Self-Study, Tutoring, or Class: What’s the Best LSAT Prep Option for Me?

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Manhattan Prep LSAT Blog - Self-Study, Tutoring, or Class: What's the Best LSAT Option for Me? by Ally Bell

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So you’ve decided to take the LSAT! How should you study? Students first diving into the wonderful world of test prep will find a plethora of options: study guides, classes, and tutoring galore. What’s the best LSAT prep option for you?

Students who attend my trial classes often ask me this question. My answer always varies depending on the student’s situation. Realistically, this decision involves a few major factors: the resources you are willing and able to put in (time, money, and effort), the amount of time you have before the test date, and the amount of LSAT growth needed to reach your goal score.

So before you commit to an LSAT prep option, it’s a great idea to do some self-assessment and reflection. Take a full-length practice test (you can try the June 2007 exam) to see how far you are from your goal score. Decide which test date (September, December, February, or June) makes the most sense for you, and whether you can be flexible with the date if you’re not hitting your goal score by test day. And take some time to evaluate your resources: how much time, money, and effort are you willing and able to put into your LSAT goal? Preferably, you should do all of this about six months before your anticipated test date, since many students find that three to six months is the optimal amount of time to study.

Once you know your standing with the LSAT, consider some of these study options:

Self-Study

Self-study means independently working through LSAT study guides and practice tests. Self-study is the most budget-friendly method and a great place to start for folks who have several months before their test date. Many students get their feet wet with self-study for a month or two to see what kind of progress they can make on their own before deciding whether to join a class or tutoring. Self-study can work well for students who are well-organized and highly motivated, disciplined about their study plan, and have seen results with self-study in the past. It’s also helpful if you’ve only got a few points to go before you reach your goal score.

LSAT Course

An LSAT course will typically introduce students to all of the content from all sections of the LSAT in a structured, methodical way. At Manhattan Prep, courses are designed to start about three months before the test date and wrap up a couple weeks before test day.

Who would benefit from a class? Classes are a great place to start for folks who have no prior experience with the LSAT or who may need some support to stick to their study plan. For many of my students, a course has provided an invaluable organization to their study plan, complete with homework in between classes. Attending class also helps with the motivation to study, and of course provides access to direct feedback from an expert instructor. Many students also enjoy the friendly camaraderie of a small classroom environment and find that their peers make their study experience more enjoyable. If you’re thinking about taking a class, you can attend a trial class for free to see if it suits you!

One-on-One Tutoring

For students who have tried self-study or a class, but haven’t quite achieved the results they were hoping for yet, one-on-one tutoring can be a great option. The main advantages of tutoring are direct access to an expert instructor and a highly personalized learning plan. In a tutoring environment, the instructor can diagnose your strengths and weaknesses and help you set up a study plan to address them by your test date. In addition, tutors can observe your thought process and give you direct feedback on what you may be doing wrong. Sometimes, students just don’t know what they don’t know, and it takes an expert to point out the little tweaks that they need to make in order to improve. Tutoring is a great option for folks who are highly committed to LSAT success and feel like they’ve reached a plateau using other study options. You can learn more about tutoring options at Manhattan Prep here. ?


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Ally Bell is a Manhattan Prep Instructor who lives in the Washington, DC metro area. Ally first encountered the LSAT while getting her Bachelor of Arts in English and history at Duke University. In college, she scored a 178 and very nearly applied to law school. In the end, she followed her true passion, teaching. Ally currently has the pleasure of being an eighth grade English teacher in Northern Virginia. As an LSAT teacher, she has the opportunity to blend her love for teaching with her passion for logical argument. Check out Ally’s upcoming LSAT Complete Courses here.

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