If you’re planning on taking the LSAT in June or October, you should already be thinking about how you’ll prepare. There are many effective ways to study for the LSAT, and your prep doesn’t have to break the bank. Before we talk about the pros and cons of each method of preparation, here are a couple ground rules to keep in mind:
- The LSAT is extremely learnable but takes a ton of work, so regardless of what study method you choose, you should plan on a minimum of two to three months of intense studying before test day.
- We at Blueprint LSAT Prep have worked hard to develop awesome books and courses, but we’d never tell you that our materials are the only path to success (although we do, of course, believe our offerings are the best!). There are plenty of great resources for LSAT preparation, but make sure you do your research before selecting one. Whatever you choose should, at a minimum, use real LSAT questions. You should also read lots of reviews online, and if you’re considering taking a course, you can usually even sit in on a class before signing up to make sure it’s right for you.
With that said, let’s get to the three main methods of study.
The main benefit of self-studying is that it’s the most inexpensive way to prepare for the LSAT. However, deciding on your own study plan can be daunting. At a minimum, you’ll need a reputable book that will teach you strategies for each section, plus a bunch of tests from previous years. After you’ve mastered the general strategies, you’ll start to focus more on timed practice (both individual sections and full tests).
If you decide to go the self-studying route, it’s extremely important that you are motivated enough to stick to a study schedule. Set goals for when you’d like to finish the book(s) you purchase, and stick to those goals. You absolutely cannot cram for the LSAT, so if you know you have the tendency to procrastinate, think long and hard before choosing the self-studying route. (Incidentally, this is why I ended up taking a course back in my LSAT prep days – I was chronically writing 15-page essays the night before they were due, so I knew I was too much of a procrastinator to prepare for the LSAT on my own.)
When you self-study, it’s also a little more difficult to get your questions answered. If you’re confused about something, you can generally find some help online (although you should proceed with caution, since sometimes you’ll be getting advice from people who don’t know much more than you). You can also supplement your self-studying with a few tutoring hours to work out any kinks.
Online courses tend to be less expensive than live courses, but with many of the benefits of a live course. A good course will teach you strategies for each section, give you a general study plan, and provide access to every LSAT question that has been released. Online courses are more flexible than live courses – you can go at your own pace, re-watching or skipping ahead as necessary, and you can watch lessons whenever is most convenient for you. You can also “attend” the classes in your underwear, which is frowned upon in most live prep courses.
The downside of online courses is that, like self-studying, it can be difficult to get your questions answered. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible – some courses, including Blueprint’s, give you e-mail access to their instructors. However, you still won’t be getting the instant answers to questions that you’d get with a live course.
Live courses are generally the most expensive method of LSAT prep, but they’re also the most comprehensive. In addition to providing you with materials and a study plan, you’ll have an instructor at your disposal to clear up any questions on the spot.
The quality of a course depends heavily upon the instructor. Even if a company has great strategies, the instructor’s abilities can make or break your experience. If possible, try to sit in on a session of the class before signing up – most reputable companies will be happy to let you do so.
Live courses are great for people who learn the best in an interactive setting and who flourish with instant answers to their questions. As mentioned in the self-studying section, live courses are also optimal for those whose motto is “Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?” (No shame, fellow procrastinators!) Unlike online courses, you have no control over the pace of the course, but a good instructor should be able to manage the class’s time well so that you are neither overwhelmed nor sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
Regardless of which study method you choose, you should do a lot of research before choosing a book or course. The LSAT is the single biggest factor in law school admissions, so you want to make sure you’re getting the best preparation possible. Look up reviews, use those fledgling critical thinking skills to compare your options, and choose the method and materials that are the best fit for you!