There are many factors to consider when deciding on an LSAT prep course. The first question you must ask yourself is “should I take an LSAT prep course?” If you have the self discipline to assign yourself work, stick to a study schedule, and not cheat while you do your problems, then an LSAT prep course may be unnecessary for you and you can save the money and spend it on something else. But if you are like a good number of people who lack total self-discipline and need more formal structure, then an LSAT prep course is the way to go. Don’t worry if you are one of these people. Most people tend to pick a course. Some things to think about as you look through a plethora of LSAT courses include:
- Instructor qualifications,
- Class size, repeat policies,
- live v. on-demand classes, and
- Self paced v. formal classroom instruction
Make Sure Your Instructor is Qualified
Taking a prep course with an unqualified or unprepared instructor is not only a waste of your precious study time, but a waste of your money or financial investment as well. As you are deciding on a prep course, consider these questions about the instructor:
- Has the instructor ever taken the LSAT? If so, what was his/her score?
- Where did the instructor attend law school?
- Does the instructor have teaching experience? How many years?
Preferably, your LSAT course instructor should have a LSAT score of 172 and higher, although ideally, he or she would have aced the LSAT with a 180. Your LSAT instructor should also have at least a couple years of teaching experience because a high LSAT score alone is not indicative of a good teacher. Remember that you are the customer for these prep course companies so do not be afraid to ask questions and get answers even if these companies seem reluctant to answer.
Figure out What Class Size You Learn Best In
Another factor to consider is class size. LSAT prep courses vary greatly in size, from 20 or less students to ballrooms of 50 or more students. So ask yourself: do I learn better in a small, intimate classroom or in a big lecture room? Everyone has a different environment where they are comfortable learning and asking questions. It is important to remember that you should pick the size of class where you are comfortable asking questions. If you are shy in a crowd, it would benefit you to pick a smaller class.
Know Whether There is a Repeat Policy for Your LSAT Course
The third factor to consider is the company’s guarantee or repeat policy. We all want to believe we will perform well on the LSAT the first time but the truth is some of us need to take it more than once to reach our target scores. So it is important to ask if the company allows you to retake the course for free if you do not reach your target score on the LSAT. Some companies allow you to retake the course for free if you are unsatisfied with your progress, some allow you to retake if you do not pass a score set by the company, others charge an additional fee for repeats (Know this ahead of time).
Live or On-Demand?
The fourth factor to consider is whether you prefer the live in person classroom or the online on-demand format. Some of the pros of a live in person course:
- You have someone who can answer your questions in real time and explain things in different ways to help you understand
- Meet other students studying for the LSAT and can form study groups or just support groups
- More structure and discipline
- Someone else is timing your practice tests and so it is harder and maybe less tempting to cheat
The downsides of a live in person classroom course are that you have to commute to a location that may or may not be convenient to you and you are on someone else’s time. An instructor decides when class starts and ends and when breaks are. In person courses could also be pricier than online courses.
The pros of an online on-demand course are that you can save the time you would have spent on commuting to a live class and spend it studying instead, you are in charge of your time with 24/7 access, course is self paced, and you can repeat topics and sections as many times as you like.
The downside of an online on-demand course is that sometimes you may have urgent questions but have to wait for a response or you may have trouble explaining your question in writing but have no in-person instructor to go to. Online on-demand is good for those with strong self-discipline and organization skills.
Self-Paced vs. Formal Classroom
The fifth factor to consider is a self-paced vs. formal classroom course. Like the online course, a self-paced course requires dedication, self-discipline, and organization, as you are in charge of how long you study and what you study each day. A pro of self-paced is that you can change the pace as you go, depending on your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you excel on Logic, then you can spend less time on Logic and more time on another section, like the Reading Comprehension or the writing sample. The formal classroom provides more designed structure for those who need more structure and discipline to stay on track.
The good news is there are plenty of online resources if you are looking for a self-paced environment.
These five factors are just a few that are important to consider when choosing a LSAT prep course. Beyond the above mentioned, other factors you may consider include cost, location, success rate and average score of students, course lengths, use of real previous LSAT problems, number of practice tests, and techniques for attacking each section of the LSAT. Remember when choosing a prep course, don’t just choose the most popular one. Do your research, ask questions, and pick the right course for you.