kaplan vs barbri

Kaplan vs Barbri – Bar Prep Course Comparison

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke

Even after a full four years of legal training, passing the bar – the final barrier to lawyerdom – can be a daunting task. In this Kaplan vs Barbri review, we cover a pair of high-quality prep courses that can provide that extra bit of training to push you over the edge.

kaplan nclex logo
barbri logo

Practice Questions



Video Hours

100+ hours

100+ hours

Hard Copy Books?



Free Trials?



Trustpilot Reviews

4.6/5 Star Rating

3.2/5 Star Rating

Course Intros

Let’s brief you on the basics of each test prep company and its bar prep courses before diving into the meat of this head-to-head comparison.

Kaplan Bar Prep

kaplan bar review

Kaplan is our top pick for a bar prep course. It’s got everything you need to ace the exam all presented via a flawless, glossy, user-friendly platform.

Our Top Pick
Kaplan Bar Review Kaplan Bar Review
  • More engaging/informative/entertaining video lessons
  • Highest volume of practice materials out there
  • Top-tier instructors
  • Essay prep isn't as comprehensive as Barbri's
  • Barbri has superior books
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Kaplan is currently sitting on an impressive 4.6/5 stars awarded by course-takers on TrustPilot.

TrustPilot reviewer Igor sums up the perks of Kaplan’s bar prep admirably:

kaplan bar review

Barbri Bar Prep

barbri prep

Babri bar prep has been in the bar prep game for over 50 years and has garnered a significant albeit less expansive customer base who swear by it.

Reddit user Raichu_1216 gives his/her two cents on Barbri – not a ringing endorsement but not a condemnation either:

reddit review barbri

Barbri reviews on the big-name review sites are hard to come by. There’s only one review on TrustPilot, and that person awarded it with 3.2/5 stars.

BARBRI Bar Review Course BARBRI Bar Review Course
  • Excellent hardcopy books
  • Versatile live instruction elements (you can switch between in-person and remote attendance at will)
  • The Essay Architect tool is the best essay practice tool in the industry
  • Less engaging/informative/entertaining video lessons than Kaplan
  • Fewer practice materials than Kaplan
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Features Face-to-Face: Barbri vs Kaplan

Let’s break down some of the key components of each company’s bar prep courses on a feature-by-feature basis.


First and foremost, unless you’re the lucky son of a millionaire, there’s the consideration of price. You probably already spent a fortune on law school (or are indebted). If so, you’d naturally be in the market for a course that won’t break the bank.

kaplan nclex logo
barbri logo

Least Expensive Course



Most Expensive Course



With Barbri, you’ve got three tiers to choose from with various prices: Self Pass ($1,999), Guided Pass ($2,799), and Ultimate Pass ($4,199).

barbri prep

Kaplan’s Complete Bar Review package costs about $1,799, plus a little extra for a book deposit. But if you purchase the course more than a year in advance, the price may drop to as low as $1,499.

kaplan bar review

You can also access over a thousand questions in the Kaplan QBank without a prep course for $299 and other standalone “supplemental” materials such as tutoring and flashcards.

kaplan flashbards

Kaplan flashcards come with its courses

Kaplan’s premium course, the Bar Review Convenience Package, costs approximately $4,000 with the option to have your future law firm foot the bill.

Members of the American Bar Association qualify for a $100 discount on Kaplan bar courses.

Both Kaplan and Barbri offer financing through a third party, Affirm. You can use this service to break up course payments over the course of several months.

Overall, for those considering price as the main factor in choosing Kaplan vs Barbri, there is no smoking gun, and either course is going to set you back about the same amount.

(All price listings are current as of December 2022, may vary by state, and are subject to change.)

Related: 30 Best Gifts for Lawyers & New Grads

Quality & Quantity of Practice Questions

Barbri offers 2,500+ curated questions in addition to 3,000+ questions in the MCQ Bank. The Simulated MBE + Pass Predictor and the Simulated MBE customized report help you measure your progress and project your performance on the actual test.

barbri bar prep

Barbri Review Course simulates your test day experience

Kaplan offers preppers a proprietary batch of 4,000+ MBE questions via its much-vaunted QBank, plus flashcards and practice drills. These materials are prepared by bar experts and real lawyers to closely mimic the content on the actual bar.

Inside the Kaplan student dashboard

By both metrics — quality and quantity — I found that Kaplan edges out Barbri. When I was testing out Kaplan’s course, I found the state-specific outlines in the books to be the most accurate and helpful among Bar prep courses.

Learning Experience / Platform

Kaplan’s platform is superb – intuitive, navigable, and striking in aesthetics. I have found this to be the case any time I am reviewing Kaplan prep courses.

The mobile app currently has a 4.4/5-star rating on the Apple app store out of nearly 2,000+ user reviews. On-demand lectures are accessible 24/7.

kaplan bar review

With each of its courses, Barbri offers an Online Personal Study Plan with ISAAC that you can use to structure your approach to bar prep.

Barbri’s app is less well-reviewed but decent, with a 2.4/5-star rating on the Apple store. It’s available on Android as well. The company offers several tools that I found pretty helpful, including the Essay Architect and Pass Predictor.

barbri prep

The Essay Architect, which gives you real-time feedback as you work through a practice essay, in particular, is beneficial for anyone who struggles with this portion of the exam.

Barbri also employs algorithmic software branded AMP Technology that adapts as you work through the material to feed you targeted practice questions that address areas of poor performance.

Video & Lesson Content

Kaplan’s on-demand video lessons are instructive and engaging with an impressive aesthetic design and production value. Working through them, I gained an appreciation for how much effort the team put into their development.

kaplan bar review course

Kaplan videos are engaging and helpful for visual learners

Barbri’s online videos are comparatively less impressive. Overall, while Kaplan’s lesson content is more comprehensive, one of the big advantages that I discovered with Barbri is that its platform is more adaptive, personalizing practice material based on your individual needs.

Live Classes

One of the big perks of Barbri is that they allow you to elect either to attend live lectures in-person or remotely via the web. You can mix and match too, to shake things up and accommodate your busy schedule, all for no additional charge.

The all-star instructor roster that Kaplan keeps on staff provides excellent live instruction that’s easy to follow and just the right combo of detail and concision. They devote the perfect amount of attention to each facet of the syllabus to cover everything that needs to be covered without getting tedious.

Prep Books

Barbri’s prep books are where the company really differentiates itself from Kaplan. When looking over them, they were more compelling, concise, and easy to incorporate into the overall study plan. The Barbri textbooks that everyone who signs up for its online courses receives are:

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

If the tactile aesthetic of hardcopy books is your thing, then you might want to seriously consider Barbri’s Guided Pass or Ultimate Pass (the Self Pass only offers digital books). These courses might be inferior to Kaplan in most other domains, but the books are the real deal.

Sold on their own without an accompanying prep course, Barbri’s bar prep textbooks fetch $250 on eBay.

Kaplan’s books are nothing to sneeze at, either. In fact, I’d recommend Kaplan’s books over almost any other bar prep company’s as a solid second choice, but they do get edged out by Barbri.

Score Guarantees and Refunds

With Barbri’s Self Pass and Guided Pass course options, you can access a course retake in the same state. The company requires an 87% completion of the course with the Self Pass to qualify, but you can get a retake with the Guided Pass irrespective of how much of the course you finish.

With Barbri’s Ultimate Pass course, you get unlimited free retakes and the company will cover your exam fee when you retake the bar. But there is no money-back pledge for any of Barbri’s courses.

Kaplan offers a conditional refund guarantee. If you take the course, meet the following requirements, and don’t pass, you qualify for full reimbursement:

  • Attend 90% of lectures (on-demand or live)
  • Finish all the quizzes, practice questions, and simulated exams you are assigned
  • Finish assigned personalized homework and practice essays

The bottom line on the refund front is that Kaplan will refund your money under the right conditions, whereas Barbri will only permit you to retake the course if you don’t pass the bar the first go-around.

Related: 15 Amazing Gifts for Passing the Bar

Standout Features: Kaplan vs Barbri

Let’s take a look at a few standout features to further contrast the two prep courses.

Free Trials

Kaplan offers an array of free practice resources you can access before making a final decision as to whether to purchase a full course. These include a free practice question of the day delivered to your email, MPRE review, and free 1L and 2L courses.

kaplan free bar prep

The BARBRI 1L Mastery course is free for a limited time when you register on the site. You can sample online lectures, multiple-choice and essay questions, and access course outlines.

Student Support

Kaplan’s customer service is highly responsive, whether we’re talking about technical or course-related questions. Check out their contact page for an exhaustive list of ways to get in touch.

kaplan student support

Babri offers email and phone assistance, although they’re often a bit slower to reply to queries than Kaplan, possibly due to more limited staff resources.

Payment Plans & Scholarships

Each company has a working relationship with Affirm, which enables students to space out payments for their bar prep courses over time. So if you don’t have all the cash for an upfront payment consider that option.

The BARBRI Bar Review Public Interest Scholarships is available to law students who are employed or committed to be employed in a position in the public interest sector.

Kaplan, similarly, offers a public interest discount.

kaplan public interest discount

The Bottom Line: Barbri vs Kaplan

To wrap things up…

Use Kaplan if:

  • Practice question quality and quantity are most important (Kaplan has the most and highest-quality study materials)
  • You plan to study online (Kaplan’s platform is superior)
  • Instructor quality is a major factor in your decision

Use Barbri if:

  • Textbook quality is most important
  • You’d like to be able to transition between in-person and live online instruction as you please
  • You want to focus on the essay portion of the exam
Our Top Pick
Kaplan Bar Review Kaplan Bar Review
  • More engaging/informative/entertaining video lessons
  • Highest volume of practice materials out there
  • Top-tier instructors
  • Essay prep isn't as comprehensive as Barbri's
  • Barbri has superior books
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Kaplan vs Barbri FAQs

Here we answer a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) pertaining to Kaplan, Barbri, and their respective bar prep courses.

Do both the Barbri and Kaplan courses come with hard-copy books?

Yes. Both companies offer hard-copy books to accompany the online and live elements of instruction.

Does Barbri offer a high score guarantee?

Barbri guarantees you will pass the test or you can retake the course for no additional charge.

How long are the Kaplan and Barbri Bar review courses? 

Each company’s courses take approximately eight weeks to complete.

Are there payment plans to help pay for these courses over time?

Yes. Both companies use the services of Affirm, a third-party finance company that allows for incremental payments on a monthly basis.