Since I have explored both an LSAT prep course and self studying, I’d love to share my thoughts about the two study methods. Below is an infographic if you’re too lazy to read the entire blog post!
First, let’s discuss the LSAT prep course. Mine was about three months long with class lectures and online materials. I feel as though I didn’t take full advantage of my LSAT prep course because I didn’t take advantage of the online resources. The online resources were only available during the course. There was homework that went with the lessons and I never did them because I was in my last quarter of school and worried about my grades. Which brings me to my first piece of advice, don’t take an LSAT course during school or take it during a very light quarter. For example, I found that I performed best when I studied during my gap year because I had a lot of free time after the work day (here is a link to my post about gap years). I was prioritizing school during the three months in my course, therefore not fully dedicating my time, energy and mind. I wouldn’t say that I completely wasted my money, but that was one big thing I know I wasn’t being mindful about.
Another important reason why I took an LSAT prep course, and why I don’t think it was a complete waste of money, is because being in a physical class keeps me accountable. I was used to going to class everyday during undergrad and I felt that I needed that same push. I think that this is something that’s really important to consider when weighing the choice between a course or self studying.
My LSAT course gave me materials such as books filled with lessons and practice tests, and a special type of watch that was fit for the 35 minutes per section. However, I never used the watch so I didn’t care for that much. Second, the books went with the lessons that were taught. If I opened this book without ever taking this course it would be hard to understand. If you think that being in a course will give you an advantage just because the materials, it won’t.
I believe the most important benefit from the LSAT course was the foundation in knowledge about the test. The class had a great intro into the LSAT and really went into detail about all the fundamentals of the test itself. They made sure I had the categories of LR question types right, my methods of diagramming, etc. This is a HUGE benefit to me because I started independent study after my course, which ensured that I could focus on what I was struggling on. So the most important idea you should consider before asking yourself “Is it really worth the money?”, is “Will my dedication to this course pay off in the end, or can I do all of that on my own?”
Now, let’s discuss self studying. I’m sure many of you have heard the same things about self studying such as making sure you have a schedule, be motivated, buy the right materials… blah blah blah. As I mentioned above, having a foundation in the LSAT before self studying helped me out a lot. However, I think people need to consider themselves as the worst student they’ve been and then ask themselves if they would be able to survive self studying. For example, at my worst, I procrastinate, and never have a consistent scheduled. It isn’t horrible, but I knew my procrastination could get so bad that I wouldn’t be ready in time or I would keep pushing off my LSAT date. Making an evaluation of myself at the worst student I could be allowed me to choose the best learning options. After my course was over I was more than prepared to study on my own with the foundational tools the course taught me. I tailored everything they taught me to the way I test best and I believe I did a better job at self-studying.
If you’re still on the fence, I recommend self studying for a month reflect on what happened after that month is over. I didn’t know how well I was doing at self studying until about a month in so I highly recommend this reflection.
As far as the advice you see on the internet about self studying, they are generally true. I know I glossed over it, but it is very important to have the right materials, schedule and motivation. I made sure my materials were current and I didn’t try to be cheap. I was cheap when I knew I could be. For example, I was able to get practice tests from friends and I made sure I used the tests that were the most current. I made sure my LSAT books were the most current versions and brands that had nothing but the best online reviews, which meant spending a lot of money. I didn’t buy into flashcard sets and extra study accessories because I knew that books and tests were the necessities. Printing practice tests were pretty pricey so keep that in mind as well.
I tried about 5 different study schedules before I found what was right for me. My study schedule also changed as it got closer to my test date, but I made sure there were breaks. Be sure to do some research on what schedules others have tried and try them out yourself. Don’t settle for a schedule you know you can’t stick to and always keep in mind that you will tailor it to how you work best. I also gave myself MORE than enough time to study because I knew there would be times where I would not stick to any schedule. I self studied 2 months after my LSAT course.
As far as motivation, it’s really up to you to make that happen.
Overall, I would recommend what I did. Taking a course and then self-studying. I don’t think I could have been as prepared as I was without both.
Let me know if any of this helps or if you guys have any questions!