Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Jockin Jay-Z
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Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby Jockin Jay-Z » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:23 am

A little-known secret is that studying for the SAT is not very effective past a minimal amount of preparation--test-prep companies mainly spread the idea to get people to buy their expensive courses. For the most part, it's an IQ test, so it is significantly difficult for most people to increase their score by great amounts.

--LinkRemoved--

It would seem the same would apply to the LSAT, and maybe even more so. We can speculate all day. But I wonder if any of you know of similar studies on the efficacy of prepping for the LSAT.

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rw2264
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby rw2264 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:25 am

...prepping for the lsat is extremely important. if there is a "base line of preparation" its probably somewhere around the one- to two-month mark, if done effectively. but feel free to prep for a week and test your theory out.

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Rand M.
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby Rand M. » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:40 am

The number 1 argument against the LSAT being an IQ test is that one can prep for it. Gains as large as 15-20 points are almost the norm with proper preparation. We don't really need studies to tell us that there is efficacy in prepping. Take a test cold, and then prepare and take another. Keep doing this until you are familiar, and there is no question that where you end up will be higher than where you started.

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MURPH
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby MURPH » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:42 am

It probably only takes about two weeks to go from a 145 to a 155. It took me 9 months to go from 170 to 175 but I am stupid. The thing is that if you are scoring around the middle, as most people must be, then you can improve greatly by learnig some basic set ups for the games, recognizing simple patterns that reappear on the RC sections and learing basic reasoning skills for the AR section. Practice them with 5 to 10 PTs and you will probably improve a fair amount.

To go from the top 2% of test takers to the top 1% (meaning you overtake half of your competition at the top) is not easy at all. A three point increase at that level is huge.

But think about what a ten point increase means at any level. If you can score 150 you can go to a teir 4 school. With a 160 you can go to a teir two school. Think about the payoffs in terms of starting salary, odds of landing a job quickly upon graduation, etc. Any school that accepts someone with an LSAT score of X will be offering scholarships at X+10 so a few months of prep will show fantastic long term payoffs.

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MURPH
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby MURPH » Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:44 am

BTW the article you linked to is for the SAT. That is a different test then the one we usually discuss here.

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superserial
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby superserial » Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:24 am

the LSAT is very learnable.

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beesknees
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby beesknees » Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:59 pm

[quote="Jockin Jay-Z"]A little-known secret is that studying for the SAT is not very effective past a minimal amount of preparation--test-prep companies mainly spread the idea to get people to buy their expensive courses. For the most part, it's an IQ test, so it is significantly difficult for most people to increase their score by great amounts.

--LinkRemoved--

Why do people believe that the LSAT is an IQ test? An IQ test you have absolutely no preparation, yet many many top scoring LSAT takers put in a lot of time prepping for the test and even take it more than once if their score isn't what they desire. I was personally able to nail a 7 point gain and it wasn't because I was suddenly smarter a few months later. I put in the time to train myself for the test - no expensive prep course, just good old fashion burning the midnight oil over prep books and PTs. I knowit is anecdotal, but it works for me. The few people I knew who scored 170+ studied harder and retook after getting a mediocre score.

I look at it like an endurance race. Yes, natural ability will limit you at some point, but training is critical to get to your personal upper limits of performance. And of course there will always be the annoyingly naturally gifted that get a lot out of very little hard work, but they are not the norm.

aether
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby aether » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:54 pm

I agree with other posters that the LSAT is trainable. I took the Atlas prep class, saw my PT scores gradually rise during the class, and my exam retest was +8 points.

There is no doubt in my mind that study and practice increased my LSAT score.

tomwatts
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby tomwatts » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:39 pm

An even less-known secret is that the studies that purport to show that SAT prep doesn't work are so obscenely flawed that they would get laughed out of any peer-reviewed journal. We at TPR did a study of our own to figure out how effective our courses were, and we found as of last year that we averaged 255 points of score improvement (I believe under the caveat that the students actually attended class and did a least most of the homework). We did a similar study of our LSAT classes and found 12.8 as our average. Those numbers are indepently verified.

When I get home and am not posting this from my phone, I'll go into a few of the methodological errors of those studies.

EDIT: Probably no one cares, so I'll do a stealth edit instead of bumping the topic. Here's the deal:

First of all, the study treats "coaching" as if it is some uniform thing. The most they do is separate out us (Princeton Review) and Kaplan as the two largest commercial test-prep companies. But at the present moment, you can sign up for our regular classroom course (18 hours), our Ultimate course (30 hours), our online course, our LiveOnline course, or any number of hours of tutoring that you like, and you could say that you prepped with The Princeton Review. If you do 4 hours of tutoring with me, we're lucky if your score goes up at all. If you do 24 hours of tutoring with me and your score goes up less than 300 points, I'm disappointed. It's a totally different ballgame.

Second, in treating "coaching" as uniform, they don't allow for variation over time. Our methods have changed since the mid-eighties, when some of those studies were done. Our methods have changed since the late nineties. Heck, our average score improvements (measured internally) doubled in 2008 when we switched from a 24-hour SAT course with an older manual to a 30-hour SAT course with a new manual. Their research is generally from 1998 or earlier. Our research is from 2008. Which one is more relevant to contemporary practices?

Third... ah, heck, this point is relevant enough that I'll post it down below.
Last edited by tomwatts on Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

cubswin
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby cubswin » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:45 pm

Jockin Jay-Z wrote:A little-known secret is that studying for the SAT is not very effective past a minimal amount of preparation--test-prep companies mainly spread the idea to get people to buy their expensive courses.


You are kind of hitting on the fact that there are diminishing returns in LSAT prep after the first month or two. I agree with this. But I think there are plenty of people out here who put in 100 hours beyond that to boost their score up above a 175 who disprove the idea that it doesn't work.

And the efficacy of LSAT prep is certainly not a test prep company conspiracy.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby dextermorgan » Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:48 pm

The problem with the theory is that we all know countless people who have made huge gains after a first LSAT with "minimal prep" and hard-core studying for the second test. The LSAT tests a much narrower skill set than the SAT or GRE.

pattymac
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby pattymac » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:21 pm

Please, tell this to the people who have a diganostic in the 150's and hit 170+.

It's a special set of skills. When I first looked at the test, I had no clue what the fuck was going on. I didn't have the foggiest inclination as to how to set up a basic linear game or even what a main point was; half the time, I was guessing. I did a couple of sections, read up on some stuff on here, read the first chapters of the bibles and gained 9 then 13 points the next time around.

tomwatts
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby tomwatts » Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:56 am

Okay, one of my many problems with their methodology is that one could do a similar study and conclude that gym memberships don't help people achieve their fitness goals. It's probably the case that few people who purchase gym memberships actually get as trim and muscular as they'd like to be. Does that mean that working out doesn't make you healthier? No! It just means that most people are lazy and don't take advantage of what they've bought.

Now, if you buy a test prep class, simply paying your money doesn't make your score go up. You've got to put in the time and effort yourself, too. You've got to lift the weights/do the practice problems for the gym membership/class to have a significant effect. I'd say that most of our students do, but certainly not all. This is the reason that we separate out who did the homework from who didn't for score improvement claim purposes.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:18 am

The law of diminishing returns clearly applies, but considering how big a small jump can be, an extra few months of study might be worth a scholarship or a whole new tier of schools.

I'm personally not retaking, but I was very lazy in preparing. I took about 8 preptests, but I didn't review them much - just worked on speed, and I didn't do any studying or PTs the last three weeks before the LSAT. I took it on no sleep and severe stomach illness at a facility 70 miles away, so that might have hurt me too, but probably not that much. I did work through part of the LG bible, but I think I believed I'd made more progress than I really had because the 2 PTs I took after the LG Bible had very easy LG sections.

So with that, I scored a 160 diagnostic (-8 LG) and a 166 (-11 LG) on the December administration. If that low and terrible level of practice can yield an acceptable T20/ marginal T14 score from a T1/T2 score, then I think it's likely that 10-point jumps are reasonable for nearly anyone who really goes to town with PithyPike or a prep course. That's anecdotal evidence only, of course.

Jockin Jay-Z
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby Jockin Jay-Z » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:45 am

dextermorgan wrote:The problem with the theory is that we all know countless people who have made huge gains after a first LSAT with "minimal prep" and hard-core studying for the second test. The LSAT tests a much narrower skill set than the SAT or GRE.


Obviously, there is a benefit to knowing the test, knowing how quickly you have to answer the questions, knowing what the basic terms are asking you, figuring out a system of how to do basic diagrams for LG. Knowing all these things can probably boost your score by 10 over a cold diagnostic; none of that is 'hard core studying,' though, none of that takes a month, unless you're devoting very little time each day to it. I'm skeptical there's really a major benefit to studying for more than that. Sure, it might get your score higher by about a point or two, which we all know can be crucial in the admissions/scholarship process, but the effect of hours and hours and hours of study is probably overrated.

tomwatts
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby tomwatts » Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:49 pm

Jockin Jay-Z wrote:I'm skeptical there's really a major benefit to studying for more than that. Sure, it might get your score higher by about a point or two, which we all know can be crucial in the admissions/scholarship process, but the effect of hours and hours and hours of study is probably overrated.

I studied for about six weeks or so, and if I remember correctly, the first month got me from a 154 to the high 160's. The rest of the time got me to the mid/high 170's. You can be skeptical all you want, but more studying does help in many cases, and not insignificantly.

This is another problem with applying statistically valid statements to individuals. The fact that something is often the case doesn't mean that it's always the case. Even if it were true that most people don't benefit from huge amounts of studying past the first couple months (which may or may not be true), you can't go to someone and say, "Huge amounts of studying won't help YOU SPECIFICALLY after the first couple months."

There are connections to be made here with using standardized tests to determine whether to admit someone to a school, but I'm not going to make them.

regatsrj
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby regatsrj » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:10 pm

I think one of the primary benefits of good prep courses is that they create a curriculum and general study schedule for you. Creating this on your own can be very time consuming -- although it can be done -- and that can really make a difference if you have significant time constraints, e.g. FT job, young children at home.

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liplaw
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby liplaw » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:17 pm

Jockin Jay-Z wrote:A little-known secret is that studying for the SAT is not very effective past a minimal amount of preparation--test-prep companies mainly spread the idea to get people to buy their expensive courses. For the most part, it's an IQ test, so it is significantly difficult for most people to increase their score by great amounts.

--LinkRemoved--

It would seem the same would apply to the LSAT, and maybe even more so. We can speculate all day. But I wonder if any of you know of similar studies on the efficacy of prepping for the LSAT.


You obviously have not studied for the LSAT because that could not be FURTHER from the truth.

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loser148
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby loser148 » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:54 pm

Going from 0 to consistently 1/2 correct on the logic games in 1 month along with studying for the entire LSAT is enough evidence for me. Now for the next part where most end up correct! :mrgreen:

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englawyer
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Re: Efficacy of LSAT Prep

Postby englawyer » Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:07 am

Jockin Jay-Z wrote:A little-known secret is that studying for the SAT is not very effective past a minimal amount of preparation--test-prep companies mainly spread the idea to get people to buy their expensive courses. For the most part, it's an IQ test, so it is significantly difficult for most people to increase their score by great amounts.

--LinkRemoved--

It would seem the same would apply to the LSAT, and maybe even more so. We can speculate all day. But I wonder if any of you know of similar studies on the efficacy of prepping for the LSAT.


the article actually distinguishes between "genuine education" and "coaching". they don't dispute that genuine education will improve your score, IE if you truly gain an understanding of geometrical properties.

i think they are implying that "coaching" means learning test taking tips/specific strategies for specific questions/etc., and that type of "cramming" without any knowledge gain will not result in success.

the SAT is very far from an IQ test. you need a thorough knowledge of HS mathematics and a very sophisticated vocabulary to do extremely well on the test. Neither one of those things comes from a high IQ, but rather years of education and your socioeconomic status (uppity suburbs=> value education => encourage reading/more vocab/etc).

I think that the LSAT is similar to the SAT, and if you genuinely learn the material you will be able to improve. that is certainly possible over months (or years).




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