Acme LSAT Prep
Many of my tutoring students come to me after spending an awful lot of money on an LSAT prep class. For the most part, they wish they'd gone the tutoring route first. But that's a biased sample; there are also many people who are 100% satisfied with their prep classes - I just don't see those people, because they don't go searching for a tutor afterward. So when is an LSAT Prep Class right for you, and when is private tutoring preferable? Here are a few considerations:
How much do you know about the LSAT already? If you're starting from scratch, you may want to go with LSAT course, because a good one will give you a comprehensive overview of the LSAT. But you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money; you can sign up for an affordable LSAT class.
But if you're already even a little familiar with the LSAT, then tutoring offers many advantages. The most important is flexibility. The time you spend with an LSAT tutor is aimed at your particular strengths and weaknesses. In a class, the time allocation is pretty well set in stone, but in a tutoring scenario, you don't waste time on things you already know and skim over things you need extra help with. Also, a good LSAT tutor will be able to diagnose patterns and problems that you might not see. Someone teaching a class just won't have time to tailor a study plan aimed at every student's individual needs. The major test prep companies have great name recognition - they've got classes all over the place. But a good LSAT tutor offers price and schedule flexibility and personal attention that are hard to beat.
At some point during your LSAT prep, you're going to be worrying about your personal statement. If you have a great GPA and a great LSAT score, or if you have a lousy GPA and a lousy LSAT score, your personal statement probably won't hurt or help too much, respectively. But if you're in the middle (as I was, applying to top law schools with a very good LSAT and a relatively mediocre (3.5something) GPA), then the personal statement may be very important - it's your tiebreaker. Here's what you're looking to do:
Demonstrate that you will succeed in law school. Law school is tough; showing the Admissions Dean that you've successfully met other challenges will help convince him/her that you can meet this one, too.
Demonstrate your uniqueness. Law school is interactive - there are lots of classroom discussions. Diversity isn't just a progressive goal in the law school; it's valued as a mechanism to improve everyone's educational experience. Find something that sets you apart (straight white guys in the early 20s who majored in Political Science, take special note). Whether it's your demographics or your life experiences, let them know that if they don't let you in, they will have lost a unique perspective.
Demonstrate your passion. It's a pain for an Admissions Dean to winnow thousands of applications down. And when people don't stick around for year two, they have to re-fill spots they thought they were done dealing with. Show them that you're serious about being a lawyer.
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"Hey Dan... I got my score for the June LSAT today, and it was a 170!..Thanks a TON for all your help!"
- Jon A.
"I am moving to SF in a couple of weeks to start at Hastings. I couldn't have done it without you. Thanks so much for all your help!"
- Stacy K.
"...the price you pay for the quality of learning you will receive with Mr. Dan Oakes is unheard of."
- Alexa E.
For better or for worse, here's the bottom line: The biggest factor that determines what job opportunities you have as an attorney is where you went to law school. The biggest factor that determines whether or not a law school accepts you is the LSAT. Your competitors (i.e. future fellow law students) are getting help. You can get better help!