Not every LSAT taker has the same goals in receiving LSAT tutoring; therefore, there is some variety in what program of study is advisable. However, no matter what the goals, a level of mastery of the LSAT is required. This is because without a substantial understanding of the decision-making processes that the LSAT calls for, performance on the LSAT can be extremely volatile. Without a fundamental grasp of LSAT skills, a test-taker’s scores can wildly vary, and such volatility in performance can risk the achievement of any goal and create additional stress on test-day.
Therefore, a skills assessment and an assessment of goals is advisable before a program of study is designed for a prospective student. Of course, individual goals are often formed on the basis of expected performance. This is why a reassessment of goals sometimes is scheduled within a study program, so that the strategy of study is always aligned with student’s goals.
Because the LSAT is the most important factor in application to law school, for those interested in admission to the most prestigious schools, the program of study is cannot always be defined in the first instance. Over time, problem areas may be identified that require targeted attention and the program of study evolves in order to progress performance as efficiently as possible. Nonetheless, achievement of top performance can take time, and so it is advisable for those that want to seek admission to top programs to come in for a free assessment as early as possible, with ideally six-months in advance of the intended test date.
Keep in mind that while the LSAT is administered four times a year, not all administrations put the applicant in the same posture when it comes to chances of admission. At the same time, many applicants that perform at the top have reservations about scoring an exam on occasion that something extraordinary occurs on test-day (such as misreading of a rule in an AR section). Therefore, it is advisable to plan to sit for the June test, with the October test as a secondary option. Scores for both test dates are released in time for timely applications, with a live June score giving a slight edge.
If you would like to discuss timing of applications and other admissions questions, we also offer services that can help steer an applicant through the application process and polish their applications for the intended audience (keep in mind, most law professors either are or were practicing lawyers, and practicing lawyers have a keen eye).
For those that have already been through a prep course, there is often a good historical record for us to look at when assessing the levels of competence on the different areas of the LSAT. For those that have never looked at an LSAT, assessment begins with a discussion about the kinds of things that have a tendency to effect LSAT performance, at least in the initial stages of LSAT learning. This involves things like reading speed, familiarity with logical structures, study habits and so on. Certain LSAT skills require practice, and drive, self-motivation, and organizational skills are important to assess before a lesson plan is developed.
Assessment of performance is also an ongoing part of our engagement with each student. It is actually a necessary component of progressing learning on the LSAT. And this is what distinguishes our one-on-one tutoring platform from class-based courses.
The most important information that we get from students while they work with us is how they make decisions on given problems. Underlying the errors of students is some process of decision making and interoperation of the LSAT’s expectations in general. These underlying matters are invaluable to effective tutoring, as they are the reference point from which adjustments are to be made. In a class-based environment, the student is never given the opportunity to voice their thought process and have someone contrast that process with what is actually expected on the LSAT. We focus on understanding how students systematically make errors on the LSAT and helping them transition to the right way of doing things. This takes a one-on-one exploration of how they deal with problems and explanations of how they are misunderstanding the LSAT.
By the way, there is nothing wrong with misunderstanding the LSAT. What makes the LSAT hard is that it is designed to invite misunderstanding. What it means to understand the LSAT is not obvious. (Not to mention that LSAC is not very good about disclosing what processes they are actually testing). That said, once a student adjusts how they look at the problems, learning progresses much more efficiently, as they do not spin their wheels trying to analyze things that are there to simply divert attention and are able to focus on applying their skills.
For those interested in taking a preformed tutoring platform, we offer the following options. Each is designed on the basis of our general experience with students and includes a brief description of who may be suitable. We note that a tailored program on the basis of a skills assessment and goals assessment is advisable, but understand that some student feel confident in their ability to judge their needs. At the same time, we are flexible, and are willing to work with students to help them define their goals and meet their needs throughout any of the programs that we offer.
5 hours of tutoring: This is designed for someone that just needs an expert to help them sort through a few minor issues, and is really only suitable for people that already have relatively stable performance in the 170 range. Performance below this often stems from a skills-deficit that takes longer to identify and handle with care.
20 hours of tutoring: This is designed for someone that may have some experience with the LSAT and has a well-defined problem area that they are confident is all that they need in order to meet their goals. We note, however, that a well-defined problem does not include something as broad as “the LR section”. While 20 hours may be enough, depending on prior competence, to deal with shoring-up LR performance, addressing the LR from scratch and building toward mastery can take more time.
40 hours of tutoring: This is designed for someone that either has major and general issues or has never spent time working with the LSAT. It is enough time to remedy large problem areas and generally get a person to a level of mastery from where their performance-capacity can be estimated with some reliability. Sometimes it can be enough to get someone to their target. Sometimes it is enough to get someone above their expected performance, and on the heels of a score that they did not initially think possible.
For you to learn, we need something from you. We need you to tell us why you do what you do when you take the LSAT. Without this, our relationship is not as good as it can be. And at the end of the day, we want you to learn. So we will make sure to listen to you.
It works like this. At first, we will simply ask you why this choice or that, and so on. We may ask for further explanation. Some people find this uncomfortable or have difficulty putting into words the process that they use to make decisions on the LSAT.
If this is the case, we will recommend that you do some homework and write it out. You will be advised to write explanations for your choices after you take a section, for example. On the AR section, a record of your process should simply appear next to your answer choices. On the LR section, we may also want to know why you decided to avoid the answer choices that you did not select.
Sometimes, a person can reconstruct their process on the spot. But this takes time away from tutoring and is not as reliable as notes taken on the occasion. In relation, as memory becomes less reliable over time, you will be advised to make a record as soon as practicable after taking a portion of the test. Depending on the student, we may advise that you take a section without time and provide an explanation after each answer choice. For those that are more comfortable with personal exchanges, we may run similar drills during tutorials.
One way or another, we intend to understand why you are making mistakes. And by the way, there are ways to find out whether or not someone actually knows why the right answer is right. It also happens to be a way to progress learning to the peak of performance. So it’s not that we are rude or trying to expose your weaknesses; rather, we just want you to get a top score.
Every instructor is trained to expertly utilize the Waterton proprietary suite of LSAT materials. Although not every student needs to go through everything that we have to offer, it is important that quality of service is maintained, no matter how exceptional the needs. In fact, it is not beyond the call of duty for curriculum materials to evolve in order to help a student progress.
Additionally, instructors go through continued training to ensure their level of service and in order for us to get feedback on efficacy of materials. Sometimes a minor adjustment in language will improve the accessibility of the lessons, and we want to know how to convenience learning at all points in time. The last thing we want to do is complicate things through our materials. The LSAT is challenging enough.