The Best LSAT Prep Course

For over 70 years, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) has been a rite of passage for aspiring lawyers. The LSAT is still the most widely-accepted entrance exam for most law schools, and the key to success on the test is to first figure out your learning style. Whether it be in-person training, tutoring or pacing yourself, the method you choose can make a real difference in the outcome - maximize your time, maximize your score. We’re here to help you make those decisions.

How we chose the best LSAT prep courses

Six official full-length practice exams

When it comes to study methods for the LSAT, practice reigns supreme. Traditional study methods, like memorizing information, won’t suffice. Instead, students need to learn how to take the test and become familiar with the format. In a study comparing learning methods, researchers found that taking practice exams is one of the best ways to prepare for a test. When the brain recognizes a particular question type or format, it's faster at processing the best strategy for answering. LSAT practice exams also help you build stamina for the 4.5 hour mental marathon on the day of the actual test.

We cut any LSAT prep courses that did not offer at least six official practice exams (the most recommended preparation period is three months, so two exams per month). That said, not all practice exams are equal. Some companies produce their own practice exams, and while these might be similar to real real LSAT material - they might not be as accurate. The Law School Admissions Council releases official or previously administered exams, and these are regarded as the best study tools to prepare for the real test. According to Matt Shinners, instructor for Manhattan Prep with a perfect LSAT score of 180, “The LSAC takes a long time to write those questions. You want to practice with them.”

Easy-to-follow explanations, quality resources and feedback

Every prep course on our list is guilty of making lofty marketing claims. The truth is, most of the courses don’t really have many concrete advantages over others. Rather than focus on overhyped marketing numbers, we explored free trials, customer responses on law forums, and watched countless sample videos in order to find any differences (no matter how subtle) that might give one course the edge. After hours of comparison, finding the best live online and self-paced course boiled down to three key features: adaptive and easy-to-follow explanations, quality resources, and the ability of a course to make us feel confident while studying.

For example, one of the companies we evaluated, Magoosh, promises over 150 hours of videos, over 1,800 pages of study material, and a score improvement guarantee. These features sound impressive, and our experts agree that having access to a wide range of material (especially practice tests) is essential. But our experts also told us excessive features aren’t really necessary or helpful.

As far as what students can do to get the most out of a course, they need to realize it’s not about sitting down and doing 8,000 LSAT questions. That leads to burn out and doesn’t maximize score improvement. Students who do a quarter of those questions and spend most of their time reviewing and figuring out how to get that type of question right next time will see the biggest score increases.

Matt ShinnersAssociate director of pre-law programs and LSAT instructor for Manhattan Prep

We evaluated courses based on delivery method: in-person, live online, self-paced and private tutoring

In-Person

If you like learning in a classroom-type environment, in-person LSAT prep might be for you. We looked for courses that employed instructors with high LSAT scores and teaching experience. In addition, we prioritized courses that allowed you to contact your instructor outside of class in case you need more help while studying at home. After all, preparing for the LSAT shouldn’t be limited to the classroom. But the greatest strength of an in-person prep course is the ability to physically meet with your instructor and other students. That said, the need to physically meet is also the greatest weakness of an in-person prep course — they aren’t always offered in every state.

Live Online

The best live online course will have engaging instructors, lessons to keep you focused and ample resources at your fingertips. At the same time, the lessons should offer access to real-time feedback, so you can go into your exam feeling confident that you’ve addressed any knowledge gaps. Evaluating an instructor will always be a little subjective, but our testers found certain teaching methods more engaging than others.

Self-Paced

There’s no instructor to tell you your strengths and weaknesses here – with a self-paced design, you have to make these decisions on your own. However, the best self-paced prep course will offer customizable study tools and material that adapts to your learning.

Rather than waste time watching a series of videos about a logic game or reasoning question you already understand, an adaptive course helps you focus more attention on your current weaknesses so you can reach your score goals faster. For that reason, we cut providers that did not offer adaptive programs.

Private Tutoring

Private tutoring allows you the opportunity to have one-on-one instruction with an LSAT expert who can help you pinpoint and solve problem areas. Many companies market this tutoring option as flexible and personalized, but it can come at a high price. Some glaring perks are that private tutors only focus on you, and they don’t have to worry about generalizing instruction or working around a classroom of students with different learning styles.

Finding the right tutor for your needs is a personal endeavor, as everyone’s learning styles and schedules are different. The goal is to get the most out of what you pay for and reach the score you want in the process.

The 3 best LSAT prep courses

Best for In-Person
Kaplan LSAT Prep
Kaplan
Prep with an expert teacher in a classroom near you.
Pros
Wide availability
Large resource library
Financial aid
Cons
Limited access to resources

Why we chose it

Wide availability

It’s hard to believe that industry giant Kaplan started as a tutoring operation in a Brooklyn basement. Fast forward a little over 80 years, and the company now offers in-person prep courses in an impressive 46 states, which is more than any other contender on our list. Its closest competitor, TestMasters, offers in-person classes in 31 states, making wide availability the main reason why we put Kaplan at the top of our list. But a closer look reveals the course has a lot more to offer than multiple locations.

Large number of resources

As one of the leading providers of test prep courses, Kaplan has one of the largest resource collections on the market. Students will have access to 80+ official practice exams, every LSAT question ever released by LSAC, and access to the LSAT Channel — an online library with 100+ hours of additional lessons and videos. An instructor who scored above the 90th percentile will also be present to guide you through the vast material to help you find the combination that best suits your learning needs. Even better, the instructor is also available for contact outside of class if you hit a roadblock and need help during your at-home study sessions. Kaplan not only has an impressive library of resources, but ensures that you receive feedback to use it effectively.

Financial aid

Kaplan is among the few test prep sites that offer financial aid to talented students. To qualify, you have to be enrolled in a college or university with a GPA of at least 3.0. And if you meet the academic and financial guidelines set by Kaplan, you could awarded a 60 percent discount on your test prep course.

Points to consider

Limited access to resources

Kaplan’s in-person prep courses range anywhere from five to 11 weeks. We recommend taking the longer sessions to give yourself adequate time to improve, but if you want to speed things up, a shorter option is often available. That said, you’ll still pay full price. This is because the five week program offers in-person tutoring two days per week, and the 11 week program offers instruction once per week, usually Saturdays. It’s important to note that experts recommend studying around three months, so if you choose the five-week option, you might not be getting enough study time. Plus, Kaplan cuts off access to your online materials (live online) at the end of your enrollment, whereas other companies extend the life of your resources.

Best for Live Online and Self-Paced
Manhattan Prep LSAT
Manhattan Prep
Everything you need. Nothing that you don’t.
Pros
Expertise of class instructors
Wide array of resources
Cost-effective
Cons
Nonrefundable

Why we chose it

Expertise of class instructors

Manhattan Prep's live online course has all the makings of a well-designed learning experience. Class sizes are small and led by instructors with 99th percentile scores (the highest tier). Meaning you can be sure that your lessons are being led by someone who knows exactly what to expect on the LSAT and how to score well. Better still, you can contact your instructor outside of class in case you need individual guidance while studying on your own.

Wide array of resources

Students can expect access to resources including three guidebooks, download access to every exam released by the LSAC, and the company’s famous LSAT Interact video series — an interactive set of lessons that offer customized explanations based on your responses. Rather than giving one-size-fits-all feedback, we appreciate that Manhattan Prep provides explanations that will help us review why and how we got a particular question right or wrong.

Students in online courses through Manhattan prep have access to recordings of in-person classes through Blackboard Collaborate. This is especially beneficial to go back and review or watch sessions that you missed. And if you feel you only need help in one area, Manhattan Prep offers special packages for individual parts of the test, so you can pick and choose.

Cost-effective

The final decision came down to access and price. Kaplan cuts off access to its course after enrollment ends - Manhattan Prep, on the other hand, gives you three months of access to its course after it’s over, which our experts recommended as the ideal study time. While both price tags are in the same ballpark, with Manhattan Prep, you three times more study time with online course resources.

Points to consider

Nonrefundable

While Manhattan Prep’s course offerings are cost-effective in comparison to contenders, it is important to keep in mind that all purchases with Manhattan Prep are nonrefundable. Not having a refund window means that you should be 100 percent sure Manhattan Prep’s programs are right for you. While this might make a Manhattan Prep purchase more serious, the company contends that some guarantees from other companies make it difficult to meet the qualifications. Before making the leap, we suggest trying out Manhattan Prep’s free resources to test drive their offers.

Best for Private Tutoring
The Princeton Review LSAT
The Princeton Review
Our most personalized approach. Customized. Comprehensive. Reimagined.
Pros
Tutor expertise
Equal resources for both options
Cons
Cost
Princeton Review Guarantee

Why we chose it

Tutor expertise

It’s essential to do your own research on a tutor’s background and track record with helping students get where they want. The Princeton Review did some of the vetting for you. Their tutors have to score within the 95th percentile on the LSAT and then go through a series of auditions and interviews, making it even harder to become a tutor than a class instructor for the Princeton Review. There's also an additional training process after the interviews for Princeton Review tutors, and only about 25 percent of applicants are accepted.

While we were not able to physically partake in the private tutoring offered by the Princeton Review, the programs are known for user satisfaction. We looked to personal reviews and found that many people were satisfied with the amount of resources and tutors/teachers employed, especially for the LSAT.

Equal resources for both options

Despite the price and hour difference between the Targeted and Comprehensive Private tutoring options, the Princeton Review gives the same amount of course material to both programs, including our previously-set criteria of six full-length practice exams. In comparison, Kaplan’s private tutoring programs only provide three full-length practice exams, although an extensive library of resources is available.

Points to consider

Cost

The most expensive option, Targeted Private Tutoring, might seem pricey, but it’s actually cheaper per hour than the other option, the LSAT Comprehensive Private Tutoring. The Targeted Private tutoring also provides the guarantee. In general, when we compared the Princeton Review’s tutoring options to other contenders, we did find it to be relatively affordable.

Princeton Review Guarantee

Even after preparing, sometimes you don’t get the score you want or you simply have a bad testing day. That’s where the Princeton Review Guarantee comes in handy - if your score doesn’t increase, you get a refund with the most expensive private tutoring package. However, the guarantee only applies if you attend every session and complete all materials, so you can’t have any off-days. This can be tricky if you have an unexpectedly busy week.

This could be a huge asset, but it really boils down to what type of person you are. Could you maintain a schedule and complete all the items provided? Knowing you have a score guarantee might also make you feel more secure in your investment, especially when considering LSAC’s lifting of retesting limitations in September 2017. While this might make the preparation process less stressful, keep mind that it’s unlikely several retakes will impress law schools.

Guide to LSAT prep courses

Leave time to study on your own

Although an instructor and study groups can certainly help, spending time trying to identify your specific weaknesses can help you identify areas where you need improvement. Relying on instructors and study groups without studying on your own removes your chance to practice this skill, which can be detrimental. We suggest marking out some time to review material on your own while paying close attention to the types of problems that give you trouble.

Speak as loud as you practice

Known as the production effect, research shows that speaking and hearing yourself can boost your memory. In a prep course you may not have the opportunity to talk your way through strategies such as diagramming questions. Speaking out loud as you do so on your own, can help you recall skills come test day.

Switch up topics

Our experts recommended switching up topics (such as moving from logic games to reading comprehension) to achieve higher scores. Shinners explained that “students who jump between sections as they study often get better scores. For example, after two or three logic games, they’ll hop to some reading comprehension. This forces their brain to "reload" the strategies with each switch, reinforcing those methods and improving fluency.”

Take breaks

According to numerous educational studies, taking breaks improves concentration, willpower and logical thinking — a particularly important cognitive process for high LSAT scores. At the same time, you want to make sure your break is a “good one,” and Psychology Today has a list of ideas on how to get the most out of resting.

Change your scenery

While hunkering down in a library or at your kitchen table for hours may seem like a good way to improve your focus, staying in one spot while you study does more harm than good. It turns out that switching places can can help your brain learn to focus and prevent fatigue.

LSAT Prep Course FAQ

What's on the LSAT?

The LSAT is broken down into five 35-minute sections, one covers reading comprehension, one tests analytical reasoning, and two focus on logical reasoning. To learn more, visit the LSAC website.

When do you take the LSAT?

LSAC recommends taking the test by December if you want to be accepted to law school by the following year. The test is offered, usually, either January or February, June, October or November and December.

How long should you study for the LSAT?

This will vary for each student, but it is recommended that everyone devote months to preparation. In some cases, navigating the LSAT is compared to learning a new language. The standard ranges from three to six months, but there really is no magic number.

Is it bad to take the LSAT multiple times?

If you aren’t happy with your first score, before trying to take the test again, it’s best to figure out where and how you can change your study habits for the future. If you do decide to take the test again, it’s acceptable - LSAC even lifted their regulations on the number of times you can take it. However, it typically does look better to show a score increase - law schools typically take the highest score.

What percent does the LSAT make up in the law school application process?

A high GPA doesn’t necessarily overcompensate for a lower LSAT score. The weight of the LSAT will vary across law schools, but it can definitely help you earn financial aid. You can check to see where you stand at certain schools on LSAC’s website.

Do some schools take the GRE?

Law schools have recently started accepting GRE scores as well as LSAT scores in an attempt to increase enrollment. But the LSAT is still considered to be the most widely-accepted entrance exam to law school.

The Best LSAT prep courses: Summed up

Kaplan LSAT Prep
Manhattan Prep
The Princeton Review LSAT Prep
The Best for
In-person
Live online and self-paced

Private tutoring
Flexibility
Six practice tests
Easy-to-follow explanations
N/A
N/A
Quality resources
Feedback
Face-to-face instruction options
Live online: ✔

Self-paced: X

Our Other Test Prep Reviews

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