Our Methodology

Themis is built at the intersection of instructional design research and decades of experience with the bar exam. Our Prime – Present – Practice framework is designed to keep your attention and processing power focused on the task at hand: preparing for the bar exam.

Built on a number of principles of effective multimedia learning, the Themis learning experience follows a specific, research aligned pattern. First, Themis primes you for the material ahead – before any lecture experience, you’ll have a chance to become familiar with key concepts and bring prior knowledge to the front of your mind. Next, Themis uses purposeful presentation techniques, breaking information into short, learner-paced segments. Finally, Themis offers you many opportunities to practice with the material, from short quizzes to simulated exams.

Prime – Research has indicated the value of “pre-training” before the main part of a lesson. Priming our brains for the lesson is an effective way of making sure working memory is available for processing and remembering new concepts. In our methodology, that means making sure you’re familiar with all the vocabulary in the upcoming lesson, and giving you a chance to re-access any information you’ve learned in the past that might be helpful for the lesson. That’s why Themis students review outlines before lectures, and why Themis lecturers offer clear roadmaps for what’s ahead.

Present – Learning complex material is difficult, even if your brain is primed. That’s why our process starts with calling on decades of experience with the bar exam to focus only on what matters, and our lecturers call out the most essential information. That’s still an immense amount of information, and so our methodology takes complex material and presents it in manageable portions portions – 15 to 20 minute chapters, instead of a single, hours-long lecture. This practice – called “segmenting” by instructional design researchers – ensures that your brain isn’t overwhelmed and your focus doesn’t wane.

Segmenting is based on the premise that all humans have a limited short-term memory, and moving new information from short-term memory to long-term memory requires significant cognitive resources. In order to make sure enough cognitive resources are available to make this transfer, segmented instruction limits how much you need to process at any given time, and gives you the choice of whether or not you’re ready to move on.

Themis is segmented and learner-paced. We never present a huge amount of information all at once, and we let the learner decide if it’s time to move forward or if a lecture needs to be repeated.

Practice – Short chapters have another advantage: they let us build constant, intermittent quizzing into Themis. This is called “retrieval practice” by researchers, and it’s proven to help you retain information better. We don’t stop at short quizzes though – you’ll get a chance to re-engage the material through practice exams, an MBE practice exam, as well as graded essays and simulated essay exams.

Retrieval practice has been shown to aid students in retaining key information across a variety of subjects. A 2013 study focused on college students learning anatomy & physiology found a 41% increase in retention for students engaged in retrieval practice. (Dobson, 2013). It’s also been shown to help you stay focused. A 2013 study conducted by researchers in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University examined students watching an online lecture. Students engaging in intermittent quizzing reported their minds wandered half as much and retained more information from the lecture (Szpunar, Khan, & Schacter, 2013). Studies like these are why we’ve built intermittent quizzing into our program.

Finally, each aspect of the Themis methodology is available on any device that can access Themis – smartphones, computers, tablets, and e-readers. This matters because research shows that learn better when you’re not overstressed – so access Themis where you want to, not in a room surrounded by bar exam takers who are sweating bullets.

The Prime - Present - Practice framework is the result of years spent teaching the bar, both online and in -person. We’ve worked hard to develop an online learning program that is aligned with current research and built on those years of experience, and we’re confident it will deliver the results you need.


  1. Dobson, J. L. (2013). Retrieval practice is an efficient method of enhancing the retention of anatomy and physiology information. Advances in Physiology Education, 184-191.