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Crushendo Bar Prep Review
Our in-depth analysis and honest thoughts of the bar review course from Crushendo
While most other bar prep companies hit you over the head with hours upon hours of live classes, video lectures, assigned readings from books, and other more traditional methods of learning, Crushendo does something totally different. They focus on audio versions of their outlines, hundreds of mnemonics, and flashcards, all with learning science principles baked in. But here’s the big question: does it work? We answer just that query in this detailed review of the Crushendo bar materials.
As this is a lengthy and detailed review, find jump-to links above to help you quickly navigate this article.
Crushendo Video Review
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team covers the major pros and cons of the Crushendo bar review course. For more information regarding Crushendo, be sure to continue reading our full written review below.
Before diving into our thoughts of the Crushendo bar course, let’s set the stage by talking about exactly what Crushendo provides in terms of prep materials and how their program works. Because honestly, it can be a little confusing at first.
Crushendo isn’t like traditional bar review companies. At all. Rather than a more traditional approach to bar review with prep books, pre-recorded video lectures, and live online classes, Crushendo focuses their efforts on a few simple things: audio outlines, flashcards and mnemonics. That’s not the entirety of what you get, but it is definitely the driving force.
Here’s how their study program works. For each of the 12 UBE bar subjects, you get a series of outlines. The outlines on each major topic are generally broken down into 5 to 10 sub-outlines (if you want to call them that), with a bunch of “steps” under each one. In other words, under each UBE subject like Civ Pro or Torts there’s about 40 to 100 of these “steps” to complete. The way they’re set up, I would actually call them learning modules, but they’re effectively just sections of the greater outline.
As for the actual content of these steps, each one is just a short section from the outline covering a particular sub-topic, like parol evidence under contracts or creating easements under property. I’ll paste a screenshot below so you can see what I’m talking about.
Now, it’s not just the written outline you get. As mentioned, Crushendo is huge on audio outlines. It’s kind of their thing. So each outline section you’re looking at is also recorded as an audio outline. These audio outlines are all recorded by Crushendo’s founder, Adam, and can be played directly from the footer. They’re not direct transcriptions of the written outline, but they’re pretty close.
It’s like Crushendo wrote the outlines for your eye, and scripted the audio portion for your ear, if that makes sense. The audio version of each outline section is just more conversational and casual, and Adam often speeds up or slows down to make listening easier. He’ll also frequently stop to repeat something important like a mnemonic, which the written outline versions don’t necessarily do.
And on the point of mnemonics, that’s Crushendo’s next big selling point. To help make your memorization of the black letter law as easy as possible, they incorporate as many mnemonics as possible into their outlines. And they’re not just gobbledygook, made-up acronyms like you see with some others. Most are actual words that make sense and are visualized with a cool cartoonish graphic.
Crushendo recommends you read the written outline section as you listen to the audio version, reviewing the mnemonic cartoon (if there is one for that section), and then listen to the audio outline back 5 to 10 times. The idea is that by hammering each outline section several times through audio, it becomes like an earworm and really sticks with you.
And that’s generally how it goes until you get to the end of each UBE subject. Read the written outline section, soak in the mnemonic cartoon, then sit back and listen 5 to 10 times. Rinse, lather, repeat for all 40 to 100 steps.
Then when you get to the end of each topic, there’s a review section. This involves two things: a combo audio/visual high-level review called CrammerTime, and flashcards. Though the CrammerTime is in both written and audio format, it’s really all about the audio. Essentially, it quizzes you on the mnemonics and rules you learned through a series of questions. It’s meant to reinforce your learnings and test your memorization.
And finally, the flashcards are basically visual depictions of this CrammerTime series. They involve the same general questions, but give you visuals by recalling the mnemonic graphics and show rules and bullet point lists. So that about covers the substantive content and review portion of Crushendo’s program.
The other half of the equation is practice material. This is generally more straightforward. Crushendo gives you access to their question bank, which contains over 1,800 MBE problems that are directly licensed from the NCBE (the makers of the exam), as well as around 60 problems they have designed in-house to fill in the gaps. You can work these problems in short quizzes or longer problem sets, and can narrow your focus by topic.
Each problem is also accompanied by a text explanation, breaking down why each answer choice was right or wrong. The majority of these explanations are written by the NCBE and come with the problems, but some are also crafted by the Crushendo team.
Then rounding out your primary study materials are what Crushendo calls their “Essay Quick Sheets.” These are basically attack outlines for the MEE section of the bar exam, but without mnemonics. They’re designed to be very trim and narrowly focus on pertinent rules for essay writing. Each accompanying Essay Quick Sheet audio lecture is just 10 minutes long and zeroes in on high-yield essay material.
And that is about it for Crushendo’s bar prep program. There are other features of this course like suggested study plans, strategies for attacking essays (“UROC”), blog posts, and short tip videos, but for the sake of brevity, we’re just covering the main points here. So now that you know how the Crushendo prep course works, let’s get into our thoughts.
Our Evaluation of Crushendo’s Bar Prep Materials
I’ll just start by saying that whether Crushendo will work for you, largely depends on the type of student you are. This is a totally unique prep structure with their emphasis on audio outlines. I’ve actually never seen anything else like it. I think for podcast listeners and NPR nerds, you will absolutely love this study program, and will gobble these audio lectures up.
But for those on the other end of spectrum that are total visual learners, it may not be the best fit. I mean there are the written outlines and flashcards, and the mnemonic cartoons are crazy helpful, but if you just need high engaging video lessons, you’re not going to get that here.
And for the rest of us that likely fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, I’d say it depends. Personally, I had some reservations about audio outlines and recaps, but I have to say that they work really well. I think it’s the repetition and the accompanying mnemonics with visuals that make all the difference. As you sit back in your chair with your eyes closed listening, you can visualize the cartoon, make the mental association and have it stick with you.
I was also a big fan of the way in which the audio files were recorded. Crushendo’s founder Adam, who voices all the audio outlines, takes the time to do the little things that matter with audio. He articulates every word very clearly, uses the word “not” rather than using contractions for enhanced understanding, and generally emphasizes key words while often repeating or slowing down. Basically, I just think he does a really good job knowing how to craft a solid audio recording that’s effective.
That’s just my high levels thoughts on the audio aspect of Crushendo though. Getting into the nitty gritty, I love the outline themselves. They are the perfect balance of detail and brevity. You can tell Crushendo has gone to great lengths to trim as much fat off these outlines as possible, but no more. Outlines from most of the major providers like BarBri and Themis are just too long. It’s like they’re afraid of leaving something out that might be tested, so they’re often filled with bloat that you probably don’t need.
So I really, really liked these outlines. Honestly, they’re right up there with Quimbee’s, who we rate out as some of the best in the space. They’re not attack outlines to be sure – the CrammerTime ones sort of are – but the primary outlines are somewhere between class notes and attack sheets. You can just tell they’re designed to spoon feed you the black letter law, and nothing more.
On the point of those CrammerTime reviews, I liked those as well. Because they’re in a Q&A format, they basically act as a verbal quiz where you test yourself on mnemonics and rules. And the flashcards that follow them are solid as well. For visual learners, they’re great, as they pull back in the mnemonic cartoons and give you visual breakdowns of the key rules.
On the practice material front, I found Crushendo’s questions and answer solutions to be just fine. And that’s mainly because they are by and large the same as every other bar review company, like AdaptiBar and Bar Prep Hero. Just about every bar review company licenses these questions and explanations from the NCBE, so the playing field is more or less equal.
There are some questions and explanations that were crafted by Crushendo in-house, and they’re marked as such, but they didn’t really stand out. But I suppose that’s the sign of a good question or explanation if it just sort of blends right in with the official material.
But I do have one bone to pick with Crushendo around their practice material, and that’s the fact that Crushendo doesn’t integrate any quiz questions into their program. The outlines and flashcards on the content review side are totally compartmentalized from the practice work. I’d like to see them actually integrate some questions into the substantive material. This could maybe be in the form of a quick MBE question or two on a topic before moving into the next section after you’ve just listened to the audio portion a few times. I think this would really serve to reinforce the material by applying what you just learned.
The final thing I’d like to note here is that I’m not sure how well Crushendo would work as a bar course supplement if you’re looking at it from that angle. If you’re thinking about combining Crushendo with your Kaplan or BarBri course to get some extra help with content review, I don’t know if that’d be the smartest play. And that’s because the other major bar review companies provide their own mnemonics and rules, and trying to learn Crushendo’s in addition to those may just confuse you. For example, you may get one mnemonic from Kaplan for class action requirements, and a totally separate one from Crushendo. Which one do you choose?
But where I do think Crushendo could be helpful is combining it with a practice-focused bar prep product like Bar Prep Hero. Because the outlines and audio recordings (i.e. the hard content review) is the big sale with Crushendo, you can leverage that while still getting practice-centric products elsewhere. Just a thought.
The quick and dirty need-to-know fact about Crushendo is that they’re cheap. Wait, people don’t like that word – I mean, Crushendo is highly affordable.
Their full UBE prep course costs just $890, and prices go DOWN from there. Under their full UBE package, you can buy their UBE outlines and flashcards only, MBE outlines and flashcards only, MBE outlines plus practice work, etc. They have a bunch of different individualized packages under their full bar course so you can piece together what you need a la carte style if that’s what you want.
But the big takeaway is that they are very reasonably priced at just under $900. That price point is really only rivaled by Smart Bar Prep. Because Crushendo doesn’t offer resource-intensive video lessons or live classes, they can keep their prices down. And that is a very good thing for students when you don’t want to rack up any more student loans.
So here’s the crazy thing about Crushendo – you get lifetime access to their products. But this isn’t just some marketing ploy. They actually do this to entice you to buy early, while you’re in law school. They encourage you to use these audio outlines and flashcards for your 1L and 2L classes, incorporating the material right into finals cramming. Obviously that gets a little complicated by class-specific casebooks and the material a professor chooses to cover, but it’s not a bad idea at all. I think you could leverage their mnemonics to help you remember certain rules where necessary.
Crushendo’s Refund Policy
In short, Crushendo offers a 30-day, money back satisfaction guarantee. There’s no money back pass guarantee that you see with some other major providers, which is a bit of a bummer, but I do like the cooldown period. They want to make sure you really like their product and that the audio-centric materials work for you before blowing your wad on their bar prep. While not as good as a full, money back pass guarantee, I do respect the heck out of that lengthy satisfaction promise, as well as the lifetime access period.
Verdict: Crushendo Bar Prep
Overall, I was a pretty big fan of the Crushendo bar prep materials. Between the concise, mnemonic -heavy outlines, audio recordings, CrammerTime review sessions, and solid practice material, there’s just a lot to like. But whether this product will work for you, I believe totally depends on the individual. If you’re a very visual person and need engaging videos, this will not be your jam. But if you crave efficient outlines, easy to remember tools like mnemonics, and do just fine with audio lectures, I think Crushendo could be a great option. I think this is especially true at its approachable price point. Though it’s a pretty novel approach to bar review, I think it’s definitely worth a go, especially with their 30-day refund policy.
Is Crushendo bar prep worth it?
Yes. For students that want concise, black letter law outlines with tons of mnemonics and easily digestible audio lectures, Crushendo is a great choice. We especially think this prep product is worth it at their low price point.
Is Crushendo bar review good?
Yes. Crushendo offers a ton of value in the form of outlines, flashcards, and practice work. In addition, with its baked-in memory science principles, it’s a solid all-around bar prep tool.
How much does Crushendo bar prep cost?
The Crushendo products start at just $42 and go up to $890. It is an overall highly affordable bar prep product compared to others.