A friend of mine in our Toronto office wants to go do this this summer, just to have it under his belt, and wants me to come along for the ride. I hear it has like a 30% pass rate and while I recognize that's skewed by low-tier law firm participants, I'm not sure I'd fall into that category. Given that I know Canadian / UK law - ie, basic legal principles are very similar and we often borrow a lot of law from the USA - but was not taught law school in the USA, how much prep would this actually require? How much minutia would I need to know?
It's not skewed by low-tier law firm participants (those people have a real incentive to pass -- do or get fired), but by people who barely made it through a third-tier school, are waiting tables and don't take a prep course or really even study.
I've taken three bars at different times in my career and passed each, all using BarBri. But as the previous poster said, if you're diligent and motivated, you can buy the previous year's material and pass. The first good reason to do a class is that every day someone is forcing you to learn by attending lectures and doing mini-tests.
The bar is divided into two sections: the "multi-state" and the writing portion. The multi-state is a form multiple-choice legal trivia challenge, testing common law principles. This is where you'd live or die and the second good reason to buy BarBri stuff -- to get their books of hundreds of questions. Even if you take a class and study like mad, you'll have to guess on about 30% of the questions. Whether you pass or not depends on how well you can guess. People who don't study have to guess on like 80% of the questions. You want to (a) limit the # you guess on, and (b) eliminate bad answers to be a better guesser.
If you're a good writer, the writing portion isn't hard. It's what lawyers do every day.
Seriously, the last time I took the bar, I sat by people who graduated years ago who literally did not study for the test. One guy said he was going to but wanted to watch American Idol instead. Another lady said she looked at the questions the bar sends out (like 10 of them), but that's all. I imagine they all failed.