AdaptiBar Review: Is It Worth It (to Prep for the 2024 MBE)?

AdaptiBar. You keep hearing this name. What is it, some kind of protein snack?

👇🏻 Click to skip the MBE intro and go to the table of contents 👇🏻

AdaptiBar is an online study supplement for the MBE (Multistate Bar Examination, AKA the multiple guess choice section of the bar exam).

The MBE has gotten a ton of criticism. For one, the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) thinks newer MBE takers are “less able.” And with the virus that shall not be named, each question is that much more critical because there are only 100 questions yet the MBE is weighted the same.

To top it all off, more and more students are reporting how hard these questions are getting. What are you to do when your future depends on a series of letters?

Let’s see why it’s more important than ever to prepare for the MBE and how AdaptiBar will help you do just that (and how you can get 10% off your entire cart, including Jon Grossman’s popular lectures).

(Hint: Progress is a process of adaptation by practicing just beyond your limits. It’s the reason why we become better at any skill.)

Reason 1: The MBE is hard.

MBE is hard. Is AdaptiBar worth it?
MBE is hard. Is AdaptiBar worth it?

👇🏻 Click to skip the MBE intro and go to the table of contents 👇🏻

If you like to take information on the Internet at face value, here’s a graph showing that the national mean MBE score continues to hit all-time lows:

National mean scaled MBE scores

Reason 2: The MBE is a critical part of your bar exam score.

The MBE can account for up to half of your score on your bar exam. Not a great combo with the difficulty of the MBE.

This is good news only if you’re confident in your multiple-guessing skills. Half of your fate hangs on a series of letters. I’m not talking about your essays here (which are also a series of letters).

Essays are important, too, but that’s outside the scope of this review. You can find extensive discussion of essays elsewhere on my blog. California bar takers can consider BarEssays as a supplement for the essays (my review here).

So what now? You need to prepare.

I’m not messing around, dude. You can’t bullshit your way through the MBE because expert assassins are employed by the NCBE, the organization making these questions.

“How hard can it be? The answer is right there!” Says the person who refuses to read between the lines when their date sends a breadcrumb text back 36 hours later 🤡

The NCBE is simply better than you. Or rather, you’re playing in their home court. So DON’T count on being able to say “eh, I’ll manage” and hoping to outmaneuver them later.

Things aren’t looking too good so far. Unless you’re adequately prepared, you’ll be filled with doubt on the MBE and suffer a death of a thousand cuts. 200 cuts to be exact.

But it’s OK! (Probably.) Before you scream in despair, let’s take this one step at a time.

There are resources out there that can help you improve your MBE performance.

AdaptiBar is one of those resources. Let’s get an inside look at its features, go through how to use them, and lay down some pros and cons so you can decide whether to pull the trigger.

Let’s examine and consider whether this is right for you or not. Or you can jump to the summary. There is a small incentive at the end if you end up deciding to get it.

Is AdaptiBar worth the cost?

“Why do I need to shell out 395 U.S. dollars for this? Can’t I just use Barbri questions that I paid 4,000 dollars for?”

I mean, you can. Don’t let me or anyone else stop you from doing your thing.

Decide whether it’s worth it… after you see what AdaptiBar can do for you. I’ll also tell you how you can get 10% off (that’s about a $40 discount for the MBE Simulator) if you decide you want to use it for your MBE prep.

Bar exam review courses are great at telling you what to know, but to actually learn it, it will help to supplement with other tools (including AdaptiBar).

Right off the bat, the thing I like about AdaptiBar is its utilization of real questions.

AdaptiBar comes with available MBE practice questions from past exams.

AdaptiBar’s MBE Simulator includes the entire universe of available NCBE licensed questions that were tested in actual exams.

That includes questions from NCBE’s currently available study aids (including 40 actual Civ Pro questions) and excludes just a few outdated questions that don’t look like the actual MBE.

Note 1: What were previously known as “OPEs” and the “Study Aid” are no longer available for separate purchase as of March 25, 2019. They’ve been replaced with a different set of study aids that have a mobile online component. However, AdaptiBar lets you take practice exams based on these unavailable study aids, as mentioned below.

Note 2: 500 older NCBE questions from pre-1992 were retired.

In total, over 1,600+ questions are offered. There are 200 Civ Pro and 15 Real Property simulated questions written by AdaptiBar’s content team.

Very good. You want to study with real NCBE licensed MBE questions. Simulated questions are also helpful to mix in there (meaning questions written by someone other than the NCBE).

I keep hearing about how they’re so much better than the ones that bar courses provide. I recommend that a great bulk of your MBE prep involve real questions, whether you use AdaptiBar or not.

It’s still a viable supplement for the MBE for 2024 and beyond:

"I think this administration closely resembled AdaptiBar the most. The questions were tricky, but I didn't think they were as nasty as July 2022 or February 2023."
"Many of the questions AdaptiBar gives are similar to the MBE. . . . Overall, AdaptiBar felt like it came closest to preparing me for the MBE questions.""
"I love AdaptiBar ... their questions seem better written"
AdaptiBar real questions

Now, if you’ve taken the bar exam before, you may be thinking, “Hold up, fam. I found the real MBE questions much harder. I got killed!”

But then I’ve also talked to people who did very well on the MBE thanks to real questions: “I thought they were a lot like the MBE. I even think I saw some verbatim in there lol”

The great paradox and mystery that is the MBE. How do you resolve this contradiction?

In other words, what was the difference between the two? How did the second person do so much better? Here’s one strategy that focused on highly tested areas:

“I printed the highly tested subjects and reviewed them over and over again. AdaptiBar allows you to print out the questions with the answers in PDF, so I printed out those questions. For example, I printed out all the negligence questions for Torts since it’s half the points and did that for the rest of the subjects. And reviewed those daily until test day.”

If you’re wondering whether to rely solely on questions written by bar exam prep courses, why take the risk when these real questions exist? The NCBE licenses its questions for preparation purposes. They themselves even sell study materials containing real questions. Take the hint!

Companies that write their own (simulated) questions say that you should use their questions, even if they may have a different style and feel. The logic is that the questions you’ll see on the actual MBE will be easier in comparison.

I don’t believe focusing on manufactured or artificially difficult questions is the right kind of “stress testing.”

Would you study multi-page final exams from law school to prepare for essays on the bar exam? It’s the same thing but a lot more convoluted, right?

No! You wouldn’t do that, or at least I hope not. You’d practice with something closest to what you’ll actually see on the real thing.

AdaptiBar is needed to really conquer the MBE

That said, simulated questions from prep companies (and AdaptiBar) are fine to include in your practice. The MBE is becoming trickier after all. You could use the simulated questions to drill particularly weak areas, warm up, or mix it up with real questions (to train yourself for uncertainty, not “difficulty”). You could use them, say, up to 25% of the time while using NCBE licensed questions 75% of the time.

Not only that, rote memorization of rules will help too, since the MBE can test concepts that have never or rarely been tested in the past. Practice is important. Reviewing your work is important. Memorizing is also important.


AdaptiBar is web-based and mobile.

Everything you get—the questions, software, analysis—is accessible on any Internet-enabled device, like your computer or mobile device.

You log in. You see a quick onboarding sequence to orient you. Then you’re off to the races.

AdaptiBar intro video

You can test yourself with online flashcards, answer practice questions during your lunch break instead of watching YouTube, or fall asleep listening to Jon Grossman’s voice.

This is especially useful for those who are often on the go, or working and studying at the same time, because you can prepare with AdaptiBar during breaks. No lugging books around or shuffling through flashcards that hopefully won’t spill all over the floor while standing in line at Starbucks.

While this is convenient, some students might find this mode unfaithful to the real MBE experience. That is, they say it’s tiring to stare at a screen and click on answers instead of working with simple paper and pencil.

Some have reported that it’s better to use it on a tablet and have a notebook to go along with it for handwritten notes. Your mileage may vary.

You can’t print the questions because the software takes your answers directly on screen and analyzes them later.

You can, however, print PDFs of answers and analyses to review them. You can also “bubble in” the questions in Scantron View in exam modes to make the simulation we’re living in that much more convincing. Users have reported liking this visual feature:

AdaptiBar Scantron View

You can also highlight the text and eliminate answer choices, like you might with a real test booklet:

Civ Pro question choices

There are detailed MBE explanations for each question.

Like this:

Civ Pro question explanation

Note that there are Extended Explanations for some questions (this is a new feature!). These are treatise-like explanations that go much more in depth.

Feedback is critical to improvement. The explanations explain why you got an answer right or wrong. If practice is weighing yourself, self-critique is the thing you do between weigh-ins.

AdaptiBar analyze answers
She passed the UBE 20 years out of school

AdaptiBar is soon coming out with animated explainers as well.

Not all study aids on the NCBE store have explanations, so you’re at least getting some direction as to why you got a question right or wrong.

Thoroughly review the answer explanations even when you pick the credited answer. Just because you were correct doesn’t mean you were right. Each question is an opportunity to validate your understanding (if you chose the credited answer) or to learn the legal principle (if you were wrong).

You may notice that the question identifies the issue for you. See that at the top in the first picture? “Civil Procedure / Pretrial Procedures (Simulated)” shows up when you’re looking at the question.

This is a setting that can be turned on/off when going into practice questions mode so that you can, if you want to, see a question without any indication or hint of what subject or subtopic it comes from.

You can use this identifier information in the beginning of your studies, but you may not find this helpful later on.

In any case, the actual MBE question won’t tell you the issue(s) it’s testing, so you should stop relying on it eventually.

Speaking of feedback…

Is the AdaptiBar program supposed to adapt itself to you, or allow you to adapt based on your performance?

AdaptiBar automatically adjusts the presentation of questions based on your previous performance.

Turns out AdaptiBar adapts to your performance. Explains the name.

In other words, over time, it gives you more questions of the types that you suck at, and it gives you fewer questions of the types you don’t need more help with. It learns and caters to you so that you can get better practice—automatically.

This means the AdaptiBar software will help you target and shore up your weaknesses, without you having to figure them out yourself!

This is important because progress is a process of adaptation. The reason why we become better at any skill is adaptation. Repetition is part of it, but repetition becomes valuable only if it our mind (or body) adapts to the stress and overcomes its current limits.
AdaptiBar: a huge reason I was successful. . . . feeds you more of the questions you are having trouble with . . . Totally worth it!

You can check their patent yourself for all the gory details. Yes, it is a patented technology. (BTW, when you see a Kickstarter campaign that says it has so-and-so patents, or it’s “patent pending,” it may or may not be anything amazing. I have a full-time side gig as a patent attorney.)

It will also give you a bar graph of your performance by subject and topic. Here, you can see how you’re doing in each subject and sub-topic…

AdaptiBar subject performance (2019)

This is important information to go after your weak points!

Your overall percentage score won’t tell you where you need to focus more, but you can naturally raise that score by shoring up your weak areas.

Some other features you can get out of AdaptiBar…

Upgrades with Jon Grossman’s online video lectures

You can check out some trailers here. And the detailed pricing for the lectures here.

These lectures could be a good way to reinforce the concepts or have them explained in a different way.

Whatever the case, AdaptiBar is designed to have you solve problems, which is what moves the needle if you want to improve your MBE score. The lectures are a nice bonus but not the main value of AdaptiBar. So this is a toss-up for me.

Exam mode with selectable subjects (based on, e.g., what you find you need to improve on) or collections based on past NCBE study aids

AdaptiBar customized practice exams

AdaptiBar NCBE practice exams

A timer to pressure you into answering in time (adjustments available for ADA-accommodated users)

AdaptiBar timer

Timing performance – tells you how fast you answered questions

AdaptiBar timing performance

There is a timing analysis page that covers the average time you take to answer a question, your projected completion time of the bar exam, and even a sweet spot for pacing yourself to answer the most questions at the highest accuracy rate.

Also, after you answer a question, you can see your time, the average time, and your optimal time if you’ve answered the question correctly before.

OK, so now, back to the question at hand…

Is AdaptiBar worth it? A summary:

AdaptiBar is merely a tool. Are you going to beat Tiger Woods just because you have the best golf clubs? It depends on HOW you use the tool.

I’m not going to pump a product you don’t really need.

But I can help you weigh the pros and cons so you can decide whether it’s a worthy investment for you. This is your bar exam.

Pros – convenience and comprehensiveness

  • No licensed MBE questions left behind. Pulls from a database of 1,575+ real questions previously tested on the MBE, plus has collections from past study aids that are no longer available from the NCBE
  • Intelligent adaptation. Adapts to your strengths and weaknesses automatically (score weighting allows you to pinpoint your weak areas without doing so manually)
  • Simulation options. Designed to encourage you to practice and get feedback (exam mode, timer, and explanations), which is the process to improve your score as long as you learn from the process
  • Explanations for all questions. Offers detailed explanations so you can validate your understanding or learn from your mistakes (extended explanations available for some questions)
  • Portable. Take questions with you wherever you have Internet
  • Extra flavor features. Bubble sheet, highlighting
  • You may also qualify for their 105% guarantee if you don’t pass (yes, 105%)


  • Jon Grossman’s video lectures. This is completely optional, but students have found these helpful. You can ignore the videos if you dislike long lectures, but they’re there if you want help understanding a particular concept or learn better from listening. These cost extra.
  • Better or alternative answer explanations may be available elsewhere (see below)

Challenges – cost and all-digital technology

  • Mostly digital. Questions are on screen, i.e., it may be tiring to stare at the screen, and it doesn’t give you a paper-and-pencil practice environment. This may be a good simulation for a remote/online bar exam, though! Also, you can print out explanations if you prefer that.
  • Cost. $395 (plus extra for any video lectures you add on).

Get your $40 coupon here.

Now that you’ve seen the cons, I want to say that this is actually a great supplement that has helped a lot of people. Even with these cons, it’s one of the best MBE resources out there.

As an aside, here are alternatives (or complements) that compensate for at least one of the cons described above.

👉🏻 Strategies & Tactics for the MBE by Steven Emanuel ($70-100)

I consider this the MBE bible, even if it has a couple of typos. It’s what I personally used when I retook the California Bar Exam.

It’s great (and may be the only MBE supplement you need) because it comes with 600+ representative MBE questions that are all genuine and were previously administered. The selected questions cover a broad range of issues. It also comes with a full 200Q practice exam. Each subject gets a brief review and strategies and tactics tailored to it.

One of the core benefits of this book is that the explanations are very helpful for learning.

“To be honest, I found the explanations provided by Emanuel are way much better than Adaptibar.”—Mostafa S.

Here’s what it looks like inside:
Subject overview

I went through this book back to back during my bar prep. There are a few typos, but no resource is 100% perfect. Overall, I would highly recommend this book.

👉🏻 Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Volume 2 by Steven Emanuel

This is the expansion pack to Volume 1, containing new questions. It’s in a different format, where the answer appears right beneath the question. If you’re doing a question for practice, you’ll have to carefully cover the answer as you do each question.

Similar to AdaptiBar’s questions, the book tells you the issue being tested right above the question.

Here’s what it looks like inside (2nd edition).

I didn’t do all the questions in this book. However, I found Volume 2 to be more useful for getting extra practice with issues I wanted to improve on or already knew I was terrible at.

👉🏻 UWorld MBE QBank ($399)

This is a new player on the block, launched in 2020.

UWorld’s MBE QBank is a platform to help prepare for the MBE using 1,575+ real questions (as of this writing) and 2,200+ total questions including those written by attorneys and law professors.

The main draw is their visual explanations, which is great if you’re a visual learner. However, it won’t have AdaptiBar’s adaptive learning technology that challenges you based on your current level.

UWorld offers a 7-day trial with 50 questions to help you decide. Compare by test driving AdaptiBar to see which you prefer.

Final verdict (and how you can get $40 off AdaptiBar)

All that said, AdaptiBar (along with Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics books) is one of the best resources I know for preparing for the MBE.

If there’s any takeaway here, it’s that the MBE isn’t impossible… and not enough people are talking about the possibility of success! We’d rather talk about how hard it is because the default state is fear.

A common concern I get from foreign-trained lawyers is that they’re not familiar with the multiple-choice style of testing. But look at the screenshot above. This shows that it is most definitely doable if you are consistently learning and know how to approach the test itself. Approach the bar exam from a clean slate. Your preconceptions don’t matter in Hell.

AdaptiBar real questions

Should you get AdaptiBar?

Overall, if you prefer having a comprehensive solution with many questions to work with, get AdaptiBar.

If you can’t handle the cost or having to work on screen, don’t get AdaptiBar.

If budget is no concern, I would get both AdaptiBar and Emanuel’s S&T.

People have passed the bar using either or both of these excellent supplements, even if neither is perfect. But do your due diligence and decide for yourself which, if any, you will use to study. I do recommend utilizing at least one of them.

Biggest regret:

If you’re interested in using AdaptiBar for your MBE studies, you can get started with a $40 discount code. Find the most up-to-date code here.

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34 Replies to “AdaptiBar Review: Is It Worth It (to Prep for the 2024 MBE)?”

  1. I’m already on your list and bought the Emanuel’s you suggested. I’m trying Adaptibar for additional help. Thank you.

    1. I saw that you signed up for my weekly email list just now. You should have gotten it by now. Thanks Cameron.

  2. This information is amazing. Super odd, this site was loaded when I opened my Iphone. Wow, that is a really magnificent way of thinking about it! You have a great sense of humor. I enjoyed your page.

  3. Thanks Brian,
    You can add me to your list, I am preparing for July 2019 exam, Your emails and blog are super helpful
    can you send me the adaptibar code pls?


  4. Is this a good purchase for someone with a Law degree from outside of the US? Does it include a good amount of material to teach the material before going through the questions?

    1. EC, yes, I’ve seen foreign-trained lawyers use AdaptiBar to prepare and pass their bar exams.

      It doesn’t come with background information or lectures unless you purchase the video lectures separately. You can find pricing information here (scroll down to VIDEO LECTURES):

      If you’re an auditory learner or work well with lectures, the lectures may be helpful. If you prefer to cut to the chase with paper outlines, you can find outlines like the Barbri CMR (FB groups, eBay, Amazon, etc.) or Magicsheets in the Products page (

      Either way, be sure to attempt to use what you learn on past exam questions, whether it be through AdaptiBar or otherwise, or MBE or essays.

  5. Hi, what would the comparison be between barprephero and AdaptiBar because they both license real questions and If I don’t take the video lessons is there any difference between both programs because it seems barprephero also has outlines, flashcards and more.

    1. Hi Jasmin,

      AdaptiBar offers two differentiators: It has much more robust analytics to help you pinpoint where to focus. The difficulty of the questions that appear is appropriate to your current performance level (it adapts to you, hence the name).

      Some secondary considerations: $355 price tag for AdaptiBar (after $40 coupon) vs $449 for BarPrepHero. BarPrepHero gives you lifetime access, while AdaptiBar is a subscription.

      If what matters to you is having a question bank to work on for a longer period of time, and if you find outlines and flashcards more appealing than software, then BarPrepHero may be a better choice for you.

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