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

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 3:12 pm

cassafox wrote:
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?


Most of the "oddball" games are from the first book of 10 Actual . . . .

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

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:14 pm

LSAT All Star wrote:
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).


I'm sorry if I'm behind the 8 ball, but what is "thinking" method vs. "gaming" method?

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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 3:19 pm

"gaming" means test-day tricks: things like "read the questions before the passage" in reading comp, or things like "look at the question type before you read the stimulus" in logical reasoning; most of these "tricks" can be time-wasters, though occasionally someone finds them helpful

"thinking" means learning the rules, learning formal logic, learning how to make proper inferences, learning what question stems MEAN (what does it mean, for example, about both the correct answer and the incorrect answers for the question to ask which answer "cannot be true"), etc.

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

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:21 pm

doyleoil wrote:"gaming" means test-day tricks: things like "read the questions before the passage" in reading comp, or things like "look at the question type before you read the stimulus" in logical reasoning; most of these "tricks" can be time-wasters, though occasionally someone finds them helpful

"thinking" means learning the rules, learning formal logic, learning how to make proper inferences, learning what question stems MEAN (what does it mean, for example, about both the correct answer and the incorrect answers for the question to ask which answer "cannot be true"), etc.


Ohhhh ok I get ya. See, I've looked over the Kaplan books (not really intently, but to get a general gist of the LSAT before taking that diagnostic way back when), and I guess they are big on gaming, because I've seen those tricks before. They aren't useful a lot of the time?

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

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

cassafox wrote:
LSAT All Star wrote:
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).


I'm sorry if I'm behind the 8 ball, but what is "thinking" method vs. "gaming" method?


It is a little difficult to explain gaming. It is easier by understanding what it isn't. The LSAT is supposed to be a test of critical thinking skills - what is the argument, what are the gaps in the argument, what would strengthen it, weaken it, etc., does it contain a logical flaw?

Gaming the LSAT is a way to determine the cr without necessarily knowing or addressing these issues - counting and balancing terms of the argument, looking at the "degree" terms (for example; may, can, must, probable, impossible, etc.) in the response options and making your decision based upon the response option being stated to the proper degree and, I assume, many others. (I have never read the bibles. I just know about them from reading the forums).

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:27 pm

cassafox wrote:
Ohhhh ok I get ya. See, I've looked over the Kaplan books (not really intently, but to get a general gist of the LSAT before taking that diagnostic way back when), and I guess they are big on gaming, because I've seen those tricks before. They aren't useful a lot of the time?


Their usefulness depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you can't break a 150 and you are trying to get to a 155, they are very useful. If you are trying to score in the top 10% they are more harmful than helpful.

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

Postby doyleoil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:27 pm

^^^^ this is a good explanation of the more sophisticated ways to "game" the lsat - i would add another simple one to the list as an example of occasionally helpful "gaming" - if you have a parallel reasoning question in lr, you never pick the answer choice that discusses the same general "issue" as the stimulus (i.e. if the stimulus is about football, you don't pick the parallel answer that talks about football - these are the ways the makers of the lsat try to trap people who don't know what they're doing)

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:31 pm

doyleoil wrote:^^^^ this is a good explanation of the more sophisticated ways to "game" the lsat - i would add another simple one to the list as an example of occasionally helpful "gaming" - if you have a parallel reasoning question in lr, you never pick the answer choice that discusses the same general "issue" as the stimulus (i.e. if the stimulus is about football, you don't pick the parallel answer that talks about football - these are the ways the makers of the lsat try to trap people who don't know what they're doing)


Definitely one of the gaming methods.

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

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:41 pm

LSAT All Star wrote:
doyleoil wrote:^^^^ this is a good explanation of the more sophisticated ways to "game" the lsat - i would add another simple one to the list as an example of occasionally helpful "gaming" - if you have a parallel reasoning question in lr, you never pick the answer choice that discusses the same general "issue" as the stimulus (i.e. if the stimulus is about football, you don't pick the parallel answer that talks about football - these are the ways the makers of the lsat try to trap people who don't know what they're doing)


Definitely one of the gaming methods.


So this is a hard fact then? Do NOT pick an answer that discusses the same topic as the stimulus? Ever?

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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 3:48 pm

dear god no - don't take it that way - you always have to understand what the stimulus is saying, what the question is asking, and why the correct answer IS the correct answer - no "rule," especially a GAMING rule, should ever be taken to be 100% absolute - for example, they might try to trick the prep test people on rare occasions....or, alternatively, there are occasionally parallel reasoning questions where ALL the answer choices discuss the same basic "topic" as the stimulus - this is really much easier to talk about when you have a bunch of actual questions in front of you - i hope what i'm saying is coming through though (that being said, in a logical reasoning section, you will very RARELY see a parallel reasoning question in which the correct answer discusses the same topic as the stimulus and a different topic than all the other answer choices)

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:51 pm

cassafox wrote:
LSAT All Star wrote:
doyleoil wrote:^^^^ this is a good explanation of the more sophisticated ways to "game" the lsat - i would add another simple one to the list as an example of occasionally helpful "gaming" - if you have a parallel reasoning question in lr, you never pick the answer choice that discusses the same general "issue" as the stimulus (i.e. if the stimulus is about football, you don't pick the parallel answer that talks about football - these are the ways the makers of the lsat try to trap people who don't know what they're doing)


Definitely one of the gaming methods.


So this is a hard fact then? Do NOT pick an answer that discusses the same topic as the stimulus? Ever?


That highlights the problem with gaming the exam. LSAC knows the gaming methods that are being taught. They actively make sure they will not work 100% of the time in order to prevent gamers from scoring in the top 10%. So, no, there are no absolutes regarding gaming methods.

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

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:57 pm

I think you are completely wrong, I do not think that the bibles teach gaming, I believe they teaching critical thinking. The bibles teach you the underlying logic behind each question type, they allow you to dissect them and attack them from a method that is most helpful to you. For example, It's not gaming if you learn a technique of diagramming in the LGs, this is just a method of critical reasoning. If someone has no idea how to approach the LGs, the best thing they can do is learn a few diagramming techniques, this is not gaming. I don't know if you have read the bibles, but the advantage of the bibles over a lot of Kaplan material is that they do not give you bundles of gaming advice (admittedly they give you some).

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

Postby doyleoil » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:59 pm

most definitely...diagramming = learning formal logic = thinking, not gaming

and i agree, powerscore is mostly about thinking your way through the test (the occasional tricks do pop up)... the people who founded testmasters and powerscore pride themselves on being gods of logic...and they will teach you informal lsat logic without fail

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:07 pm

CastleRock wrote:I think you are completely wrong, I do not think that the bibles teach gaming, I believe they teaching critical thinking. The bibles teach you the underlying logic behind each question type, they allow you to dissect them and attack them from a method that is most helpful to you. For example, It's not gaming if you learn a technique of diagramming in the LGs, this is just a method of critical reasoning. If someone has no idea how to approach the LGs, the best thing they can do is learn a few diagramming techniques, this is not gaming. I don't know if you have read the bibles, but the advantage of the bibles over a lot of Kaplan material is that they do not give you bundles of gaming advice (admittedly they give you some).


I did not say the bibles do not teach thinking. They do and they do it reasonably well. What I did say is they also teach gaming. They also do not necessarily distinguish when they are teaching thinking and when they are teaching gaming.

A good example came up the last couple of days on the LSD board. The bible was alleged (by a poster) to have claimed that the question "what is most likely true" is the same as an MBT question. Obviously it is not. This misrepresentation in the bible led the poster to the wrong answer. Obviously PS knows these are not the same question, but teaching they were the same was necessary to simplify things for their gaming methodology. Yet, they did not inform their reader that was what they were doing.

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

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:08 pm

doyleoil wrote:most definitely...diagramming = learning formal logic = thinking, not gaming

and i agree, powerscore is mostly about thinking your way through the test (the occasional tricks do pop up)... the people who founded testmasters and powerscore pride themselves on being gods of logic...and they will teach you informal lsat logic without fail


Ok, so Doyle, or anyone else for that matter, if you had to lay your money down on Powerscore or Testmasters today, who would you pick? I know that Powerscore is a spawn of Testmasters, so I am now starting to lean toward the two of them, since they have gotten the most positive feedback on TLS. I want to learn logic/thinking vs. gaming, which it seems is Kaplan's domain.

I'm hoping that I'm interpreting everyone correctly. I just want to make the right decision for my money. I know I need to take a course to do as well as I'd like, I'm not very good at studying for these things on my own (see my posts from earlier), and I just want to make sure my money's going toward something that will really help me to excel, especially in the LG area.

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:10 pm

CastleRock wrote:I think you are completely wrong, I do not think that the bibles teach gaming, I believe they teaching critical thinking. The bibles teach you the underlying logic behind each question type, they allow you to dissect them and attack them from a method that is most helpful to you. For example, It's not gaming if you learn a technique of diagramming in the LGs, this is just a method of critical reasoning. If someone has no idea how to approach the LGs, the best thing they can do is learn a few diagramming techniques, this is not gaming. I don't know if you have read the bibles, but the advantage of the bibles over a lot of Kaplan material is that they do not give you bundles of gaming advice (admittedly they give you some).


I also agree TM and PS are far superior to Kaplan.

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

Postby WestOfTheRest » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:22 pm

LSAT All Star wrote:
CastleRock wrote:I think you are completely wrong, I do not think that the bibles teach gaming, I believe they teaching critical thinking. The bibles teach you the underlying logic behind each question type, they allow you to dissect them and attack them from a method that is most helpful to you. For example, It's not gaming if you learn a technique of diagramming in the LGs, this is just a method of critical reasoning. If someone has no idea how to approach the LGs, the best thing they can do is learn a few diagramming techniques, this is not gaming. I don't know if you have read the bibles, but the advantage of the bibles over a lot of Kaplan material is that they do not give you bundles of gaming advice (admittedly they give you some).


I did not say the bibles do not teach thinking. They do and they do it reasonably well. What I did say is they also teach gaming. They also do not necessarily distinguish when they are teaching thinking and when they are teaching gaming.

A good example came up the last couple of days on the LSD board. The bible was alleged (by a poster) to have claimed that the question "what is most likely true" is the same as an MBT question. Obviously it is not. This misrepresentation in the bible led the poster to the wrong answer. Obviously PS knows these are not the same question, but teaching they were the same was necessary to simplify things for their gaming methodology. Yet, they did not inform their reader that was what they were doing.


I'll agree that there is alot of gaming that is described in the LRB, but since he is struggling with games I would say that the LGB is one of the best books on this subject, and doesn't talk about as much gaming. If you are struggling with games, the LGB is a must.

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:34 pm

CastleRock wrote:
LSAT All Star wrote:
CastleRock wrote:I think you are completely wrong, I do not think that the bibles teach gaming, I believe they teaching critical thinking. The bibles teach you the underlying logic behind each question type, they allow you to dissect them and attack them from a method that is most helpful to you. For example, It's not gaming if you learn a technique of diagramming in the LGs, this is just a method of critical reasoning. If someone has no idea how to approach the LGs, the best thing they can do is learn a few diagramming techniques, this is not gaming. I don't know if you have read the bibles, but the advantage of the bibles over a lot of Kaplan material is that they do not give you bundles of gaming advice (admittedly they give you some).


I did not say the bibles do not teach thinking. They do and they do it reasonably well. What I did say is they also teach gaming. They also do not necessarily distinguish when they are teaching thinking and when they are teaching gaming.

A good example came up the last couple of days on the LSD board. The bible was alleged (by a poster) to have claimed that the question "what is most likely true" is the same as an MBT question. Obviously it is not. This misrepresentation in the bible led the poster to the wrong answer. Obviously PS knows these are not the same question, but teaching they were the same was necessary to simplify things for their gaming methodology. Yet, they did not inform their reader that was what they were doing.


I'll agree that there is alot of gaming that is described in the LRB, but since he is struggling with games I would say that the LGB is one of the best books on this subject, and doesn't talk about as much gaming. If you are struggling with games, the LGB is a must.


My biggest problem with the LGB is not about gaming (although there certainly is some). It is about adding unnecessary confusion before they sort through it. While I certainly respect that people have different opinions, in my opinion, all that stuff about overfunded, underfunded, strict sequences, loose sequences, etc., is just to make their purchasers think there is more to the games than there really is. As far as I am concerned, there are just four things to consider - what are the items, what are their variables and what and where are the sets they are being placed into. Everything else is unnecessary confusion.

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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 4:37 pm

cassafox wrote:
doyleoil wrote:most definitely...diagramming = learning formal logic = thinking, not gaming

and i agree, powerscore is mostly about thinking your way through the test (the occasional tricks do pop up)... the people who founded testmasters and powerscore pride themselves on being gods of logic...and they will teach you informal lsat logic without fail


Ok, so Doyle, or anyone else for that matter, if you had to lay your money down on Powerscore or Testmasters today, who would you pick? I know that Powerscore is a spawn of Testmasters, so I am now starting to lean toward the two of them, since they have gotten the most positive feedback on TLS. I want to learn logic/thinking vs. gaming, which it seems is Kaplan's domain.

I'm hoping that I'm interpreting everyone correctly. I just want to make the right decision for my money. I know I need to take a course to do as well as I'd like, I'm not very good at studying for these things on my own (see my posts from earlier), and I just want to make sure my money's going toward something that will really help me to excel, especially in the LG area.


powerscore worked great for me - i'm quite sure testmasters would have been equally good - if there's any way to speak with either company and find out who will be teaching in your area and if you can speak with that teacher, that's always a good idea - your teacher won't entirely make or break the experience, but you want the best if you're shelling out good money - i lucked into one of the best teachers i bet powerscore has

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

Postby LSAT All Star » Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:56 pm

doyleoil wrote:
cassafox wrote:
doyleoil wrote:most definitely...diagramming = learning formal logic = thinking, not gaming

and i agree, powerscore is mostly about thinking your way through the test (the occasional tricks do pop up)... the people who founded testmasters and powerscore pride themselves on being gods of logic...and they will teach you informal lsat logic without fail


Ok, so Doyle, or anyone else for that matter, if you had to lay your money down on Powerscore or Testmasters today, who would you pick? I know that Powerscore is a spawn of Testmasters, so I am now starting to lean toward the two of them, since they have gotten the most positive feedback on TLS. I want to learn logic/thinking vs. gaming, which it seems is Kaplan's domain.

I'm hoping that I'm interpreting everyone correctly. I just want to make the right decision for my money. I know I need to take a course to do as well as I'd like, I'm not very good at studying for these things on my own (see my posts from earlier), and I just want to make sure my money's going toward something that will really help me to excel, especially in the LG area.


powerscore worked great for me - i'm quite sure testmasters would have been equally good - if there's any way to speak with either company and find out who will be teaching in your area and if you can speak with that teacher, that's always a good idea - your teacher won't entirely make or break the experience, but you want the best if you're shelling out good money - i lucked into one of the best teachers i bet powerscore has


Again, I agree. The teacher is far more important than the course.

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

Postby cassafox » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:50 pm

With respect to that, are you willing to share the names of good teachers and their locations? I'm in Chicago, so if anyone's in this area, if you had an outstanding teacher, let me know.

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

Postby BlackJack » Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:52 pm

I've never taken a course so I guess I'm one of those people who chime in about self prep. But I would say this. If I could do it all over again, I would DEFINITELY take the course. I've learned everything the hard way, figuring out things for myself. If I could have had an instructor go through it with me instead of re-inventing the wheel as I've done, I would have saved myself tons of time.

I think most people prep in the same way, regardless of whether you do the following consciously or unconsciously and whether you take a course or not.

Phase 1: Accuracy
You basically need to learn the theory of the LSAT and then do drills of a certain concept (whether it is LG/LR/RC) until you are accurate, untimed. Prep courses have the theory and questions already laid out for you. Self-preppers will need to buy the bibles, study them and photocopy and sort questions themselves. Some self-preppers don't do drills and go straight to doing sections, albeit untimed. I think you'll reinforce the concepts better if you do drills while learning the theory.

Phase 2: Speed
Hopefully, you didn't use up all of the LSATs on drills and you have some whole sections you can do, timed. But only one section at a time. You are just now working on timing because hopefully, your accuracy and understanding of LSAT theory is sound. I don't know if courses help you specifically with speed. I'm guessing they don't.

Phase 3: Endurance
At this point, you should be able to finish any section in less than 35 minutes (with bubbling) and so you need to build endurance to be able to do 5 sections in a row. Prep courses give diagnostics throughout the course so you are forced to practice doing whole preptests in test conditions.


As far as "gaming" goes, it is something every good LSAT taker will know and use. Suppose you have 1 minute to answer a long parallel reasoning question. Using these "tricks" to eliminate answers or know which answers to try first can be the difference between finishing in time, or having to guess.

"Gaming" techniques should be part of your toolbox. You may not ever need to take out those tools, but you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't even have them at your disposal.

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

Postby Gatorade » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:37 pm

if u were hitting 160+ at this point, u are ur own best prep course.

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

Postby doyleoil » Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:22 am

i disagree...for the reasons i mentioned above - i tried to prep on my own and didn't get out of the mid-high 160's even though the first timed test i took cold got me a 163 - the course i took helped me go far beyond that...without, as the poster two up mentioned, having to reinvent the wheel

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

Postby cassafox » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:46 am

Hey everybody,

So I took a practice LSAT this weekend, to give myself an idea of where I'm at. Figuring I went into this pretty much cold, with just a basic idea for what I'd be looking at, and not having taken even a diagnostic for about a year, I'm pretty happy. Got a 155.

Thoughts? Take a class to get up to at least a 165-170 (happy scores for me) or save money and study on my own?

I'm just thanking my lucky stars that I'm not at a 140 like I was when I took my first diagnostic a year ago. Granted, I eliminated as much distraction as possible this time around so that could have helped immensely.

I'm leaning towards taking a Powerscore course, to get myself where I need to be. Gimme your thoughts! :)

Thanks! You guys have been so helpful!




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