Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. In fact, my mom’s favorite saying is, “I may not have been able to give you a lot, but I sure taught you how to make lemonade out of lemons.” I didn’t have a lot throughout law school, either, so when it came time to prepare for my first bar exam ten years ago, I was a little shocked to see the staggeringly expensive cost of most bar prep programs.
Fortunately, there are a lot of great bar prep programs out there now that don’t cost as much money but still help you pass the exam.
This past summer, I took the Uniform Bar Exam in New York. I also had a one-and-a-half-year-old toddler at home and worked full time. I couldn’t afford to spend a lot of time or money on bar prep programs. Cue, YouTube! There are some great bar and MPRE lectures on YouTube, all for the cost of absolutely nothing.
I sat on the living room floor with my son playing cars while listening to lectures on YouTube on every subject from constitutional law to legal ethics.
The best way to use the lecture videos is to identify areas of the bar exam where you are struggling and then take the extra time to listen to lectures in those areas of the law. Lectures can take several hours, so if you are already confident in a subject, there’s no need to spend a lot of time on it. Instead, put your time and energy into listening to or watching YouTube lectures on subjects where you need improvement.
My son often had trouble sleeping on his own during the time I was studying for the bar. Fortunately, I found a few apps I could download on my smart phone. I have an android, but there were many apps that said they were also available for other products.
These apps cost less than $10 each and mostly consisted of games testing bar exam subjects. Best of all, I could hold my son while he napped, put my phone on silent, and play bar prep games until my son woke up and was ready to play again.
For me, putting the rules into practice in a game format rather than a typical lecture was far more effective. It also challenged me in a different way. The games usually had a setting where I could be timed. If I didn’t answer a certain number of questions within the time allotted, I lost the round. This method really forced me to learn the basic rules cold, and all for less than $10!
Another great and inexpensive way I found to multitask and save money while preparing for the Uniform Bar Exam was to download audio outlines to my smart phone and computer. During the summer, I was able to put my headphones in my phone and my son in his stroller. We went for long walks throughout our neighborhood while I listened to bar lectures.
The total cost of the audio outlines was fairly nominal. I could either buy a package of outlines for all of the bar exam subjects, just the subjects on the essay portion, or individual subjects.
I struggled a bit with Civil Procedure, so I purchased that outline. Then, I purchased a set of outlines for the essay subjects that weren’t tested on the Multistate Bar Exam such as Wills, Estates, and Trusts.
I’m not usually an auditory learner, but the audio outlines helped me at least hear familiar terms repeatedly and to learn mnemonics that would serve me well during the exam. And, the cost was not a huge burden.
Bar Exam Toolbox & Adaptibar
The best tool I purchased to prepare for the bar exam, though, was Bar Exam Toolbox. I purchased the Adaptibar upgrade, which allowed me to download an app to my smartphone. As I mentioned, apps were incredibly helpful for me while I multitasked and cared for my son.
The Adaptibar app had timed practice exams. I could analyze my results and even see which subcategory of each subject I was strong in or needed improvement.
Bar Exam Toolbox also provided instruction in the essay portion of the exam. My program also included a personalized instruction plan. As part of the plan, I had to answer several questions about my experience with the bar exam and my background. Doing the questionnaire helped me be honest with myself about my own limitations in order to better tailor my studying plan.
You Have Options
Ten years ago, there were only about three bar prep companies, and their services could cost several thousand dollars. Yes, it worked for me, but the cost was a huge burden.
Fortunately, there are several really quality bar prep programs now. Look for free YouTube videos, low-cost apps and audio outlines, and of course, don’t forget about Bar Exam Toolbox and the Adaptibar upgrade.
With any of these strategies (and a combination of programs) you will be able to cover all your bases and feel prepared for the Uniform Bar Exam.