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BarMax vs AdaptiBar
Our comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the BarMax and AdaptiBar bar review courses
If you’re getting ready to take the bar exam and are looking for some alternative options from the traditional players in the space like Barbri and Kaplan, your search may very well land you on BarMax and AdaptiBar. Both courses offer a number of appealing benefits over the bigger players in the bar prep world, but even between BarMax and AdaptiBar, there are a number of differences. So how do you decide on which course is right for you? Our team has purchased and used both prep programs, analyzed all of the features and options in detail, and conducted an in-depth comparison so you can make an informed decision on which course best fits your needs.
Advantage: AdaptiBar. This category is an open and shut case (no attorney puns intended), with AdaptiBar offering the much more affordable package. Offering a base course option that costs less than $400, AdaptiBar comes in hundreds of dollars cheaper than the analogous BarMax package. That said, it is not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, as adding video lessons to the AdaptiBar package brings the price tag up to nearly $850, providing a smaller (and more manageable) pricing gap. In addition, consideration must also be given to the fact that BarMax’s offerings extend beyond the MBE to a full UBE and California bar course. So if you’re looking for more than MBE work, BarMax may be your better bet. In either case, apples-to-apples, AdaptiBar gets the nod for its value.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Quality of Curriculum and Coursework
Advantage: BarMax. While a close call, BarMax offers a more robust curriculum and study package. Offering outline-synced audio lectures, flashcards, hardcopy and digital books, real bar exam questions and essay prompts, and the better overall course structure, BarMax just provides a deeper bar prep package.
Further, it is not just the quantity of materials that BarMax provides that our team liked; we also generally preferred the quality of the BarMax materials as well. The audio lectures from Harvard Law professors are 100% on point, and the flashcards are worthy of mention.
Advantage: BarMax (though not by much). Though we love the AdaptiBar video lectures from Professor Jonathan Grossman, which cut out all the fluff and spoon feed you black letter law, the text-synced lectures from BarMax are fantastic. Led by a team of Harvard Law professors, the substantive content of these lectures is insanely insightful and clearly tracks with the outlines, making material comprehension and retention a lot easier.
While we weren’t totally crazy about the audio-only format, the content is so good that if these were put into a video format, they’d likely be best in category.
Practice Questions and Tests
Advantage: AdaptiBar. Although both bar prep courses use real MBE questions from past bar exam administrations (licensed from the NCBE), we give AdaptiBar a slight edge based on their accompanying text explanations. Their explanations are thorough, well-written and cover each correct and incorrect answer choice in depth, proving an opportunity for deeper learning and understanding.
And given that practice problem review is where much of the learning process takes place, they get the nod here. All of that said, the quality of the actual practice questions and tests cannot be disputed here, as both companies offer real bar questions, the highest form of practice work.
Advantage: BarMax. Given that AdaptiBar doesn’t offer outlines or prep books, the clear winner here is BarMax. For both their basic MBE-only package, as well as their more comprehensive UBE and California bar exam review courses, BarMax offers concise black letter law outlines and prep books, in both digital and print format. I would just note that our team was incredibly impressed with the concise outlines.
➟ Related: For the #1-rated black letter law outlines for bar prep, see our review of Quimbee Bar Review.
Advantage: BarMax. This category is usually a slam dunk for BarMax, as their mobile app is at the center of their course, while most other bar prep companies don’t even offer an app. However, in this case, the competition is a little closer. AdaptiBar offers its own useful and intuitive mobile app on both iOS and Android devices, but at the end of the day, BarMax still reigns supreme. Their app is the best in the game, providing unfettered access to all your materials, while maintaining a responsive and snappy interface. Our team ranks the BarMax app #1 in the bar prep space for good reason.
Advantage: BarMax. Another win for BarMax here. While AdaptiBar does offer additional resources, these add-ons cost. Under their unique a la carte pricing structure, you must purchase their base package (MBE practice problems and explanations), but from there, you must pay up for video lectures, flashcards and other resources. While we liked the quality of such study tools (especially the video lessons from Professor Jonathan Grossman), we liked the fact that these resources come standard with BarMax’s course.
Not only that, BarMax goes farther by offering such extras as instructor chat support, message boards, performance analytics, essay feedback from trained bar exam graders, study calendars, office hours, and more.
Advantage: BarMax. This is an easy category to determine, as it turns on simple duration. And to that end, BarMax wins with their lifetime content access over AdaptiBar’s 6 months or so of access.
Money Back Guarantee
Advantage: AdaptiBar. When both companies offer money back pass guarantees, this category is usually a clear tie. However, while both companies do so here (a huge win for bar takers), AdaptiBar actually offers a 105% money back guarantee. That is, pass the bar or get 105% of your money back – something we haven’t seen elsewhere. Given that 105% > 100%, AdaptiBar gets the edge here.
Verdict: BarMax vs AdaptiBar
Though similar in many ways, these courses actually have more differences than appear on the surface. At the end of the day, our team dubs BarMax the winner here and our favorite in this matchup of alternative bar review courses – though not but much. While a bit pricier, BarMax offers a deeper and more robust set of coursework, which we favored over the practice-centric approach that AdaptiBar takes. If you’re looking for more than just MBE practice, we’d suggest BarMax.
Which bar review course costs more – AdaptiBar or BarMax?
In terms of straight pricing, AdaptiBar is the clear winner. Whether looking at BarMax’s MBE-only course or full scale bar review, AdaptiBar is generally priced at a fraction of what BarMax charges. That said, BarMax does offer significantly more study resources, as discussed above.
What’s the main difference between BarMax and AdaptiBar?
The biggest difference between AdaptiBar and BarMax is the depth of prep materials you get with both prep companies. AdaptiBar offers more limited study tools within an a la carte pricing system, whereas BarMax offers a more comprehensive, all-in-one bar prep package with all of the resources of a full-service bar review course.
Which bar review is better, BarMax or AdaptiBar?
Both courses offer strengths and weaknesses in different areas, and which course is “better” will ultimately turn on your needs.