The SmartBarPrep Story

At SmartBarPrep, we’re all about studying Smarter, not Harder!

We create outlines, tools, and guides that help students focus on the bar exam’s most important topics with the goal that examinees pass the bar their first time around!

Why I Started SmartBarPrep

Hello, my name is Matthew Bates and I’m the attorney behind SmartBarPrep.

I was fortunate enough to pass both the New York and New Jersey bar exams on my first try. I even scored a 171.1 on the MBE (top 5% – see here). While I was thrilled with my personal results, I was incredibly disappointed with the available review materials I had purchased from a leading bar review company.

These materials were bloated with more information than I could study and they were wildly overpriced. They weren’t based on ACTUAL bar exams and they didn’t provide the single thing I needed most: a condensed, manageable list of the important topics and rules I was likely to face on the bar exam.

While making my own outlines, I got to thinking… “How can I offer a more effective solution for helping law students pass the bar.”

My initial goal was to create the most helpful study guide possible for passing the nation’s toughest exam: the New York Bar Exam. But I knew I needed to do more than simply copy/paste my personal study guide, so I spent countless hours reading and analyzing past New York Bar Exams. I compiled all of this information into a concise, simple outline that focused on the most important information needed to pass.

But it’s one thing to create something. It’s another thing to watch it actually work, and that was exactly the feedback I got from the initial round of SmartBarPrep students as they passed the bar with ease.

Since that initial outline, we have helped thousands of students take the bar with confidence. We have expanded to creating guides for virtually every state’s bar exam, and we are constantly updating these guides for every exam with the latest test questions and data available.

Why do these guides work so well? I attribute the success of our students to one very simple concept… the 80/20 Rule.

Our Philosophy: The 80/20 Rule

I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 Rule developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. In short, the 80/20 Rule says that in almost anything in life, only a few things (the 20%) are essential, while the rest (the remaining 80%) are trivial.

After thousands of hours in review, my team and I proved that this rule can be applied to the bar exam. In line with the 80/20 Rule, patterns emerged. The most noticeable was that the bar examiners tested some material more frequently than others.

For example, whenever a Civil Procedure question appeared on the UBE/MEE, I found that approximately 40% of the time a component of the question dealt with the “Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Diversity of Citizenship” rule. Since this rule is tested frequently, it makes sense to spend more time memorizing it than, say, the rule for Depositions, which appeared only once in the last 20+ years.

Our team found very similar patterns for the California bar exam.

Also in line with the 80/20 Rule, focusing 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of the rules of law that are tested most frequently will maximize your chances of passing. Don’t just work hard; work smart by focusing on the right things.

This is the goal of our study guides: to help you invest your limited study time on the topics that are most likely to show up on your bar exam.

Integrate Our Guides With Your Bar Review Course

While our study guides are intended to be your go-to resource for passing the bar, they are also designed for integrated use along with popular courses like BarBri, BarMax, and Kaplan.

The SmartBarPrep Essay Priority Outlines and study tools integrate well with review courses because each is arranged in terms of frequency and topic, saving you the hassle of trying to figure out which rules are the most important to study.

Pressed For Time?

Since opening our doors, we have been trying to break the notion that law grads must spend 3 months pent up in a room, only coming out to go back and forth to bar review classes.

Studying for the bar exam is tough and does take a large time commitment, but our helpful study guides will keep you productive and efficient, freeing up your time while getting you prepared.

Have Questions?

We’re here to help you, so if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about anything, please feel free to contact us here.

Best of luck on the bar exam!

– Matthew F. Bates, Esq.