Bar Review Courses Make You Dumber

Courtesy of our nation’s great judicial system (and by way of Daniel Solove) comes news confirming something I have long suspected: bar review courses feed their students wrong answers. The folks behind PMBR (the three- or six-day cram course that sells itself as a multistate supplement to the much more extensive months-long Bar/Bri review) just lost a copyright suit brought by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. After a four-day bench trial, the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Fullam, Sr. J.) held that PMBR’s questions—many of which were direct knockoffs of MBE questions—infringed the NCBE’s copyrights.

That’s the legal case, at least. But the opinion also contains some sly digs at the quality of PMBR’s services. My favorite:

This question tests the same legal concept using the same fictitious statute and four virtually identical answer choices in the same order. As with a number of PMBE questions, the answer key here is incorrect, further undermining Mr. Feinberg’s claims that he derived his questions independently from authoritative legal sources.

That’s right: PMBR copied the question but got the answer wrong. And these are the people that thousands of law students are paying handsomely to guide them through the shoals of the bar exam. When I was studying for it last year, I would occasionally come across a question in one of my sample question books whose answer I simply disagreed with, even after careful reflection.

Now, I think I have a better idea why.