Questions to ask a tutor before prep

suzige
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Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby suzige » Fri May 27, 2011 11:44 pm

I'm searching for an LSAT tutor, and I've contacted a couple of people from ads on craigslist, google searches and such. I've also looked into a couple of prep companies' tutor offerings, but as I'm sure you all know, they tend to be almost double the price per hr compared to those tutors on their own.

Besides asking proof of their real LSAT score and former student references, is there any other questions i should be asking about these tutors before I even consider a commitment?

One tutor never responded to my request to see proof of his LSAT score. Kinda shady to be advertising their supposed 99th percentile score without being willing to show it.... Guess it's a good thing I asked early.

Should I be asking why they tutor if they supposedly got into and graduated from top law schools like they claim to have done? One ad, for example, claims the guy was accepted into almost every one of the T14. The question that I then had was, why the heck are you a tutor if you were that successful? I think its a fair question, but I could be wrong.

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incompetentia
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby incompetentia » Sat May 28, 2011 1:34 am

My experience deals more with teaching than tutoring, but somebody needs to be able to both see your issues and explain them, so you may want to ask about their general study method or something similar.

Depending on your situation, though, selfstudy is not all that horrible an alternative if you know roughly where you want to go and what you need to get there.

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EarlCat
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby EarlCat » Sat May 28, 2011 4:27 pm

I don't care if they got into all the T14s or if they ever went to law school. I don't even care that much about their score as long as it's somewhere in the top 1 or 2%. I'm more interested in how long they've been teaching, how satisfied their students are, and what curriculum they use and why.

Other than that, just talk to them about the LSAT. Are they excited about the test? Do they have a specific approach to the test--a game plan for your study between now and the test date? Is this somebody you actually want to listen to for hours on end explaining the ins and outs of the test?

If you talk to this person for 15 minutes and don't learn something about the test, move on.

kaiser
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby kaiser » Sat May 28, 2011 4:58 pm

As an LSAT tutor for a few years, I've come across many questions, some good and some not so good. At the same time, I'm amazed at how little some people ask before signing up for lessons. Here are some things I have heard, along with some other things I'd advise any prospective student to look for. Not all of these things can be directly asked to the tutor, but I will will elaborate on those points. As a side note, I went "undercover" as I began tutoring, taking private tutors up on free intro lessons to see what they did well and what they could improve on. I made mental notes of everything and incorporated it into my program:

1. Do you offer a one-size-fits-all program or will our sessions be tailored to meet my current aptitude for the test, my progression, and my goals? You have no idea how many tutors teach from a mental script with a preset order. One of the biggest benefits of a private tutor over a large class is that it should address your needs in an individualized way and move at your own pace. Make sure the tutor is willing to conform his program to you, and not the other way around.

2. Does the tutor just sit you down and lecture, or does he make the sessions interactive and truly engage his students? This is something that it difficult to ask straight up because tutors don't always realize and keep track of how long they speak or the level of interaction. So much of it is subconscious that people lose track of such things. This is where getting a free intro lesson comes in handy. You can get a first hand view of how the dynamic of the lesson seems to play out. Does the person talk too much while you sit quietly the whole time? I'd caution against this type of tutoring. I try and treat my students as "co-pilots" in which they stay actively engaged the whole time. I challenge them and push them to reach further than they have in the past. Sure, some people may like a more traditional lecturing style, but it is certainly a variable that you should find out about before committing to anything.

3. What materials do you use in your lessons and do you recommend that I buy anything to follow along? Some tutors may provide photocopies of everything you will need, while others will instruct you to go out and buy books of practice tests or perhaps the Powerscore Bibles, etc. You want to know in advance whether the tutor will simply be working off of your own personal questions from your own materials, or whether he will provide the materials and teach you based on what he himself brings.

4. Assess the tutor's ability to explain and break down concepts. Almost every tutor has a great LSAT score and T14 acceptances. Many are undoubtedly brilliant. But can they convey that brilliance in clear and concise terms? You would be surprised to find out that many can not. As I mentioned earlier, I went "undercover" into many lessons when I was first starting out. I would listen to these smart people who knew their stuff, but didn't know how to make it clear. In my head I would be thinking "If you only said it so and so way, your student would understand it much better". Make sure your tutor "speaks" to you in the sense that the concepts get across in clear terms.

5. Does the tutor truly provide a comprehensive service or is he completely off the grid after your tutoring hour ends? I am constantly in contact with my clients whether it be through phone calls, texts, emails, etc. because I want them to know that I am there for them throughout the entire process. If they are reviewing a practice test and wish to call me to quickly discuss a concept, I am happy to help. If they just need some words of encouragement after a poor test, I am happy to help. I believe that this is a sign of professionalism, but it goes beyond that. I truly care about my clients and treat them more like friends than clients. This is certainly something to look for in a tutor, and it is something else that you should discuss. Does the person promptly answer your communications? Can you get in touch with him outside of lessons? Is he brusk with you outside of lessons or is he truly willing to go the extra mile even if he isn't getting paid for that additional time? THose are the signs of professionalism and comprehensive service you want to see.


These are just a few major things to look for, and I'm sure I could think of a bunch more. LSAT tutoring is a wonderful investment, but you absolutely want to make sure you pick well. I think the above can help you find a tutor who communicates well, provides comprehensive service with personal attention, etc.

P.S. I must thrown in the obligatory "if you live in the NJ/NY area, and are interested in tutoring, shoot me a PM" message :)

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suspicious android
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby suspicious android » Sun May 29, 2011 12:04 am

Should I be asking why they tutor if they supposedly got into and graduated from top law schools like they claim to have done? One ad, for example, claims the guy was accepted into almost every one of the T14. The question that I then had was, why the heck are you a tutor if you were that successful? I think its a fair question, but I could be wrong.


Why would you care? Are you aware how tough the legal hiring market is? How many unemployed lawyers there are? How low job satisfaction rates are for attorneys (according to the ABA, about 55%)? There are a million reasons why a t14 grad might be tutoring, but I can't imagine how any of them would be relevant to their usefulness as a tutor.

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suspicious android
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby suspicious android » Sun May 29, 2011 12:08 am

[quote="kaiser"] As a side note, I went "undercover" as I began tutoring, taking private tutors up on free intro lessons to see what they did well and what they could improve on. I made mental notes of everything and incorporated it into my program:[quote]

This is why I would never offer a free trial class. Too many people perfectly willing to waste your time with their bullshit agendas.

kaiser
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby kaiser » Sun May 29, 2011 12:23 am

suspicious android wrote:
kaiser wrote: As a side note, I went "undercover" as I began tutoring, taking private tutors up on free intro lessons to see what they did well and what they could improve on. I made mental notes of everything and incorporated it into my program:

This is why I would never offer a free trial class. Too many people perfectly willing to waste your time with their bullshit agendas.


Perhaps someone has taken advantage of my free intro lesson in the same way but I don't mind. I am happy to offer a free lesson because it convinces tentative people to come. I am relatively good at selling my "product" over the phone but my chance of winning the business is much higher if I can get the client through the door in the first place.

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suspicious android
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby suspicious android » Sun May 29, 2011 12:36 am

kaiser wrote:Perhaps someone has taken advantage of my free intro lesson in the same way but I don't mind. I am happy to offer a free lesson because it convinces tentative people to come. I am relatively good at selling my "product" over the phone but my chance of winning the business is much higher if I can get the client through the door in the first place.


However you wanna rationalize it, you used their time under false pretenses. It doesn't make you a horrible person, but it's a dick move. If I called you up and said "I'm a tutor looking to sharpen my technique, could you do a trial lesson with me?", I doubt you'd be eager. You can't just absolve yourself by saying "maybe someone might do it to me someday".

kaiser
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby kaiser » Sun May 29, 2011 12:59 am

suspicious android wrote:
kaiser wrote:Perhaps someone has taken advantage of my free intro lesson in the same way but I don't mind. I am happy to offer a free lesson because it convinces tentative people to come. I am relatively good at selling my "product" over the phone but my chance of winning the business is much higher if I can get the client through the door in the first place.


However you wanna rationalize it, you used their time under false pretenses. It doesn't make you a horrible person, but it's a dick move. If I called you up and said "I'm a tutor looking to sharpen my technique, could you do a trial lesson with me?", I doubt you'd be eager. You can't just absolve yourself by saying "maybe someone might do it to me someday".


I've been a business person for many years so my definition of "dick move" is probably a bit different from yours. I once had an interest in a new restaurant. Of course I visited other local restaurants to see what they did well and not so well. Its no different than taking someone up on a free or discounted first lesson. Gotta know your competition to beat em. I wanna know every move my competition makes so that I can always stay a step ahead. Again, what you might call a "dick move" is just business to me.

totaltest.milan
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby totaltest.milan » Sun May 29, 2011 8:35 am

Tutor here. Kaiser's post is excellent, I recommend paying attention to it. There's a couple of things that I'd like to add/elaborate on from my experience.

Asking questions isn't enough, you need to evaluate the tutor during a free lesson. Don't spend your time with tutors who don't offer that. Which brings me to my second point.

Doing well on the test, knowing why you did well on the test, and communicating that knowledge to someone else so that they do well on the test are three different things. Pretty much all tutors did well on the test, but a much smaller percentage of them are good teachers. You're looking for someone who understands what's confusing you, and can clarify it using accessible language and appropriate metaphors. And who can also gauge where you're at and give you the proper guidance. All this comes with experience and teaching ability (whether innate or learned).

In addition, find out how flexible the tutors are. Remember, we're providing a service, and that by definition means that we're catering to your needs and requirements. Those of us who care about our students and about our business are going to be flexible when it comes to scheduling, location, etc.
Last edited by totaltest.milan on Tue May 31, 2011 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SanDiegoJake
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby SanDiegoJake » Tue May 31, 2011 6:42 pm

I'd also be interested to know how a prospective tutor analyzes my progress. I think that's the major difference between the professionals and the amateurs. The pros can provide you with a score report that breaks down and categorizes your strengths and weaknesses, and can deliver score reports that analyze your results on an individual test level as well as compare your results to previous tests. The amateurs can and will go over your test with you, but won't be able to extract patterns as easily or remember your specifics from test to test.

kaiser
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby kaiser » Tue May 31, 2011 8:29 pm

I always make sure to have my students show me their scantrons from practice tests. I plug the scores into a database but I make notes of what types of Qs the student got wrong. This helps me find patterns and I tailor the next few lessons accordingly. But there is more to it than just finding out what types of Qs the student tends to get wrong more often. The goal is to find out why the student got them wrong. So I run through a "diagnostic" test to find out whether it is a misunderstanding of the question type, whether the student doesn't get how to approach a certain question type, etc.

suzige
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Re: Questions to ask a tutor before prep

Postby suzige » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:10 pm

Thanks everyone, this really helps! Wish me luck :)




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