President and Partner, SideBarPrep.com
After spending a virtual “mint” to graduate from law school, you are faced with a decision on whether to commit more money to assist you in passing the state bar exam. At this critical stage, every opportunity should be considered to better to increase chances of success. The odds are not in your favor, as bar exam passage has been declining on a percentage basis for several years. For example, while results for the California Bar improved slightly with the July 2017* exam, the pass numbers for the past several summer exams, has been mediocre, at best:
- July 2017* - 49.6%
- July 2016 - 43.1%
- July 2015 - 46.6%
- July 2014 - 48.6%
- July 2013 - 55.8%
- July 2012 - 55.3%
*the State Bar changed the method for calculating % passage to exclude those who sat for but did not finish the exam.
Let’s face it. The bar exam is too important to take a chance that you might not be prepared. While every topic that you will see in the exam will have been covered to some extent in your law school curriculum, it’s the sheer volume aspect of the exam that pushes candidates to look for help. That’s where the bar exam preparation companies come in.
These companies serve a gap that exists between the curriculum and the bar exam that law schools, for the most part, have failed to cover. One could argue whether some of these review courses are worth upwards of $3,000, but that could be the difference between passing or having to wait six more months to re-take the exam, while not working in your chosen profession.
Having to re-take the bar exam can really set you back financially and be painful to your psyche, especially if you already have a job lined up that requires bar passage. That six-month period between exams can be very costly in terms of lost wages and the mental burden of having the face the exam again.
How do you know you are getting value for the money spent on a review course? Unfortunately, that is not an easy question to answer until you find out the results of your exam. The key may be whether the prep course is aligned with your preferred method of learning the material and how you are able to memorize what is needed to be successful on practice exams.
A bar prep course is not needed for everyone, of course. However, if you want to stack the odds in your favor, a review course that offers your money back after sampling to see if it fits with your way of learning might be the ticket. And, be careful of those companies that do not offer a comprehensive program nor “up front” pricing.
For further information and a comparison of many of the companies offering this service, please see the article titled: “Bar Exam Preparation Courses Compared – Cutting Through the Clutter of Thirty-Six Company Offerings” written by the author of the Side-Bar System, William Hansult, Esq.