Schang1 wrote:I'm a student who just completed the 12-session live course from Manhattan LSAT. I would also like to add that I've taken a live course with Princeton Review AND Powerscore (so I think I have quite a bit of experience in the lsat prep world)
Here is my FULL opinion on everything about the course, books, instructors, etc. Just everything I think you need to know about MLSAT. Just a bit of warning, I may start going off tangents but will definitely try to tie in everything together in the end
Just to briefly share my history: I took the June 2011 lsat and scored a 160. It was way below my "ideal" score so I was very disappointed, obviously, but I knew exactly what went wrong: I started believing in some stupid "LUCK" and thought I could score a 180 on the day of the exam, so I wouldn't let myself "skip" or "leave" a question behind. So when I ran into one of the "hard" problems in the logical reasoning (in the first section) and realized that I wasn't understanding it, I started sweating and spent 4 minutes trying to figure out what the answer was (since I was stupid and was thinking I had to nail every single problem in that test when I was getting at least -23~-25 ALL ALONG!) and so ended up not being able to finish the section (had 4 Qs left). Having said that, everyone should read #4 on this blogpost (--LinkRemoved-- ... dium=email). I was THE Mr. Smith here. So then I really thought about what I should do, since I obviously HAD to retake the lsat this October (ahh 2 days away!) and I've prepped with both princeton review AND powerscore and none helped me even get close to my ideal score. But about a week before the June LSAT, I ran into the Manhattan LSAT forum -- and literally spent 12 hours on it each day while studying for the exam. It was like where all the goodies were and I regretted for not having learned about this forum all along! So about a week before receiving my score (I already had a bad feeling but didn't want to cancel my score since I was curious to know at least how I did and I still had the crazy thought that I might have still scored like 5 points better than my preptests), I decided to call Noah Teitelbaum, the managing director of MLSAT and ask about the course and what made MLSAT different than other prep companies (I love how I was already planning to retake the lsat before even knowing my score). Okay, that wasn't meant to be THAT long, but hopefully I included some good stuff in there...
Live 12-session Course + MLSAT syllabus
1. When I talked with Noah, I learned that it was only a 12-session course (once a week for three hours each day) and thought it was SO little! All other prep companies seem to have at least 8 or even 12 hours of lessons every week so I was very doubtful that we would be able to learn everything we would need for the test in 36 hours of lecturing. Noah said we learn a new lesson each week, compared to other companies that teach 2-3 lessons each week. But I thought we would have so much spare time (I'm pretty sure a lot of people would think this way) - and I didn't want to have any days where I have "nothing to do because I completed all my HW". However, I was SUPER DUPER wrong. At first, yes, I was completing all the homework assignments (it's divided into short, tall, grande, hw) -- even the grande ones in literally 2 days! So I had 4-5 days of "nothing to do" -- but then I noticed myself studying like 8-9 hours a day doing the homework stuff... and by the time it was Tuesday again (our classes were held every Tues), I've noticed myself forgetting what I've learned. So then I e-mailed Noah and told him I had so much spare time left and didn't know what to do for those days. First, he thought I was crazy for spending that much time every day studying -- he said 4-5 hours a day is ENOUGH. So he advised me to spend the first three days doing hw, then the other days reviewing! That is what I needed to do! REVIEW! So after class was held on Tuesday, I'd do my HW for Wed, Thurs, Fri -- and if there was a game/passage I had a hard time solving, I would re-do them, and just keep reviewing what I've learned for Sat, Sun, and Mon! It was a PERFECT schedule! There was no need to "rush" to complete the HW (this was what happened to everyone in my class when I took a course with princeton review or powerscore, since they are assigning like a zillion RC passages and freakin like 14 games to complete in 2 days -- NO ONE who came to class actually "finished" the hw, and because princeton review spends like 2 hours of class time going over stupid HW questions, it was useless since no one even did them AND because we are learning each new lesson every 2 or 3 days -- it's like you have to master it before moving on, since it get's HARDER and HARDER! So everyone ended up being falling behind and eventually didn't even DO the homework assignments that were assigned in the past. By the time the class is on lesson 8 or something, you're still stuck on lesson 3 and then you don't even feel motivated going to class anymore since you don't know what the heck is going on and you KNOW you are behind the class AND you have about 50-60 RC passages, maybe 60 games, and about 100 LR problems you have to catch up on). This was one of the million things I LOVED about MLSAT. Their syllabus was structured in a way that it just works PERFECTLY for everyone. I had a part-time internship in the morning, so I'd be spending the afternoon completing the HW, but even then, I'd be done in three days. And because you don't have to "rush" -- you don't feel pressured into just solving problem after problem like a robot but rather since you KNOW you have plenty of time to master this ONE lesson (a week is perfect), you actually feel motivated to UNDERSTAND each and every problem and to really "LEARN" this stuff. Like with other courses, you feel obligated to complete all the problems and you feel happy about the fact that you just completed this enormous amount of HW when in fact, you look back, and realize that you didn't actually "understand" everything thoroughly. The way MLSAT syllabus is laid out is it gives you this PLENTY OF TIME to look back and to truly master it and have a solid understanding of THAT week's lesson before moving on.
2. MLSAT live course use powerpoint slides to lecture in the classroom. I thought this was a fantastic idea because other prep companies (at least the two that I took) only use white boards and what they do is just read off the books (uhh we're not going to live classes to have somebody read the books that we already have). The major difference between MLSAT and other prep courses is that there are actually some important stuff in the powerpoint slides that are NOT in the strategy guides. You don't even need to bring your strategy guides to class because there are powerpoint slides made for you whereas both princeton review and powerscore required you to bring books to class since the instructor has to read word for word out of the book (...) and they have nothing else to add to it. Also, I really don't know why powerscore makes separate "course books" for their live course because it's literally THE BIBLES. What a waste of paper. Like there is NOTHING new to those "course books". At least MLSAT doesn't make separate "course books" -- they KNOW that the strategy guides have everything included in it!
3. At the beginning of each class, there is a slide called "While you are waiting..." and I think this was really useful because let's say we learned assumption questions on the third session, we won't be learning assumption questions again on the fourth session obviously -- so there would be random assumption questions on the sixth session to "refresh" your memory! Other prep companies don't do this (please keep in mind that I'm not saying each and every single one of them out there -- I made it clear at the beginnig that I'm just comparing MLSAT with princeton review and powerscore). They don't go over past lessons. I mean, MLSAT doesn't really "review" past lessons, but at least it makes you recall what you've learned in the past for about 15 minutes in the beginning and not just bury it forever till test day.
I have a total different opinion than people who commented above. Manhattan LSAT has THE BEST LOGIC GAMES STRATEGY. Like I seriously punched myself in the face after learning their strategies. I TOTALLY disagree that powerscore strategy is better than this one. Not to brag or anything, but I literally get none wrong in the logic games section. I've solved all released preptests till now, and I've gotten maybe 2-3 questions wrong ever (and I think all of them came from the crazy CDs game). With powerscore's strategy, their "pure sequencing" is confusing as hell. They use >, < these symbols to represent which variables come before/after and they use some sort of dotted lines to represent that we don't know the relationship of one another. So it would literally look something like:
A > B > C
D > E
F > G
it's just SO confusing. Pure sequencing took me the longest out of all game types because I had to struggle through mastering this stupid technique when it didn't even make sense at all. Plus, those >, < are more useful to represent some rules such as "A costs more than B" not when we are representing "A comes before B" -- since when did > and < mean "comes before" and "comes after" (it's common sense to think of it as greater than or less than). So I've normally completed each game section with about 5 minutes remaining. After I learned of MLSAT's logic game strategies for attacking each game, I now finish a full game section and have 12-15 minutes remaining AND get every single question right. I mean, I understand there is no point in finishing THAT early since it's not like I can use that extra time to solve an RC passage (I HATE RC!) but still -- I'm just trying to show how USEFUL the MLSAT logic game strategies are. Their "tree" for relative ordering games is just ALL that you can ask for. You don't need to draw those dotted lines like powerscore and it's seriously SO simple. Relative ordering games used to be my LEAST favorite (thanks to powerscore strategy) but now they are my FAVORITE! Also, I think the people who dislike the "logic chain" just dislike it because they don't know how to USE it. I struggled at first as well since I wasn't getting my "arrows" in the direction it needed to be, but holy crap -- I'm solving binary grouping games freakin 4 minutes. I spend literally a minute and 30 seconds drawing out those arrows (it takes awhile to "see" the contrapositives mentally, but you just have to be patient) and I spend maybe 15 seconds solving a question since the answer is just ALL in that diagram. I seriously want to give a hug to the person/people who invented the logic chain because I spend 50% less solving a binary grouping game now than I used to before. The logic chain may seem SOOO weird at first because you've never seen anything like that before! NO other prep company does that criss cross arrow stuff! I was so hesitant to learn it in the beginning because I already had my own strategy to attack these games, but my instructor persuaded me to just give it a try at least for a few games, and if it doesn't work for me, then I could just leave it there. BUT IT DID!! And it did for everybody else in my class! We all fell in love with the logic chain. The assignment board is also another cool thing that other prep companies don't have. The boxing and slashing techniques are everything you need to solve an assignment game correctly. Once you set your open/closed board, the answer is just THERE -- you don't even have to "THINK"! As with numbered ordering games, there is not much new to it -- I can't imagine someone developing something AMAZING like a logic chain or "tree" for a numbered ordering game since all you need to do is just make lines and number them lol So my point is: MLSAT logic games strategy RULES.
I first came across this book in Barnes and Nobles a week before taking my June 2011 lsat. I skimmed through it and I thought "WOW - assumption FAMILY questions??????" I didn't bother looking at it because I knew it was going to confuse the heck out of me and I didn't want to learn anything NEW in a week remaining time. I thought it was SO weird that they grouped these questions into one whole family. Powerscore groups them into families (1, 2, 3, 4) and I never even bothered caring what that even meant. It was too confusing and I thought it was unnecessary. When I finally took the live course and started attacking these five question types (assumption, flaw, strengthen, weaken, principle support) - I was shocked to have realized that these actually DO belong to one nice family! Whereas with powerscore or princeton review, you learn a different strategy for EACH question type (and powerscore categorizes them into like 13 or 14 different Q types) and it confuses the heck out of you. However, MLSAT uses a TOTALLY different approach. The so-called "core" approach - and it's NOTHING like you've encountered in the past. So with assumption family questions, you have a fixed number of mental steps to take into attacking those questions! You don't have to read a weaken question stem and be like "uhh it's a strengthen so yeah I need to strengthen the argument" and read a principle and be like "uhh it's a principle so I need to find a principle like answer" but rather you learn that BOTH arguments have gaps and you are bridging that gap! I'd say their LR approach and LG approach just beats all. It's gonna be totally different (in a beneficial way) than what you've encountered in the past with other prep books. Like with powerscore LR bible, they have a chapter about "flaw" question types and they literally devote like 30 pages into explaining all the different flaws and I don't understand what the point of doing that is because I'm pretty sure there are A LOT more flaws people can name than the ones listed there. MLSAT devotes ONE page into identifying some of the "common" flaws -- but really, it's good to know some of them so that you can recognize them, but it's impossible to memorize each single one of them. One thing I don't like about the LR strategy guide is that there aren't too many problems to solve. There may be about 4~5 questions in the beginning to introduce the question type, and then 15-20 drill questions in the end. But then again, MLSAT supplies you with TWO preptest books, so you can go do some extra questions if you'd like from those books. And plus, quantity doesn't matter. They all say that it's better to re-solve 30 LR problems 5 times each than to solve 150 LR problems once.
I am probably going to be the loner here. I personally didn't find the RC strategy guide helpful. But I don't think it's because there is a problem with the strategy guide since everyone I've talked to rank the RC strategy guide as #1 out of all three strategy guides because they take a WHOLE new approach to reading unlike other prep books. However, I just didn't give myself much time into learning the strategy because I never read in a way that they teach you how to read. I just thought it was so hard to "read for scale" and use the PEAR process - so I just didn't. I guess if I had devoted more time into using this strategy, it would have helped me out since RC is my WORST section out of all, but I just gave up because my RC score wasn't improving. So I don't have a lot to say about the RC strategy guide since I personally didn't use it so much and didn't find it too helpful. I'm sorry Mike!
Instructors + Office Hours
I seriously LOVE all the instructors in MSLAT. Okay, I can't say "ALL" since I haven't talked with all of them, but I've worked with Ian (class instructor), Noah, Mike and Matt, and seriously, they can eat all the other instructors out there. You feel gracious for having worked with them. What I love most about the instructors is that they TRULY want you to improve your score. First of all, just look at the forums. All the instructors are a part of it -- they answer questions promptly and really THOROUGHLY too! It's not like we pay them a penny to answer our question, but they still DO even to folks who are not even taking a course or even own any strategy guide! How generous! Powerscore has this "hotline" thing where you call to ask a HW question, but I love how it just depends on if someone is available at that time and you have a time limit or something AND it's ONLY for students who are taking a course. They offer nothing to people who just buy the bibles. On top of the forums, MLSAT provides 30-minute FREE office hour sessions for course students. I took advantage of this since the beginning of my course and that is where I got to work with both Matt and Mike. Where else do you even have a chance of working with a genius who WROTE the strategy guides?? I felt honored for being able to carry out these office hour sessions. Plus, people think you can only take advantage of those if you have a question to a HW problem and stuff, but I honestly used 90% of my office hours in discussing extra study tips and some general approaches to a question type that I was struggling with (stuff that are NOT in your strategy guides!). The office hours was another place where I really learned that the instructors CARED about you. Mike NEVER finishes on time. Like he would go over the stuff with you, and even if the next student is already in the room waiting to carry on his/her office hour, Mike will tell that person to wait for a minute and finish his talk (even if it goes over 5 minutes or even 10 minutes) and he makes up for all that to the next student! That's where I REALLY learned that the instructors care about their students. What I really think is superior about MLSAT is the fact that you get to know the OTHER instructors as well (through all these forum posts and office hours), so it's like you have 5 instructors by the time you are done with the course! Where else can you take this advantage of getting advices from 5 different LSAT geeks? Like even if Ian was my primary instructor, I would carry out office hours with Mike and Matt, and contact Noah via e-mail like at least once a week (he probably got annoyed of me already ), get help from Gilad, Mary, Patrick and Brian on forums (not to mention all other instructors)! It's just amazing because with powerscore or princeton review, all you know is your primary instructor. Another thing I wanted to add was other prep companies hire people in the 98th percentile -- I'm not saying you suck at teaching if you didn't get in the 99th percentile, but there was this one time where I asked a prep company (i'll keep its name confidential) why they hire people in the 98th percentile and they said that they don't hire people just by looking at scores, but they only pick people who know how to "teach" - but not to be mean or anything, my first thought was: "well.. how can someone who scores a 170 "teach" someone else who wants to score a 178 for example, to score that high?" I mean it makes sense for someone who has a 170 to help improve someone who has a 155 to getting a 165 or something like that, but if the person teaching is getting a 170 herself or himself, then I just didn't understand how that person could be teaching students who want to get 175+ or somewhere in that range. Anyways, just wanted to point that out because I personally am not scoring in the 170s, and the feeling of knowing that your instructor is scoring at least a 173, makes you feel that you could be able to score AT LEAST that high.
Just before I end this post, I wanted to show how much I've actually improved from taking a course with MLSAT -- this used to be my "average" misses in each sections:
Logic games - 0
Logical reasoning - 6-7 each
Reading comp - 12~-14 (I just suck at RC for some reason)
Now I'm scoring:
Logic games - 0
Logical reasoning - good days: -3 in TOTAL (both sections); bad days: -6 or -7 in TOTAL
Reading comp - if I'm lucky, -4, if I suck, -10 (I've noticed it just really depends on the topic for me)
So if I'm lucky with RC and this Saturday is a good day for me, then I guess I'll score a somewhere around the high 160s or even a 170!
At first I felt discouraged since I really want to score above a 170, but my score was consistently around a 166-167, but if you think about it, a 6-7 point jump from a 160 is actually REALLY HIGH because improving from a 145-155 isn't as hard as trying to improve from a 160 to a 170. You can get at least 26 misses to get a 160, whereas you can only get around -10 or -11 misses to get a 170. So because I'm getting an average of -14 or -15 misses, I'm getting at least 10 more problems right than I had in the past -- it just sucks because that's only a 6 point increase whereas from a 170, you get 1 point for each problem you answer. Plus, the average score improvement for a 160-170 test taker is +1.9. So I've definitely broken that record Good luck to everyone else taking the LSAT this Saturday! I hope at least someone found my post useful!