The Best LSAT Prep Course

For over 70 years, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) has been a right of passage for law school applicants. Recently, some schools, such as Harvard, have started accepting Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for admission. But the LSAT is still the most widely accepted standard for measuring whether a student is ready for law school, and a high score can substantially increase your chances of being accepted.

The LSAT is so foreign and unique compared to most tests students take — it’s an entirely skill-based test and doesn’t test knowledge. It tests critical reasoning and analytical ability.

For the LSAT, traditional study methods, such as learning subject material and memorizing information, will not do. Instead, students need to learn how to take the exam. LSAT prep courses are a convenient option for those who want additional guidance when learning the ins-and-outs of taking the exam. Whether the course is self-paced or led by an instructor, students can expect structured study materials that make it easier to address any weaknesses and maximize prep time.

Manhattan Prep impressed us by taking top spot for both live online ($1,200) and self-paced ($600) prep courses. Live online students can expect knowledgeable instructors and clear feedback for questions they have during lessons. The company doesn’t offer a video feed of its instructors during lessons (a personal touch we missed), but it does offers access to a strong library of online resources that provided some of the best explanations for course material and tips for taking the LSAT effectively. This same library makes up the core content of the self-paced course, and the interactive material helped us not only pay attention as we studied, but easily understand why we answered some questions incorrectly — a must-have for painless self-studying.

If you like the experience of studying in an actual classroom with a physically present teacher, Kaplan Test Prep is our pick. With classes in 46 states it is the only provider that offers courses in at least three quarters of the nation (its closest competitor only offers courses in 31 states). In addition to its wide availability, Kaplan also has one of the largest libraries of resources for LSAT prep on the market. Like our other top pick, students will have access to official practice exams, hours of online videos and lessons, as well as an expert instructor who will guide you through the vast material. The $1,400 price tag is fairly standard for the industry, and gets you a balance of engaging resources and personalized feedback.

Although its in-person prep course is only available in 31 states, TestMasters is worth a look if you have access. It lost out as a top pick because it isn’t as widely available as Kaplan, but the company boasts 24/7 academic assistance and is widely celebrated for its ability to simplify the strategies needed for taking the LSAT. You’ll pay slightly more for the course ($1,550), but it’s a worthy alternative to the Kaplan course. We’ll keep our eye on the company as it grows, but for now Kaplan is still the best choice for most people.

Our Top Picks for the Best LSAT Prep Course

Best for In-Person
Kaplan LSAT Prep
Kaplan Test Prep
Available in 46 states and packed with thorough resources

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 (more than any other contender on our list). Wide availability is the main reason why Kaplan took our top spot, but a closer look reveals the course has a lot more to offer than multiple locations.

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. Put simply, Kaplan not only has an impressive library of resources, but ensures that you receive feedback to use it effectively.

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. The cost for Kaplan, $1,400, is average for the industry, which ranges from $1,100 to $1,600 — its closest competitor TestMasters comes in at $1,550. Kaplan is also one of the few prep course providers that offers financial aid to those who qualify, and we like that Kaplan offers inclusive options for those on a tighter budget.

In simple terms, Kaplan is a strong option with access to the practice tests and supplemental resources you will need to improve your score whether you need help with analytical or logical reasoning. It does so while offering feedback and availability to the most students nationwide.

Best for Live Online & Self-Paced
Manhattan Prep LSAT
Manhattan Prep
Engaging and supportive tools to maximize study time

Manhattan Prep was acquired by Kaplan in 2009. But rather than adopt its parent company’s materials, Manhattan Prep still produces its own — good news if you’re looking for engaging online LSAT lessons. Out of all the options we compared for both live online and self-paced courses, Manhattan Prep offered some of the clearest explanations and the best mix of resources.

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.

Aside from its professional instructors, Manhattan Prep’s live online lessons are fairly standard albeit with one noticeable flaw. Unlike its parent and fellow competitor, Kaplan, Manhattan Prep’s lessons lacked a video feed of instructors. Even so, the audio explanations in the Manhattan Prep course were still precise and clear, and during testing we were able to follow along without getting distracted or bored.

Although you may not have a video feed of an instructor, the company makes up for it with an impressive range of resources to help you prepare. 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 depending on whether you answer questions correctly. Rather than offer one-size-fits-all feedback, we appreciate that Manhattan Prep offers explanations that will help us review why and how we got a particular question right or wrong.

However, the final decision came down to access and price. Kaplan also cuts off access to its course after one month. Manhattan Prep on the other hand gives you three months of access to its course, which our experts recommended as the ideal study time. While both price tags are in the same ball park, Manhattan Prep is $1,200 while Kaplan is $1,300, with Manhattan Prep you get three times more study time with course resources.

A large majority of LSAT courses offer a standard 12-week course for a reason — students generally perform most effectively by studying three months before their exam.

Joshua LeeFormer LSAT instructor and law student

These resources also make up the core content of Manhattan Prep’s self-paced course — the difference between it and the live online option is the lack of an instructor. For that reason, the customized explanations of resources, like LSAT Interact, are even more important, because they will help you learn why your specific approach to a question is ineffective, making it easier to pinpoint your weaknesses. The explanations from Manhattan Prep were also some of the easiest to follow and understand out of the video-based lessons we compared, which is essential when an instructor isn’t there to help clarify. During testing, we were especially thankful for this when reviewing logic games (a section that’s notorious for its difficulty and complexity).

To fill the gap left by the absence of teachers, the company adds a few additional perks such as six months of access for a lower price of $600. But at the end of the day, it’s the clear explanations that sold us, and when we asked ourselves which self-paced course we’d feel most confident studying with, our honest answer was Manhattan Prep. The bottom line? With a combination of expert instructors, access to official LSAT exams, and useful resources, Manhattan Prep is our favorite for live online LSAT prep. Take away the instructors and you’ll still have excellent resources and our favorite self-paced course.

Another to Consider for In-Person

Another to Consider for In-Person
Excellent resources but limited availability

Founded by Robin Singh, a world record recipient of twelve perfect LSAT scores, TestMasters is widely respected for its ability to teach students the strategies they need to do well on the LSAT. But its thorough lessons and materials are only offered in 31 states — not quite enough to make it past our cutoff. That said, the in-person course is worth mentioning due to helpful resources such as 24/7 academic assistance and an LSAT search engine where you can immediately look up specific LSAT questions that give you trouble. If it’s available in your area, TestMasters is definitely worth a look, and with expansion it has potential to be a strong competitor to Kaplan — we’re keeping a close eye on the company. But as we said before, Kaplan is still currently the best option for most people.

How to Study for the LSAT

Study strategies to boost your scores.

A prep course, will cover a lot of strategies for taking the LSAT effectively. However, it is also learning a few study strategies can also help you achieve scores. Although our top picks offer personalized feedback or adaptive study tools to maximize your study time, they will only go so far. We found a few tips that can help you improve the productivity of your study sessions:

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 out loud as you practice - Another reason to study on your own is that it gives you the ability to speak out loud as you work through questions. 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 prevent topics from becoming stale and 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 Comp. This forces their brain to "reload" the strategies with each switch, reinforcing those methods and improving fluency.”

Take breaks - While this study strategy isn’t new, it is one of the most important. 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. The best part? You can always use your break to walk to a new study location for even more benefits.

Some schools are starting to accept GRE scores instead of LSAT scores.

As we mentioned before, law schools have recently started accepting GRE scores as well as LSAT scores in an attempt to increase enrollment. As of 2017, about five percent of law schools, including Harvard, currently accept GRE scores, and research shows that 25 percent of schools plan to accept GRE scores in the future. However, the LSAT is still the most widely accepted admissions exam for law school which makes it the more practical option. As more schools pick up the GRE, we will learn more about how law schools measure the LSAT scores against GRE scores, but for now a high LSAT score is the safest bet for getting into the school you want.

The Best LSAT Prep Courses: Summed Up

LSAT Prep Courses
The Best
Kaplan Test Prep
Manhattan Prep
Live Online & Self-Paced