As students around the country have been getting bad news about the bar exam, I have been getting more and more emails and phone calls wanting advice on how to pick a bar exam tutor. I wanted to take the advice I have been sharing with those students and share it with you.
How Do You Find a Bar Exam Tutor?
There are a few ways that you can find a quality bar exam tutor:
- Ask for recommendations from professors or academic support professionals at your law school. Your law school may have an academic support office. If so, this is a great place to start looking for tutor recommendations. Often these offices have a list of known tutors that students have had good experiences with. Try to get a few names if you can. Or, ask a professor that you trust or had a great relationship with to recommend a private bar exam tutor.
- Ask friends who may have had to re-take the bar exam. A number of students I have worked with found me through a friend who was a former student. Just like anything else, recommendations can be the best way to find a service provider. (Right? We ask our friends for recommendations for doctors, hair stylists, personal trainers, restaurants, etc.)
- Do a good-old Google search. If these avenues don’t work for you, go ahead and do a Google search. Many bar exam tutors have websites with descriptions of their programs; they may even blog about their testing philosophies. You can learn a lot by reading blogs!
Ask the Right Questions
You should try to contact the tutors that you are considering working with. I would suggest emailing and calling them. You want to at least speak with the person on the phone before deciding to work with him or her. This is important because you are going to need to build a relationship with the person who will assist you through the bar review process.
When you talk to tutors, ask questions about the programs they offer (programs definitely differ from tutor to tutor):
- Do they offer study support for both the written and multiple-choice portions of the bar exam?
- Do they provide materials?
- Will they provide you with a study schedule?
- Do they provide feedback on writing practice?
- How many hours do they recommend you study each week? (If they say something like 12 to 15 hours a day, don’t work with them.)
- How long have they been working with students and preparing them for the bar exam?
- Do they have any testimonials or references from past students?
- What is their pricing structure?
Notice what isn’t on this list: Pass rates.
I wanted to comment on this because students always ask what my pass rate is and whether they can believe other tutors’ pass rates. Many people take liberties when reporting pass rates. They only choose to report the rates of students who worked with them and did all of their assigned work. Or they use another criteria to report a pass rate. It isn’t that you shouldn’t ask this question, but you do need to take the answer with a grain of salt.
A note on pricing. I have recently heard some pretty outlandish price quotes from tutoring programs. How much you are able to spend on bar prep is very personal and you must feel good about your decision. Just like everything else in life, the most expensive option may not be the best. However, if you chose to go bargain basement, you may not get what you paid for. So, as with any other smart consumer decision, critically look at your pricing options and what you feel comfortable paying.
Go with Your Gut
Studying for the bar exam, especially after a failure, is a very emotional experience. Although it is important that your tutor is skilled in helping students prepare for the bar exam, your tutor must also be a good match for you. You must feel you can trust your tutor and rely on his or her judgment. You must feel that you tutor will support you. I have heard of tutoring relationships breaking down because a student went with a tutor that someone else told the student to work with instead of the tutor he or she wanted. Your bar tutor should be on your team—to help you through a very challenging experience. Make sure you pick the right person to work with you. This person likely needs to be your confidant, motivator, and moral support. When you interview a tutor, you might want to think about your choice in that capacity.
Remember: There Is No Single Magic Answer for Passing
In all of my work helping folks prepare for law school exams and the bar exam, I can say one thing for certain—there is no one easy “magic” answer to passing the bar exam. It takes work, practice, and time. If someone is selling you an “easy answer” then, well, it might not be the right answer for you.
Interested in more useful information? Check out these links!
- What you should consider when selecting a bar review provider.
- Yikes! I failed the bar exam.
- What you can do NOW to prepare for the bar exam.
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Once again, a very insightful post, Lee.
I haven’t seem to be able to find any program that fits my unique situation. I graduated from law school 11 years ago. I am planning to take the July 2014
CA Bar. I have never taken it. I did fair to midland in law school. Either I received very high grades in a given subject or very low ones, which placed me squarely in the middle. I have a plan of action I am just wondering if it is the correct one, or rather the one most suited to my goal of passing the bar on the first try. I have been through much over the last few years which has shaken my confidence about everything but yet I “know now” for the first time in mylife this the course I must pursue. I am thinking of paying in full for BarBri so I can get all of my books. Retaking Legal R&W and an Advanced Legal R&W class if I can. I plan on studying on my own for the first 6 months then hiring a tutor that specializes in the PT part of the exam Vivian Dempsey is who I am considering and then another tutor for the last few months that is patient, competent, compassionate, and will work with me one on one. I also have ADD, sleep apnea, and diabetes. For the first time in my life at 47. I feel I have had a fall from grace if you will, but as a result it is time to get up from that fall and finish what I started. I am wondering if this is a good plan and do you have any suggestions, concerns, or comments about the approach I plan to take. Oh yes I also plan at the end of all of the above to actually take the full BarBri course.
In 2008 I did study for and pass the MPRE. It is still on file. I passed pretty high, quite to my surprise.
I need to optimize my chances at success now because I am not working and this will likely be the only time I will have this opportunity so Please if you have any guidance, anything at all. I would be most and humbly gratful.
Thank You in Advance.
Aleta M. Bryant J.D.
Please reply I thing I may have clicked on the cancel by accident. Very Much looking forward to you comments. I sincerely need guidance here.
Sounds like you have a plan to get started studying for July 2014. I think you are wise to take a full prep course, although you may want to learn about some other programs other than BARBRI if you are mainly looking for materials. There are other offerings out there that will provide materials at a lower price point (if price is a concern for you).
I also think it would be wise to work with a tutor to help you with the writing portion of the exam (likely essays and PTs). If you have found a tutor you like, that is great. It is important that you feel connected to your tutor and that you trust their perspective on the process. It is challenging to come back to this test after so long and you will need the emotional as well as academic support of a tutor. You might consider looking for one tutor who can support you through the whole process so you have consistency of messaging about how to approach the exam. Many tutors work with students on the essay and PT portions of the test (such as myself and many others like me).
You are wise to start thinking about this process early to get you the support you need. If I were you, I would likely hire a tutor who could support you throughout the preparation process and supplement any commercial course you are taking so you have that resource and accountability available to you even if you are studying for 6 months.
I hope this has been helpful.
Best – Lee
I am a previous bar exam taker. I remember leaving the exam room that day feeling defeated but thankfully I ended up victorious. Looking back, I think it was sheer luck, especially after taking the exam three years post law school. I am moving to a different state in hopes of better job prospects and need to take the bar exam again. Considering a tutor but not sure. I am curious about your comment about not working with a tutor who suggests studying 12-15 hours a day. I self – studied the last time and I think I studied more than 15 hours/day and I cannot even imagine passing without having done so. Can you elaborate on your comment? It would help put things in better perspective when searching for a private tutor. Thanks.
Thanks for reading and for your comment. It is my belief and perspective (and I know many other experts share my opinion) that studying for 12-15 hours a day for most people is not effective. First, most folks cannot be extremely productive for that many hours for that many weeks without suffering burnout. Second, I would argue that if you study smart (and that means not just studying to study — but focusing on learning the must-know law and doing lots of practice) you can use your time efficiently and get quite a bit done simply treating the exam like a full-time job (say, 50 hours of studying a week). However, all that being said, you know yourself best — if you feel like that is the type of study schedule you want to or need to keep, do what feels right for you. There is not one answer for everyone.
Looking for a bar tutor referral in the Houston-Galleria area.
previous exam taker (numerous times) and would like a tutor relationship that can support my efforts to finally get over the top. Large bar review settings are not for me. I need up close tutoring that will assist me in avoiding past pitfalls. If there are recommendations, I’m all ears…
Thanks for reading the blog. I don’t have a Texas based tutor I can recommend. However, if you need MBE/MPT help there are tutors in our resource directory who can help you: https://barexamtoolbox.com/resource-hub/bar-exam-toolbox-resource-directory/
Good luck with your search!
I am in Wyoming. I graduated 11 years ago (and convinced I didn’t want to practice I didn’t take the bar exam at he time). I have since made a couple of unsuccessful attempts at the Bar Exam a few years apart, the most recent this past February 2017. I did BARBRI before and most recently Themis. While I thought I did a lot better on my most recent attempt, my score came back and I was actually lower than my previous score. I think a tutor would be helpful but I am not even sure if one is available in Wyoming.
Hi Stephanie: As Wyoming uses the UBE, you can actually work with any UBE tutor. Our team does this. You can learn more about our programming here: https://barexamtoolbox.com/uniform-bar-exam-ube-mee-and-mpt-tutoring/
I hope this is helpful! Best – Lee
I find it is really useful for me. Thank you so much for sharing. I will suggest your posts to my friends. Hope more people will appreciate your posts.