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Critical Pass Flashcards Review
Everything law students and aspiring lawyers need to know about the flashcards from Critical Pass
With so much riding on the bar exam, a lot of students turn to Critical Pass to supplement their comprehensive bar prep course with the company’s flashcards. But with a pretty hefty price tag for a bar prep supplement, many wonder whether Critical Pass’ portable summaries of black letter law rules and elements are worth it. We explore just that question and evaluate the flashcards from Critical Pass in this detailed review.
As this is a long review filled with a ton detail, above find helpful jump-to links to quickly navigate this article. Hopefully by the end, you’ll have a good idea of whether Critical Pass is the right choice to help you prepare for the bar exam.
Flashcard Options & Pricing Overview
To start, Critical Pass essentially offers three primary prep resources – MBE flashcards, MEE Essay flashcards, MPT flashcards, and quiz questions. However, between the varying bundles of access and format, there’s about a dozen different options to choose from.
And when I say there’s a bunch of different options, I mean it. It’s almost overwhelming for such a simple product offering. You can choose MBE flashcards in hardcopy format, digital format, with practice material, without, with MBE Essay flashcards, or without. You get the picture. They bundle their three or so main products a dozen different ways.
Their MBE digital-only flashcards start at around at $105 and go up from there to around $300 for the primo package with hardcopy and digital MBE and MEE flashcards.
It’s tough to compare Critical Pass to competitors, because there just aren’t many. For example Smart Bar Prep and Bar Prep Hero offer flashcards in addition other bar exam study materials (spoiler: we actually prefer the flashcards from Bar Prep Hero).
As a supplement, the Critical Pass flashcards cost a fraction of what you’ll pay for full-fledged bar courses from the likes of Themis or BarBri, and as discussed further below, these flashcards sort of double as attack outlines.
Critical Pass MBE Flashcards Review
In a nutshell, for those who just need confirmation, Critical Pass’ MBE flashcards are designed to drill you on the core black letter law you’ll need to know to pass the multiple-choice MBE portion of the bar exam.
The seven subjects tested on the MBE are crazy content-heavy, and I can say after reviewing these flashcards, they definitely match this level of detail.
The flashcards from Critical Pass essentially contain condensed outlines of key subtopics to help you memorize definitions and concepts that you’ll need to know. Each card delivers clear and concise summaries of the topic, definitions of rules and exceptions (including all elements), and overviews of how the concept at hand relates to larger issues.
They’re massive in size and contain a ton of content to reflect all of what’s tested on the MBE section of the bar. In short, these cards are uber-detailed.
They are definitely not like the flashcards you might be used to with simple mnemonics or elements only. Instead, they are more like segmented outlines in flashcard form. It is sort of like Critical Pass created a really content-rich outline for each MBE topic, then broke it out into flashcard format.
So if you prefer the brevity and simplicity that comes with good old-fashioned flashcards, you may want to think twice before purchasing these. Are they effective? Yes. Are they short and brief? No.
With that said regarding the level of detail and substance of these cards, I also was somewhat impressed with how well these cards are organized. Not only are they numbered, with an index card for easy reference, but they are color coded as well.
This makes them super easy to grab for a quick review session on your lunch break, while waiting for appointments, or to skim through at bedtime. I also liked that the cards cross reference to others, which helps to make connections between multiple topics that you otherwise might miss.
One other notable aspect about the Critical Pass flashcards that I liked is that each card includes plenty of dedicated note space. Each card measures around 5×7 and has relatively small printed content, so there’s tons of room to make your own notes.
For a lot of students like myself who love to annotate things, this means you can fill up these cards with notes, mnemonics, underlining, and highlighting.
And on the size of the print – yes, it is a bit small, but they pack a TON of information on these cards. Even though some might find the small print annoying, it wasn’t that big a of deal for me.
My only real complaint with these Critical Pass MBE Flashcards is that sometimes their mnemonics and elements don’t directly align with those from comprehensive bar courses like BarBri or Kaplan.
So if you’re taking BarBri for example for your full bar course, the elements for the crime of battery on your flashcards might not exactly track with what you learned from BarBri.
That said, this only seemed to happen once per 5 or 10 rules, and each time I just made a simple annotation on the flashcard in the notes section. You can opt to stick with the BarBri elements, or adopt the Critical Pass ones, which I often found to be more concise and a bigger help.
But that one complaint aside, I was impressed with Critical Pass’ flashcards. These MBE cards are their bread and butter, and they reflect the company’s roughly decade of constant updating.
They’re detailed, smartly organized and streamlined, and do an excellent job distilling the key black letter law down to its most important concepts.
While the MBE flashcards are designed to help you memorize all the black letter law you need for the multiple-choice section, the Critical Pass MEE Essay flashcards are designed to help you break down and understand larger concepts so you can effectively apply your knowledge and master the essays on the bar exam.
Their layout is the same as the MBE flashcards and they’re organized in the same effective manner. They also have color coding, cross-references and dedicated note space. That said, these MEE flashcards cover different topics outside of the main seven MBE areas.
The topics covered with the MEE Essay flashcards are Business Associations (Agency Partnerships, Corporations), Conflicts of Law, Family Law, Trusts & Estates (including Wills), and Secured Transactions.
So while the MEE flashcards have the same layout as the MBE, there are two primary areas where the content varies. For one, the topics covered are entirely different, as just noted.
The second, and probably most notable difference, is that the MEE cards concentrate on a broader, overall view of the concepts most often seen on the exam. They combine learning the concepts with memorizing the rules that apply to them, proving to be a very effective tool to help prep for your essays.
These cards tend to focus more on strategies for issue spotting, crafting well-developed responses, and applying the rules you have memorized to fact patterns.
All in all, I liked these cards as a supplement to a comprehensive bar course. There isn’t nearly as many of these MEE cards as there are of the MBE ones (only 120 or so), but they are certainly useful.
I wouldn’t rely on them 100% as a means of prepping for the MEE (or any state-specific essay portion), but I like them as a backstop. Sometimes full bar course essay materials can be a little thin in terms of teaching strategies, and these cards sort of fill in the gaps.
If I had to choose between the two sets – MBE or MEE – I think the MBE flashcards have more value; however, I ultimately like these MEE Essay flashcards as an add on, especially for the discounted bundle price.
When you access your flashcards through Critical Pass’ digital platform, which you get with both hardcopy and digital flashcard purchases (more on this below), you also get access to 1,000+ quiz questions.
These quiz questions are not MBE-style, but are rather just quick hit questions to make sure you are learning and retaining the material from the flashcards.
So they’re not the most robust questions in the world, as they just test your knowledge on different sections of the flashcards.In other words, these questions are not nearly as good as the ones offered by Quimbee or Barbri, for example.
It’s also worth noting that to go along with these quiz questions, Critical Pass delivers some pretty detailed answer explanations.
They’re not the best I’ve seen (I actually prefer Quimbee’s and AdaptiBar’s), but they definitely get the job done. They provide some solid insights into the problem and answer choices, but some are on the thin side.
So overall, in terms of quality of these practice materials, I can’t really complain. The quiz questions are basically a really nice added bonus that I wasn’t expecting.
Mobile App & Digital Platform
One very cool aspect of the Critical Pass flashcards is that no matter what package you buy, you will get access to their digital platform and mobile app. For students that buy digital flashcards only, this is going to be your home base. For those that opt for the hardcopy flashcards (like I did), the digital access comes with it for free.
This digital platform and accompanying app contain those 1,000 quiz questions I mentioned above, so it’s a vital part of your Critical Pass studying.
In my opinion, the online platform is super useful. For one, it’s got a very clean layout and easy-to-use interface. Everything is big, easy to read, and I had no issues at all navigating the portal. I mean there really isn’t much to get lost on – it’s just flashcards and practice problems – but still, usability is always nice.
It’s got nice color coding, an index of cards in whatever stack you’re in, and a generally smart structure.
Overall, I was very impressed with this platform. And to be clear, the app is just as good. It’s slightly different to accommodate the 5” screen, but functions all the same basically.
It’s funny, although these guys started as an old school, paper flashcard company, I honestly think their digital tools are the better value here.
Don’t get me wrong – I very much like the hardcopy cards and think there is something special about handling tangible study material – but this digital access with cool functionality and practice material is sort of their future.
Verdict: Critical Pass Flashcards Review
The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a helpful, supplemental resource to maximize your bar prep, the Critical Pass flashcard sets receive high marks.
In one respect, they’re ultra-detailed and provide more of an attack outline than true flashcards, but they also manage to stay streamlined and concise.
I can see how some students might think there is actually too much detail on these flashcards, but for me, they were fine. I love a good attack outline and these flashcards feel just like that, but in flashcard form.
If I had one complaint, it would be that not all of the elements of rules and exceptions line up with your bar course’s material; however, the difference is usually negligible and can be handled with a quick annotation on the card.
So overall, I was impressed with the flashcards from Critical Pass, but ultimately I wouldn’t rush to purchase them. I actually think the flashcards from Bar Prep Hero are better. Not to mention, Bar Prep Hero provides more study materials and bang for you buck than Critical Pass anyways.
Therefore, our team recommends skipping on Critical Pass, and instead, going with Bar Prep Hero.
The Critical Pass flashcards range in price from about $105 for the digital-only MBE flashcards, all the way up to $300 for the fully loaded package with everything that Critical Pass offers, though we often see them on sale for less.
Does Critical Pass have a mobile app?
Yes. All purchases from Critical Pass come with access to their mobile app and digital platform, which we found to be highly useful.
Are Critical Pass flashcards worth it?
In our team’s opinion, no. Although we do like certain aspects about the Critical Pass flashcards, our team thinks the Bar Prep Hero flashcards are better and offer more bang for your buck.