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Kaplan vs Themis Bar Review
Determine which prep course is best for you in this comparison of Themis Bar Review and Kaplan
If you’ve ruled out Barbri, there is a very high likelihood that you will either be using Kaplan or Themis Bar Review for your bar prep. Both companies offer strong courses, and are an affordable alternative to the dinosaur that is Barbri. Yet, Kaplan and Themis have striking differences, from live class offerings to problem explanations, making it hard to pick one. In this guide we break down those differences, as well as which course we like better overall.
To keep this article as useful as possible for you, my plan is to run down the key areas where we see each company having strengths and, frankly, being better than the other. Let’s start with Kaplan Bar Review, who wins in five key categories.
Regularly Scheduled Live Classes
The most important point above all others in this article is that Kaplan offers live classes while Themis does not. This is actually one of the best features and biggest strengths of the Kaplan bar review course.
You can take the course through live online classes or watching self-paced, on demand video lectures. It’s really up to you based on your learning style; however, if you take the live classes, there is a lot of value in these sessions.
Having a fixed schedule of regular live classes is a major strength on its own, but even at that, their live classes are just plain good. The lesson plans are tight, and the instructors are very knowledgeable and engaging.
These sessions add a lot of value, especially for students who prefer a live class environment. It’s a clear edge Kaplan has over Themis.
Better Video Lessons
In my opinion, Kaplan’s video lessons are better than Themis’s. If you decide not to attend the live classes with Kaplan and just go the on demand route, I actually prefer Kaplan’s video lessons to Themis’ lectures.
Even though Themis has made a really smart move by shortening their video lectures to just 15-20 minutes each, I still personally prefer the Kaplan lessons. They’re more engaging and I like the split screen they use most of the time. They show an instructor on one side of the screen and the lesson notes on the other half. It’s a great setup.
More Practice Exams
The third advantage for Kaplan is that they offer more practice tests. One nice aspect of the Kaplan course is that they layer in four full length mock MBE exams right into your schedule, while Themis just provides two optional MBE practice tests.
It sounds like kind of a minor point, but I do think having those extra two tests layered in at sequenced intervals into your schedule is great for conditioning you for the real exam, as well as assessing your progress. It’s a small but important win for Kaplan.
Money Back Guarantee
I next want to discuss the pass guarantee that each company provides. With Kaplan, if you fail your first attempt, you get your money back.
With Themis, however, if you fail, you get a free course repeat. Although I didn’t fail the bar the first time, I tend to think that if I had, I wouldn’t want to prep with the same company again. I would want to make a change.
My point is that I think there is more value in Kaplan’s pass guarantee. At least with Kaplan, if you do fail, you get your money back and can take another course. With Themis though, you’re stuck. If you want to move on to a different bar review company from Themis, you’re not getting your $2,700 back, which is less than ideal.
That leads me to the fifth and final win for Kaplan, affordability. The Kaplan course is much cheaper than Themis’ course. Let me break it down since this is an important point.
Kaplan’s flagship bar review course prices out at around $2,200, while the comparable course from Themis costs $2,700. Thus, you’re looking at a price difference of at least $500 in Kaplan’s favor.
Yet even at that, Kaplan is really aggressive with their sales and special promotions, and you can usually find a discount on their course, so make sure to check for current discounts and deals before purchasing.
Now that we’ve talked about Kaplan’s strengths, let’s turn the tables and talk about Themis. I see them winning in just three categories.
Killer Prep Books
The first win for Themis is the matter of prep books. In short, the Themis Bar Review books are very good. Themis gives you six books for your prep. This includes lecture handouts, outlines, and books of practice problems.
For one thing, it is a lot of written study material, but more important than the quantity of written content you get, the quality of these course books, lecture notes, and practice materials is awesome.
The thing you should know about bar study is that you need to learn and retain information in a way that makes recall easy. You cannot try to remember random things without structure.
You need to mentally index key principles, definitions and concepts to boost recall speed and power. And these books really help with that.
They’re well-organized, contain well-written points, use smart acronyms and callout boxes, and provide a nice means of reinforcing the content you’re learning in the lessons. All in all, these are some of the best bar review books I’ve used. They are definitely the highlight of the Themis course.
The second win for Themis is their workshop series. One of the cool things about Themis is that even though they don’t have a regular, live class schedule like Kaplan has, they do have a number of workshops which focus on test taking strategy.
You get a workshop for each subject tested on the MBE, as well as MEE and MPT specific workshops as well. The MEE workshop is actually really useful because it teaches you how to approach essay outlining and structuring your responses.
In my opinion, these live sessions don’t offer as much value as the full-on live classes from Kaplan, but they are definitely a nice feature.
Effective Course Structure
Then lastly, there is Themis’ course structure. I actually really like Themis’ course structure of Prime → Present → Practice.
It’s a pretty classic framework that works well. To be honest, it’s not all that different from Kaplan’s Learn → Practice → Review → Catch Up formula, as they’re both kind of derivative.
However, Themis pulls it off very well. Each study day has a natural flow to it, and I thought it was an effective structure for material retention.
When you look at the different factors that truly matter when grading out bar review courses, I do think Kaplan has a pretty good edge over Themis. To be clear, Themis Bar Review does have some nice things going for it, like its course books and live workshops, but at the end of the day, I would use Kaplan.
With the live classes, better video lessons, and additional mock exams, I prefer their course and give them a better overall grade. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Kaplan costs several hundred dollars less. Thus, in the end, I would go with Kaplan.
Which bar review course is better, Kaplan or Themis?
After using and reviewing each bar review course, our team prefers Kaplan. Themis has some strong features, like live workshops and printed course books, but we didn’t find it as effective as Kaplan for driving material retention. Kaplan was a stronger course overall.
Does Themis Bar Review have live classes?
No, Themis Bar Bar Review does not offer live classes. They offer live workshops that focus on test taking strategy, but not regular live classes like Kaplan Bar Review.
Is Themis better than Kaplan for California bar prep?
If you’re prepping for the California bar, we prefer Kaplan. Themis is a good option, with a handful of nice features, but we found Kaplan to be more effective and comprehensive for California bar review.