Work + Growth

How to Choose the Best Bar Prep Course

  • Barbri, Themis, and Kaplan are the three most widely used bar review programs
  • Barbri and Kaplan are better for students who prefer structure and like having a live instructor, whereas Themis is an online course
  • Which prep course you choose—if you choose one at all—will depend on your learning style and preferred study method

You did it! You graduated from law school after years of hard work.

Now it’s time to start getting ready for the bar.

Bar prep can be a stressful and time intensive process, so it’s important that you come up with a study plan that best suits your needs. If you’re like a lot of law school graduates, you’re probably considering enrolling in a bar review prep course. In the past decade, there has been a huge increase in the number of these bar review courses available. With each program claiming to give you the best chance at passing, it can be hard to figure out which one is actually best for you. Considering that these programs often cost a few thousand dollars, you may be wondering whether they’re even worth it in the first place.

If you don’t know which prep course to choose or just aren’t sold on enrolling in a course at all, here’s a rundown of the main prep courses available and how to pick the right one for you.

Barbri, Themis, and Kaplan

While there are many more programs available besides what these companies offer, these three are the most popular and widely used bar review programs out there and are available in every state. While prices will vary depending on your location, Barbri and Kaplan generally cost anywhere from $2500-$4000 while Themis costs around $1200 to $1800. All three of these programs offer six- to eight-week courses filled with lectures, homework, and practice tests designed to get you comfortable with both the format of the bar and the material covered. While Barbri and Kaplan meet in person four to six days a week and include exam review and foundation workshops as well as lectures and other materials online, Themis is a completely online course.

Choosing the Right One

The truth is that all bar prep courses give you very similar information and strategies for studying. The main differences between the courses is not the advice or tips they give but the way in which they teach the strategies and transmit the information. While Kaplan and Barbri revolve around lectures with an instructor there to hold your hand and help you break down different questions and assignments, Themis posts all the material online and expects you to go through it on your own. As almost every bar prep course is going to give you the same raw materials, choosing the best one really depends on which study techniques work best for you and what your learning style is.

If you like having the structure of in-person classes and workshops four to six days a week, then you should probably think about courses like Barbri and Kaplan. If you prefer a more flexible schedule where you can learn and process the information at your own pace, then you may like the ease and convenience of taking your courses online with Themis.

Are you taking care of yourself—managing stress, eating properly—while getting ready for the bar? What kind of bar prep structure sounds like it will work best for you?

Is it Worth it?

The truth? It depends. There is no universal right answer when deciding whether to take a prep course. The answer not only varies based on your learning style and individual skillset, but also your experience in law school and comprehension of the material that you learned there over the years. If you did extremely well in law school and are confident in your study abilities, then it may make sense for you to prepare for the bar in your own way, on your own. If you like study groups and appreciate having material taught to you rather than learning it on your own, then a prep course could really help you. You know yourself best, and after three years of grueling law school exams, you probably know the study methods that best suit your skills.