Our bar students have been using AdaptiBar to practice MBE questions for a few years now, and they’ve liked what they’ve seen, so I wanted to take this opportunity to update our review of this helpful product.
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What is AdaptiBar?
AdaptiBar is an online program targeted to help students get better MBE scores. As a user of the program, you review practice questions and it tracks your performance (it even compares your scores with state and national averages). Here are a few things I like about this program:
- The program uses the National Conference of Bar Examiners released questions. As such, you are practicing with real bar questions rather than questions created by a prep company.
- AdaptiBar gives you feedback—whether or not you answer the question correctly. One of the things I always recommend to my students is that they read the explanations for questions they get right as well as those they get wrong—because the student may have answered the question correctly but for the wrong reason. AdaptiBar gives the user an explanation (right or wrong) so you can make sure you know not only that your answer was correct, but why.
- There are both “practice” mode and “exam” mode settings. What this means is that you can decide whether you want to do questions one by one and immediately see the answer and explanation after answering the question. Or, you can test yourself and do a group of questions back-to-back and see the answers and explanations at the end of the whole set. You can also choose how many questions your set will contain, and which subjects and even sub-topics to test yourself on (e.g. 10 questions just on intentional torts).
- The program recognizes that the user is practicing on the computer for a paper examination. I am not a big fan of practicing multiple choice on a computer if the test is going to be on paper. Why? You can’t utilize many of the multiple choice test taking tools you have developed over the years (such as note taking on the fact pattern or crossing off incorrect answers). AdaptiBar recognizes this, however, and has allowed for the user to deselect an answer if he/she thinks it is wrong by clicking on it. It is important to note that this little trick allowed me to utilize some of the skills that I apply to taking a paper test, even though I was practicing online.
- AdaptiBar makes you feel like you are part of a community. Given you are doing this studying on your own, the company does what it can to make the user feel like he/she is part of a greater testing community. AdaptiBar compares your scores to state and national averages and even has a discussion board for feedback and guidance throughout the process. In addition, a user can upgrade to a program where he/she gets email feedback from a tutor to answer questions, what the company calls: “Virtual MBE Tutoring.”
- AdaptiBar takes into consideration your needs. You can change your settings to reflect any ADA accommodations you may have so you are testing in a simulated environment.
- The program helps you target areas where you need help. Here’s one area where the technology can do for you what a book cannot. The program prevents you from just answering questions that you get right over-and-over again. It helps you target and highlight your weak areas and makes sure you are covering everything on the MBE.
If you are considering using AdaptiBar, in my opinion, it would be wise to take the following into consideration:
- It is important to be a self-regulated learner. You are the only one who can own your bar preparation process. AdaptiBar cannot do this for you. You must manage your time to work on questions at the recommended pace.
- You still need to practice some MBEs on paper. Until the bar is given on the computer, I would recommend doing a practice exam on paper at some point just to remind yourself of what that feels like.
- Practice is not enough, you still need to study the law. AdaptiBar reminds you that you need to review the outlines—but it is important enough to say again that you must learn the law and not just run through MBE questions. The goal here is quality over sheer quantity. Students often ask us how many MBE questions they need to do to prepare for the exam. The answer is a lot (there’s no magic number here), but if you’re not doing a thoughtful review of each one, you’re wasting your time.
- Video lectures are available but be careful with your time. Adaptibar offers video lectures that you can choose by subject (e.g. Contracts, Property) or sub-topic (performance and breach, adverse possession, etc.). There is also a space below each video to write and save your own notes. I have found that the vast majority of students do not learn effectively just by watching video lectures. Additionally, lectures can tend to lull you into a false sense of security with your progress. Students often feel that if they’ve heard something before and it sounds familiar, they know it. The bar requires more precise knowledge, though. You need more than a general idea of how a rule operates. If you do the lectures, just be sure that you’re scores are showing improvement relative to the time you’re spending. Just like with reading outlines, video lectures will not be enough to teach you the law. You still need to spend most of your time on practice and review of that practice.
- You are responsible for getting an accurate picture of your progress. If you’re doing repeat questions or easy questions and getting 100% accuracy, that might feel great, but it’s not really representative of your skill level. Be careful of this common problem. It’s up to you to make sure you’re using the available settings to really test yourself. Review brand new questions so you’re not just memorizing the answers, and balance between targeted review and exam testing modes.
AdaptiBar also has a flashcard upgrade to the basic program. I have said before that flashcards do not really work for me personally, but they are available for you if you would like to use them. The company’s flashcards present very specific questions on the law versus asking you questions on larger legal issues. Although this may be effective for the MBE portion—remember it is critical to learn the law in a cohesive manner for the written portion of the exam.
Overall, I like AdaptiBar and it is much lighter to carry around than a big old MBE review book!
Special Offer from AdaptiBar: If you’d like to try AdaptiBar, we’ve negotiated a $30 discount! Just sign up via our special link, and you’ll get $30 off. (This is an affiliate link.)
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Has anyone used AdaptiBar? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Want to hear what we think about AdaptiBar’s substantive lectures? Check out our review here.
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Image from AdaptiBar.
**Initially Reviewed May 2012, Updated April 2016