Live LSAT Prep Course vs. Self-Study

When preparing for the LSAT, some students wonder which method of preparation may be best. I will give you my thoughts of the advantages and disadvantages of each method:

(1) Self-Study (only)

The biggest benefit to self-study is economics. One can use various online resources, online video courses, books, and official LSATs for practice. Note, though, that studying on one’s own is not free. At a minimum, you probably will spend several hundred dollars buying books and practice LSATs (which are included for free in my live courses) by the time you are through with so-called “self-study.” Whether you purchase an online video course or rely only upon free resources, there still will be a cost involved.

More importantly, if ever there were an example of being “penny-wise, pound-foolish,” it is the LSAT.  Differences of even 1-2 points on your LSAT routinely impact law school acceptance decisions. Very small differences in your LSAT score also can lead to massive merit-based scholarships that dwarf the cost of taking a live LSAT Prep course. I would encourage you to do the math. If you feel a live LSAT Prep course would benefit you, you probably should take one – just make sure you have confidence in your instructor and get a decent “bang for the buck.”

Self-study also has the advantage of convenience. You can engage in self-study anywhere you want, and at any time. If one is not highly disciplined, though, the lack of structure can be a drawback – we all find other things to do with our time, and can easily be distracted. Take a hard look at your typical studying habits when evaluating whether this “convenience” will be an advantage or disadvantage to you.

(2) Live Classroom Instruction + Self-Study

Students routinely benefit from a live classroom LSAT Prep course.  Be aware, though, that a live LSAT Prep course does not replace the need to work on your own. You still need to do a good amount of studying at home. Although it is a little more expensive than relying upon self-study only, the benefits of a live course taught by a well qualified instructor are numerous and significant. Here are a few of those benefits:

(a) Live Classroom Instruction Is A Proven Success

University courses have been, and continue to be, taught by professors in live classroom settings. The live course teaching method has been a proven success for centuries, and the invention of modern technology (including online courses) has not changed that one iota. Students typically find the live classroom experience far more effective than merely relying upon self-study or online learning.

LSAT Prep is no different. Taking a live course to supplement self-study is likely to be far more useful than merely relying upon self-study and/or online video courses. Indeed, an extensive study done by LSAC indicated that the LSAT scores of students taking a commercial LSAT Prep course (i.e., NOT a LSAT Prep course offered by a University) are significantly higher on average than those who don’t. An effective instructor’s ability to help you understand and apply the LSAT’s key “legal reasoning” concepts is likely to be worth its weight in gold.

(b) Live Classroom Courses Provide Structure

Even if you are a highly disciplined student, you are likely to find it difficult to remain focused, on-track, and diligent about studying on your own to the extent necessary to maximize your LSAT score. Having a set time dedicated for LSAT Prep lessons and mock exams, and an instructor guiding your additional self-study, can significantly help you succeed on the challenging and critically important LSAT.

(c) Live Classroom Instruction Allows You To Ask Questions And Get Immediate Feedback

This is a huge benefit of live LSAT Prep courses.  Many online courses provide very limited opportunities to ask questions.  Even when you are able to ask questions, the answers are often provided by a wide variety of people with questionable teaching credentials and LSAT Prep expertise.  And you typically will wait hours or days for a response. By then, you’ve often forgotten the issue. If you have a highly effective instructor, I can virtually guarantee you that you will appreciate the benefit of immediate, expert feedback.

(d) Live Courses Include Proctored Exams That Simulate the LSAT

Live LSAT Prep courses also provide the opportunity to take proctored full-length exams (and portions of exams) in a classroom setting. Forcing yourself to experience the mild distractions of other students shuffling papers, sneezing, breathing, etc., is likely to be quite helpful in preparing yourself to take the official LSAT.

(e) Live Courses Provide A Series Of Intangible Benefits

Live courses can provide a series of significant intangible benefits.  For example, if you instructor is well-connected within the legal community, he/she can give you helpful advice regarding internships, law school applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, etc. Learning how to write an effective personal statement, obtain useful letters of recommendation, and navigating through the application process also can be immensely helpful.  (If your instructor is a law school graduate, you can see his/her employment and State Bar status by going to calbar.ca.gov and typing in his/her name (or bar number).)

In addition, if your instructor is a practicing attorney with meaningful legal experience, you can receive useful advice regarding law school and the practice of law, including meeting and watching attorneys in court.  Getting an early sense of the “end game” can be life-changing.

(f) Live Courses Add An Important Networking/Social Element

In live LSAT Prep courses, you get to know your instructor and other students on a personal level, if you wish to do so. Beginning the “networking” part of your career at an early stage makes sense.  In addition, it makes the LSAT Prep experience a lot more fun. In my courses, I routinely include networking and social opportunities for students to meet each other as well as other pre-law students, current law students, and practicing lawyers.

(g) Live Classroom Instruction Simplifies The Studying Process

Your instructor can make your life much easier for you by (1) highlighting key issues that are critical to LSAT Prep, and (2) allowing you to avoid spending unnecessary time “spinning your wheels” studying things that are largely irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of LSAT questions.  Studying hard is important to succeed on the LSAT.  Learning how to study smart is equally important.

Conclusion

Students are not identical. In the end, evaluate what the best choice for you is likely to be. Hopefully, the above summary will give you a little more clarity of the advantages and disadvantages of the various ways to prepare for the LSAT.  To see additional information about the benefits of ScoreItUp courses in particular, please visit Top 15. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at mark@scoeitup.com.  Good luck!

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