosing, and using, a bar exam prep course, although I wouldn’t mind if BarMax sent me some referral fees if anyone signs up after reading this post.
What is your experience with bar prep courses?