Like so many other aspects of our lives, LSAT preparation has gone online. Now, in addition to live courses and one-on-one tutoring, students can prepare for the exam with online-only learning platforms.
Some of these, such as live virtual courses and virtual tutoring, mimic their in-person counterparts. Online video courses, on the other hand, offer a significantly different way to prepare for the LSAT.
[Learn what the data says about different LSAT preparation methods.]
So what types of video courses are available and why should you choose a video course over another preparation option? Here’s how to use these relatively new online video courses to prepare.
Right now, commercial LSAT preparation providers generally offer two types of online video courses: complete video courses and modular courses, where the student pays for access to videos that address specific aspects of the test. Complete video courses are best for those who don’t have – or have difficulty identifying – specific areas of weakness. These full courses will walk you through everything you need to know to do well on the LSAT.
Modular courses offer videos that you can use independently from others and are best for those who have trouble with specific aspects of the LSAT, whether that is entire sections or certain question types or concepts.
Online courses are generally sold either as a one-time payment or on a subscription basis. One-time payments give you access to the course for an extended – but likely not indefinite – period, almost always enough time to cover even on an extended LSAT preparation plan.
Subscription courses offer access for shorter periods, often one month at a time, although some offer up to a year. When choosing between the two, do not discount the benefit of having access to the videos close to the test date, when they could be valuable for reviewing concepts you’re still stuck on.
In addition to the online courses that commercial LSAT companies offer, Khan Academy has partnered with the Law School Admission Council, which makes the LSAT, to provide a free, comprehensive online LSAT preparation service, including online videos. Khan launched a similar service for the SAT in 2015. This new LSAT prep service will be available to prospective law students in late 2018.
[Read about five things to look for in an LSAT class.]
Advantages and Disadvantages
The primary advantages to taking online courses are convenience and flexibility. You can watch videos anywhere you have internet access, and you don’t need to travel or find a course that fits your schedule. This convenience is particularly helpful to those who live far away from major cities, where high-quality live instruction is available.
Another advantage is efficiency. If you are naturally very good at certain aspects of the LSAT, your time is likely wasted learning and reviewing those aspects in an in-person classroom setting. As previously mentioned, a modular video course then is ideal for those in that situation. And if you have access to a complete video course, you can fast-forward through the parts of the course that address your strengths.
The main disadvantages to video courses are a less individualized approach than is possible when working with an instructor through an entire course and a lack of interaction with both the teacher and other students. While video courses can be used to address areas of weakness and save time by skipping areas of strength, they cannot provide alternative approaches that are tailored to your way of thinking.
Interaction with a teacher provides the obvious benefit of being able to ask questions of an expert who has gotten to know you. Other, perhaps less obvious benefits to a live classroom setting are your ability to benefit from hearing the questions that others ask, in addition to the structure and accountability that a live course schedule offers. If you tend to procrastinate or have a hectic schedule, externally imposed structure and accountability could be valuable to ensuring your LSAT success.
[Know how to manage your time for each section of the LSAT.]
Make the Most of Online Video Courses
If you decide that an online video course is the best option for you, find a single course that has everything you need. If you use parts of one course and parts of another, you are likely to confuse yourself by learning two different approaches that may not work together or may even contradict each other. There’s no reason to overcomplicate an already very challenging test.
As with in-person courses, you’re generally best to use video courses toward the beginning of your preparation. Most of these courses’ value is in the methods and strategies they present, and it is best to learn these at the beginning of your preparation so that you can practice them and review difficult concepts, as necessary. Even if you are relying on modular video courses to learn only part of the test, start at least two months before the exam.
Expect to spend between 20 and 40 hours watching videos that present the information you need and another 20 or more hours watching videos that explain practice problems and sample questions, if those videos are part of what you purchased. Then use the knowledge you’ve gained through the videos as you take practice tests and fine-tune your skills for the exam.