When choosing which LSAT course to take, students are often faced with a dilemma: should I take the course that starts early and ends early, or wait until later so my course ends closer to the test date? There are pros and cons of each decision. Let’s look at what they are.
Taking an early course is best if your target score range is way above what you are currently scoring, and you suspect it will be awhile before you reach your target. An early course is particularly advantageous if you don’t think you can complete all of your homework while also taking additional practice tests in the course of your study. Our In Person course entails 4 proctored practice tests, but I often recommend that students take at least 10 additional tests on their own time. If you don’t think you can balance this amount of additional work with your home or employment obligations, you should probably consider a course that starts as early as possible.
The downside to taking a course that ends weeks (or months) before the actual test is obvious: you may forget the material by the time you need to take the test. This is easily avoidable if you make a study schedule and stick to it: 2-3 practice tests/week, thoroughly reviewed, seems to do the trick. You will have access to the Online Student Center for an additional 90 days after your course is over, so you can take advantage of all that it has to offer even after the completion of your course.
A late course (i.e. a course that starts and ends closer to the test date) offers you the obvious benefit of having the material “fresh” in your memory when you take the test. It is best for students who cannot take an earlier course for personal reasons, but will be able to devote more time to LSAT prep later in the season. A late course also gives you the opportunity to study on your own before classes begin. Although our LSAT courses are designed for students who have no prior experience with the test, studying on your own before classes begin—if done right—can help quite a bit: You will pick up the material faster. Your homework will probably not take as long, because you’ll be familiar with at least some of the conceptual material covered in it. You will feel more confident in class. And you will probably start taking practice tests earlier than your classmates, giving you more time to figure out where your weaknesses lie. Plus, you cannot predict how quickly your score will improve, so the earlier you start preparing, the better prepared will feel in the end.
If you decide to take a later course and wish to study on your own first, it is absolutely imperative to avoid learning poor techniques or inefficient approaches, which you will most likely need to unlearn once classes begin. Needless to say, this can do more harm than good. It’s an avoidable mistake provided you stay within the PowerScore’s LSAT “ecosystem”: The Logic Games Bible, The Logical Reasoning Bible, The Reading Comprehension Bible, as well as the corresponding workbooks. These materials present the same approach to the test and its various sections as your course books, so there will be no conflict between what you learn on your own and what you will learn in class. In fact, the Bibles provide an in-depth look at our methodology, and are particularly helpful as a starting point.
When all is said and done, whether you take an early or a late course is a personal decision. Sometimes you don’t even have any say in the matter. Regardless of which path you choose, it is imperative to start prepping as soon as possible after you decide to take the LSAT. You can do that by taking an earlier course, or by studying on your own. You simply have no way of predicting how long it will take you to reach your target: it may be one month or four. The sooner you start, the better your chances of beating the odds.
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