Kaplan Bar Review offers a full range of courses tailor-made for individual needs. Choices include their Complete Bar Review, LLM Bar Review Courses, and a variety of Multistate Bar Exam Courses and Supplements.
Kaplan has been in the test prep industry for more than 70 years and is known for its comprehensive review and full-length simulated exams. Their classroom lectures can be attended in person, watched synchronously (live), or on-demand at home, depending on the course.
1. Comprehensive Bar Review
The Complete Bar Review Course includes a heavy schedule of classroom or recorded lectures, outlines, and more than 4,000 exam-like MBE practice questions in a question bank to create customized quizzes. The price includes unlimited essay grading for a maximum level of individual guidance. A free MPRE Review Course is offered online at Kaplan’s website. An outline, course materials, lectures, MPRE questions, and flashcards are available for download. A hard copy version is available with an additional shipping fee.
2. Structured Program
Strict organization and mandatory classroom/online lecture attendance keeps students on track, making it harder to fall behind. Assignments are tailored to improve areas of weakness. The program follows a set course of instruction, homework, practice questions and essay writing, testing, and final review to optimize performance on the bar exam.
Lectures are offered in-person and online. Recorded lectures can be accessed anywhere, anytime from smart phones and other portable devices (both iOS and Android). The schedule allows for some wiggle room to catch up on weekends if students fall slightly behind.
4. Employer Payment Options
They have an online “Bill My Firm” enrollment option if your employer is paying for the exam. (Employer/Law Firm is billed directly.)
5. Additional Support
Ask-an-Expert Support option includes academic attorneys who are available to answer additional questions as needed. For an additional fee, experienced tutors are available to help those who need even more personalized coaching. Technical support is provided for all of Kaplan’s test preparation courses.
Kaplan is one of the more expensive options when it comes to reviewing for the bar. The price tag for the Complete Bar Review Course varies by state, ranging from an affordable $1895 (Hawaii) to more than $3,500 (New York, Florida, and North Carolina). Prices will vary according to promotions and specials.
2. Work Load
The sheer volume of work can be overwhelming for some students. This lengthy course touches on every concept covered on the bar exam, and requires numerous assignments, essays, personal outlines, and practice MBE questions to be completed outside of class for optimal preparation. Learners who struggle with information overload may prefer a more streamlined review that emphasizes a more general overview.
3. Not Available in All States
Kaplan Bar Review is not scheduled to be available in the following states until summer 2016: Kansas, Maine, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
4. Quality of MBE questions
Kaplan has drawn criticism from some test takers that their “exam-like” MBE questions are not as similar to those on the actual bar exam as the practice questions used by some of their competitors. Still, Kaplan stays current when it comes to changes in the bar exam and asserts that students will be ready for the new MBE that will be featured on upcoming exams.
Like its competitors, Kaplan has jumped onto the online-access bandwagon to meet demands for flexibility. Lectures do not have to be viewed in a traditional classroom setting. In addition to online features that allow you to track progress and feedback, an interactive online syllabus and an Online Lecture Library help learners stay on task. The basic lectures are available in the following formats:
Live or Live Online
Attend lectures in a traditional classroom or online from another location at a pre-scheduled time. With this option, lectures are simulcast for those who log in remotely. Questions can be asked in the chat function to receive immediate answers.
Lectures are available 24/7 in the Online Lecture Library if you miss a scheduled lecture, don’t want to attend a physical session, or need to review all or part of one. Internet access is required.
Kaplan Bar Review appeals to both traditional learners who prefer a bricks-and-mortar classroom experience, as well as those who like to self-study online. Kaplan is an established review course that keeps students on track while they study for the bar exam. The flexibility of being able to attend lectures in person or online makes their course a good fit for most students who are serious about passing the Bar.
36 day lecture for subject review and practice (number of days varies by state)
4-5 day full-length simulated exams and review for all parts of exam
14-day “final countdown study plan”
Lectures available in-person and online
Homework assignments include multiple choice questions, practice essays, quizzes, and simulated exams.
Ask-an-Expert support is included for additional questions
“Reports” feature in online syllabus shows scores for all graded tests, quizzes and practice essays
Conditional money back guarantee
Complete State Course: $1,895 – $3,595 (depends on your state)
MBE Supplemental Courses:
Combination Course Price: $1049
Foundation Course Price: $699
Final Review Course Price: $449
MPRE Review Course: free
The Money Back Guarantee has stringent requirements: only first-time bar candidates with a JD from an ABA approved law school who have completed all basic study requirements before taking the exam immediately after the course will be reimbursed. For example, attendance is required for at least 90% of lectures.
Lawyers serve as advisors, advocates, and representatives for their clients, which may include individuals, corporations, or government agencies. Their job often includes preparing and filing legal documents, interpreting laws and regulations, and researching and analyzing legal issues.
The most common path to becoming a lawyer in the United States is to graduate from law school and pass the bar exam in the state or states in which you intend to practice law. You must meet the following requirements:
1. Bachelor’s Degree
In order to apply to law school in the United States, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university. Selecting an appropriate major is an important step in this process.
Which Major Should I Choose?
Although some colleges and universities offer a degree in Prelaw, many students major in a different field. Unlike for medical school, there are no prerequisites for law school. In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any one track or specific major to prepare students for law school. On its website, the ABA encourages undergraduates to take challenging courses that will hone their research and writing skills to prepare them for law school. Examples of popular majors for law students include Political Science, Philosophy, History, English, Business, and Economics. Interestingly, a 2012 article by U.S. News & World Report looked at data from about 78,000 law school applicants and found that those who majored in Prelaw and Criminal Justice were less likely to get into law school than students who majored in other subjects, such as Philosophy, Economics and Journalism.
GPA and LSAT Scores
In addition to choosing a major that will prepare you for law school, you should focus on getting excellent grades and high Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores. Law school admissions committees weigh both very heavily along with the reputation of your undergraduate university.
Your undergraduate GPA matters because admissions to top law schools are competitive, and because admissions committees want to know if you will be able to handle the academic rigors of law school. The best law schools are looking for at least a 3.5, however, the undergraduate GPAs of enrolled students at elite schools are often higher, typically 3.7 or above.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) site has a tool that allows you to enter your GPA and your LSAT scores (or other search terms) to find a law school that may be a good match for you. It then calculates how likely you are to be admitted to that school based on recent admissions trends.
Taking the LSAT
Taking the LSAT is an essential part of applying to law school. This standardized, half-day test is administered four times a year (June, September/October, December and February). Most law schools require the LSAT to be taken by December if you are applying to law school for the following fall. The basic LSAT costs $170.
The LSAC website defines the purpose of the LSAT as providing a standardized evaluation of reading and verbal reasoning skills for law schools to determine applicants’ abilities. More specifically, the test measures students’ ability to read and comprehend complicated texts, organize and manage information, draw reasonable conclusions, think critically, and analyze and appraise the reasoning process and arguments of other people.
The test is divided into five 35-minute sections of multiple-choice questions. Only four of these sections count towards your score. (One section is used to try out new test questions that may be included on future LSAT exams.) The multiple-choice sections are divided into reading comprehension questions, analytical reasoning questions, and logical reasoning questions. Finally, there is a 35-minute unscored writing sample that is submitted to law schools along with the rest of your application.
The LSAT is scored from 120-180 points. Although the average LSAT score is 151, the median score at the most selective law schools in the last two years has been 167 or higher, as you can see on the U.S. News & World Report site. Students who are not happy with their score can take the test again. Most law schools only look at the highest score; however, schools have access to all of your LSAT scores and may average them. You can register for the LSAT on the LSAC website.
2. Go to Law School
Choosing a School
Choosing a law school is an important decision that may determine if you get a job when you graduate. Finding a job has been very challenging for law school graduates in the past few years, even for those who attended a top law school. The ABA publishes job placement rates for accredited schools on an annual basis.
Your odds of landing a job will be better if you do your research in advance. The good news for students entering law school in the next few years is that the job market is beginning to show signs of improvement, not least because law school enrollment numbers have been dropping steadily.
You should probably attend a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Many states do not allow students to sit for the bar examination if they did not graduate from an ABA-approved law school. (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Alabama are among a handful of states that are exceptions to this rule, although students must meet other state requirements.)
Attending an ABA-accredited school is your best bet, especially if you decide to practice in a different state one day. Even if students from non-ABA-accredited schools are able to sit for the bar exam in their state, they are less likely to pass, and less likely to get hired.
U.S. News & World Report publishes annual law school rankings. Attending a top ten school (such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Chicago, NYU, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke, or the University of California, Berkeley) can be a good move if you can get in. Law school rankings matter more than any other graduate school ranking because the best professors want to teach at these schools and the most prestigious firms want to hire their students, even in a difficult job market. These schools have name-recognition and long-standing relationships with big law firms, which may set aside summer internships and often recruit students on campus.
On the other hand, students are often advised to go to law school in the city or state where they plan to practice. This facilitates taking the bar exam, and local businesses and firms may prefer students who are from the area and plan to stay there. For example, if you plan to practice law in North Carolina, it might make more sense to study law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or North Carolina Central University than at an out-of-state school. If your local school is also ranked highly, you will have the best of both worlds because you can stay in the area or practice law in another state if you get a great job offer.
Paying for Law School
Another significant factor in your decision should be the price. Going to a top 20 law school can cost between $45,000 and $55,000 per year in tuition and fees alone. When you add $15,000-$20,000 in rent, living expenses, books and insurance, you are looking at a total price tag of $60,000-$75,000 per year. Less expensive options, such as the University of Arkansas, the University of Montana, and The University of Akron will still set you back between $24,000 and $30,000 in tuition and fees per year (if you do not qualify for in-state tuition) in addition to living expenses and lost income for not working (or working part time) for three years. If you attend a state school, costs will be much lower, especially if you are a resident. Scholarships and grants can also defray some of those costs. Non-traditional students may make ends meet by working during the day and attending law school at night.
Legal Internships During Law School
Internships are a great opportunity to practice the skills you have learned in school and build your resume. Different types of firms specialize in different areas of the law. Internships will vary according to the size of the firm and its primary focus. The internship after your second year in law school (2L) is the most important. Often, a summer associate position during the summer before you graduate will lead to a job offer as a full-time associate with that firm after graduation.
Most law schools have career services departments that connect students with employers and help students navigate the interviewing and hiring process. Law schools typically host a number of job fairs during the year for students to meet law firm representatives and find out about various internships.
You should attempt to get legal experience after your first year of law school as well. Smaller firms are more likely to accept a 1L summer associate. Other options include becoming an intern for a judge, working for a public interest organization, or doing research for a law school professor.
Be aware that on-campus interviews for summer associate positions after your 2L year take place as early as the summer after your 1L year.
Bigger firms actively recruit a number of students for summer positions to identify the strongest candidates. They often hold information sessions and short interviews at law schools or hotels. Positions at the most prestigious corporate firms are very competitive. Students with the highest GPA and those at the most elite law schools will have the most options.
Working at a smaller law firm may not pay as well or be as prestigious, but it could give you more hands-on experience. Becoming a summer associate gives students the opportunity to check out the culture at a particular firm, find out if they like working in a particular law specialty, add experience to a resume, network, and earn a nice paycheck over the summer.
You should treat a summer associate position as a lengthy job interview. Law firms will expect you to do similar work to that of a full-time first year associate, with a number of added social and financial perks. They will try to convince you that their firm is a great place to work, but they will also be watching to see if you are a good fit and a hard worker to determine whether they should offer you a full-time position.
3. Pass the Bar Exam
Bar Exam Format
After you graduate with your JD you must still pass the bar exam in the state or states in which you intend to practice law. Each jurisdiction has its own bar exam requirements, although some states and jurisdictions have reciprocity.
In most states, the bar exam is held twice a year (July and February) in specific testing locations. Results are published three to four months later.
The bar exam is a rigorous two to three-day exam, and most law students spend many weeks or months studying for it. It is more challenging that the LSAT, and many students take bar review courses to prepare themselves. It varies from one state or jurisdiction to the next, but the first part is typically the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).
On the MBE, test takers have six hours to answer 200 multiple-choice questions (broken up into two three-hour sessions of 100 questions each). Questions cover the following categories: criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, contracts, evidence, real property, and torts. The MBE counts for as much as 50% of your overall bar exam score, depending on the jurisdiction.
The second part of the bar exam covers state-specific law, and takes place on a different day. In most states, this part of the exam takes the form of essay questions.
Some jurisdictions require the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) as the third part of the bar exam, which may or may not be administered at the same time as the other two sections of the exam. The MPT tests your ability to apply your knowledge of the law in realistic scenarios.
The UBE and the MPRE
A number of jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). This exam includes the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), in addition to the MBE and the MPT. The advantage of this two-day test is that it is uniformly administered, graded, and scored by all of these jurisdictions and is therefore portable and transferable among them. (Some UBE jurisdictions may have additional requirements that pertain to jurisdiction-specific law and/or specific educational components for that jurisdiction).
Most jurisdictions also require the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) for admission to the bar. This two-hour multiple-choice exam tests established standards for professional conduct.
Bar Exam Scoring and Pass Rates
Each jurisdiction uses its own bar exam format, scoring, and passing scores. A particular jurisdiction’s bar exam rules and regulations can usually be found on their website along with detailed statistics about pass rates for first-time and repeat test takers.
Overall passing rates for the California Bar Exam for all test takers (i.e. first-time and repeat takers) in 2014 were 45.3% (February) and 48.6% (July). (Pass rates are typically higher for first-time test takers).
Overall passing rates for the New York Bar Exam for all test takers in 2014 were 47% (February) and 65% (July). (Pass rates are typically higher for first-time test takers).
National data for the 2014 MBE and MPRE (broken down by jurisdiction) are available at the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website.
In summary, you must meet all the requirements listed above (and perhaps a few more) to be admitted to the bar and be eligible to practice law in your state. The road to becoming a lawyer is long and challenging, but it can lead to a rewarding profession.
AdaptiBar was founded in 2003 by a law school graduate searching for digital study options and has been in the online bar exam prep space for more than a decade.
Their Online MBE Simulator & Prep course focuses on the MBE portion of the bar exam and uses actual questions from past exams written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
1. Authentic Material
100% of practice questions in the program are licensed questions that have been released from past bar exams. By practicing with authentic MBE questions (as opposed to those written by test prep companies) students will be better prepared for the questions they will encounter on the actual exam. AdaptiBar recently added 200 new simulated questions in Civil Procedure for 1,700+ MBE practice questions.
2. Score Predictor
The AdaptiBar course keeps track of your overall accuracy rate as you answer practice questions while you study. The company claims that the accuracy rate generated by AdaptiBar is a relatively accurate predictor of the score you will receive on the bar exam, although some students report that the questions on the actual MBE seem more difficult.
3. Adaptive Technology
The AdaptiBar software automatically adapts questions to your strengths and weaknesses by tracking your performance as you answer questions. In the Practice Questions mode, you will be presented with certain types of questions, one question at a time, until you become better at questions of that type. The Past Performance Table allows you to see how many questions you have answered overall and calculates your accuracy in answering them to help guide your study sessions and show you which outlines to review more thoroughly.
4. Improves Time Management Skills
AdaptiBar also helps with exam pacing by keeping track of how long it takes you to answer each question. This will help you determine whether you should spend less time on particular questions and move through the exam more quickly, or spend more time on a question if it helps you select the correct answer. You only get 1.8 minutes to answer each question on the bar exam, and AdaptiBar’s time tracking feature will help you learn to use your time wisely. You can also use the interactive Message Center to guide you through the program and decide how to divide up your study time.
5. Customizable Practice Exams
The MBE Simulator & Prep course comes with NBCE’s practice exams 1-4 (100 questions each from 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2013). You can also create an unlimited number of customized practice exams to take under exam-like conditions. In the Practice Exam Mode you can choose subjects and subtopics and the number of questions in order to generate an exam tailored to your needs. Submit your exam for grading to receive a detailed exam report that breaks down your performance with respect to topic and timing in addition to detailed explanations for each answer.
6. Free Trial
Try AdaptiBar’s course offerings for free to see if this program is a good fit for your study habits and ability level. You can register for a free trial that includes a small selection of simulated practice questions on their website. Try it today to see if AdaptiBar is the right supplementary program for you.
1. MBE Practice Only
Many students studying for the bar exam are looking for a comprehensive review course to help them cover all the material necessary to pass their exam. However, AdaptiBar focuses only on the MBE portion of the exam which is why it should only be used as a supplement to a more comprehensive bar exam review course.
This focused MBE review program is best for students who plan to use MBE preparation in conjunction with a more comprehensive bar exam review course. Self-motivated students who can find the time and dedication to study on their own without a set schedule of classes or reminders will get the most out of AdaptiBar’s self-paced online course.
One nice feature is that explanations are provided for both correct and incorrect answer choices to help you understand why you got a question right or wrong. It helps to know that you got the answer correct for the right reason, not just because you guessed or because you chose the right answer through a flawed reasoning process. Students can choose between the Practice Question and the Exam Question modes. You can also create a customized Past Questions report of all the questions that you previously answered in both modes that can be sorted by various categories for further review and practice.
The Early Access Option is a good choice for those who want to get a jump start on their studies. For an additional $125, this option allows you to access course materials before your session is scheduled to begin. Best for visual learners, AdaptiBar also offers online video lectures and flashcards to help you study and memorize key MBE topics.
AdaptiBar’s adaptive technology is great for helping students pinpoint their weaknesses and drill those content areas until they improve. Their Practice Questions and Exams make their course an effective tool to help students prepare for the MBE portion of the bar exam, but it should not be used as your primary study materials because it doesn’t cover all areas of the Bar exam. Click below to purchase AdaptiBar’s course.
Includes: 1,730 Practice Questions, Exam Simulator, NCBE’s Online Practice Exams 1, 2, 3 & 4. Course may be accessed either Aug. 1st – Feb. 29th (February bar exam) or March 1st – July 31st (July bar exam).
Baby Bar MBE Simulator & Prep
Includes: 744 Licensed Questions, Exam Simulator. Course may be accessed Nov. 1st – June 30th Oct (June bar exam) or July 1st – Oct. 31st (October bar exam).
Smart Online Flashcards
Includes: Lifetime access to 950+ flashcards to help review for all MBE subjects.
Includes: Add-on option of online video lectures by Professor Jonathan Grossman. Only available in conjunction with and during an active prep course. Unlimited access to streaming videos that will not have to be purchased again if you need additional study time for the bar exam.
To compare AdaptiBar to other Bar exam prep courses, please click the button below:
Comparing apples and oranges is the oft-used expression when two things of different qualities and characteristics are evaluated side by side. Sometimes, however, it’s necessary to make such comparisons, as life-altering decisions are made after these assessments. For professionals who are looking to take the next step in their careers, a big choice is often whether to take the CPA exam or the Bar exam.
The CPA Exam and the Bar Exam: Which is More Difficult?
While comparing the CPA to the Bar is akin to comparing apples and oranges, there are enough similarities to make this a difficult decision for those in the accounting, legal, and financial industries. Someone with a CPA can work in a law firm and an individual with a Juris Doctor could be employed at an accounting or financial entity.
Keep in mind, the Bar exam has much more difficult requirements to even sit for the exam—you need to go to law school, which is quite a commitment, both financially and in terms of time. While the CPA requires accounting experience and coursework, there’s a lower bar for entry for this test.
CPA Exam and Bar Exam Similarities
Alright, so why are these tests similar? Well, first and foremost, you need to study for both of these exams for a significant number of hours. The material on each is difficult, but if you prepare enough for an extended period of time, they are both passable.
Both tests have a writing component and multiple choice questions. The ratio of these is basically inverse, but there’s some overlap with regard to test structure. Each exam is also offered at certain points during the year, so you cannot just retake the test immediately if you do not pass.
That’s really it in terms of similarities—other than those basic overlaps, the tests are VERY DIFFERENT. Each is among the hardest of the standardized exams, but they are this way for very different reasons.
CPA and BAR Exam Structure
The CPA exam is four different sections (tests), all of which differ significantly, so it’s tough to figure out which exam to take first. One of the sections features a long writing portion, as well as multiple choice questions and task-based simulations, while the other sections just contain the latter-two components.
The multiple choice question testlets change based on how you do on the previous sections, and the task-based simulations will vary significantly. There’s a chance that a large portion of what you study won’t appear on the test, so be prepared to be caught off guard. Luckily, cpa prep courses have become increasingly sophisticated to help you study, based on your strengths and weaknesses.
The Bar exam is basically three different tests, but they are presented back-to-back-to-back for three consecutive days. There are six different versions of the exam, so you’re not going to get the same version as other students. This isn’t as rigid of a test, as there isn’t a “right” answer to many of the questions.
The multiple choice questions are presented one day, so you’re going to be able to knock these out during that testing session and be done with this part.
Two of the days will feature essays known as writing prompts—your hands are going to hurt after these days. Based on how you respond, using logic and your legal knowledge, you can be right or wrong, so memorizing answers isn’t going to help at all.
CPA and BAR Exam Content
So, in terms of the actual exam… there’s a big difference for each state in terms of the Bar. California and New York are famously difficult, with the former having 13 “topics” and the latter having 14. Although that’s a lot, you’re not going to need to know all of that, but you won’t know which of the topics are going to be on the exam!
While it’s extremely difficult to study and understand such a massive amount of information, there’s not too many surprises on the Bar exam.
The CPA exam is far different in terms of content. The four sections are drastically different, so you’re going to break the studying into specific topics for each test. Your exam may not cover everything and could actually include just a small portion of what you studied.
For the CPA it’s basically about trying to know a little bit about each of the topics. Since there’s four different tests, you need to know different information for each test. It’s kind of a pump and dump method—once you pass a given section, it’s best to clear your mind and start over for the next portion.
This test varies in difficulty for each section, too. The FAR section is way easier for some people—this depends on work experience, school, etc.—while the REG or AUD sections could be a cakewalk for other people, when compared to the other topics. So, just know that you’re going to do much better on certain sections than others.
Testing Schedules for the CPA Exam and BAR Exam
The CPA exam scheduling is difficult to keep up with, as it changes constantly and is confusing. Even applying for the test is difficult, as you can see here. But, once you’ve applied and you can sit for the test, there’s a specific window in which you can take your first section. Then, after you take, and hopefully pass that first section, you have 18 months to pass all four portions of the exam. If you fail to pass all four sections, then you’re going to watch sections EXPIRE, which is devastating.
There are certain time periods in which you can take the various sections: the first two months of each quarter and the next 10 days of the following month. So, basically, you cannot take the test for 20 or so days each quarter. Annoying, but not terrible.
The Bar, while not as complicated, is offered only twice a year, and you have to wait a full six months to take it again if you fail. If your job and future depends on passing the exam, then you’re not going to be happy with this lack of testing availability.
Which Test is More Difficult: BAR or CPA?
So, in the end, which is more difficult? Well, that’s really impossible to say. For a short period of your life, the Bar exam will be the WORST thing in the entire world. This is not a feeling that you’ll have with the CPA, as that test is more extended misery than short-term desperation.
If you’re more of a “by-the-book” person, I would say go for the CPA. The Bar exam is more based on inferences and applying knowledge, while the CPA is about being able to recount information, remember formulas and processes, and perform standard problem solving methods.
If you were a great studier in college, went to class every day, and did well on exams, I’d say the CPA exam is easier. If you were someone who crammed for tests, the Bar exam is probably going to be the easier option. Get started on prepping for the bar exam today!