Tools for Bar Exam Success: Themis Bar Review

I had gotten requests from some law students to share my thoughts on Themis Bar Review. Themis was nice enough to give me access to a demo course so I could learn more about its offerings and share my thoughts with the Bar Exam Toolbox community. So without further ado. . .

What is Themis Bar Review?

Themis Bar Review is a commercial bar review course that you can take entirely online. It is offered at a lower price point (course offerings are around $1,495 for a full bar review course) than many other commercial courses. Instead of sitting in a large lecture hall or convention center with other students listening to lectures, you listen to lectures and do all of your studying autonomously online.

Themis offers courses for 24 jurisdictions: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. There is also a separate MBE review.

The program provides some flexibility.

One of the things I liked most about Themis was that it offers two ways to approach a study schedule. You can choose “Directed Study” or “Flex Study.” Directed Study is more structured and suggests you complete lessons and practice in a sequential order. Flex Study allows you to pick and choose what you would like to study on a given day.

Why is this difference important? Many students feel that their bar review provider doesn’t give them any flexibility with their study schedule. If they are sick, or tired, or just having a bad day, they can’t choose to change their study schedule. Themis offers students the flexibility to jump between different types of schedules while still tracking their progress.

For students who are working, this might be a great option. They can even extend their bar review prep period to allow them a longer study period. The schedule will reflect this and help students manage their workload (which is critical for students who are planning on working while studying).

The program doesn’t set unrealistic expectations.

I was told that Themis suggests students study eight hours a day during the week and some also on the weekend. Thank you, Themis! This is a reasonable approach to bar study (it helps to treat studying like a job).

You don’t have to sit through an entire lecture at once.

I thought this was also a nifty approach. Themis breaks down the subject lectures into 15- to 20-minute “Chapters.” So if you find it difficult to focus on a lecture for four hours at a time, for example, you can choose to listen in shorter chunks, altering your bar prep study time to what works best for you.

Themis gives you tools to check your understanding.

Themis provides assessment questions so you can check your understanding and retention of information from a lecture. The results will identify specific chapters where you may need additional review (or you may want to go back and listen to the entire lecture again!).

What if you want to use your iPad or iPhone?

There is an app for that, which you can download (as part of your tuition).

You get personalized feedback.

Themis makes it a priority to get feedback to its students. You have due dates to submit various essays and performance exams for grading. You get an overall score on the writing and then discussion of areas you can work on in track changes. This feedback comes from your attorney advisor who gives you tips throughout the entire process. And your attorney advisor stays with you throughout your prep so you are getting consistent advice from one resource.

There is plenty of MBE practice.

Themis let me know that there were about 3,000 practice MBE questions included on its site, some from the National Conference of Bar Examiners and some written by Themis. There are different “modes” you can practice MBE questions in, but the best (in my opinion) is by doing the interactive mode where you are given the correct answer and the rationale.

Themis tracks your progress.

One of the benefits of the online program is you get to track your progress. You can check to see how much material you have covered and how you are doing on the writing and MBE portions. This helps you feel as though you are “owning” the preparation process.

Who is a good match for Themis Bar Review?

I think that Themis is a quality option for the student who is a self-regulated learner and doesn’t need the structure of going to a class every day or working with a group of people. I think the program provides some flexibility so you can move through the material as it works for you (but still it creates accountability through the due dates of practice exams and periodic check-ins with your attorney advisor).

Want to learn more?

If you are still a law student, you should try out a Themis product to see if you think it will be a good fit for you! You can try its MPRE review for free by following this link.

Have you taken Themis Bar Review? Share your experience in the comments.

You might also find these posts helpful:

Image by Themis Bar Review.

Comments

  1. I do not recommend Themis at all. I took it for the July 2012 bar exam and failed. I have since signed up for another bar review course and in only my first week in, I can say that the quality and quantity of Themis products is sub-par. The lectures drag on and on and are painful to sit through, namely because the same points are being reiterated over and over and in a slow voice. I didn’t find their syllabus to be particularly realistic as if I were to follow it exactly, I would be studying for ten hours per day for seven days a week up until the bar exam. Taking practice MBE questions online is not best way to prepare for the bar as it doesn’t allow you to take notes in the margins, underline phrases, or highlight key concepts as you would in the actual exam. Though I submitted an essay, I DID NOT receive feedback. My biggest problem with Themis is that there was not enough emphasis placed on HOW to pass the bar exam (in terms of tacking MBE questions and the structure of essay questions) for my particular jurisdiction. Also, you don’t have access to ANY of your bar materials (that YOU already paid for) the day after the exam. In other words, after I found out I failed and attempted to login and practice some MBE problems, I was no longer permitted access. I would strongly discourage anyone who is thinking of taking it. I wish I hadn’t and in sum, you get what you pay for.

  2. Lauren, we’re sorry to hear that you were unsuccessful on your bar exam and that you don’t believe that Themis was a good fit for you. We’re glad that you believe you have found an option better suited for you for the February bar exam. However, Themis has worked for thousands of students and we stand behind both our methodology and the quality of our materials. We believe our pass rates speak to the effectiveness of the Themis program. In an effort to help students research as to what option will work best for their bar studies, there are a few statements you make that we believe deserve some clarification:

    1. The Directed Study syllabus is calculated based on a 6-8 hour study day, Monday-Friday with weekends reserved for review. Additionally, each course has 2-3 days ‘off’ in the schedule which are intended as either breaks for a student or catch up days. If a student does not start on the recommended start date, or takes off several days in his/her course, the amount of daily work will increase. Additionally, as a student gets closer to the exam, the amount of tasks will also increase in daily hours. Granted, our approach does place personal responsibility on the bar exam taker to keep up with the daily course work. Students need to be diligent about logging in and completing their work – taking several days (or weeks off) during the course will not ultimately work. For those students who find that Directed Study does not work for them, we have the option of Flex Study and our state directors are readily available to help students revise the study calendar to come up with a manageable plan for them.

    2. We believe that doing MBE practice questions online is a very effective and efficient way to study. Answering MBE questions online gives students immediate access to the answers and explanations, as well as links to the specific topic in the online outlines for further clarification and review. Our online question bank allows students to track their time down to the second to ensure they are adhering to the recommended 1.8 minute per question time limit. And, last, answering the questions online allows for tracking of not only the individual student’s progress and score but every single Themis student. Since the MBE is a nationally scaled exam, it is extremely beneficial for students to see how they scored versus their peers on the test questions. We also understand that it is beneficial to mimic exam conditions. This why we offer students the option of taking both Milestone Exam and the Simulated MBE in paper format, using the bubble sheet and good old #2 pencil.

    3. Online access closes two days after the bar exam – the same as every other major bar review provider. After online access closes we begin the process of updating our course materials for the next bar exam administration to incorporate any changes to the laws or testable subjects. Our courses re-open for early access approximately one month prior to the recommended start date for their course. Further, any students who were unsuccessful on their bar exam and used Themis for the first time receive a free repeat of our course. If you wished to have access to the MBE questions again, you simply needed to call, email or chat with us and let us know that you needed access to the February 2013 course. [We would still be happy to extend this free repeat/access to you.]

    Lauren (and all other bar exam takers), we wish you the best of luck on the February 2013 bar exam. If there is anything that we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  3. Full Disclosure:

    It’s hard to fully analyze comments without more background information. Therefore, here is some of my personal information regarding my Bar Prep and my Bar Exam.

    I took Themis for the July 2012 exam. I took the bar in a UBE jurisdiction. Further, the scoring in my jurisdiction is one of the more difficult UBE jurisdictions to pass.

    I approached my studying as if it were my job. I put in approximately eight hours a day, Monday – Friday. I also took some time on Saturdays to review my notes. But, that was minimal through most of the course. As I got closer to the exam I put more time in on the weekends. I followed the directed study mode as recommended. Near the end, I did deviate to get as many MBE questions in as possible. In fact, I took all of the MBE questions provided by the course by the time I finished.

    I passed the Bar Exam.

    Negative Aspects

    There were some negative issues that I did experience during the prep-course. However, unlike most law school graduates, I am a reasonable individual. When faced with a problem, I adapted and overcame the issue.

    First, this is a web-based course. This means that students are subjected to issues that are beyond their control. On two or three occasions, the web portal slowed wayyyyyyyy down for a day. If memory serves correct, two of these slowdowns occurred on the two recommended start dates (first day of studying). I think there was one more slowdown during a heat wave. I assume the servers got overloaded. I overcame the problem by looking my printed course outline and just worked on other assignments. I came back and finished the assignment that required an Internet connection later. For me, it wasn’t a big deal. Some of my friends freaked out. But, they passed their Bar Exams too.

    Second, the graded essays were not scored on a 100-point scale. Themis scores your practice essay the same way your jurisdiction scores the exam. It makes sense, but I was used to a 100-point scale. At the beginning of the course I doubted my performance. But, as time went on, I got used to the point-scale and realized I was doing fine. It was just another Bar Exam freak-out issue. Everyone has hang-ups as they study. I think it’s a defense mechanism in the event they don’t pass.

    Positive Aspects

    First, I am a goal-oriented person. The directed study mode gave me a daily/weekly goal. It also told me when to stop for the day. I feel this helped keep me from burning out.

    Second, the web-based approach allowed me to pick my study environment. Fortunately, I was able muster the discipline to study from my house. However, if this didn’t work I could have gone to a library, park, Panera Bread, etc… I had a number of friends that took their Bar-prep course in a classroom environment. Issues they encountered included construction at the location, lawn service noise, and loud summer school students. They did not have the option of changing their environment.

    Third, the structure of the program broke things up. Other Bar-prep courses have a proctor that starts videotapes. There are no pause, rewind, or stop options available if you miss something. Themis breaks up the lectures. It helped keep me engaged. Also, if I missed something in the lecture I was able to go back and listen to what I missed.

    There are many other positive aspects of the course that I can detail, but these three were big for me.

    Overview

    It should be obvious that there is not one perfect fit for Bar-prep. Some people need the security of the classroom. Some feel that paying twice as much for Bar-prep course will guarantee a passing score. For me, Themis worked perfectly. I felt the materials, lectures, practice tests, communications, etc… were well put together. Other than some minor hiccups, there were no major issues. Personally, I would highly suggest the course to anyone that is in a jurisdiction where the course is offered.

    • Hi Doug:

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure it will help other students making the difficult decision of picking a bar prep provider. Thanks – Lee

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