In these difficult economic times, many students have been tempted to forego the traditional bar review course in order to save some money. I want to caution against doing so. You may protest that after three or more years in law school you are tapped out financially. However, you must consider a full-service bar review course to be part of the total cost of your legal education. After all that you have invested in your legal education this is no time to cut corners.
There is no substitute for a full-service bar review course (full disclosure: I am Director of a bar review program). Due to the vast amount of material you must learn in a very short time, you need to have the material organized in a way that allows for efficient studying. Do not think that you can learn it all on your own.
You may ask: How would a student prepare for the bar exam without taking a full-service bar review course? One way is to borrow materials from a friend who has taken a full-service course. While this may seem like a great way to reap the benefits of a bar review course without paying for it, this approach simply does not work for most people. That’s because a bar review course consists of more than just books.
You must consider what you would be missing out on by not taking the course yourself. Here are just a few of the things you would be missing:
- Classroom lectures. Being able to attend daily classroom sessions provides a structure for your study plan and sets a pace that keeps you from falling behind. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions during live lectures.
- Ability to ask questions and get answers from experts. With all of the subjects you are expected to master for the bar exam, it is inevitable that you will have questions along the way. Where will you find experts on each of these subject areas if you do not take a bar review course?
- Individualized feedback on graded practice tests. While your workbooks may contain sample answers, there is no substitute for the individualized feedback provided by an experienced bar review grader. Without objective feedback from others, you may not even realize that you are consistently making the same mistakes and will be doomed to repeat those mistakes on the actual bar exam.
- Test-taking advice. Bar review courses provide valuable test-taking advice that could greatly improve your chances of success, such as advice on which issues are most testable. They will also answer your questions about the exam and help you create a personalized study plan. This is advice you cannot get from reading someone else’s old outlines.
- Updates and recent changes in the law. Using old materials virtually guarantees that you will miss out on recent changes to the law. Taking a bar review course gives you the confidence that your outlines and materials are up-to-date and in conformity with the currently tested information.
While it is tempting to try to save money on a bar review course, remember that the actual cost of taking the bar exam may ultimately include the cost of re-taking the bar exam…and that’s no savings. When you add in potential lost earnings, additional filing fees, hotel and travel expenses during the week of the exam, the additional expense of re-taking the exam can easily exceed the savings you hoped you would realize by not taking a bar review course in the first place.