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Kaplan vs Barbri

A detailed comparison of the Kaplan and Barbri bar review courses

For those who have done their homework in comparing bar review courses, you’re often lead to a decision between Kaplan and Barbri. Both are bar prep giants, offering comprehensive coursework and a very high pass rate (90%+ for UBE states). So how do you choose between these bar review courses? We take a side-by-side look in this in-depth comparison, and cover the most important decision points to help you make that call.

  • Price
  • Video Instruction
  • Live Class Hours
  • Practice Questions
  • Books
  • Money Back Guarantee
  • Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review DEAL: 10% OFF Code: PREP10BAR
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    • $2,499
    • 100+ Hours
    • 160+
    • 4,000+ MBE
    • Hardcopy
  • Barbri Guided Pass Group Coaching Check Current Offers
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    • $2,999
    • 100+ Hours
    • Optional Webcasts
    • 2,500+ MBE
    • Hardcopy

Outline: Barbri vs Kaplan

As this is a detailed comparison, above find quick jump-to links for easy navigation.

Video Review: Is Kaplan Better Than Barbri?

In the video above, Test Prep Insight contributor John (a CA-licensed attorney) breaks down his thoughts on the Kaplan and Barbri review courses. Keep reading our full, written comparison below for more detail.

Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review

Kaplan Bar Review

  • One Complete Course Option
  • Money Back Guarantee
  • One Complete Course Option
  • Money Back Guarantee
Our Score


  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • More practice material and overall coursework than Barbri (4,000+ MBE)
  • Live online classes provided a ton of structure to the study plan
  • Effective course structure for material retention (Learn-Practice-Review-Catch Up)
  • Much more affordable than Barbri
  • Engaging instructors make for effective video lectures
  • 24/7 email support with Kaplan bar staff for students
  • Barbri's prep books are superior
  • No last minute review workshop like Barbri
Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review

Reasons To Choose Kaplan Over Barbri

Before diving straight into the reasons why I feel that Kaplan is superior to Barbri, I think it’s important to first understand the scope and nature of study materials that each company offers. Let’s start with a quick overview of how the Kaplan course works.

The Kaplan Bar Lessons & Coursework

One of the most interesting aspects of the Kaplan bar review course is that you can take the course via live online classes or self-paced, on demand lectures. This dual instructional method is unique to Kaplan and offers a lot of flexibility.

You can attend all live online classes and skip the video lessons, attend just some live classes where it makes sense and fill in the gaps with video lectures, or just do 100% on demand. It’s really up to you based on learning style, and it’s a cool feature that I personally liked.

Either way though, whether you go 100% on demand and stream lessons or are attend the live classes, Kaplan’s syllabus acts as the backbone of your course. Your syllabus, which also serves as the dashboard of your online portal, directs you to your daily assignments.

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

These daily tasks generally total up to somewhere between 5 and 7 hours of work time as they calculate it, but often take more time when factoring in breaks, re-reading text or reviewing practice problems.

The days are long and filled with lessons, quizzes, practice exercises and reading recaps.

The live lessons are led by a team of very strong instructors, who generally go above and beyond to make sure you understand and retain the material. I found the Kaplan instructors to be not only incredibly knowledgeable on their respective topics, but also very approachable.

The Kaplan instructors were always open to side questions during breaks and more than willing to take a more detailed dive into issues when called for.

In addition, the classes were directed through lesson plans that were incredibly detailed, but without getting you lost in the weeds. They strike a very nice balance of enough detail with conciseness in getting you exactly what you need to know for the exam.

kaplan bar problem explanation
A typical Kaplan practice problem text explanation

When you can’t make a live class, Kaplan’s on demand video lectures are just as good.

In fact, I personally prefer them to Barbri’s (despite Barbri having rockstar national instructors on their roster). The Kaplan video-based lessons cover the same general material as the live class and are led by some incredible teachers (and attorneys) who are great communicators.

The video lectures have really high production value, a cool PowerPoint slide feature to follow along, and are broken up into manageable segments. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about missing a live class, as the video lectures are solid.

Ample Practice Material

However, maybe the most impressive portion of Kaplan’s bar review course is their practice work. Between the 4,000+ MBE questions in the Qbank, the library of real, previously used essays (with model answers for comparison), online and book drills, and flashcards, there is never a shortage of prep work.

Not to mention, I found the quality of these practice materials to be top-notch.

The MBE questions are carefully crafted by Kaplan’s army of in-house lawyers and bar experts in an effort to closely track the real MBE, and they do a dang good job.

Having taken several bar review courses that license real MBE questions from the NCBE, and looking at them side-by-side with Kaplan’s simulated questions, I couldn’t tell the difference. An NCBE-problem drafter might, but I can’t.

Plus, while the MBE questions are drafted in-house, Kaplan’s essays are not. Licensed from the NCBE, Kaplan’s essay bank is filled with past, real essay prompts, as well as sample outlines and model answers for each.

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

In addition, you get access to Kaplan’s Qbank and Qformative practice tools. The Qbank allows you create customized practice problem sets, filtered down by topic, difficulty, timing and more.

It is a great asset for narrowly targeting your weaknesses and honing your skills in a particular area. The Qformative is also a huge benefit, taking a different approach to MBE questions.

Rather than simply asking a series of MBE questions, the Qformative drill asks you just one, then follows up with a series of queries about that one question (such as “what is the primary legal issue at play?” or “what legal principle is being tested?”).

The point is to analyze the concepts being tested and gain a deeper understanding of the material.

More Affordable Than Barbri

Before moving right along to Barbri, I want to highlight a couple things about the Kaplan course. First, their course is much cheaper.

The Complete Bar Review is Kaplan’s flagship course and prices out at around $2,500. The analogous course form Barbri (called Guided Pass) costs $3,000 full retail. Plus, Kaplan seems to be more aggressive with sales and discounts as well, making their courses even more affordable in comparison to Barbri.

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

👉 If you are seeking a more affordable bar prep course, be sure to check out our reviews of Bar Prep Hero, Studicata, and Smart Bar Prep.

Valuable Live Classes

Lastly, I know I already discussed Kaplan’s live classes and dual instructional channels above, but I want to reiterate the importance of this structure. Having the ability to take live classes everyday, or at the very least drop in and out, is a major strength.

To be clear, Barbri has webcasts, as well as occasional workshops and streamed lectures, but it’s not like Kaplan. Kaplan’s classes take place everyday for several hours and have carefully crafted lesson plans.

Given the pricing gap between these two, this approach offers a lot of bang for your buck and favors students that perform better in a live class setting or need the accountability of a live class schedule.

➡ Read our full review of the Kaplan Bar Review course

Barbri Guided Pass

Barbri Prep

  • Three Course Options
  • No Money Back Guarantee
  • Three Course Options
  • No Money Back Guarantee
Our Score


  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • star
  • Extremely comprehensive and robust bar review curriculum
  • Fantastic hardcopy prep books with tons of detail
  • Last minute MBE mini review workshop is valuable
  • Helpful group coaching sessions
  • More expensive than Kaplan
  • Very old school, book-heavy feel (Kaplan's course is more modern)
  • The video lessons, while led by big names, are dry and boring at times
Barbri Guided Pass
Group Coaching Check Current Offers

Reasons To Choose Barbri Over Kaplan

Now that you have a better understanding of what Kaplan has to offer, let’s turn the tables and discuss the advantages of using Barbri to help you prep for the bar exam.

Barbri Lessons & Coursework

There is no questioning that Barbri provides one of the most comprehensive curriculums in bar review.

Over 8 or so weeks, you will engage in lessons, work practice problems, review content-filled outlines, take practice tests, and a lot more. Simply put, Barbri delivers a really good all-around prep package.

Driven by their proprietary AI system called ISAAC (an acronym for “Intuitive Study Assistant and Coach”), Barbri designs a personalized study plan to fit your needs. This PSP (as it’s called) serves as your roadmap for your Barbri course.

It directs you to your daily assignments and actually updates and changes your tasks as you progress. If you’re doing well on one topic but struggling with another, ISAAC will redirect work assignments to your weaker area to get you up to par. This is a really cool and beneficial feature.

barbri coursework
Barbri’s lesson plan and coursework

Barbri’s lessons themselves are also pretty darn good. They are not the best I have seen – we actually rate Kaplan’s lessons out a little higher – but they are solid and do get the job done.

Barbri draws you in with some big instructor names in their video lectures like Erwin Chemerinsky and Richard Freer, and these videos are generally of excellent production value.

However, it should be noted that I did find the video lectures dry at times and I had to really focus to stay engaged. They almost border on boring at times.

barbri essay sample
One of Barbri’s drills under their “essay architect”

That said, Barbri’s practice materials are first-rate and nothing less than you’d expect. The practice questions are carefully crafted to mirror real MBE questions and essay prompts, and some of them even are actual NCBE-licensed questions.

In addition, the practice is targeted by ISAAC to work on your weak spots and build knowledge in the areas that are tested most. This AI-driven approach to optimizing your study time is an incredible advantage you just don’t get with other companies.

➡ Also Worth Reading: Quimbee vs Barbri

Highlight: Barbri Prep Books

If there is one standout feature to highlight for Barbri, it’s their textbooks. They are simply awesome.

The giant stack of books you will get upon signing up with Barbri cover three categories – outlines, lecture handouts, and practice books. The package includes the following specific titles (assuming you’re in a UBE state for sake of explanation):

  • MEE Testing
  • MBE Practice Questions
  • Multistate Performance Test Workbook
  • The Conviser Mini Review for MEE-MBE
  • Lecture Handouts for MBE-MEE
  • Simulated MBE

That is a lot of prep books. But beyond the mere quantity of materials you will receive, the quality of these course books, lecture notes, and practice materials is absolutely top-notch.

The outlines are content-rich and expertly communicate need-to-know legal principles and concepts in very understandable and basic terms.

With bar study, you need to learn and retain information in a way that makes recall easy, where you’re not trying to remember material from an amorphous blob of information.

You need to mentally index key principles, definitions and concepts, and these books really help with that.

barbri prep books
Barbri’s rock solid bar review books

In addition, the books containing your practice material are very helpful. Much of your assigned homework through your personal study plan will take place in these study books.

These books are filled with multiple-choice questions, essay prompts and performance tests. They are well-organized, contain thoughtful and clear explanations, and provide a nice means of reinforcing the content you are learning in the lessons.

All in all, these are some of the best bar review books we have seen and are a highlight of the Barbri course.

Kaplan Bar Complete Bar Review

Verdict: Kaplan or Barbri For Bar Review?

Choosing between Kaplan and Barbri is a very tough call. The bar exam is likely the highest stakes test that you’ll take in your life, and something you definitely do not want to take twice. Not to mention, your bar review course is likely going to cost you an arm and a leg. So you need to get it right. 

Honestly, after using and reviewing both of these bar review packages, we give Kaplan the higher overall grade. That might surprise some people, as Barbri is the giant in the space (with close to 60% market share), but their course is dated and overkill. They bog you down with too much unnecessary information, and the video lectures verge on being boring.

Between the two, I personally prefer Kaplan. Their video lectures are engaging and well done; the live class aspect adds a ton of value; and the lesson plans are very streamlined and on point. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Kaplan costs hundreds less.

At the end of the day, I would go with Kaplan over Barbri. 


Which bar review costs more, Kaplan or Barbri?

Kaplan generally offers the less expensive bar review course. If you take Kaplan’s Complete Bar Review package, you will likely save over $500 in comparison to Barbri after taking into consideration sales and discounts.

How long are the Barbri and Kaplan bar review courses?

Each course consists of approximately 8 weeks of intense and near-daily prep work. When you add on a couple weeks at the end of cramming and practice exams, plan on a full 10 weeks.

How many hours a day are the Kaplan and Barbri bar review courses?

Kaplan and Barbri each require a minimum of 5-7 hours of prep work and study time per day, depending on your assigned tasks. That is the minimum, however, and many study days can take closer to 10 hours or longer with additional reading and extracurricular practice work.