5 Reasons to Take LSAT Prep Course

Posted in Prep Course on Apr 27, 2011

For some of you, your LSAT score might not weigh heavily on your admission file. Perhaps you were an amazing undergrad student with a superstar extracurricular record.  I was not that person. I was a very bad student in college, I hated admitting it, but I just didn’t care enough about my grade. My focus in undergrad was doing well enough to eek out a diploma and drinking $1 tequila shots.

Ten years later, I surprised myself with the burning desire to go back to law school, this might or might not be related to indigestion. I spoke to the law school admissions office of the two local school I was considering, UW and SU, and they both told me the same thing when I asked them about poor undergrad GPA. They said with each application, there were three different parts they would evaluate carefully: GPA, LSAT score, and personal statement. If any of the two parts were very strong, it could make up for one poor section. With older law school applicant, they would factor in work experience and maturity with age. It was stressed that I should study hard, do well on my LSAT and pour my heart into my personal essay.  My LSAT score would need to be mildly impressive.

In February, I bought over two hundred dollars worth of prep books to study for the LSAT. I did one self-timed LSAT test to gauge where I stood before studying. This test score should henceforth be the known as The-Test-Score-That-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned-Again, I didn’t want to throw numbers around, but let’s just say if this was an actual test, almost all my points came from writing my name on the test.

I started working my way through The PowerScore LSAT Logic Games Bible.  Less than halfway through the book, my score improved by at least 10 points so I felt I could get through this test just fine on my own.  Why should I bother wasting another $1095 for a class when I’m awesome on my own?  Was an LSAT prep course even worth that much?

1) Practice, practice, practice!
Back in high school, I took a SAT prep course. It was paid by a program that I was in so I saved myself $500, but I never felt like I got $500 worth of improvement out of it.  With that in mind, I felt that an LSAT prep course was definitely not worth considering. I updated my best friend, Brian, about my law school applying progress and he stopped me with, “Wait, you’re not taking the LSAT prep?” Then he continued with a little story. In high school he was varsity track captain.  He was fast and he ran a whole lot of tracks.  With tracks, if you ran one, you’ve ran them all, they’re not that different. So for local track meets, they would show up and race. However, when it came to regional championship races or higher, his team would get to the race early and take turns running that track. And while all tracks were alike, having the extra benefit of being familiar with the actual environment helps. Because when it mattered most, they wanted every bit of advantage they could get.

The course I’m taking offers 9 proctored exams.  My buddy is right, it helps knowing what it’s like to sit in a room with a bunch of people taking a timed test.  I like having that process repeated each week so that it’s familiar to me.

2) Show you the errors of your way.
The class goes over the previous week’s practice test. If you have any question, the instructor will go over it in class. In teaching myself, whenever I didn’t quite get something, I simply have the answer given in the back of the book, I don’t always understand why it’s that answer.

3) Study schedule.
Studying seemed like a straightforward thing: set a schedule, put in your time, be disciplined and profit! It wasn’t that I lacked discipline, I studied constantly when I first got my books.  The problem was that when the material got more complicated, I didn’t have someone to talk to.  This slowed me to a crawl which silently halted progress after a couple weeks.  Looking at the books made me want to update my Facebook page. Pictures of my friend’s miniature schnauzer sitting in her yard for hours felt more rewarding to look at.

I’m back to hitting the books hard after class started.  There’s a sense of encouragement knowing that even if I get stumped by a problem, instead of bashing my head against the walls to pry some answers out of the folds in my grey matter, I know I can ask about it in class.  Also there’s homework assignments to keep me honest.

4) More active learning.
I bought 3 books of practice tests. After the first two tests or so, I was bored of them.  Ink on paper was only teaching me so much.  The PowerScore books I got on Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension emphasized active reading.  Studying alone is very passive. It’s a little easier to be an active reader with an actively gesturing instructor teaching you, and also he’s using you and your classmates in his problem examples and also we are now talking about golfing instead of LSAT. Wait. What? It happens, real life examples goes off on crazy tangents but it makes learning just a little more interesting.

5) Extras.
Depending on your prep course, you will get different bonuses out of it.  The Steven Klein course that I’m taking has extra tutor sessions, and his many years of experience in helping students apply for law school.  We are told that the program will help us go over our personal essays and guide us in the application process even after LSAT is over. English is my second language so I know I will need some help in going over my essay and honestly having someone to talk to will greatly help.

As I’ve mentioned throughout this article I’m doing a lot of studying on my own with PowerScore books and they are very helpful to me, but the course gives me a different approach to the test.  I take the parts that I like.  I’m only week 3 out of 9 into my course and there are few deviation from the books that I really like.

In Logic Reasoning, the book teaches you to work all your problems out in the spaces next to each problem which means you often have to chart the answers over and over again, this is very time consuming.  The class teaches you to bring a highlighter with a more visible color (I use purple) and chart known parameters with the highlighter.  Work out the problems on the permanent chart and erase to save re-charting time.  The book said erasing is bad because you sometimes lose info learned from previous questions, this is sometimes true, so it’s a trade-off.  I try to compromise by not erasing everything.

Is LSAT Prep Course Worth It?
Your miles will vary depending on the class you choose.  At the end of the day, another thousand odd bucks is a drop in the bucket compared to law school tuition, if you have the means, there’s not a whole lot to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

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