LSAT Prep Choices Overview
- Jun 09, 2011
Students are faced with an enormous number of options for LSAT prep. It’s no secret that Next Step offers one-on-one tutoring, but we do this for a reason. I wanted to lay out what I see as the pluses and minuses of the three major options for LSAT prep and for whom I think they work best.
This seems to be the default option for students. My goal is to change that — classes are good for some, but bad for most.
+First class material. Classes are run by big companies, and as such they can devote a lot of resources to categorizing every LSAT question ever. These materials can be great, but materials of the same quality can be purchased on the shelf.
+Concrete study schedule. This is the big advantage. If you’re the sort of person who is liable to delay studying or lose focus easily, a class can make it easier to devote a significant amount of time to study. However, if this is you, studying for the LSAT might be a good time to gain some self-direction, as you won’t have this kind of structure in law school.
+Your friends are probably taking a class, so it seems safe; this is why the Chili’s in Times Square is always packed.
The downsides to taking an LSAT class, plus the pros and cons of self-study and tutoring, can be found after the jump.
– Inexperienced teachers. The prep company I worked with years ago had a training process of 4 Saturday mornings, then you are ready to teach. Many instructors have years of experience and are very qualified, but you have no way to identify them in advance.
– Designed for average students. Curriculum has to be designed to appeal to the broadest possible cross-section of possible students, i.e. those starting in the low 150s.
– Moves at one pace. If you start your class routinely getting every logic game question correct, you’ll still have to spend hours and hours going over it. (And for some classes, you’ll have to spend time answering GMAT questions).
Great for: Average students looking for an average score increase; students with poor study habits; the risk-averse.
A bad choice for: students starting in the 140’s or 160’s; students looking for a big increase; students who are great at some sections but need to improve on others.
This includes studying with any number of books; it also includes studying with any kind of online set of materials; no matter how “adaptive,” those programs are pretty much the same as studying out of a book (but costs more).
+ Obviously, the most affordable. Here’s my self-study plan that you can execute for about $140 in books. That said, it’s a foolish financial decision to try to save a small amount of money on LSAT prep; raising your score can return tens of thousands in financial aid.
+ Totally flexible. Study when you want, study whatever you think you need.
+ Often as effective as classes. Over-the-counter material such as the Powerscore Bibles are just as good as what you’ll get from a class, and you can study at your own pace. If I had the choice between a class with an inexperienced instructor and $1,300, I’d take the $1,300. (But a great instructor can boost your score).
– Scores tend to plateau. At a certain point it’s hard to identify exactly what you’re doing incorrectly. Bad habits are entrenched, not solved.
Great for: self-directed students who only need a moderate score increase to meet their admissions goals
Bad for: procrastinators, students looking to make double-digit score increases
Tutoring is one-on-one help from an LSAT expert.
+ Most impactful score increase. Next Step’s average increase is 11.25 points for individual tutoring. No class can beat this.
+ Flexibility. Tutors can work with you when you want to meet. I can’t tell you how many students have been frustrated with having a long work day, then going to LSAT class from 6:30-10:00. No one learns at the end of a 15 hour day.
+ More efficient than classes. If you go into a class getting 22/24 on logic games sections, you’ll…still have to spend 1/3 of your time going over it. Tutoring allows you to focus study on the sections in which you most need to improve.
– There’s nowhere to hide. Unlike classes, you really have to do your homework and come to each tutoring session prepared to learn and improve. You can’t be lost in the crowd — you’re the only one there!
– More expensive per hour. A class will run you about $35/hour, though large swaths of that are practice exams, quizzes, and introductory nonsense. Tutoring costs more than this, but generally requires fewer hours to make a larger score increase.
Next Step Test Preparation offers complete packages of one-on-one LSAT tutoring for less than the price of a packed prep course. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-530-NEXT.
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