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BarMax vs Kaplan
Find out which prep course we think is better in this comparison of Kaplan Bar Review vs BarMax
Outside of Barbri, who has about a 60% market share of the bar review space, BarMax and Kaplan are two of the most popular options for bar prep. Both courses offer affordable, comprehensive alternatives to the biggest name in the space. But which one is better? In this comparison, we stack these two courses up side-by-side and we let you know which one we think is better factoring in cost, quality, and more.
Given that this is a lengthy and detailed comparison, we’ve included helpful jump-to links above for easy navigation.
Video Review: BarMax or Kaplan?
In this video, John (from the Test Prep Insight team) compares the bar review courses from Kaplan and BarMax, covering all the pros and cons of each. Continue reading our full written comparison below for more detail.
Let’s begin this post by discussing pricing, which is a pretty simple matter. Both companies offer bar review courses for every state, and both charge the same price regardless of which jurisdiction your are in.
Kaplan’s bar review course costs right around $2,200 and BarMax’s costs a shade under $1,900. That’s it. It’s pretty simple to stack these companies up side-by-side from a cost point of view, as there is no crazy course optionality like you get with Barbri.
Putting that in perspective, you’re looking at savings of around $300 if you go with BarMax over Kaplan.
That being said, no matter which course you go with between these two, you’re likely to save $400 to $600 over Themis, and around $1,000 or more by not going the Barbri route.
So although both of these courses are $300 apart, both are pretty cost effective when compared to others. And even at that, both companies regularly offer sales and special promotions, so be sure to check for coupon codes before purchasing.
My best guess would be that there’s probably close to twice as much work with Kaplan as there is with BarMax.
However, I don’t want to waste a bunch of your time providing a full scale, granular review of each course. We have full detailed reviews on each bar package if that’s what you want. I’ll link those immediately below for you if you want to check those out.
Personally, I think it is a more effective use of time here to flesh out where the courses differ and where each wins. Let’s start with BarMax.
More Efficient Studying
The first advantage of going with BarMax is efficiency. On the whole, BarMax seems to offer fewer resources than Kaplan, and your assignments everyday are much leaner.
While your daily assignments with Kaplan (including their live classes), might take you 8 to 10 hours to finish, you can generally get the BarMax daily assignments done in about 5 to 7 hours. It’s just a much more streamlined course.
You can tell BarMax buys into the philosophy of “less is more.” Personally, I really this approach as you still have some mental horsepower left at the end of each day to do some extra problems in areas where you’re weak or hit your outlines a few times. I just liked the leanness of their curriculum.
Awesome Black Letter Law Outlines
Next, I believe BarMax offers superior black letter law outlines. Rather than using live classes and video lectures as the basis of your instruction like Kaplan, BarMax makes their outlines the foundation of their coursework.
Everything revolves around the outlines – the synced audio lectures, drills, flashcards, and practice problems. These materials are all bucketed into learning modules based on sections in your outlines.
I love this because as exam day gets closer, your outlines become the heart and soul of your studying. In those final few days where you’re hammering your outlines, the fact that everything distills down to them really helps you memorize the material.
Problem Solutions Are More Analytical
The third advantage for BarMax is their problem explanations. Without mincing words, I love the BarMax problem explanations. All of the solutions that come with their MBE problems are awesome.
They give detailed analysis of why the correct answer choice was correct, as well as why the incorrect answer choices were incorrect.
This way, you can get a fuller understanding of where you went wrong or confirm why you were right. I just love the detail in these explanations.
Now, I do wish they offered more MBE practice problems in every learning module. There were many instances where the handful of problems they would give me to reinforce the lesson just didn’t feel like enough. However, the quality is very good.
Lastly, I know I already covered price, but BarMax is simply a better value than Kaplan. If we’re being honest, you’re probably considering these two options in the first place because you don’t want to pay the $3,000+ for Barbri.
I’m just guessing that cost and value are likely very important to you. And given that BarMax is $300 cheaper, it’s a good opportunity to save a few bills.
Now that you have a good idea of the areas in which BarMax wins, let’s turn the tables and talk about the major reasons to choose Kaplan to help you prepare for the bar exam.
Better For Visual Learners
The first (and clearest) advantage for Kaplan in my eyes is that it’s better for visual learners.
If you learn best with video and graphics (in other words, if you’re just a very visually oriented person), Kaplan gets the edge because they have video lessons while BarMax does not.
BarMax does offer some really good audio lessons that are synced to their black letter law outlines, which are presented by Harvard law school professors and very in-depth. However, at the end of the day, they’re no substitute for video lessons, and Kaplan’s videos are really good.
Kaplan’s instructors are very engaging and demonstrative, and the production quality is really good.
The instructor appears on one side of the screen and notes appear on the other half (similar to Studicata videos in a way). It’s a very effective format.
The second advantage for Kaplan are their live classes. If you’re the type of student that needs a set schedule of live classes to keep yourself accountable and making progress, the decision is pretty easy, as Kaplan offers live classes and BarMax doesn’t.
The Kaplan classes are very good and offer some great detail, though they do largely cover the same material from the self-paced study materials.
So if you’re looking for a self-paced course or don’t care to tune into the live class webcast everyday, it’s probably not going to make a difference. However, for those that need the structured schedule, Kaplan has a significant advantage.
Tons of Study Material
The final win for Kaplan is the volume of study material. Honestly, if I’m giving BarMax a win for their more efficient, streamlined curriculum, it’s only fair that I give Kaplan a win for their level of study material.
The bottom line is that Kaplan just piles it on. Live classes, video lessons, prep books, drills, 4,000+ MBE problems…it’s honestly one of the most intensive bar courses I’ve reviewed.
I think this favors students that burn up the material. If you’re looking for total, around-the-clock immersion for 10 weeks, Kaplan will definitely give you that.
It’s a lot of material to get through in 8 to 10 weeks, but it’s honestly about the most comprehensive bar prep option available (even more so than Barbri).
You really need a week or two at the end of your studies to review your outlines and cram, so it does border on too much, but at the end of the day, if you can stay on schedule, you’ll be fine.
That about covers all the detail, so let’s get to my verdict. Should you choose BarMax or Kaplan for your bar prep?
This is really a tough call. I do think both courses have their own strengths and weaknesses, and will benefit different types of studiers, but at the end of the day, I would go with BarMax (assuming you are fine with self-paced studying).
The reality is that the bar exam has changed over the last decade or so with wide-scale adoption of the UBE, and everything is now more uniform and streamlined than it used to be. So bar prep should be the same way.
And to me at least, it seems like BarMax gets that, while Kaplan hasn’t fully embraced it. Basically, I love BarMax’s black letter law outlines, keyed audio lectures, and learning module approach with accompanying drills, MBE problems and flashcards.
It’s just a very efficient, effective bar review package. Plus, I also like that it’s $300 or so cheaper.
Which bar review course is better, BarMax or Kaplan?
It is a very close call, and hard to judge given the major differences between these two courses, but we favor BarMax over Kaplan for their concise outlines and streamlined curriculum. BarMax has less study material overall, but it is very well vetted and structured.
Does BarMax or Kaplan have better outlines?
In our team’s opinion, BarMax offers better outlines. Their black letter law outlines offer a concise breakdown of essential info, while Kaplan’s seem a little too lengthy.
What’s the biggest difference between Kaplan Bar Review and BarMax?
The clearest difference between Kaplan Bar Review and BarMax is easily the level of study material. BarMax’s course is much leaner and more streamlined, while Kaplan loads on the prep material. However, we do very much like BarMax’s modular approach to structuring their study material.