LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

cassafox
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LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:46 am

Hey guys,

I have looked at a lot of posts (both at TLS and other sites) regarding the "right" or "best" LSAT class to take, and have seen lots of responses from:
A) people that never took a prep course and speculate as to which is the best (or try to convince you not to take a class because, apparently, they are brilliant and didn't need a course)
B) don't give really straight answers/data as to WHY the class they took is better than the others (i.e. Testmasters over Powerscore, etc.)

Could you guys let me know which LSAT prep class you took, why you decided on that class vs. another, and why your course was awesome/awful? I am really torn as to which course to take (Testmasters/Powerscore/Kaplan are still on my plate, I heard that Princeton Review is just plain bad, but if you disagree let me know as well). I'm at this point: I can't really afford to take a course...period...but I am scraping together what money I can to take the best course. The Kaplan class is $1499 (the "extreme" course...I figure if you get that much more class time/tests for $200 extra bucks, I may as well go for the gusto), the Testmasters class is $1450, and the Powerscore class is $1195. For any of these classes, I have to commute from a suburb into downtown Chicago (so I'm paying for train tickets each way...good thing there are cheap weekend passes, but they still add up), so this is not only a monetary commitment, but an extensive time commitment for me, having to commute an hour each way and all.

I want to make sure I am getting the most for my money. Kaplan offers that "if you don't get a great score, we let you take a course for free" thing, so I may lean towards Kaplan for the safety net. Otherwise, if I don't do well, I'm up a creek without a paddle.

Please let me know your thoughts. It would be really helpful. I am looking to start one of these courses in December, so please let me know ASAP your feedback. Thanks! :)

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gannak
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby gannak » Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:58 am

Everyone here hates Kaplan, but I took their course and it helped me a lot. I took the two month one, $1299. The books alone are worth the price. You can also google for Kaplan promotional codes online; I found one that saved me $100. I had a good instructor and the Kaplan center resources were excellent, lots of timed practice tests. I wouldn't say I actually implemented the "Kaplan method" as thoroughly as they encouraged, but they did help me a lot in breaking down LR and RC. LG were always my strength, but I did learn different techniques for working the games from them. I started with 162 on my first timed test, and was scoring 171-173 by the end of the course. I took the October LSAT, so I can't tell you what my final score was, plus I got really sick the week before my test and bombed my last Kaplan test...165! But I guess 165 with the flu isn't so much to complain about.

Oh and I chose Kaplan because I work full time and they offered a weekend class a few blocks away from me.

j99usa
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby j99usa » Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:38 am

HOnestly, this thread is full of Kaplan-haters. Here's my theory as to why that is:

Anybody even considering applying to tier 1 is probably the type of person that could sit down with all the practice books and released tests and figure out everything Kaplan has to teach you on your own. In fact, you'd probably be able to teach yourself it better than Kaplan teaches it to you.

But,

For people who don't have much time in their schedule and/or those who have a hard time preparing for something so daunting on their own - Kaplan is GREAT. The sheer amount of practice you get and exposure to methods and released problems pays for in itself. It also forces you to sit down regularly and take an in depth look at ALL areas of the exam.

I'm not gonna lie, its fucking expensive. I did the extreme course and shelled out $1500 bucks. But I also go to undergrad full time, work full time, and have a personal life I try to maintain. Kaplan helped me raise my score (from diagnostic in July to last few PTs before the 10/04 exam) by 18 points. (150 - 168) I'm damn happy with that.

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Rsrcht
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby Rsrcht » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:13 pm

I think it depends upon your level of understanding of the test and the way you study. Kaplan, PR, and even TM classes bring you up to a certain level, but after a certain point of achievement, it kinda feels like you are spinning your wheels doing all of the homework rather than learning from the material (rule of diminishing returns). I took the Kaplan course and the TM course; I know that TM is better from my own experience. They have an excellent method that can be applied well. My score jumped significantly (20 points), but I found that I had a lot of questions they couldn't answer. The one weakness of these programs is that everyone learns differently; once you've realized all of your potential using their methods, in some ways you have to unlearn the way methods are applied so that you can apply them in new ways that work for you. At this point, only self study can increase one's score. As is often said here, identify your weaknesses, then work on a method to deal with the weaknesses.

Looking back, joining Kaplan to obtain their orange book or their complete big book of LSATs (with every LSAT) was a waste of time and money. I could have obtained every LSAT for less directly from Amazon and the LSAC webpage. But, I did increase my score with Kaplan as many points as I did with TM. I think it is the amount of work put into the test that matters, and for people who don't know anything about the test or its underlying principles, it can be helpful to have some kind of guidance in the beginning stages of understanding the test.

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jessicaw
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby jessicaw » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:48 pm

I recommend blueprint if you're in a city that offers it. I signed up for the class because it was the cheapest, but eventually switched to self-study because the class went a little too slow for me. If you're doing well on the LSAT and are a self-starter, I'd recommend just doing the self-study program... otherwise, join a class.

Why the recommendation? Because I have consistantly scored in the upper 170s on my practice tests (still awaiting october score)... and the blueprint materials definitely helped with that. Not too expensive, tons of practice materials, 100 hours of in-class instruction (if you choose that route).

Dunno about the other classes. Haven't taken any.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:02 pm

I checked out the Blueprint site. Nothing in Chicago, unfortunately :( but it looks pretty cool.

Lod732
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby Lod732 » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:26 pm

In my opinion KAPLAN is a waste of time. The only thing they helped me with were assumption based questions, which do happen to be nearly 25% of the test. But the truth of the matter is, KAPLAN is geared for students scoring under 140 and to bring them up to the high 150 low 160 range to make them competetive into decent law schools. If you are starting out above 160 I would STRONGLY recommend another test prep company.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:28 pm

Lod732 wrote:In my opinion KAPLAN is a waste of time. The only thing they helped me with were assumption based questions, which do happen to be nearly 25% of the test. But the truth of the matter is, KAPLAN is geared for students scoring under 140 and to bring them up to the high 150 low 160 range to make them competetive into decent law schools. If you are starting out above 160 I would STRONGLY recommend another test prep company.


I agree. I spent most of the Kaplan class doodling in my notebook, because I learned early on that the tricks kaplan taught me would slow me down and make me worse, rather than helping me improve.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:31 pm

So I should definitely take a practice test or two before deciding? I took a practice test a year or two ago and score right around 140 I think, but I don't really remember the circumstances, and I'm easily distracted. Hence why I need a course that forces me to concentrate. :wink:

WestOfTheRest
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:32 pm

I think it depends on what you want to score, if you want to score <165, then any prep company is good for you, if you want >165, most of your study is going to have to be done on your own.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:40 pm

I don't think anybody wants to score <165 haha. I think the goal is a 180, and I'm not going to kid myself by thinking that's an easy task.

I did a little bit of studying on my own, but know that I'm really getting nowhere because 1) I'm having serious trouble with LG, so I get frustrated because there is no one to help me to better understand it, and 2) I am very easily distracted (managed ADD fairly well all through college, but long term studying for an exam is difficult for me). That's why I know I need to take a class.

To give you the full story, I describe myself as a very good test taker out of the gate. Scored a 1370 on my SAT without an ounce of studying/prep in HS, and took the GMAT and scored a 650 without cracking a book. Both of those worked out well for me...went to a great college (Go Blue!) and am in the range to get into a decent MBA program. But here's the deal: I am planning to try for a JD/MBA, as I've always been interested in law, and would love to work on patent/intellectual property law, but for this, of course, I need to take the LSAT as well. For some reason, this test is over my head, especially in the LG section. I just don't get them...I don't know why, they are just difficult for me.

WestOfTheRest
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:41 pm

If LG is your problem then any prep company will work. On this site there tends to be a movement towards PS's LG strategy, but I find most companies do a very good job covering LG. You're in an enviable position.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:14 pm

I wish I felt like I was in an enviable position. This test just drains me! I guess the good thing I have going right now is that I plan to enter law school in fall 2010, so I'm getting an early jump on this. I'm planning on taking the Feb 2009 test, and then the June 2009 test if I don't score as well as I'd like on the February test. Only issue is that I'll be on my own studying for the June test because I just don't have the cash flow to take another class if I bomb in February. Yikes.

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JackieTreehorn
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby JackieTreehorn » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:18 pm

I've only taken Testmasters so I have no basis for comparison, but I will say that I was happy with the course. From what I gather they hire better instructors, on the whole, than the other companies. Also, I didn't get the sense that the course was taught to the lowest common denominator--I came in with a high cold diagnostic and it was still very helpful.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:27 pm

I guess my next question to everyone is how much your score improved with the course. What signifies "good" improvement? 5 points? 10 points? What is a reasonable expectation?

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doyleoil
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby doyleoil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:31 pm

I've only taken Testmasters so I have no basis for comparison, but I will say that I was happy with the course. From what I gather they hire better instructors, on the whole, than the other companies. Also, I didn't get the sense that the course was taught to the lowest common denominator--I came in with a high cold diagnostic and it was still very helpful.

^^^^^ seconded...but i took powerscore, not testmasters (both have good teachers....testmasters' are required to score in the 98th percentile, powerscore's are required to score in the 99th percentile) - i think the consensus is that both of these companies are great at taking people already in the mid 160's well into the 170's - you might be starting out cold a little lower, but i'm betting you'd pick up their materials pretty well and take off from there - just do ALL the homework and take a shit ton of practice tests...and give yourself at least two to two and a half months (oh...and in answer to your question, i went up 16 points..from first to final diagnostic, that is...but it's better to hear what people did going from first cold test to the real thing....so wait till tomorrow and we'll see!)
Last edited by doyleoil on Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CWF V
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby CWF V » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:32 pm

haha... Go Blue!

I read the Powerscore books and they are awesome. If games is your only weakness, get the Powerscore bible. I could not do games at all prior to reading them, and am not typically the type of person who can pick up a manual of how to do things and get it right away.

By the time I finished my prep, I had games down cold. I could usually do a games section with at least 5 minutes to spare and got nearly every question right.

On that note, the games for Oct 08 were tricky. From my own PT experience, I think that there is a resurgence of hard games. As such, find as much prep on random games as possible. The LG Bible has a chapter or two on odd games, and I've seen something put out by Kaplan.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:37 pm

CWF V wrote:haha... Go Blue!

I read the Powerscore books and they are awesome. If games is your only weakness, get the Powerscore bible. I could not do games at all prior to reading them, and am not typically the type of person who can pick up a manual of how to do things and get it right away.

By the time I finished my prep, I had games down cold. I could usually do a games section with at least 5 minutes to spare and got nearly every question right.

On that note, the games for Oct 08 were tricky. From my own PT experience, I think that there is a resurgence of hard games. As such, find as much prep on random games as possible. The LG Bible has a chapter or two on odd games, and I've seen something put out by Kaplan.


Fellow Michigan grad?? I'm burying my head due to the state of the football season right now...trying to remind myself it's a rebuilding year.

That, along with studying for the LSAT and working like a dog, is hell. I can't even be happy on a Saturday anymore! LOL

LSAT All Star
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:45 pm

Many intelligent things have been said in these posts. There are many relevant variables. Your starting point, self-motivation abilities and LSAT goal are among the most important.

If you have the time to plan it properly, I think the best course of action is to start with LSAC's Superprep. Read through it starting at page one. Take the three practice exams which are included in the book. Don't worry too much about timing. At that point, accuracy will be far more relevant. For each question, whether you get it right or wrong, read LSACs explanation about why the cr is the cr.

Once you get through that book, take a couple of practice tests. That will let you know where you stand. (Starting out by taking a practice test is just a gimmick used by the commercial prep companies to make you think you are awful so you will buy their product and they can claim they helped with a big improvement. A little general learning for the $25 cost of Superprep will help you make your initial gains without spending thousands of dollars.)

This method will give you a more accurate idea of where you stand before you have to make the decision as to whether you need a prep course, prep book or just more practice.
Last edited by LSAT All Star on Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

WestOfTheRest
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:51 pm

LSAT All Star wrote:Many intelligent things have been said in these posts. There are many relevant variables. Your starting point, self-motivation abilities and LSAT goal are among the most important.

If you have the time to plan it properly, I think the best course of action is to start with LSAC's Superprep. Read through it starting at page one. Take the three practice exams which are included in the book. Don't worry too much about timing. At that point, accuracy will be far more relevant. For each question, whether you get it right or wrong, read LSACs explanation about why the cr is the cr.

Once you get through that book, take a couple of practice tests. That will let you know where you stand. (Starting out by taking a practice test is just a gimmick used by the commercial prep companies to make you think you are awful so you will buy their product and they can claim they helped with a big improvement. A little general learning for the $25 cost of Superprep will help you make your initial gains with spending thousands of dollars.)

This method will give you a more accurate idea of where you stand before you have to make the decision as to whether you need a prep course, prep book or just more practice.


On top of this I would go through the LGB and LRB before I invested thousands of dollars into a course that may or may not work. After you have looked at superprep, LGB, and LRB, you should be able to identify exactly how much help you need. If you're scoring over 165 by this stage you would be better off spending time studying on your own, or else taking the thousands of dollars you would spend on a course and finding a good tutor and getting some time with them.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:51 pm

Thank you, very helpful response. Where do you find the Superprep materials, on the LSAC site? Or can you find them on Amazon?

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Negus
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby Negus » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:03 pm

CWF V wrote:haha... Go Blue!

I read the Powerscore books and they are awesome. If games is your only weakness, get the Powerscore bible. I could not do games at all prior to reading them, and am not typically the type of person who can pick up a manual of how to do things and get it right away.

By the time I finished my prep, I had games down cold. I could usually do a games section with at least 5 minutes to spare and got nearly every question right.

On that note, the games for Oct 08 were tricky. From my own PT experience, I think that there is a resurgence of hard games. As such, find as much prep on random games as possible. The LG Bible has a chapter or two on odd games, and I've seen something put out by Kaplan.


I was the same way. The LG Bible helped a lot, but I just wished it had more drills of the odd and advanced games.

cassafox
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:05 pm

Negus wrote:
CWF V wrote:haha... Go Blue!

I read the Powerscore books and they are awesome. If games is your only weakness, get the Powerscore bible. I could not do games at all prior to reading them, and am not typically the type of person who can pick up a manual of how to do things and get it right away.

By the time I finished my prep, I had games down cold. I could usually do a games section with at least 5 minutes to spare and got nearly every question right.

On that note, the games for Oct 08 were tricky. From my own PT experience, I think that there is a resurgence of hard games. As such, find as much prep on random games as possible. The LG Bible has a chapter or two on odd games, and I've seen something put out by Kaplan.


I was the same way. The LG Bible helped a lot, but I just wished it had more drills of the odd and advanced games.


Is there a place where you can get access to the more advanced/odd games as well? Or are those only outlined in the actual courses?

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doyleoil
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby doyleoil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:06 pm

let me give some of my personal thoughts on this "expensive prep class" idea - i'm a self-study type of guy - i'm also the guy in class who reads ahead and does all the problems while the explanation is being given - i get bored by lectures - i do fine on my own - i never thought i'd do a prep class - here are the things i completely appreciated about it....

1) the lessons are structured in order from most important concepts to less important (but still crucial for high 170's scores) concepts and there is (A LOT OF) homework related to each of the concepts, especially the most important ones - doing this homework was absolutely necessary for me to improve my score as much as i did, and you don't get nearly the number of practice questions just by sticking with the logic games bible or the logical reasoning bible

2) there are types of homework that are incredibly helpful with the endurance and pacing of the test - in powerscore's homework, there are "logical reasoning marathons" where you have 75-80 straight logical reasoning questions that take about 2 hours to complete (supposed to be finished all in one sitting) - why might you torture yourself this way, you might ask? because there is a very real possibility that on the real lsat you take you could have three straight logical reasoning sections with only one break - believe it or not this is very mentally taxing and you have to be ready for it

3) there is a social aspect to learning that i appreciate (even though i'm the freak in the back finishing all the homework while the concept is being explained)...there were people i met that i looked forward to seeing every monday and thursday night when we had class...their presence helped motivate me to go to class; more importantly, though, it's kind of reassuring to have this person teaching you who's been through it before and who will tell you over and over and over that you're gonna be fine and you're heading in the right direction - i don't know why, but i value this kind of reassurance...it's very calming

i know i sound like a prep class advertisement now, but i don't work for any of them, i swear! if you think you can do it on your own, go for it...just know that there are definitely benefits to the classroom approach outside of listening to someone present material that you could read and absorb on your own anyway

LSAT All Star
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Re: LSAT Prep Courses - Who's the best and WHY?

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:11 pm

CastleRock wrote:
LSAT All Star wrote:Many intelligent things have been said in these posts. There are many relevant variables. Your starting point, self-motivation abilities and LSAT goal are among the most important.

If you have the time to plan it properly, I think the best course of action is to start with LSAC's Superprep. Read through it starting at page one. Take the three practice exams which are included in the book. Don't worry too much about timing. At that point, accuracy will be far more relevant. For each question, whether you get it right or wrong, read LSACs explanation about why the cr is the cr.

Once you get through that book, take a couple of practice tests. That will let you know where you stand. (Starting out by taking a practice test is just a gimmick used by the commercial prep companies to make you think you are awful so you will buy their product and they can claim they helped with a big improvement. A little general learning for the $25 cost of Superprep will help you make your initial gains without spending thousands of dollars.)

This method will give you a more accurate idea of where you stand before you have to make the decision as to whether you need a prep course, prep book or just more practice.


On top of this I would go through the LGB and LRB before I invested thousands of dollars into a course that may or may not work. After you have looked at superprep, LGB, and LRB, you should be able to identify exactly how much help you need. If you're scoring over 165 by this stage you would be better off spending time studying on your own, or else taking the thousands of dollars you would spend on a course and finding a good tutor and getting some time with them.


Broadly speaking, there are two general methods for taking the LSAT - thinking or gaming. The bibles' methodology includes both (as do all the prep courses - to varying degrees). On the other hand, LSAC itself (in Superprep - the only real teaching LSAC provides) does not really teach gaming. I think you should try their method before getting tangled up in the gaming aspects of the LSAT. There is no reason to confuse things until and unless you need to. Gaming does not help people score in the top 10%. There is no need to clutter your mind with gaming if you do not need it.

As far as where to get Superprep, I think you can get it just about everywhere prep materials are sold. (I don't work for them. This is just my honest opinion).




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