LSAT Preparation Online
Most test prep companies now offer at least some of their LSAT courses and individual tutoring programs in online format. Generally speaking, these offerings can be just as effective as their on-site counterparts. Students who choose the online option will receive the same rigorous course syllabi, comprehensive course materials, and experienced instructors as their peers opting for in-person study. Online instruction also has its own unique advantages, such as the ability to easily embed videos and other teaching aids, which can be used by students whenever they wish. Furthermore, the online option is more efficient because students don't have to spend valuable time traveling to class. Online prep is not without its disadvantages, however. There is always the possibility of technical problems at either end, and interactions with the instructor and fellow students are sometimes more complicated and less rewarding in the virtual classroom. Yet for many types of LSAT learners, these disadvantages are far outweighed by the convenience, economy, and results provided by online LSAT study options.
The LSAC website features an entire section devoted to LSAT prep. Included are an online LSAT study program from Khan Academy, a series of brief LSAC videos on general LSAT prep and each section of the exam, and practice tests in English and Spanish, all of which are provided free of charge. The prep section of the LSAC website also offers links through which students can purchase official LSAT books in hard copy or eBook format as well as advice on preparing for the digital version of the LSAT. We advise test-takers to use these materials to support rather than replace formal LSAT instruction; there is no substitute for a high-quality LSAT program taught by a qualified LSAT educator.
It is not difficult for LSAT students to learn much of what they need to know about the LSAT and related law school issues through online resources. Law schools are required by the American Bar Association to publish data on their admitted students, including employment outcomes, GPA, and test scores. The latter two data points appear in a document called the "Standard 509 Information Report," which lists these numbers at the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles for the most recent class. The Standard 509 also includes information about enrollment, degrees awarded, tuition and fees, scholarships, and attrition. Employment Summary Reports show the percentage of recent graduates employed in various categories (e.g. full-time or part-time) and types (such as law firms and clerkships). Both of these reports are easy to find on law school websites.
LSAC closely tracks law school admission statistics and publishes this information via an admission calculator, available here. By entering a specific GPA and LSAT score, students can learn the odds of acceptance to most ABA-accredited law schools for an applicant with that profile. Using this calculator shows, for example, that a candidate with a 3.5 undergraduate GPA and a 160 LSAT score would have at least a 90% chance of admission to Cleveland State but at best a 10% chance of admission to Columbia. Prospective law students can also use the admission calculator to closely scrutinize specific institutions and thereby set target LSAT scores (unlike undergraduate GPA, final LSAT scores are not set in stone). Using a 3.5 GPA and the elite University of Michigan Law School as an example, we see that the acceptance odds top out at 12% for a 160 LSAT score, 20% for a 165, 34% for a 170, and 56% for a 175.
Students preparing for the LSAT should carefully weigh a number of factors when deciding whether or not to pursue online LSAT prep. First, are you a passive, active, or proactive learner? Because online study requires self-discipline and self-management, proactive learners tend to do the best in online study programs, although this certainly isn't a hard-and-fast rule. Second, do you enjoy technology, or do you find it distracting? Some people prefer books and pencils to computer screens and web videos. Finally, do you have easy access to an on-site LSAT learning center? If not, then it's possible that practical considerations have made your decision for you. All LSAT students can take comfort in the fact that online LSAT preparation is a legitimate approach that gets results, but only if the right provider is chosen.