About Me

What Is SmarBarPrep All About?

Studying Smarter, Not Harder!

Our Goal Is to Offer the Most Helpful Study Guides for Passing the Bar Exam—the First Time.

Hi. My name is Matthew Bates and I’m the attorney behind SmartBarPrep. I passed both the New York and New Jersey Bar Exams on my first try, which I was thrilled about. What I wasn’t pleased with were the ordinary review materials that I had purchased from the big name bar review companies. They were seriously lacking in helping prepare for the essay portion of the exam.

The problem with most preparation materials is that they don’t do enough hard research using ACTUAL exams. The typical bar exam outline or study guide tells you every rule imaginable but does not provide any clear guide as to what rules matter most.

It got me thinking…could I do better?

I believe I have, and SmartBarPrep.com is my answer. My goal was to create the most helpful study guide for passing the nation’s toughest exam, the New York Bar Exam…on the first try. So I spent over 1,000 hours reading and analyzing past New York Bar Exams, and compiled all of this information into concise, simple guides that show you the information you really need to pass.

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 rule says that in almost anything in life, only a few things (the 20 percent) are essential and the rest (the remaining 80 percent) are trivial.

I proved that this rule can be applied to the New York Bar Exam by rolling up my sleeves and going through every shred of material released by the New York Board of Law Examiners (NY BOLE).

After going through every item they released in detail, I noticed patterns emerge. The most noticeable was that the bar examiners tested some material more frequently than others. For example, whenever a wills question appeared I found that one-third of the time a component of the question dealt with the rule of a Spouse’s Elective Share. Since this rule is tested frequently, it makes sense to spend more time memorizing it than, say, the rule of conditional gifts, which appeared only once in the last 17 years.

Also in line with the 80/20 Rule, focusing 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent 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. That is exactly what our study guides do: They tell you what is most important and where to focus your efforts.

Integrate our study guides with your bar review course

Our study guides can be used to supplement bar exam review courses such as BarBri or Kaplan. The SmartBarPrep Essay Prep Outline and SmartBarPrep Essay Frequency Analysis integrate well with review courses because each is arranged in terms of frequency and topic, saving you the hassle of making index cards or other outlines.

Are you feeling pressed for time?

Since opening our doors I 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 my helpful study guides will keep you productive and efficient, which will free up some of your time while still leaving you feeling prepared.

Have questions?

I’m here to help you, so if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about anything, please feel free to contact me here.

Best of luck on the bar exam!

– Matthew F. Bates, Esq.