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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. 

  • Price
  • Video Instruction
  • Live Class Hours
  • Practice Questions
  • Books
  • Mobile App
  • Money Back Guarantee
  • BarMax UBE Course Bundle Savings $450 OFF
    Bundle Savings $450 OFF
    Claim Discount
    • $1,895
    • 50+ Hours Audio
    • None
    • 1,400+ MBE
    • Hardcopy & Digital
  • Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review Pass Guarantee Frequent Deals
    Pass Guarantee Frequent Deals
    Check Discounts
    • $2,199
    • 100+ Hours
    • 160+
    • 3,500+ MBE
    • Hardcopy

In This Article: Kaplan Bar Review vs BarMax

Given that this is a lengthy and detailed comparison, we’ve included helpful jump-to links above for easy navigation.

BarMax or Kaplan? A Video Review

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 for more detail.

BarMax UBE Course

BarMax Bar Review

  • Pass Guarantee
  • Lifetime Access
  • Pass Guarantee
  • Lifetime Access
Our Score

9.6

  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
Pros
  • Concise black letter law outlines keyed to audio lectures from Harvard professors
  • Detailed, well-written explanations for reviewing practice problems
  • Insanely good digital platform, synced up across desktop and mobile
  • This course just feels more modern and efficient than Kaplan
Cons
  • No video lessons or live classes like Kaplan
BarMax UBE Course
Bundle Savings $450 OFF

Cost Comparison

Let’s begin this post by discussing pricing. And this 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’s no crazy course optionality like you get with BarBri.

kaplan bar prep drills
The Kaplan interface in the context of a typical drill

Putting that in perspective, you’re looking at saving around $300 if you go with BarMax over Kaplan. Alternatively, 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 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.

Reasons To Choose BarMax

Alright, now that we’ve covered how these courses stack up in terms of cost, let’s get into the good stuff: where each company wins. However, before we dive straight into those points, I think it’s worth noting that these two bar courses are very different in their approach from a high level.

Barmax flashcards
BarMax flashcards

Where Kaplan takes of the approach of “more is better,BarMax seems to make more of an effort to really trim down their package and offer a streamlined study package. Basically, BarMax seems a lot more concerned with efficiency in your studying, while Kaplan loads it on.

My best guess would be that there’s probably 2 to 3 times as much work with Kaplan as there is with BarMax. That said, I don’t want to kill a bunch of time providing a full scale overview 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.

BarMax Course Review

Kaplan Course Review

Personally, I think it is a more effective use of time here to flesh out where the courses differ and where each wins. And 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.

BarMax problem explanation
BarMax problem explanation

Whereas 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.

barmax lesson
BarMax black letter law outline

I love this because as exam day gets closer, your outlines become the heart and soul of your studying. And 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 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.

BarMax practice question
BarMax practice question

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.

Better Value

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.

Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review

Kaplan Bar Review

  • Pass Guarantee
  • Frequent Discounts
  • Pass Guarantee
  • Frequent Discounts
Our Score

9.2

  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
Pros
  • More practice material and coursework than any other provider (4,000+ MBE)
  • Effective course structure for material retention (Learn-Practice-Review-Catch Up)
  • Engaging instructors make for very good video lectures
Cons
  • Almost too much study material to get through in 8-10 weeks
  • BarMax's problem explanations are superior
Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review
Pass Guarantee Frequent Deals

Reasons To Choose Kaplan

Now that you have a good idea of the areas in which BarMax wins, let’s turn the tables and talk about where Kaplan wins.

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.

kaplan bar video lesson
One of Kaplan’s on demand bar review video lectures

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.

Live Classes

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, but 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

Alright, last 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, 3,500+ MBE problems…it’s honestly one of the most intensive bar courses I’ve reviewed.

kaplan bar practice question
We found Kaplan’s practice questions to be very high quality

And 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.

Personally, I almost think it’s sort of overkill. It’s almost too much material to get through in 8 to 10 weeks. You really need a week or two at the end of your studies to review your outlines, so it does border on too much. But if you want absolute immersion, I get it.

BarMax UBE Course
Bundle Savings $450 OFF

Verdict: BarMax or Kaplan?

That about covers all the detail, so let’s get to my verdict. Should you choose BarMax or Kaplan for your bar prep?

It’s 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. 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 doesn’t. 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.

Read Next: BarMax vs BarBri

FAQ

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.

Does BarMax or Kaplan have better outlines?

In our team’s opinion, BarMax offers the 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 material.

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