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BarMax vs Themis Bar Review

An in-depth comparison of the bar review courses from Themis and BarMax

When bar review courses cost as much as used cars, it can be hard to choose one. It is a lot of money, and it’s a decision you don’t want to mess up. If you’ve narrowed your research down to BarMax and Themis, we’ve got you covered. We’ve purchased, used and reviewed both bar prep courses in detail. In this guide, we break down how they stack up side-by-side so you can make a final decision on which is best for you.

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    • $1,895
    • 50+ Hours Audio
    • 1,950+ MBE
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    • $2,695
    • 100+ Hours
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Outline: Themis vs BarMax

As this is a lengthy comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for your convenience.

Video Review: Should You Choose Themis or BarMax?

In the video above, Test Prep Insight team member John (a California attorney) discusses the pros and cons of each bar review course. Please keep reading for more information.

BarMax UBE Course


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  • Concise black letter law outlines keyed to audio lectures from HLS professors
  • Insightful, well-written explanations for reviewing practice problems
  • More affordable than Themis
  • Insanely good digital platform, streamlined across desktop and mobile
  • Essay critiques are very helpful and add value
  • Instructor support by email or chat if you need help
  • No video lessons (take note if you are a visual learner)
  • No live classes
BarMax UBE Course
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Reasons To Go With BarMax

To keep this video narrowly focused on directly comparing these two bar review courses, my plan is simply to cover the major differences between them and where I see each being better than the other. Let’s begin with BarMax.

More Streamlined Curriculum & Content

The first advantage for BarMax is that they have a more efficient curriculum. In short, BarMax offers less coursework and practice material than Themis overall, and your assignments everyday are much leaner. Yet, I actually like this.

Barmax flashcards
BarMax flashcards

If I’m just being honest, it felt to me like Themis loaded on too much work. While your daily assignments with Themis might take you 8 or 9 hours to finish, you can generally get the BarMax daily assignments done in about 6 or so hours.

It’s a much more streamlined course, and personally, I really this approach as you still have a little mental bandwidth left at the end of each day to do some extra practice problems or flip through your outlines a few times. I appreciated the leanness of the BarMax curriculum.

Better Black Letter Law Outlines

I love the BarMax black letter law outlines. Rather than using on demand video lectures as the foundation of your instruction like Themis, BarMax actually makes their outlines the basis of your coursework.

Everything revolves around the outlines: the synced audio lectures, drills, flashcards, and practice problems. It’s all designed around the structure of the black letter law outlines.

barmax lesson
Sample BarMax black letter law outline

All of these materials are grouped into learning modules based on the sections in your outlines, and I really like this. As exam day gets closer, your outlines become the basis of your studying in those final couple weeks, and the fact that everything distills down into them really helps you memorize the material.

Insightful Problem Explanations

Another advantage for BarMax is their problem explanations. I am a huge fan of the BarMax problem explanations. All of the solutions that come with their MBE problems are really strong.

They provide detailed analysis of why the correct answer choice is correct, as well as why the incorrect answer choices are incorrect. That way, you can get a better understanding of where you are wrong, or confirm why you are right. I love the detail in these explanations and think they’re really valuable.

BarMax problem explanation
Typical BarMax problem explanation

To be fair, I would like to see BarMax add more MBE practice problems directly into each learning module as assessments, as a lot of times the handful of problems they give you to reinforce the lessons just didn’t feel like enough, but the quality of the explanations is very good.

More Affordable

The last win for BarMax is cost. This is a pretty simple point: the BarMax course is a lot more affordable than Themis’ course.

BarMax’s standard bar review course prices out at around $1,900, while the comparable course from Themis costs around $2,700. Thus, right out of the gate you’re looking at saving around $800 by going with BarMax over Themis.

Not to mention, even with that price disparity, BarMax is still really aggressive with their sales and special promotions, while Themis isn’t as active, kind of widening that pricing gap a little further.

👉 Read our full review of BarMax here

Themis Bar Review

Themis Bar Review

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  • Excellent, in-depth prep books that add a ton of value
  • Live workshops focusing on test taking strategy are effective
  • Prime → Present → Practice learning framework works really well
  • Useful task-by-task daily study plan
  • Video lectures, while short, are boring
  • Problem explanations are not as useful as BarMax's
  • No live classes
Themis Bar Review
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Reasons To Go With Themis

Having covered BarMax’s advantages, let’s change gears and discuss Themis. I have them winning in three categories.

Effective Prep Books

The clearest highlight of the Themis course is the set of prep books they provide. In short, the Themis books are extremely good. They give you six books for your prep, including lecture handouts, outlines and books of practice problems.

Not to get off topic, but the thing with bar study is that you need to learn and retain information in a way that makes recall really easy. When you’re trying to remember things on test day, you don’t have time to rack your brain for an answer.

Themis Bar Review Books
Themis Bar Review prep books

You need to mentally index key principles and rules, so that you can boost your recall speed and power. And for me, the way everything in the Themis books distills down really helps with that.

They’re well-organized, contain smart points, use effective acronyms, and provide a strong medium for reinforcing the content you’re learning. All in all, these are some of the best bar review books I’ve used.

Live Workshops Are Great

The second advantage for Themis is their workshop series. This is one of the best features of the Themis course.

While much of the Themis content revolves around content review, they also offer a number of live workshops that focus on test taking strategy.

You get a workshop for each subject tested on the MBE, as well as MEE and MPT specific workshops. For me, the MEE workshop is actually really useful, as it teaches you how to approach essay outlining and structuring your responses.

These live workshops aren’t nearly the same as full-on live classes, but they are definitely a nice benefit.

Structure of Daily Assignments

The final noteworthy highlight of the Themis course is assignment structure. I actually really like Themis’ structure of Prime → Present → Practice. It’s a pretty classic framework that works well and adds value.

Themis Bar Review Practice Problem
Themis Bar Review practice problem

To be clear, I do like BarMax’s structure as well, which is based on learning modules around their outlines, but the Themis daily assignments are very effectively designed. Each study day has a nice flow to it, and I thought it was a smart way of boosting material retention, even if the days are a little long.

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Final Verdict: BarMax or Themis?

When you look at the different factors that truly matter when grading out bar courses, I do think BarMax gets an edge over Themis. I understand that Themis is the bigger name in bar prep, and they do have some strong features like live workshops and detailed prep books, but at the end of the day, I would use BarMax.

I think their black letter law outlines are much better; they have a more streamlined and lean course curriculum; and their review sessions are more effective with better problem explanations. Additionally, I like that BarMax costs almost a grand less. Therefore, at the end of the day, I would go with BarMax.


Is BarMax or Themis better for bar review?

After using and reviewing the bar review courses from both Themis and BarMax, we believe that BarMax offers a better course. Though Themis does have some nice features (like workshops and solid books), BarMax has the better overall course.

Is Themis Bar Review good?

Themis is not my favorite bar review course. I’ve used and reviewed several bar prep packages at this point, and Themis is pretty far down the list. Though they market themselves as the smart alternative to Barbri, I found their curriculum and teaching methodology to be rather lacking.

How many practice problems does Themis give you?

Themis provides 4,000+ MBE practice problems, as well as over 100 practice essays and MPT prompts. It is a very respectable amount of practice material.