Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

SupraVln180
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Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby SupraVln180 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:09 am

So right now I have began carefully going through all the Powerscore Bibles in Preparation for the October Test, as well as I am planning on taking as many practice tests as possible. Right now, my Mom said she'd enroll me in a class and I'm thinking, I can use the extra prep. I know a few people who took Testmasters last year and they did pretty well 163 and 167 (I'm shooting for 170+, I think I am more than capable). But those two guys ended up at Wash U and Georgetown, so I cant knock their prep. However, after reading on these forums, it appears that alot of people are saying Blueprint is real good. So from experience guys what's better Testmasters or Blueprint? (Or another class)

bp colin
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby bp colin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:00 am

Hey there. I actually work for Blueprint, teaching the New York classes. I myself took a Blueprint LSAT class a number of years ago, and it got me in the 170s. I tend to think we're pretty fantastic. Where are you looking to take a class?

You should definitely seek out other people's experiences, but if you've got any questions I can answer, feel free to pm me. If you're in California, I also know most of the instructors out there, so I could answer any questions about them too.

SupraVln180
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby SupraVln180 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:18 am

I'm actually from NYC. This summer I'll be in Long Island though, so I will want a center in Long Island.

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Mr. Smith
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby Mr. Smith » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:25 am

:| :| :|

Well, considering the history of these two, I gotta ask, what's the difference???

CMDantes
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby CMDantes » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:06 am

I'm taking TM right now and it seems to be pretty helpful.

The amount of HW and repetition you get is ridiculous, but it seems to be helping a lot. I scored a 159 on the first diagnostic, with the next one coming up on Saturday. When I get that score back I'll let you know, it will determine whether the bulk of this course has been successful or not.

JasonR
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby JasonR » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:53 am

Mr. Smith wrote::| :| :|

Well, considering the history of these two, I gotta ask, what's the difference???


Exactly.

TM, BP, and Powerscore are all very similar. Go with the one that has the best teacher, if you can get any info in that regard (from former students, etc.). Failing that, go with the one that fits your schedule the best.

For the record, I was very happy with my TM course.

JasonR
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby JasonR » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:57 am

CMDantes wrote:When I get that score back I'll let you know, it will determine whether the bulk of this course has been successful or not.


No, it won't. Few people see much of a gain on the second diag. Most people improve in accuracy but complete fewer questions and score about the same as on their first diag.

bp colin
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby bp colin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:19 pm

JasonR wrote:
CMDantes wrote:When I get that score back I'll let you know, it will determine whether the bulk of this course has been successful or not.


No, it won't. Few people see much of a gain on the second diag. Most people improve in accuracy but complete fewer questions and score about the same as on their first diag.


That's definitely true. The average increase in our (and I'm assuming nearly all companies') classes for the second diag is WAY lower than what it ends up being for the final one. If, on the types of questions that you've already learned and that you actually get to, you're getting a lot right, then that's great. It's entirely possible that you could get the same score (or even lower), but what's behind the score could still show major improvement.

CMDantes
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby CMDantes » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:28 pm

I stand corrected, thanks a lot guys!

tomwatts
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby tomwatts » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:39 pm

I've been teaching LSAT for four years and have regularly gotten 10-20 point improvements out of most of my students, and never has the second test netted more than a few points for, well, any of my students.

That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when the average score improvement on the second test was something like 7 points (including a 13-point jump). I think that was just a bunch of my students starting unnaturally low, though. Almost everybody started in the high 140's, and none of them seemed like 140-scorers. They all just blew it on the first test. I don't know why.

Anyway, I'm over here waving my Princeton Review flag. Frankly, as long as you're taking on of the real (80+ hour) courses from one of the five major companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Testmasters, Powerscore, Blueprint, in order of seniority), the course format is not shockingly different, nor are the approaches (well, to some extent). The real deciding factor is the teacher. Most companies will let you sit in on a class or will offer a free mock class (we call them Strategy Sessions at Princeton Review) so you can see the teacher in action, or you can just call in and ask about the teacher. That should really be the deciding factor (other than schedule, I guess — shouldn't take a course that it's impossible for you to attend).

isaiah6v8
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby isaiah6v8 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:04 pm

I know Kaplan must be like the Wal-mart of test prep, but I took my course through Kaplan and I was very satisfied, I am considering teaching for them in the fall as well. But my guess is, just as others have said, that they are basically all going to give you some good strategies and help you reach your goal.

bp colin
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby bp colin » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:24 pm

isaiah6v8 wrote: my guess is, just as others have said, that they are basically all going to give you some good strategies and help you reach your goal.


It's true that all companies are going to give you some good strategies and help you reach your goal. If they didn't they'd quickly go out of business. But that doesn't mean that they're all the same. All new cars have wheels and will get you where you're going, but we're not all lining up for Kias. Also, there can be some pretty big disparity in some of the methods. Games I'd say is most similar between companies, but some of the RC methods I've seen are sort of, in my opinion, crap.


tomwatts wrote:Frankly, as long as you're taking on of the real (80+ hour) courses from one of the five major companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Testmasters, Powerscore, Blueprint, in order of seniority), the course format is not shockingly different, nor are the approaches (well, to some extent). The real deciding factor is the teacher. Most companies will let you sit in on a class or will offer a free mock class (we call them Strategy Sessions at Princeton Review) so you can see the teacher in action, or you can just call in and ask about the teacher. That should really be the deciding factor (other than schedule, I guess — shouldn't take a course that it's impossible for you to attend).


A good teacher is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. A good instructor should be the first prerequisite, but I certainly don't think it can be described as the deciding factor, per se, unless it's the case that there are quality teachers at only one company available to you. If there are excellent teachers at multiple companies (as will certainly be the case in any major market), then you should start scrutinizing the other factors. Price, materials, supplemental content, score increases, course hours, etc.

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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby bigc2 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:29 pm

I took Blueprint in 2008, and really enjoyed it. They have a great method, you get even more hours (100, if you're into maximizing time paid for, this is the class for you), and the instructors are awesome. My instructor was not only entertaining and smart, but he continued to help me with tons of questions well after the class was over. I started with a 158 diagnostic and ended up with a 171 as my highest score. I couldn't afford Princeton at the time, and taking Blueprint in Berkeley is one of the better decisions I've made. Tons of material, awesome instructors.

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matt@atlaslsat
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby matt@atlaslsat » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:33 pm

So I work for a new LSAT company that I think you should check out before making a decision on which LSAT company to take. Atlas LSAT is based in NY and has been teaching in-person, live-online, and self study classes there since January 2009.

What sets Atlas apart from the rest is the application of technology to the process (including virtual classrooms for every in-person student during their weekly 1/2 hour office hours appointment) and the instructors - 99% score, years of previous teaching experience, and months of training

Check out the requirements to teach for Atlas LSAT

http://www.atlaslsat.com/resume_post.cfm

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding the curriculum or class locations in NY.

tomwatts
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby tomwatts » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:18 pm

bp colin wrote:Price, materials, supplemental content, score increases, course hours, etc.

I suppose I'm starting from the (potentially flawed — feel free to point this out, if so) assumption that "materials" and "supplemental content" will be similar from course to course. All of the major companies give access to all released tests, and as far as materials goes, that's about all that really matters. I'm also figuring that "course hours" for the 80+ hour courses do not differ very much (80 hours on the lower end and 100 hours on the higher end are just not terribly different). No one has any independently verified score increase claim, so "score increases" is a purely anecdotal factor.

Price, though, yes, that's clearly an important one. :P

Other minor factors that I would consider important are the nature of additional help you can get (office hours with the actual instructor vs. dial-in help line vs. whatever else people are offering) and location convenience. Oh, and class size. Certain companies that shall remain nameless are notorious for packing lecture halls with 50-100 people, whereas others opt for the more manageable 15-25 per class, and for something in which asking questions and interacting is as necessary a part of learning as it is for the LSAT, I'd opt for the smaller classes, myself.

SupraVln180
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby SupraVln180 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:24 am

tomwatts wrote:
bp colin wrote:Price, materials, supplemental content, score increases, course hours, etc.

I suppose I'm starting from the (potentially flawed — feel free to point this out, if so) assumption that "materials" and "supplemental content" will be similar from course to course. All of the major companies give access to all released tests, and as far as materials goes, that's about all that really matters. I'm also figuring that "course hours" for the 80+ hour courses do not differ very much (80 hours on the lower end and 100 hours on the higher end are just not terribly different). No one has any independently verified score increase claim, so "score increases" is a purely anecdotal factor.

Price, though, yes, that's clearly an important one. :P

Other minor factors that I would consider important are the nature of additional help you can get (office hours with the actual instructor vs. dial-in help line vs. whatever else people are offering) and location convenience. Oh, and class size. Certain companies that shall remain nameless are notorious for packing lecture halls with 50-100 people, whereas others opt for the more manageable 15-25 per class, and for something in which asking questions and interacting is as necessary a part of learning as it is for the LSAT, I'd opt for the smaller classes, myself.



I know you don't want to namedrop, but what companies usually have the smaller size classes? Because I really don't want a huge seminar type class.

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neimanmarxist
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby neimanmarxist » Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:52 am

SupraVln180 wrote:So right now I have began carefully going through all the Powerscore Bibles in Preparation for the October Test, as well as I am planning on taking as many practice tests as possible. Right now, my Mom said she'd enroll me in a class and I'm thinking, I can use the extra prep. I know a few people who took Testmasters last year and they did pretty well 163 and 167 (I'm shooting for 170+, I think I am more than capable). But those two guys ended up at Wash U and Georgetown, so I cant knock their prep. However, after reading on these forums, it appears that alot of people are saying Blueprint is real good. So from experience guys what's better Testmasters or Blueprint? (Or another class)


I'd just like to say that Testmasters seems to be really hit or miss. Other people might disagree, but my personal experience was that they pulled a few unprofessional moves (canceling classes and changing the date, which, given that many people have pretty rigid schedules and need to make time for the 8 hrs/ wk of an LSAT class is not exactly commendable). I also found their customer service to be rude and unresponsive. Lastly, I had 2 teachers. The second guy we got was good, but the first one was beyond useless. It's money I really regret having spent.

tomwatts
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:22 pm

SupraVln180 wrote:I know you don't want to namedrop, but what companies usually have the smaller size classes? Because I really don't want a huge seminar type class.

In some (but not all) locations, TM and TM-offshoots (PS, BP) will fill lecture halls. PR almost never does, by design; we don't rent rooms that seat more than about 30 people. Not sure about Kaplan. And it definitely varies by location. You could call a company you're considering and ask about typical class sizes, but make sure you talk to local, not national, people.

bp colin
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby bp colin » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:17 pm

tomwatts wrote: I suppose I'm starting from the (potentially flawed — feel free to point this out, if so) assumption that "materials" and "supplemental content" will be similar from course to course. All of the major companies give access to all released tests, and as far as materials goes, that's about all that really matters.


I have to disagree with that. I would agree that if a course wasn't giving you all the released tests then that wouldn't be so great, but if access to released tests was all that really mattered, then is the quality of the curriculum irrelevant? I'll freely admit that I'm not intimately familiar with all the different companies' methods, but I certainly don't think they're interchangeable, or that it shouldn't be a consideration. I've had students who were alums from other test-prep classes who have said that our methods were markedly different and worked much, much better for them. This certainly doesn't prove that one is demonstrably better than another, but I think it does show that for at least some people certain methods work better than others.

As for supplemental content, that seems to vary as well. We have audio, video, and/or text explanations. Being able to get an answer to your question without having to wait is something I know my students really appreciate. I think you guys at PR have something similar, but not all courses do.

tomwatts wrote: I'm also figuring that "course hours" for the 80+ hour courses do not differ very much (80 hours on the lower end and 100 hours on the higher end are just not terribly different).


Strongly disagree. I think the 16+ extra hours are important, especially at the end, so that there is lots of time for guided review. Any way you cut it, that's a pretty substantial chunk of time. All other things being equal (and let's say for the sake of argument that that is the case; you've found a course with a good schedule, great teacher, certain class size, whatever else you're after), those extra hours would start to be a pretty big factor.

tomwatts wrote: No one has any independently verified score increase claim, so "score increases" is a purely anecdotal factor.


Well, it's more than anecdotal, at least according to PR's site. Unless anecdotal increases get down to decimal places.

http://www.princetonreview.com/LSATNow.aspx
"Our Hyperlearning LSAT students improve their scores by an average of 12.8** "

Those asterisks don't seem to refer to anything on that page, but if I remember correctly (I can't find it on the site anymore so I might be wrong, and correct me if I am), that number was calculated based on the students who did every single homework problem and never missed a single class. Our score increase, last time we gauged it with an outside accounting firm, was 10 points. We only counted the people who took all four main exams (thus eliminating drop-outs) and gauged it first exam to highest exam. We also took out people retaking the course. But we didn't base it on perfect attendance or check their homework. While it's ideal to do every single problem and come to every single class (and I certainly try to get all my students to do this), I would say that the students who are actually able to make this happen (have tons of time, are taking it really seriously - again, things that should ideally happen) are unfortunately not really a representative sample. I'd have to say our methodology in calculating the average, while not perfect (we'd want the actual LSAT scores for that, which logistically can't really happen), is more representative.

Score increases are hard to compare, especially if you're using different criteria. Some don't seem to even give their criteria, but maybe I just can't find it (something entirely possible). Ace, in their intro video thing, says "our students regularly increase their LSAT score by 20 points." What exactly does regularly mean? Binary Solution, a NYC outfit, says 12 is their average, but again no info behind the numbers. Further complicating things is the initial makeup of the class. If you've got an average starting point of say, 145, it'll be a lot easier to get a higher average score increase than a class that's starting at an average of 155. I've had a couple classes with really high concentrations of 160+ diagnostics, and I'm pretty sure the average increases were lower for those ones.

There are plenty of ways to look at and scrutinize score increases, and I think people should look at them with a critical eye. But it's not purely anecdotal, and I think it can be helpful data.

Here's ours, with all the fine print: http://www.blueprintprep.com/successstories/results.php

tomwatts wrote:
Price, though, yes, that's clearly an important one. :P


Agreed. Even though that's one of our big selling points (I think we're still the cheapest full-length), I think our being the best (in my own humble opinion, of course) has little to do with this. If you could hypothetically know for certain that one class would definitely give you a higher increase than another, then that would be something worth shelling out more money for (if it were within your means, of course).

tomwatts wrote:Other minor factors that I would consider important are the nature of additional help you can get (office hours with the actual instructor vs. dial-in help line vs. whatever else people are offering) and location convenience.


Again, agreed.

tomwatts wrote: Oh, and class size. Certain companies that shall remain nameless are notorious for packing lecture halls with 50-100 people, whereas others opt for the more manageable 15-25 per class, and for something in which asking questions and interacting is as necessary a part of learning as it is for the LSAT, I'd opt for the smaller classes, myself.


We generally don't have classes as small as 15, that's true. We pay our instructors more and have more hours of class, so if we did that our prices would have to be a lot higher. My Berkeley classes over the last two and a half years ranged from 20-40 people, I think (I do think one was close to 50). My current NYC class is about 35. But in Westwood a couple of our extremely popular instructors do fill huge classes like that (I think they get capped at 80). We offer smaller concurrent classes as well, but some people prefer to have a much larger class if it means getting a specific rockstar instructor. In my personal experience a ton of my students who thought the 40ish sizes would be too big found they got much more personal attention than peers in other courses. Often times a larger group facilitates more discussion, and students bring up questions that are beneficial to the whole group. It's very socratic, and I do think it works very well. Of course I work for Blueprint so I wouldn't expect anyone to simply take me at my word on this one. But I think if you ask our alums, they'll corroborate this.

Anyway, sorry about the verbosity of the response. In the end, I stand by my thesis that a great instructor is necessary but not sufficient.

sweetsugar
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby sweetsugar » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:32 pm

I took a Blueprint class three years ago and LOVED it. My score went up 15 points to the mid-170's. Before signing up for the class, I checked out the TM books and I thought that while the materials were fine, there wasn't a ton of explanations... not sure if that's changed or not. I also used the PS bibles, but I found they were unnecessary with the BP class.

If you can take a real life class, I would suggest it--the instructors they hire are fantastic (we had a different instructor I think for two of the test reviews and he was good, and I went to a class with a different instructor, and he was also good). The BP movie also seems like an interesting option. It seems like BP has made leaps and bounds over what they offered just a few years ago, and even then, it was great.

If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me--I have a lot of love for Blueprint, but only because I think they offer a great service at a really value.

PS: I took a class with around 80 people (Trent taught it and it was a summer course) and I felt like I got enough attention.

pinkhearts
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby pinkhearts » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:51 pm

Throwing in my two cents of blueprint love. I took a class last year and had a very good experience. The office was very helpful, they let me switch my center from USC to Cal so that I could take the class over summer and finish it when school started. I didn't perceive the classes to be too large, I think both were fewer than 40. Both of my instructors were excellent (one of which I think was bp colin) and very available to us to answer questions and recommend which sites to register for the LSAT at. hth

06162014123
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Postby 06162014123 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:59 pm

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Last edited by 06162014123 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

tomwatts
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby tomwatts » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:45 pm

bp colin wrote:Here's ours, with all the fine print: http://www.blueprintprep.com/successstories/results.php

"Our average score increase is measured from each qualifying student's first practice exam to their best practice exam."
Woah, wait, what? That's a ridiculous way to measure score improvement! If someone manages to pull together one great test and can never do it again, that skews your results. We measure first test to real test, which, granted, is much harder, because we have to contact students after the course is over and get them to tell us their scores, but is a far better measure.
bp colin wrote:I'll freely admit that I'm not intimately familiar with all the different companies' methods, but I certainly don't think they're interchangeable, or that it shouldn't be a consideration. I've had students who were alums from other test-prep classes who have said that our methods were markedly different and worked much, much better for them. This certainly doesn't prove that one is demonstrably better than another, but I think it does show that for at least some people certain methods work better than others.

Methods. Well, that's not quite the same as either of the two things you mentioned ("materials" and "supplemental content"). Yes, methods are important, but how on earth is a student supposed to judge which ones work better before trying some? I've scored a 180 using Princeton Review methods. I gather that you've scored a 178 using Blueprint methods. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that both work. There's not any strong pattern to which ones students like more than others (e.g. "If you're this sort of student, you'll prefer BP, but if you're this sort of student, you'll prefer PR"), so while methods are important, I suspect that there's no way to know what's better for you before you try anything, and it's not as though any of the major companies' methods don't work.

However, yes, having access to written explanations, etc., is useful. As far as I know, of the major companies, all or almost all provide something like this. I know we do. You guys do. Kaplan does. Does TM? PS? I think so, though I admit I don't know.

EDIT: I didn't know about price, so I went to websites and checked. Looks as though BP's price and PR's price are the same (given PR's current discount). TM and Kaplan Extreme are both a few hundred dollars more.

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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby waxloaf » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:53 pm

Just thought I would hop in and say TM worked well for me, got in the 99th percentile. Also, just to hit on a topic earlier in the thread, I went up 12 points from my initial diagnostic to my second diagnostic, so its certainly possibly to see real gains in that period.

edit: also, my TM class was 10-15 people, teacher was good for 98% of the material, he wasn't helpful on a few things but I found their hotline to be really useful when I had questions on things my teacher did not explain well.

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Mr. Smith
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Re: Think I'm Gunna Take A Class, Testmasters or Blueprint?

Postby Mr. Smith » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:58 pm

Are we we having a preptest company fight up in here???

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