Law School Discussion

Overwhelmed and need advice!

Overwhelmed and need advice!
« on: June 13, 2004, 10:36:21 AM »
Okay, as the subject indicates, I'm overwhelmed and need advice!

I just finished my first year of college, but due to AP credit, I'll be a junior in the fall.  Just recently, I went to talk to my prelaw advisor, and he said that I have to take the LSAT in October so I can start applying for schools.  Admittedly, I was a bit thrown back by this, because I thought I'd be taking my LSAT in June 2005 (at the end of my junior year).  Could it be that my advisor misread my class standing and thought I just finished my junior year and am starting my senior year in the fall or is this typically how early you take your LSATs and begin getting ready to apply to law schools? 

Also, more importantly, I began investigating LSAT prep courses in my area which will prepare me for the LSAT in October.  I've ruled out both Kaplan and Princeton Review because to me they seem a bit "dumbed down" (not to offend anyone).  Thus, I'm down to either the Powerscore course and the Testmasters one.  I've heard good things about both, but I'm hesitant to make the choice considering it's so much money and to be honest, I'm aiming for a very high grade (170+) because my advisor told me that, due to my high GPA, my LSAT score will be the deciding factor or whether I can apply to first tier or second tier schools (it seems kind of unfair that all this hangs on one test, but what can you do?).  Unfortunately, I haven't taken any practice LSAT test yet (I will be on July 11), so I have no idea where I stand.

In any case, advice on which prep course (Testmasters of Powerscore) I should take would be very helpful and perhaps ease my anxiety once I make the choice.  Both are being offered reasonably nearby and both go to the end of September.  Powerscore starts in August, though, while Testmasters starts in July.  Also, I'd like to begin studying on my own, but I have no idea where to start.  Should I wait to take my first practice test on July 11 and see how I do cold (and I mean cold; I know very little about the test or what to expect to find on it), or do you all recommend that I get myself familiar with the test through any particular LSAT prep book(s) before tackling a practice exam?

Thanks so much!     

Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2004, 10:49:28 AM »
I can't speak for pre-law advisors and my situation was a little different because I did not apply and start law school straight out of undergrad, but I will give you my thoughts. I would take the LSAT in June or October (preferably June) of the year before you want to attend law school. So, if you want to start law school in the fall of 2006, I would take the LSAT in June or October of 2005. Above all, don't be rushed to take the LSAT because someone tells you it is time to take it. If you want to go to law school, this test is very important and if you are not ready to take it, you have really just wasted your time (not to mention hurt yourself by possibly having a low score on your record). Take it when you are ready and do whatever you need to do to prep for it.

Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2004, 11:05:14 AM »
Thanks!  I don't know if I'd be rushing it if I took it in October, but I thought that I should be taking it in June 2005, considering I don't think I'll be graduating till May 2006 (unless my prelaw advisor saw something on my transcript that indicates differently...?).

Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2004, 11:35:54 AM »
take the LSAT whenever you are ready, not what the date your prelaw advisor tells you.

also, make sure to buy lot's of real LSAT preptests and do lot's of practice!

Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2004, 04:27:17 PM »
Don't listen to your advisor.  Read all the info on the LSAC, read info on law school websites (I mean the websites of the schools, like harvard's or stanford's), then decide for yourself when is the best time for you.  And why the hell are you going to graduate from college in three years?  Those should be the most enjoyable, worthwhile years of your life, why do it in in three?


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Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2004, 05:56:25 PM »
You advisor read the class standing incorrectly.

And why do most people still refer to their class standing instead of their years in school?

You generally take the LSAT at the end of your 3rd year (June or October). Some people take it in December, but then again, some people chase after the mail truck or bribe the postman for a postmark on the afternoon of the deadline for applications.

So, since you just finished your 1st year, you won't be taking the LSAT until you finish your 3rd year. Assuming you're finishing school in 4 years. If you're on the 3yr plan, then you take it at the end of your 2nd year, and so on and so forth.

You should take a practice test (use a preptest after 2000), simulated correctly with 5 sections and preferably have someone else time you (no more than 10 seconds between a section except the break after sec3) and with more than 3 other people in the room (to get adjusted to other test takers) to gauge where you really stand.

Princeton Review and Kaplan don't "dumb down", but they do target a different group. I think due to their help, I raised my score from a 151 to a 165. I would say they (PR) do a great job of building your fundamental techniques. Of course, I am still in denial because when I was taking preptests (incorrectly) I was getting 160s, but they will teach you have to practice correctly.

That said, to get a 170, it seems you'll need a different mindset that can be provided by companies like Testmasters or Powerscore. Princeton Review instructors have been known to tell their students that if they scored between a 160-165 cold, then their time and money probably shouldn't go into a course. 1-1 TUTORING is a good alternative.

So take that preptest and find out where you stand. Then come back and ask for more advice.

Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2004, 07:33:47 PM »
Thanks for all the info.

There are a variety of reasons why I want to finish in three years instead of two.  Money is one factor (when isn't it?), but there are many other important things that have influenced my decision, as well.  All in all though, I've already been getting so much out of my college experience and will enjoy it to its fullest, even if it is only three years as opposed to four. 

I was thinking, however, that perhaps I should take it in October and prep all during the summer when I don't have classes instead of stressing during the spring semester for the June 2005 LSAT.  Any opinion on that?

Also, Testmasters or Powerscore?  Which is better?  And what prep books should I start out with?  I was going to start with the More 10 Real LSATs, but then I don't know any real techniques, so I thought I should start with a Powerscore book or something like that.

Actually, I found PR's "Cracking the SATs" to be helpful in HS, but as I mentioned, I'm aiming for a 170+.  Who knows, though; I could very possibly be horrible at taking the LSATs.  Let's hope not though (*knock on wood*).


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Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2004, 11:36:04 PM »
My advice would be to get the PR "Cracking the LSAT" book and the "10 More Actual, Official Preptests", then firstly go throught the PR book and then try a few real practice tests, to see how you are doing with studying on your own.  You could easily accomplish a fair amount of studying in a month, before either of those courses start.  That way, you would have a baseline grade to start from, and then you can decide if you either need to take a course, or whether you can teach yourself to get a 170 (which I think is definitely possible, using different study guides and this silly discussion board).

As to the June/October debate, I was signed up to write on June 14th, but I have since changed to the October 2nd date.  Firstly, even though I've been studying for 2 months, my scores aren't where I would like them to be (mid-160's), and I really think that I can improve them over the next 3 months.  I figured that 8wks would be enough, but I didn't factor in all the time I've spent in May finishing my honours thesis, and working 2 jobs, one of which is tutoring high school students who need all my attention right now  :D  Personally, if you find that you get quite busy around April/May, I think it's too difficult to prepare for a June exam, and you are probably better off to prepare all summer for the October exam.

Those are my two cents... good luck in whatever you decide to do!


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Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2004, 12:41:46 PM »
No, you don't need to take the LSAT this October if you have another two years in school. Don't rush it. If you have time to take a prep course this summer and prep for October, go for it, but it's not necessary.

I will disagree that PR is not for those targeting 170+. The Cracking the LSAT book is excellent, and they do focus on how to take this test, and do it very well. The materials in class go deeper, though, and they've beefed up the class with in-class workshops. It seems to be more like TestMasters now, only with a class size limit. I would not rule them out, especially since you liked their SAT book. Go to one of their info sessions or see if you can sit in on a class. I looked into them quite a bit and was very impressed with what I learned.

I wouldn't plan on starting out with a tutor. Do some self-prep and see what your weaknesses are. If they're in one or two particular areas, then a tutor would be great for that. If not, then a class would be the way to go.


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Re: Overwhelmed and need advice!
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2004, 01:02:59 PM »
And why the hell are you going to graduate from college in three years?  Those should be the most enjoyable, worthwhile years of your life, why do it in in three?

Speak for yourself, I am doing my degree from University of Arizona in less than 3 years and with no more than 7 transferred credit.
(Summer 02 to Spring 05)
Some people want to do it this way!