While some of the top law schools in the country have begun to accept the GRE, the LSAT remains the national standard and the best way to ensure acceptance into the law school of your choice. Below we highlight some test-taking tips in addition to the best online LSAT courses and study resources.
First, the basics.
What’s On the LSAT?
The LSAT consists of four 35-minute sections with multiple choice questions:
- Logical Reasoning (2): Tests your ability to analyze, critically evaluate, and complete arguments
- Analytical Reasoning, aka “Logic Games”: Tests your ability to understand and draw conclusions about a structure of relationships, including matching, sequencing, and other skills
- Reading Comprehension: Tests your ability to read, “with understanding and insight,” long and complex passages
There are two un-scored sections of the LSAT: an unidentified experimental section designed to help develop future iterations of the test, and a 35-minute writing sample, which is sent to law schools as an admissions aid.
For a complete guide to the LSAT format and more, including test schedules and FAQs, visit the LSAC website.
What Makes a Good Online LSAT Course?
Perhaps more than any other standardized test, the LSAT requires you to know how to take it. In other words, rote memorization and general knowledge aren’t enough to earn a good LSAT score. You need to develop a specific set of test-taking skills, and the best way to do that is through LSAT courses. Fortunately, online LSAT courses are an increasingly popular offering, and offer several advantages over traditional in-class delivery. Below are some specs to keep in mind when you’re choosing which course fits your needs:
Self-Paced: Live online classes definitely have their benefits — live feedback, personalized instruction, etc. – but self-paced LSAT courses offer maximum flexibility and tend to be the most affordable, creating the ideal delivery model for working professionals, adult learners, and other individuals with busy and unpredictable schedules. Most important, self-paced courses allow you to take unlimited practice time: if something doesn’t add up, go over it again. The LSAT is a notoriously difficult, often outright confusing test. Missing key concepts and skills to keep up with a class schedule won’t do you any good. Take your time, review your weak spots, and stay on point. This is a training exercise as much as it is a studying one.
Quality Practice: Drill work is important, but it’s useless if the drills are wrong. Any LSAT course worth your time needs high-quality practice questions as well as practice exams.(Keep in mind that the LSAT is 4.5 hours, so you need to develop mental stamina, too.) You also need to understand why you get a question wrong. In this case, live online classes and individual tutors may have the advantage, but some of the better self-paced courses include general feedback on incorrect answers. If you’re still having trouble, refer to LSAT message boards or other online communities for help. In all likelihood someone else has encountered the same problem.
Quality Instructors: The best LSAT courses hire instructors who have scored at least a 770 on the test. That’s good. But you still need someone who can actually teach. Check to see how much experience your instructor has, and be sure to read online reviews (hint: sometimes the most insightful reviews are the negative ones).
Our Picks for Best Online LSAT Courses
- Manhattan Prep: Exclusively uses instructors who have scored in the 99th percentile. Of the four delivery options, live and self-paced are the most popular, with the latter featuring over 60 hours of interactive video lessons, challenge sets, homework explanations, and access to very exam ever released by LSAC. Especially if you want tailored feedback in a self-paced format, Manhattan is tough to beat.
- PowerScore: Offering accelerated, advanced, live, and on-demand online classes to accommodate a variety of schedules. The on-demand option is a subscription plan with several resources: 36 hours of self-paced lectures, 45 hours of additional instruction (topics including “Test Mentality,” “Time Management and Pacing,” and “Question Type Relationships”), and four comprehensive course books. The instructor holds a 171 LSAT score and has over a decade of teaching experience.
- 7Sage: If you’re on a budget, 7Sage offers highly affordable pricing tiers as well as quality instruction and resources. The entry-level option includes 400+ lessons and 50+ hrs of video lessons; 300+ real LSAT questions explained; 10 real LSAT exams explained; and 3 months access. The average score improvement is 11 points, and 7Sage offers a score guarantee with free extension.
What’s the Best Way to Self-Prep Online for the LSAT?
No matter how you prepare for the LSAT, self-studying is a major part of the process. (If it’s not, you’re probably not studying hard enough.) Below are a few tips to support productive studying habits and a rundown of some of the best self-prep resources.
- Create a Study Schedule: The only way to develop and maintain an LSAT prep habit is to create a schedule. Even if you break it, at least it’s there to shame you. This is by far the easiest step in LSAT prep, and it’s potentially the most important, in a tie with…
- Practice Makes Perfect: We mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. Learning how to take the LSAT is a skill, and the only way to perfect that skill is through repeat training sessions. Plenty of smart people underperform on the LSAT due to mere lack of practice. At the same time, plenty more exceed their expectations because of quality prep. That’s not to suggest more hours = better score (nothing on the LSAT is that simple), but under-preparation is a lousy excuse.
- Change Study Topics: Because different sections require different brain functions, be sure to switch things up every now and then. On the one hand, LSAT burnout is a real phenomenon: if you’ve spent hours poring over logic games without much progress, move on to another area. Sometimes shifting to a strength even for a few minutes can boost productivity and provide a much-needed confidence overhaul.
- Change Study Mediums: Changing source material is equally important. If possible, study using multiple tools to keep your mind stimulated and to encourage maximum comprehension. Too much of one thing can turn your studies stale.
Our Picks for the Best Online Resources in LSAT Self-Prep
- LSAC: The Law School Admission Council, which administers the LSAT, has an extensive library of prep materials, including free sample questions with explanations and the June 2007 LSAT exam (with a Spanish option. Many seasoned vets suggest completing this exam first and then developing your study plan.) Discounted official LSAT prep books and e-books are also available, and LSAC’s Test Development Group offers a short video series on test-taking tips.
- Khan Academy: One resource to keep an eye on is Khan Academy, which has partnered with the LSAC to offer free online LSAT courses, due to arrive in late 2018. Given the edtech company’s previous test prep courses, including for the GMAT and SAT, the LSAT course should be a major addition.
- Magoosh: Popular test prep service Magoosh has a range of LSAT resources online, from LSAT example questions and explanations, to test-taking tips and career advice.
- Velocity: Another popular choice that offers courses in addition to free LSAT video explanations, prep tips, a tip of the day, and access to LSAT practice tests.
- LSAT Center: Boasts more than one million users, a free 300-page online video prep course, a practice LSAT test, and more.
How Long Will It Take to Prepare for the LSAT?
The question that everyone asks but no one knows for certain. As a general rule of thumb, 2-3 months of test prep seems to be the consensus, but every test-taker is different. The first thing to take into account is test scheduling: unlike the GMAT or GRE, the LSAT is only administered on a few dates per year, so students need to plan well in advance. As with other standardized tests, the best way to determine readiness is via practice test scores. Once you’re consistently within target range, it’s time to take the test.