What is the PMBR?

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  • Written By: Terry Masters
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 02 February 2020
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PMBR stands for the "Preliminary Multistate Bar Review." It is a commercial test preparatory and review course owned by Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. The PMBR is one of the more popular resources that U.S. law school graduates use to study for the bar exam.

The bar exam is a state-administered test that determines if a candidate has enough knowledge of state and federal law to be granted a license to practice law in the state as a member of the court, or “bar.” It typically has an essay section that tests state law and a multiple-choice section that tests the general application of the law of six subjects. The multiple-choice section on the general application of the law is called the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), and it is part of the bar exam of all of the United States excluding Louisiana and Washington, the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Torts, criminal law, constitutional law, contracts, property and evidence are the subjects covered by the MBE.


The PMBR course provides a substantive oral review of the six MBE subjects, written review materials to help a candidate study, test-taking tips and strategies, practice MBEs and one MBE administered under test conditions. The course is offered as either a six-day foundation course where one of the six subjects is reviewed each day, or as a three-day final review course. The courses can be taken in combination at the beginning and at the end of a general bar review course, and are offered through live classroom sessions or virtually over the Internet. Typically, the course is taken the summer after a student graduates from law school as part of the review for a bar exam that will be given in the middle or at the end of the summer, but can be taken at any time during the year.

Kaplan claims that the bar passage rate for candidates who take the PMBR course is higher than those who take only a general bar review course. This assertion is based upon statistic used by a Kaplan generated survey, and does not factor in any other variables that may impact bar passage rates. The PMBR is not free, and may be cost prohibitive for some students.

In 2008, Kaplan PMBR began delivering a full bar review course that included the traditional PMBR mini-course. Available in 19 states and expanding, the full course includes online classes, personalized study plans, law outlines tailored to different learning styles, unlimited essay grading, a Q&A hotline, and an online quiz builder. The traditional three- and six-day PMBR courses are still offered.


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