What we Wish our Friends/Family Knew About Bar Prep

Discussion with family member

[ Makenzie Way, 2020 Law Graduate at the University of Pennsylvania ]

Most people understand that studying for the bar exam is hard, but unless they’ve studied for it themselves, or watched someone else go through the entire process, they’re likely unaware of just how difficult and time-consuming it really is. This places bar prep students in the awkward position of having to navigate the murky waters of balancing relationships against the demands of bar prep life.

If there’s someone in your life studying for the bar exam, there’s a good chance they wish you knew some of the following things:

Student working on BARBRI bar prep

  1. Don’t be surprised if we fall off the face of the earth. Studying for the bar exam is in no way comparable to studying for a high school or college exam. We don’t study for a few hours each day; we study for upwards of six or more hours, seven days a week. It’s akin to a 9-5 job.
  2. Don’t be offended if we say we can’t hang out in the evenings. Though technically, we may be ‘free’ in the evenings, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have the energy to engage socially. We want to see you, but oftentimes we need to use our free time in the evenings to rest and recharge so we can go through the whole process again tomorrow.
  3. Our weekends aren’t necessarily free. Some students take a one-day break on the weekend, others do not – it really depends on what your personal study schedule looks like. But please don’t just assume that we’re available for weekend road trips, especially during Covid and bar prep.
  4. Chances are, finances are tight during bar prep. Many bar takers recently graduated from full-time legal studies – meaning, they didn’t work steadily during the last three years; likewise, most bar takers do not work full-time, or at all, while preparing for the bar exam. Thus, we may be financially limited in what we can afford to do.
  5. Our emotions are all over the place, so if we seem moody or if we lash out, please know we’re not in our right minds at the moment. Studying for the bar exam has its ups and its downs – some days we’ll be full of energy and happy because we feel like we’re making good progress, other days we’ll be burnt out, or upset by a bad test score. It’s not you, it’s just bar prep taking its toll on us.
  6. Being flexible with your activity suggestions helps us stay socially active. The further into bar prep we get, the less we’re able to take weekends or full days off, so instead of suggesting a road trip or a time-consuming hike, suggest walking the dog for 30-minutes, watching a movie at home, grabbing lunch or coffee at a nearby café, or even just a phone/video call.
  7. Please, please, PLEASE, do not downplay what we’re going through. Yes, objectively speaking there are more important things going on in the world, but subjectively, the bar exam stands between us and gainful employment; us and our career goals; us and paying off our student debt without going bankrupt. Doing well is important to us, so please act accordingly.
  8. Even if we don’t respond, we appreciate any support thrown our way. Don’t misread our silence as indifference, your text messages and the small things you do are noticed and appreciated.
  9. Finally, with most of us working from home, please consider that we too require adequate space and relative silence when studying. To the extent it’s possible, please try to keep noise and disruptions at a minimum while we’re engaged in our studies.

Study Strategies Webinar Overview

BARBRI Personal Study Plan

[ Makenzie Way, 2020 Law Graduate at the University of Pennsylvania ]

It’s officially June, which means it’s officially time to start studying – or at least, start thinking about studying – if you haven’t already. In my effort to start preparing to study I decided to watch the Study Strategies Webinar (which I highly recommend), and have summarized my learnings below.

First Steps:

  • If you haven’t already, log onto BARBRI and take the Bar Review Baseline. The Baseline test consists of 70 multiple-choice questions, and takes approximately two hours to complete. This test is important to take for three primary reasons: (A) it provides an early example of what the MBE is like; (B) it helps BARBRI customize your bar prep, and; (C) it shows you where you currently rank on the curve.
  • If you haven’t already, order your BARBRI books and/or reach out to tech support to update your testing state location if there have been changes – note, if you’re taking the UBE in a different jurisdiction than originally intended, you do need to update your testing location if you want your prep course to be specialized, but you do not need to re-order your books.

BARBRI's Bar Review Baseline


  • Your BARBRI prep homepage is monitored by a system called ISAAC; this system calculates, based off of your testing location, the number of hours per day that you need to study to be thoroughly prepared for the bar exam.
  • The daily hours schedule that appears on your home screen takes all 7 days into account. This does not, however, mean that you need to study for that amount of time every single day of the week. While you do need to study on the weekends, ISAAC is set up to adjust the hours required output that appears on your home screen based on the amount of work you actually complete. What that means is if you decide to work 2 hours instead of 4 hours on Sunday the uncompleted hours will be added to your home screen on Monday.
  • If you’re taking a July bar then you should have already begun your bar prep – it’s recommended that you study for 10 weeks, or 400 hours for the July bar exam. With that said, if you’re taking a September bar exam it is not recommended that you wait to begin studying until the 10 week mark, rather, you should start studying earlier to make the work more manageable. Likewise, if you are taking the September bar exam but will begin working beforehand, try to frontload your studying and remember the magic number – 400 hours.
  • It is recommended that you take a day off on the weekend – provided you maintain your study schedule throughout the rest of the week. Also, leave time to take care of yourself to avoid burnout, i.e. schedule time to work out, to meal prep, and to just unwind and digest.

Components of the BARBRI Study Plan:

  • The BARBRI study course is set up to help you acquire knowledge and then learn how to apply it. In doing this, you’ll notice that your study schedule is arranged so that you begin with a plethora of lectures and multiple choice questions before moving into assignments and the dreaded practice multi-state exam. It’s important that you aim to complete all of these assignments and leave time to review them as well.
  • Midway through your study plan BARBRI will prompt you to take the six hour Simulated Multistate Bar Exam practice test (though you can take it whenever you are ready) – you should take this under exam-like conditions. Taking the Simulated MBE is one of the most important thing you can do to pass the bar exam.
  • All assignments, tests and quizzes – including the Simulated MBE  – are graded on two separate scales. First you will receive the traditional ‘percentage of questions correct.’ More importantly however, you will also receive a ‘percentile score’. The percentile score ranks you against other test takers to show you where you are currently ranking on the bar passage curve – BARBRI’s recommendation is that you aim to be in the 40th or higher percentile.

Other Important Considerations:

  • ISAAC will update accordingly if your bar exam is rescheduled, you don’t need to do anything.
  • If you are unable to get a seat to write the bar exam your BARBRI materials will remain available to you until the next bar exam offering at no additional cost, and ISAAC will update your study schedule accordingly.
  • If, due to the uncertain times we’re currently in, you are strongly opposed to, or uncomfortable with, sitting for the upcoming bar exam, BARBRI will allow you to transfer your BARBRI course to the next bar offering at no additional cost.
  • If you are now planning to sit for the UBE in a different state than the one you plan to practice you, you must remember to transfer your score and budget for the transfer fee (generally, the transfer fee is the same as the application fee for the state). You will also need to complete both state’s Character and Fitness Tests. You do not need to write the bar exam twice if both states are UBE states, however, you should keep your employer informed as to your bar plans.


[ By Juliana Del Pesco, BARBRI International Legal Manager, Americas ]

The one thing I wish I had done differently, as an LL.M student, in my preparation for the United States Bar Exam is to have given myself more time. This is a common admission I have heard from other former LL.M. students as well. Time is such an important factor in taking on an exam of this scope, and it is something that can be greatly underestimated.

When I sat the Pennsylvania State Bar Exam in February 2019 as an LL.M. graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, I was ready to internationalize my career by becoming dual-qualified in the U.S. The preparation was intense, and very different from my earlier experience of learning civil law in my home jurisdiction of Brazil.

As a full-time working LL.M. student, I had to come up with a schedule on my own before my course started to ensure I’d have time to study all the subjects. I also had to be extremely organized to work and prepare for the bar exam at the same time. I have no doubt that an extended prep program would have helped me to alleviate some pressure while preparing.

The good news is BARBRI offers options for foreign-trained attorneys to start preparation extra early for the U.S. Bar Exam. With BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation courses, you can begin your studies now and be ready to sit the July 2020 examination with the 6-month course. A typical student in the 6-month Extended U.S. Bar Prep course will study 20-30 hours per week.

If you need more time to devote to your studies due to other work and life commitments, the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course offers the support and flexibility you need. Study 100% online or attend one of the blended classroom locations around the world. Choose the 10-month course and complete 10-15 hours of study per week. You know what’s right for your situation and goals.

Whatever you do, make the decision to prepare early with BARBRI. It will make a difference. Here’s why:


As soon as you enroll in one of the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep courses, you have access to the on-demand Foundations in U.S. Law pre-course module. This allows you to extend the amount of time you have to learn the concepts and get familiarized with the structure of the bar exam. Foundations in U.S. Law begins with an overview of the U.S. legal system and focuses on exam techniques that international students often find difficult to master. You can connect earlier with subjects that you may not encounter during your LL.M. studies and start to work on the foundational skills you will need to master the core course.

If you are a non-U.S. law graduate still learning the English language, you may welcome the English subtitles that BARBRI offers in its course modules as well. It’s another way BARBRI designs the course to help you effectively prepare for and pass the bar exam.



BARBRI understands you are busy taking classes, getting to know the city you are in, and perhaps even looking for a job while you learn. That’s why the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course is designed to be flexible to allow you to study for the bar while staying on top of your other commitments. Yes, it is possible to coordinate earning your LL.M. degree with preparing for the U.S. Bar Exam.

Look at it this way, if you choose to take the extended course you will still have plenty of time to catch up on your bar prep after graduation. And because a large chunk of the work will have been done already, your study schedule won’t be so intense. You will have more time to focus on practicing essays, multiple-choice questions and performance tests, and to do reviews.


All students enrolled in a BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Preparation course receive guidance through the Foreign Evaluation of Credentials and bar exam application process as needed. You are also assigned a personal mentor who is a U.S. qualified attorney with bar exam coaching and teaching experience. Your mentor is with you throughout your bar exam preparation to schedule one-on-one, bi-weekly check-ins or meetings to see how you are progressing with your studies. He/she will conduct livestream workshops, provide tips, and help you with any problem areas including customizing your course to better fit your schedule if necessary.


BARBRI provided me with all of the materials and techniques I needed to pass the bar exam. I found the Personal Study Plan to be particularly helpful because it adapted according to my progress and, therefore, ensured that I also spent adequate time on my weaker areas.

This methodology speaks for itself. Of those students who completed 80% of the BARBRI Extended U.S. Bar Prep course, 74% passed a U.S. State Bar examination. It’s worth noting that the official pass rate for foreign-trained attorneys who take the New York Bar Exam is around 43%.

For more tips, download the free BARBRI LL.M. Guide.

For effective first-year law school resources, learn about the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

Studies Show BARBRI Students Score More Points On The Bar Exam For A Similar Amount Of Effort

The bar exam is arguably the most important and most difficult test of your life. Nobody wants to fail. Everybody wants to walk in to the exam with the confidence that they are going to pass, the first time. BARBRI students are best equipped to perform at the highest levels on exam day.

In all of the studies conducted by our BARBRI team of data scientists, at schools across the United States, it was clear. For similar course completion rates, BARBRI students achieved a higher average score on the bar exam than students using other bar prep courses.

It’s a significant differential. For example, in one study, the non-BARBRI student group cleared the pass line by six points on average. The BARBRI students scored 31 points above the passing mark. That’s 5x the cushion for a similar amount of effort.

On a test where most people who fail do so by just a few points, how thin a margin is worth the risk?


Our in-house data scientists have analyzed four years of BARBRI student data and continue to work closely with law schools nationwide. Among the tens of thousands of data points gathered, they spotted an eye-opening pattern: BARBRI students scored more points on the bar exam compared to non-BARBRI students for a similar amount of study effort.

This means you do study smarter, not harder, with BARBRI. In fact, all activities assigned to you during BARBRI Bar Review, through the powerful ISAAC engine that runs the course, are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage. To  read more about that, click here.

BARBRI students are better prepared among all bar takers and walk into exam day with far greater confidence to pass the bar.


Here is a closer look at one study we conducted in summer 2018. First, we see that a greater percentage of assignments completed, within any bar prep course, will generally correlate to a higher average bar exam score. It’s pretty obvious.

In the chart below, all the blue dots are BARBRI students and the dotted line represents the relationship between bar review course completion and final bar exam score. The dotted line slopes upward, which means the higher percentage of BARBRI course completion, the better students do on the bar exam. Simple enough.

When we look at the group of bar takers who did not study with BARBRI, we see a similar upward trajectory.

When we combine both BARBRI and non-BARBRI student scores within the graph, it reveals the true BARBRI advantage – BARBRI students score more points for the same amount of effort and percentage of the course completed as non-BARBRI students.


Now think about the bar exam curve. Generally, when you hear of someone failing the bar, many do so by 10 or fewer points. Wouldn’t you rather go in with the confidence of knowing you’re going to get the most points possible and give yourself the best chance possible?

Another reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.

Driven By Data: What To Expect During BARBRI Bar Review

At BARBRI, data drives everything we do, and we are guided by one principle: It’s not about pass rates. It’s about passing.

As in YOU passing YOUR bar exam.

There are three overarching ways we keep YOUR INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS front and center:

  • We focus your attention on the material you are most likely to actually see on your bar exam
  • We adjust your schedule based on your strengths and weaknesses as you progress
  • We present content in the best way to maximize learning and retention


During BARBRI Bar Review, everything assigned in your online Personal Study Plan (or “PSP”) is carefully curated by an engine we call ISAAC, your Intuitive Study Assistant And Coach.

ISAAC combines proprietary algorithms with our 50+ years of bar exam data and expertise to drive your BARBRI course.

ISAAC keeps you on track, effectively scaffolding your knowledge and skills. It’s meant to motivate and keep you accountable. Remember, generally the higher the percent of course completion, the higher the average bar exam score.


During this BARBRI Bar Review course, ISAAC assigned more than 7.5 million learning activities. That sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, that’s not any individual student – that covers the tens of thousands of students studying for that bar exam with BARBRI. Let’s dig into the data.

Check out the chart below and see, on average, you’ll spend about 24% of your total bar review course study time learning the law with lectures. About 30% of your time working multiple-choice practice questions. And about 19% of your time in our Directed Essay Grading process (Essay Architect, Practice Essays and Graded Essays). Most importantly, each of these align with the top activities correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

That’s interesting, yet it’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. The chart below shows how the assignment types will progress and change during your bar review course.

Notice the yellow line – early on in the course, you’ll spend the majority of your time with lectures, acquiring knowledge from the best U.S. law professors and legal experts.

Then, you see from the teal and dark blue lines, you are reading and reviewing your notes and also start to ramp up on multiple-choice learning and practice questions.

Two peach peaks stand out – that’s for the BARBRI Simulated MBE (which by the way is as correlated to the real MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT, and it is the single best way to know where you are on the curve before sitting for the exam. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the Simulated MBE).

Then notice the light blue and pink lines later a few weeks into the course, which indicates movement into our Directed Essay Grading process and practice essays.

None of your precious study time is wasted on activities that won’t help you maximize your point potential on the bar exam. To see how it all works together, check out this 5-minute video: Meet the BARBRI Course.

All this is why, year after year, the vast majority of graduating law students choose BARBRI Bar Review to Own The Bar.

About 9 Out of 10 Average BARBRI Students Pass the Bar … But We Don’t Care and Neither Should You

It’s easy to get caught up in state bar exam pass rates when considering your bar prep options. The reality is that about 9 out of 10 BARBRI students who do the average amount of work in our course pass the bar. That’s impressive … but we don’t care, and neither should you. Don’t put too much stock in a pass rate – BARBRI’s or anyone else’s. That is not a good indication of how YOU will actually perform on the bar exam.

What you really need to understand are the bar prep activities that are most important, and what YOU need to do, to get your highest bar score possible and pass the bar.


Let’s start where our in-house data scientists did – combing through four years of BARBRI data and working with law schools nationwide to uncover what truly drives bar passage.

BARBRI data scientists researched all activities completed by tens of thousands of BARBRI students, segmenting by UBE /non-UBE states and looking state-by-state to determine the activities and experiences that are more or less important to bar passage. We also looked at the effects of studying overall with BARBRI vs. other courses and you can get that information here.


The great news is that all activities that were assigned by ISAAC in the BARBRI Personal Study Plan are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

Some assignments have an even greater impact. These are a darker shade of gray, which means they have an even higher correlation to bar passage.

The data scientists have found the BARBRI Simulated MBE to be one of the most powerful and statistically significant experiences one can have in preparing to pass the bar exam.

In fact, the BARBRI Simulated MBE is as correlated to the actual MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT. There are many reasons why an individual preparing to pass the bar exam should not miss out on the BARBRI Simulated MBE. Check out this blog to learn more.

One more important note: It’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. ISAAC, the engine that runs the BARBRI course, takes all of this into consideration as it drives your Personal Study Plan.

We want to ensure you focus exactly where you need to get the most points possible on your bar exam. That’s a measure of success you can trust with a great deal of confidence. It’s also a compelling reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.

Passing With BARBRI (Twice!) | Tax Attorney Success Story

by Alexandra Zaunbrecher
Senior Associate | Mergers and Acquisitions Tax Group | KPMG US

Passing the bar exam twice as nice for taxation attorney Alexandra ZaunbrecherI chose to sit the Louisiana State Bar Exam right out of law school. Being a Louisiana native and having attended Louisiana State University for my undergraduate and law degree, I thought I would most likely practice within my home state. I also focused the majority of my studies in Louisiana law during my time at LSU. I felt like I had a head start on the Louisiana bar material.

Despite my coursework during law school, the BARBRI Bar Review course best prepared me to take the bar. Before the course, I was most worried about being able to get my hands on the right information. And then sift through it in a way that I could learn what was important for the bar.

Passing with BARBRI, which did all the legwork

My Personal Study Plan, or PSP, was intuitive. It picked up on what I already knew, as well as where I needed to focus more of my time. I simply had to concentrate on managing my time to follow the study plan laid out for me.

After passing with BARBRI on the Louisiana Bar Exam, I was ready to conquer the world. Or at least New York City. I spent a year in the northeast while I pursued my LL.M. degree in taxation from New York University School of Law, specializing in tax law. I was interested in the transactional side of business law and I wanted to position myself as far away from the inside of a courtroom as possible.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I was offered an associate position with KPMG in their Mergers and Acquisitions Tax Group in Dallas, Texas. Working in an accounting firm is more of a consulting role, so I’m not required to be barred in Texas. I advise and consult with a variety of companies and law firms around the world on different transactions and their tax consequences. However, I wanted to be able to take full advantage of my law degree in the state in which I lived and still have options within my career. So I decided to sit the Texas Bar Exam.

I turned to BARBRI without question for my bar exam prep

I didn’t need to make use of any other resources beyond the BARBRI PSP. The PSP fully covered each bar topic with enough breadth for me to feel comfortable not seeking out other materials. And with enough depth that I felt like I fully understood each topic. I loved being able to follow a study plan that I knew was “tried and true.” All that was required of me was to soak up the material that was put in front of me.

3-for-3 Passing The Bar | Military Spouse Attorney Success Story

by C. Thea Pitzen
Attorney & Principal | Goodman Allen Donnelly

Life as a military spouse attorney isn’t always a straight line. I can personally attest to that, especially after taking three state bar exams and passing all three, the first time, using BARBRI Bar Review.

Attorney C. Thea Pitzen goes 3-for-3 on bar exams with BARBRI bar exam prep From Georgia … to Florida … to Virginia

My journey began at Emory Law in Atlanta, where I graduated in spring 2009. I signed up for BARBRI during my 3L year to prepare for the summer Georgia Bar Exam (having Emory Professor Rich Freer on the BARBRI faculty was a big draw for me).

I successfully passed and was sworn in to the Georgia Bar. Then a couple of months later, found myself engaged (happily, of course!). My future husband was active-duty Navy and stationed in Florida, while I was still living and working in Atlanta. Bonus points for me, I would have to retake the whole bar exam again. Unfortunately, there was no reciprocity moving from Georgia to Florida.

Now during my bar exam prep for the Georgia exam, I had studied much of the time at Emory Law, going to physical classroom locations to view BARBRI lectures. Less than a year later, I chose to use the online-only BARBRI Bar Review for Florida. I needed to be able to watch lectures on my computer because I was still clerking for a federal judge full-time in Georgia. By and large, when I got off work, I’d view a lecture in the evening to stay on pace. About six weeks before taking the summer 2010 Florida Bar Exam, I got married and then went on to pass my second state bar. Two-for-two so far.

A few years later, we found out that the Navy would be reassigning us to Virginia. And you guessed it. I had to take the entire bar exam once more. With work and a small child as new addition to the family, I went online-only again with BARBRI bar exam prep for Virginia and passed the February 2016 exam.

BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet in passing the bar

As an active member of the Military Spouse JD Network, I know first-hand just how many of us take the bar exam multiple times, traveling with a service member spouse from duty station to duty station. In our online forums, quite frequently there is discussion about bar exam licensing issues and which bar exam prep course to use. We’re fully aware of the choices. For some (whether military spouses or not), cost is a factor and they’ll go with the cheapest program. For me, the simplest answer is that BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet.

100% online bar exam prep was a huge convenience

There is a degree of comfort and familiarity in the BARBRI process. One of the benefits of doing BARBRI bar exam prep on-site is the solidarity aspect of it. There were so many of my classmates from Emory Law in the room, as well as others from the Atlanta area. Everyone was going through the same stress, working toward achieving the same goal. This helped immensely that first go-round with the Georgia Bar Exam. Being able to then switch to the online BARBRI Bar Review format for the Florida and Virginia Bar Exams was a huge convenience, particularly with having a job, a family and greater demands on my time overall. The lectures still felt engaging with the same top caliber of instructors delivering the content.

I always found that if you could study with discipline on the BARBRI materials, and reach a percentile ranking high enough on the BARBRI Simulated MBE subjects, you will pass the bar exam. The BARBRI course is rigorous. The way the MBE questions are set up and the depth of essay feedback you receive, which can be brutal at times, will position you to succeed.

BARBRI practice questions are shockingly accurate

BARBRI is spot-on in its MBE practice questions and practice essays. It’s shockingly accurate. This speaks to BARBRI’s experience and longevity. On the MBE – and I can speak to three administrations  in three different states – BARBRI has clearly figured out what the bar exam questions look like and the patterns you’ll encounter. It’s a successful formula they’ve hit on.

You spend a lot of money taking the bar exam – all the admission requirements, the travel, and other fees add up. It’s wise to spend your hard-earned money on a course that gives you the utmost confidence in passing the bar. BARBRI has done it three times for me. I don’t know why I would not continue to use them.

2L Year, The Time To Check Early Bar Exam Requirements

Believe it or not, the second year of law school is when you should begin researching early bar exam requirements.

If you’re a 2L student reading this blog, yes, that means pretty much now. It’s not too early to get moving on this process. Depending on the state/jurisdiction in which you plan to take the bar, you may encounter specific instructions, special fees and other details that will require plenty of advanced planning and work on your part. The goal is to avoid pitfalls later, when you really don’t want any surprises.

Download the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest, which has all the information you need to know for every state and jurisdiction, including the UBE.


The bar admission requirements are just that — requirements — and certain ones come with a fee. Pay close attention. Make sure you are fully aware of those requirements and their deadlines. You may have something to do during 2L year.

Ohio is a good example. Your Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law (fondly known as Character and Fitness) is due by November 15th of your second year of law school. That second year requirement applies regardless if you are on a three-, four- or five-year plan. It’s a 30-page application that wants to know everywhere you have lived since the age of 18. Seriously.

Another example: In Florida, there’s an even earlier deadline. It allows (and encourages) you to sign up your first year of law school. In fact, the earlier you sign up for the Florida bar exam, the lower your overall fee.


Even if you’re going to a state where you don’t have to file your bar exam application until the third year of law school, this is not something you can do in one night. Or even over the course of a week. You will likely have to do some significant digging into your personal, financial and work histories. Remember that traffic ticket you got in the middle of nowhere driving home from college your second year? You are going to have to hunt down the docket for it to include with your application. That’s only part of it. You may have to get forms notarized and references to provide letters of recommendation.

Here’s a helpful Bar Admission Checklist that will give you a general overview of what to expect.


Some states have a limited timeline established for you to file your bar exam application. In New York, for example, the application filing period is only one month. No extensions. Late applications are not accepted. The last thing you want is to wait another six months to take the bar because you missed a deadline. As a 2L student now, you can see these coming with more than enough time to gather and do everything you need on schedule.


By checking bar exam requirements (going into fall semester of 2L year or sooner), you get to see what’s tested on that exam and then plan your course schedule accordingly. If you’re bar exam state tests Commercial Law and Secured Transactions, consider taking those classes in law school. Give yourself every advantage, early and often.

As with so many things related to law school, taking time to stay informed has its rewards.

5 Frequently Asked Questions About BARBRI Bar Review

By Mike Sims,
BARBRI President

Year after year, tens of thousands of graduating students choose BARBRI. As they are making that choice, there are a few questions that arise more frequently than others. Knowing that your time is valuable, I want to take this opportunity to answer the most frequently asked questions.

If you’d like to learn more or have other questions, please reach out to your BARBRI Director of Legal Education, or to me directly at mike.sims@barbri.com.

Q1: Can I do my BARBRI lectures all online? If I choose to go to a classroom location, can I still access lectures online?

A: Only BARBRI offers online, mobile and in-class study options for no additional charge. You can do 100% of your BARBRI course online or can you choose to go to a classroom location for all or a portion of your lectures. If you select a classroom location, you still have access to all lectures online. BARBRI lets you mix and match what works best for you throughout the course – go to class for your most challenging subjects, revisit specific topics and subtopics online afterward or speed through your best subjects online at 1.5x speed. You can also stream or download video or audio lectures in the BARBRI Mobile App to watch or listen on the go.

Either way – all online or attending a classroom location– you’ll get the same great lectures from the same renowned U.S. law professors. It’s your time, your preference and your choice as to what works best for you to reinforce and recall the material you need to know to Own the Bar.

Q2: Aren’t BARBRI lectures long and boring?

A:  While I’ll admit that it’s hard to make Fee Simple Subject to Condition Subsequent exciting, I can tell you that year after year students rave about BARBRI professors. Our faculty are all gifted teachers who have the fantastic ability to make the law memorable and understandable.

BARBRI professors understand that you can’t learn everything all at once. That’s why both our classroom and online MBE lectures are divided into short segments, all of which include a professor-led review activity at the end of each topic. No long, boring, 3-4 hour lectures here.

After each subject, you’ll work a quick set of Knowledge Check questions that will increase retention and help ISAAC customize your Personal Study Plan.

Q3: How many graded essays are included with BARBRI Bar Review? Can I have unlimited essays graded at no additional charge?

A: The short answer is we will grade as many essays as you want to submit. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Before we talk about the right number of essays to be graded, let’s first talk about the strategy of essay writing for the bar exam. During bar study, your goal is to learn to write the best bar exam essays possible, as quickly as possible. And writing essays for the bar exam is very different than writing essays for law school.

As we’ve worked with students, we’ve seen that submitting practice essay after essay with no initial guidance and delayed feedback reinforces bad habits and wastes time. For this reason, a purely “unlimited” essay grading system can actually stunt your progress. We don’t want that for our students so BARBRI has a better answer with proven results: Directed Essay Grading.

It starts with Essay Architect, our exclusive online instruction platform that takes you through a series of steps to learn to critically read bar exam questions, enhance the speed of your essay writing and construct strong, winning answers. Essay Architect provides immediate feedback to build your essay writing skills quickly.

Then, we assign a carefully selected series of past bar exam essays and performance tests for grading and feedback from trained bar exam writing experts. You’ll also receive many more essays for practice and self-grading. If after taking advantage of those assignments you want additional essays graded, we’re happy to grade more. You can simply work with a BARBRI Director of Legal Education to get personal, 1:1 help, all free of charge.

Q4: How many MBE practice questions do you provide? Are they REAL released MBE Questions?

A: The short, direct answer to this question is that you’ll have access to over 2,500 MBE questions throughout your BARBRI Bar Review course. That being said, we don’t believe that this is quite the right question– or at least not the entire question – to be asking.

As with many things, it’s not just the quantity, it’s the quality and the methodology that matters. This is such an important topic, that we have another entire blog dedicated to this topic that you can read here if you’d like to geek out.

When it comes to real released MBE questions, BARBRI has released questions – but we only assign select questions that have been vetted to ensure they represent areas most likely to be tested. As a general rule, we don’t recommend focusing too much on released MBE questions.

Questions that have been released by the examiners will not appear in any future MBE because the scoring data for those questions would not be reliable. And, because only about 80 questions per subject have been released in the past 10 years, released questions don’t provide a good representation of the topics that are most likely to actually appear on the exam. Focusing primarily on real released MBE questions is another way some bar preppers misuse precious, limited study time.

The vast majority of BARBRI’s questions have been developed by BARBRI subject matter experts to test on the most important, most frequently tested topic areas – the same way the bar examiners do. These questions have been drafted after careful review of actual MBE questions and have been approved by professors who are experts in those subjects.

Q5: Do bar exam results really fall on a curve? Why should I care?

A: Even after years of published MBE results and graphs, there are still people who insist that bar exam results do not fall into a bell curve. For those who do believe what they see, there are also still many who feel that this fact is not meaningful. If anyone ever tries to convince you of either one of these things, there is only one thing to say: They’re wrong.

If you look at the 2017 MBE National Scaled Score Distribution from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you will see that MBE results do in fact fall in a bell curve pattern. And they fall into this pattern every single administration. Since BARBRI prepares the vast majority of law school graduates every year, the BARBRI Simulated MBE with Pass Predictor is the best way to know where you are on the curve before you sit for the exam.

We have a lot more to say on this topic and why it matters. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the blog: THE BAR EXAM CURVE: IT’S REAL.