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Our comprehensive evaluation and rating of the AdaptiBar review course
One of the biggest selling points of the AdaptiBar review course can be garnered right from the company name. Hyper-focused on adaptive technology designed to get the most out of your studies, AdaptiBar uses a combination of savvy algorithms and high-quality, official practice material to get you ready for the bar. But while this sounds great in theory, does this approach to bar prep really work? And is it right for you? We conduct a thorough review of the AdaptiBar prep course and all of its strengths and weaknesses in this detailed guide.
AdaptiBar offers one of the more interesting pricing structures in the bar review space, which may appeal to a broad range of bar preppers. It all starts with their MBE Simulator & Prep package. I would say that this is their base course – but it is their only course. Their entire prep program is built around this one package that runs for right around $400.
This flagship MBE Simulator & Prep offering grants you access to their library of close to 2,000 MBE practice problems and explanations. In addition, it carries the benefits of their namesake adaptive technology and performance metrics. But that’s about it. Outside of the question bank, explanations and cool, adaptive tech with analytics, the rest is a la carte.
This is where AdaptiBar is different from the crowd. From their base MBE package, you can add video lectures, flashcards, early bird access and a few other minor features to your package for an additional cost. Specifically, the early access will cost you right around $125, the online flashcards a shade under $100, and the video lectures have a varying pricing model. You can purchase individual video lectures for specific topics, starting at $15 per lesson, or you can just buy them all for the bundle price of $450.
Whether this pricing appeals to you will totally depend on your situation – perhaps you only need the flashcards, or maybe just a couple of short video lectures. But I would guess the majority of students, if they are like me, will want the entire bundle of video lectures. Assuming that is the case, the entire course package will cost you right around $850.
While watching the bill add up under this piecemeal pricing scheme may have you wondering if the price tag is really worth it, be assured that once summed, the total cost is still actually quite strong in terms of value. These prices place AdaptiBar right in line with value course Quimbee in terms of cost and well below bar review giants Kaplan and BarBri.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
AdaptiBar Practice Questions
The core substantive feature of the AdaptiBar prep course is their library of MBE practice questions. In total, you get access to more than 1,900 practice problems, each with an accompanying text explanation. Specifically, AdaptiBar offers over 1,700 real, previously used MBE questions and 200+ simulated MBE questions from the AdaptiBar in-house legal experts.
Clearly, there is no better form of practice than official test questions that have been used on previous administrations of the exam. This type of practice offers the most realistic experience and is more likely to get you properly prepared than any other form of practice work. As such, I can’t complain at all about AdaptiBar’s decision to license this batch of questions from the NCBE. That said, a lot of bar review courses use licensed MBE practice questions these days (see Bar Prep Hero), so this isn’t the most impressive feature in the world.
Additionally, I wasn’t at all disappointed with the 200 or so practice questions designed by AdaptiBar either. To fill in the gaps in subjects where the NCBE has not released many questions (namely civ pro and real property), AdaptiBar has engaged their legal experts to craft practice questions that closely resemble the real thing. While these questions are clearly marked as such within the AdaptiBar program – so you know one when you see one – I was still impressed with their quality.
I found these simulated questions to be thoughtfully designed and well-written. In fact, if it wasn’t for the little marker indicating them as being simulated, I probably couldn’t tell the difference. In short, I found both the real licensed NCBE questions, as well AdaptiBar’s in-house questions to both offer significant value.
Accompanying each practice question, you will also get a detailed explanation. And when I say detailed, I mean detailed. Every explanation covers each answer choice – correct and incorrect – with at minimum a sentence or two on why the answer choice is right or wrong. AdaptiBar goes to great lengths to explain the underlying black letter law, rationale behind the application of law to facts and even tangential subjects that incorrect answer choices touch on.
Honestly, these were some of the better explanations I have seen. And given that each one of these roughly 2,000 explanations were curated by the AdaptiBar team makes it even more impressive. These were not canned explanations that come from NCBE with the licensed questions – though that would be nice to see.
In any event, I had very little to complain about with respect to AdaptiBar’s practice material, finding it all to be first rate. That is, so long as you go in knowing you’re not getting any state specific or MEE / MPT materials.
AdaptiBar Video Lectures
Beyond the MBE practice questions, the next best substantive benefit of the AdaptiBar prep program is their series of video lectures by Professor Jonathan Grossman. Again, these video lectures are not included as part of the base package with AdaptiBar and must be purchased separately, either a la carte or as a bundle for $450. That said, assuming you’re not combining your AdaptiBar practice bank with another content review product, the video lectures are 100% worth it in my opinion.
Professor Jonathan Grossman (though he doesn’t like being called professor) is a master of teaching to the MBE. The guy just plain gets it. He recognizes that students don’t want to hear lengthy diatribes about the theory behind product liability or how a body of case law has developed over the last 150 years. Students just want the current black letter law and how it applies to fact scenarios in the context of the MBE, without all the fluff. And that is exactly what he delivers.
Professor Grossman’s lectures are concise and engaging. For each of the 7 MBE subjects, there are roughly 2-5 hours of video lessons, all broken out into shorter subtopic videos. And each of those subtopic videos is just 20 minutes to 1.5 hours in length. When you combine the short duration of these videos with Professor Grossman’s dynamic lecturing, you get a lesson that grabs your attention and holds it.
I found these lectures to be captivating, informative and actually entertaining on some levels. Professor Grossman does a great job distilling massive amounts of information down to the most essential elements. His lecture is like following a super concise, whittle downed outline which hammers the highest yield topics. Bottom line, I really liked the lecture content. That said, I was not crazy about the production quality or method of delivery with these videos.
The production value of these videos is just sort of bland, like an old school DIY course. Professor Grossman appears on camera (which is a good thing given his engaging and dynamic teaching abilities), but there is nothing else. No cool graphics, digital whiteboard, interactive quizzes or features – the kind of stuff you get with Kaplan’s top notch lessons. So you get the benefit of a great lecturer, but pretty weak delivery.
And one other minor complaint – AdaptiBar offers a really helpful video called “Mastering the MBE,” but doesn’t include it in the bundle of video lectures (it costs an extra $100 or so). This 1.75 hour video is led by Professor Grossman (just like the others), but specifically covers common mistakes on the MBE, and the fixes to these common issues. This video covers strategies and techniques that you can employ to fix errors you consistently make, as well as what to do when you get stumped and need to make an educated guess (this will happen). This is fantastic video lecture that I found to be immensely helpful, but was really disappointed to have to pay extra for it.
All in all though, I really liked the AdaptiBar video lectures. If you don’t plan to supplement with other video lessons or some form of substantive content review, I’d highly recommend adding the video lecture bundle on.
Another one of AdaptiBar’s potential add-ons is their set of online flashcards. This is just another means, like the video lectures, of providing you with the necessary content review you will need to get fully prepped for the bar. The MBE practice questions get you the experiential learning component – the video lectures and flashcards bring the instructional component.
AdaptiBar offers over 1,000 flashcards in total, covering all 7 subjects tested on the MBE. Like the video lectures, these primarily cover the black letter law you need to learn, but through a cool Q&A format. The front of each card asks a simple question, and the flip side answers that question in a concise, and sometimes outline style, format.
I was a big fan of these flashcards and used them frequently in combination with the video lectures. I would watch the series of video lectures for a given subject, then hit all of the flashcards for that subject afterwards to test my knowledge. It is a pretty solid combination to get you the content review you need. And the cards really reinforce the lecture material.
I also liked that the flashcards are customizable. You can take notes on them (digitally of course), flag cards that give you trouble, create custom decks and more. These customization features add some real value, though I did seem to use them less and less as my prep wore on. And one final point worth noting on these flashcards is that they can be accessed on your phone. You can hit flashcards right from the mobile app while you’re on the go, which is a huge time saver. More on the mobile app below.
The Namesake Adaptive Tech
Generally, when students are hunting down the best bar review course for their needs, they don’t give much weight to the tech behind the prep program. But in the case of AdaptiBar, you have to. The adaptive software behind this bar review course is so important to their core product that you have to give credit where it is due.
Their patented, adaptive algorithm assesses your performance on your initial diagnostic and your ongoing practice questions to consistently reallocate question types in your queue. The program subtly increases the proportion of question types where you are weak, ensuring you get practice where it is needed most. And the program does this while balancing your weaknesses against actual questions weighting from past bar exams to make sure you’re not getting practice in one area that is out of whack with past MBE administrations.
This is a very cool feature that I really liked, despite that it’s not really tangible. You can’t see this tool or adjust its settings, but you know it’s there. If you are weak on a subject, you’ll notice a small but perceptible uptick in those types of questions. It’s not much, but people generally know their weaknesses and recognize when they are seeing more of those types of problems. Honestly, you know because you’ll be ever so slightly irritated. For example, I hate con law – likely because it’s my weakest area. So when I started seeing more and more con law questions, I knew what was going on.
But while it was kind of annoying to see more con law questions, I also knew it was good for me. Kind of like eating your vegetables as a kid. So while I find this feature slightly irritating, I do so in the best way possible. It is a helpful tool that provides true value.
In addition to the adaptive technology that AdaptiBar utilizes to help optimize your study plan, they also offer some very cool analytics. These metrics measure a number of things, including your overall accuracy, accuracy by MBE subject, and even accuracy by subtopic. This level of granular detail is super helpful. You can see through color coded graphs and charts just how you are performing.
And the performance data is not in a vacuum – you can actually see how you are currently performing against your peers all over the world in real time. I loved this feature. It almost makes it like a game, seeing if you can up your score against other bar preppers.
Perhaps the most interesting feature among all the performance metrics though is the data around timing. Not only does AdaptiBar give you analytics around how you’re doing from a pacing perspective, but they will also give you detailed feedback and suggestions. For example, drilling down to the individual question level, they will give you a message something along the lines of, “20 seconds longer to read and answer this question, and your odds of getting it correct would have increased by 17%.”
This is some great data, which isn’t just cool because of what it is – it actually actionable. You can use these suggestions to make real improvements and find the sweet spot for your MBE pacing. I really liked this aspect of the AdaptiBar metrics.
User Experience and Interface
AdaptiBar provides a really clean and easy-to-use platform across both its desktop and mobile versions. In fact, the two are about the same in terms of layout and functionality, making it clear that AdaptiBar wanted their interface between desktop and the mobile app aligned. The platform has the classic app-like nav bar along the left-hand side of the screen and a mobile friendly layout.
You can access your practice questions, simulated MBE exams, flashcards, lectures and performance metrics all from the left-hand nav bar. It is ultra-simple to use and if you can’t find what you’re looking for within this platform, you likely have bigger issues than the bar exam. It is truly simple, and I loved how the desktop and mobile versions have similar layouts. This allows you to trade off fairly seamlessly across devices.
The look and feel of the overall layout is nice as well. The program has a professional and modern aesthetic, which is very pleasing. And the responsiveness is great. The platform is quick and load times were never an issue.
Additional Study Resources
Outside of the core components discussed above, AdaptiBar doesn’t provide much in the way of “extra” resources. Some of the more expensive bar prep programs offer personalized coaching and support, comprehensive bar exam guides, review books, podcasts, webinars and more. But not AdaptiBar – they keep things simple.
You get exactly what you pay for with AdaptiBar, and if you want to upgrade and add a feature like flashcards or video lectures, that costs as well. It’s a pretty simple structure, but it works. If you want all the bonus resources, there are plenty of more expensive courses that will give you everything but the kitchen sink. That just isn’t AdaptiBar’s jam.
When you sign up with AdaptiBar, you will get either 5 months or 7 months of access. It all depends on which bar exam you are taking. If you are taking the July bar exam, you will get 5 months of access – March 1 through July 31. If you are taking the February bar, you will get 7 months of access – August 1 through February 28.
Obviously, it would be nice if each course had an even six months of access, but that is just how the cookie crumbles based on the timing of the semi-annual bar administrations. Being that the bar exams are offered in February and July, there’s not much they can do about it. Though it’s not really a big deal, as the reality is you will probably only study for 8 to 12 weeks before your exam anyway, and you will have the full window between exams to prep.
As mentioned, AdaptiBar does provide a very nice mobile app, which I found to be quite handy. Now, this app is not the best mobile app I have seen, but it is darn close. As a side note, the BarMax app is the best around in the bar exam prep space, but their entire course is also kind of based around it, so it has to be good. But I digress.
The AdaptiBar mobile app offers everything you get through the desktop version on your phone. You can work practice questions, review problem explanations, look at your performance data, watch video lectures, review flashcards, and more. They really pack a lot of stuff into this app.
Additionally, the layout and functionality are great. As mentioned, the desktop and mobile versions are very, very similar, so you can work seamlessly across devices. You don’t have to figure out how to operate separate systems. They are nearly identical, which I liked. And clearly, I’m not the only one who likes this app – as of the time of writing, the app has a 4.9 star rating with well over 600 reviews in the Apple app store.
Pass or Your Money Back
One final feature of the AdaptiBar prep program that I especially liked (though didn’t need to use) is their money back guarantee. Use their program and pass the bar, or get your money back. In fact, they will give 105% of your money back – which is something I have not seen elsewhere.
In order to qualify you need to answer at least 1,300 of their practice problems with 70%+ accuracy. But assuming you can accomplish this prior to exam day, you should be covered by their promise. There is some fine print (after all, this is a course designed by lawyers for future lawyers), so be sure to read it, but overall, it’s a fairly generous policy. This is great insurance to protect your prep course investment.
Verdict: AdaptiBar Review Course
If the main focus of your bar prep is the MBE, AdaptiBar is an awesome prep program to get you ready. They offer close to 2,000 MBE practice questions, 1,700+ of which are official licensed NCBE questions from past exams. As such, there is no shortage of high-quality, realistic practice work. And just as important as the questions themselves, you also get access to a detailed text explanation with each problem. These explanations thoroughly cover the black letter law being tested under each question, and why each answer choice is correct or incorrect. Our team loved the quality and delivery of the practice material and accompanying solutions. In addition, wrapped around all of the practice work is AdaptiBar’s proprietary, adaptive algorithm that constantly reallocates questions in your queue based your weaknesses and current performance. This is an immensely helpful background tool that offers great value.
Additionally, if you are in need of substantive content review to complement the practice work, AdaptiBar offers some excellent video lessons. These video lectures, led by Professor Jonathan Grossman, are concise, engaging and hit all of the essential black letter law and MBE test taking strategies. That said, the format of these videos is a little dated and I wasn’t thrilled with the boring, featureless delivery; however, the content is on point and Professor Grossman is an incredible lecturer. If you need content review to go along with your practice, we highly recommend these videos. And the optional digital flashcards are a nice resource as well, though at close to $100 extra, I could take it or leave it. If you need MBE specific prep, I would have no hesitation recommending the AdaptiBar practice bank and video lessons – this is a truly rock solid prep option.
The AdaptiBar base package, the MBE Simulator & Prep option, costs a shade under $400. From there, you can add on video lectures, flashcards and early bird access for additional amounts which all vary in price.
Is AdaptiBar completely online?
Yes. The AdaptiBar prep program is 100% digital, and everything can be accessed through your web browser or their mobile app.
Is AdaptiBar worth it?
Yes. In our team’s opinion, when looking at MBE-only bar prep programs, AdaptiBar is one of the best options available given its robust practice materials and value pricing.