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Recommended Materials for LSAT Study

With the wealth of LSAT prep materials out there, it can be tough to find the best resources for LSAT study. I've been tutoring the LSAT for 5 years, and these are the materials I've found to be the most helpful.   Practice Tests The best way to practice is by using previously administered LSATs. LSAC has published several collections of tests: Volume 5 (Tests 62 to 71, December 2010 to December 2013) Volume 4 (Tests 52 to 61, September 2007 to October 2010) The Next 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests (Tests 29 to 38, October 1999 to October 2002) 10 More Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests (Tests 19 to 28, June 1996 to June 1999) 10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests (Tests 7 to 18, December 1992 to September 1995)   The most recent tests (Volumes 4 and 5 above) are the most accurate reflections of what you'll see on test day, while the older tests can be significantly different. I recommend both taking fully-timed practice tests and completing... read more

National #Mentoring Month: Finding a Mentor in Law

January is National Mentoring Month. Mentoring is something we value greatly in law. Without mentors most of us would be floundering. But how do you find a mentor? For me, it was really difficult. I didn't grow up in law. My mother was an accountant and my dad worked on computers. So when I got to law school I was completely lost. Not only that, but I went to law school in a completely different state. So I didn't have the local connections others had, I hadn't worked in law so I didn't have business connections, and I didn't have the family member who was a lawyer so I felt like I was completely disadvantaged. So I went to a lecture held by someone in Career Services one day. That person gave me the best piece of advice I could have ever received: you need to get out into the legal community and make your presence known if you want not just a mentor, but a job. I took the advice to heart. I joined a voluntary bar and began going to luncheons and different... read more

Halloween is past, can you see the law school final freight train headed your way?

For Freshlaws (first year law students) the flood of information and mind altering Socratic method classroom discussions often result in an overwhelming feeling of concern as Halloween passes and finals loom in a month or so. Law school finals are like nothing most students experience in undergrad because they are often all or nothing and the resulting grades have such a massive effect on career choices. With the best law firms aiming at the top ten percent of law students by GPA and internships starting after first year, each exam carries enormous weight.   So, in November law students must refine their studying to bring tremendous focus to upcoming exams. The time has come to bring outlines up-to-date and edit them. Review the other students in your study group to cut out slackers and focus on those with the same intense drive. If you feel weak in any subject, it is time to consider seeking out a tutor to give you the one on one advantage that is not... read more

LSAT preparation: interaction in tutoring a key to success.

Students preparing for the LSAT have a variety of resources available, including prep courses, books, and on-line materials. Only one resource - one on one tutoring - provides the most valuable aspect of LSAT preparation: the back and forth interaction that assists students in learning not only which answers are correct, but also why each answer choice is right or wrong.   The LSAT consists of three types of questions - reading comprehension, logic games (analytical reasoning,) and logical reasoning. With no penalty for guessing, the LSAT rewards students when they may not know the right answer, but can improve their odds by eliminating wrong ones. Unlike larger classes and self-study materials, tutors can focus on the student's understanding of the material one question at a time and at the student's own pace. A good tutor can also help a student identify strengths and weaknesses.   The LSAT is designed with Logical Reasoning questions... read more

What Are You Working With?

Knowledge is power...   To that end, it is always a good idea to find out what you're working with. What are your biggest challenges... Where are you... Where do you want to be?   The following self-evaluation can help you answer some of those questions:   1.    What career field are you in?  2.    What is your current job title?  3.    How long have you been in this position?  4.    What are your primary responsibilities? 5.    What is the most interesting part of your job? 6.    In what way will skills-development improve your job performance, and opportunities for advancement?    _________________________________       I have been teaching skills-development courses for many years and would love an opportunity to assist you in achieving your professional... read more

Starting your legal writing class in law school

The first weeks of law school are thrilling and with torts, contracts, and property opening new worlds for students, the one class that seems not to fit is legal research and writing.  In this post I will outline the three keys to success in this course and explain why this may be your most important class of law school. Show your work!  This old saying from math class applies in law school as well and especially in legal writing.  The big secret to law school is not that you learn the law (you may - but it's incidental!)  The purpose of law school is to develop legal thinkers.  So success in legal writing involves working through the options in solving a legal issue.  Selecting the correct one is important, but showing the analysis it took to get there is essential. Play well with others.  Every legal writing course has limits on collaboration, but within those limits working with other students will help in this class and the subject... read more

Request for comments and suggestions regarding "Parental Alienation" in divorce or post-divorce cases

Please let me know your experience, or any helpful information you may have regarding Parental Alienation in divorce (or post-divorce) cases. I am deeply concerned for the well-being of some children who may be victims of Parental Alienation. I have been told that this is a form of child abuse, since it can seriously impact a child's self-esteem. Research shows that children in divorce cases are under stress, and when one parent "vilifies" the other parent, it can cause emotional damage to the child, or children. If you can take a minute to comment or email me directly, I would greatly appreciate your assistance. Thanks in advance--I hope to hear from you soon.

Using current events to explain statistical ideas

It is often examples that make ideas understandable to students and current events can be a good source of examples. Case in point. Today in Wisconsin, the issue of the day is the outcome of the recall elections and problems with the exit polling. As a tutor, the outcome isn’t interesting, but exit polling like all surveys is key to the usefulness of statistics! In fact, it gives a great opportunity to illustrate some of the basic (and non-mathematical) ideas and concepts of statistics — usually the ideas presented at the beginning of most introduction-to-statistics courses. Statistical inferences are grounded in some basic definitions and assumptions (in bold). A population is a defined collection of individuals that we want to know some data about and a sample is a group taken from the population that we are going to actually collect data from (Sullivan, 2010, p. 5; Triola, 2010, p. 4). If we wanted to know the actual data about a population, which is called a parameter,... read more

Creating Study Techniques to Tackle Any Subject

A study techniques can be utilized to tackle any subject, especially when you are required to retain information on multiple subjects. There are many techniques that can be used and some of which I found helped me survive both undergraduate school and graduate school. I've listed some of them below for you and provide an explanation of each. 1. Mnemonics or mnemonic device - is a learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. They do so by increasing efficiency of the process of consolidation of facts and information. This process involves the conversion of short term memory to long term memory. 2. Outlining - This should be a two step process. You should begin outlining at the beginning of the course and continually updating the outline as the course proceeds. During your finals week, you should then take your long course outline and condense it down to a two page key word memory jogger or concept... read more

What would you do?

I was having a crisis last night, thinking that I took on more than I could handle with going to law school. I shut down my computer and called one of my best friends - my mom - to get her advice. Of course, she didn't help when she said that she couldn't make that decision for me. I told her she was some friend, but the next thing she said got me thinking. She asked me, "What would you do if one of your students came to you and said learning English was too hard and was thinking of dropping out of school?" I would tell my student not to give up because it will get easier as he/she learns. One day, all will fall into place. I told my mom I loved her and went back to my office and fired up the computer and read the next case.

New LSAT prep tests available

A new book of 10 LSAT Prep Tests is available from the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC). Tests 52 - 61 are now available in one book! This is great news because these tests include the new double passage that appears in the reading comprehension section. More recent tests may also be a bit more challenging than the older tests. Visit www.lsac.org to shop for materials. Just click on "Services for Prospective JD Students" and then "Shop for Prep Materials" And a word to the wise....never buy books from test prep companies! The best materials are available directly from the test makers themselves for very reasonable prices.

The Ah-Ha Moment!

Each week I see my students grow. Maybe it is understanding a new concept. Maybe its figuring out a nuance they didn't previously perceive. Sometimes it's just feeling more comfortable with the material so they can more quickly dispatch the questions they are assigned. At times, students and tutors can become complacent with this gradual progress -- for any progress is a positive thing. However, as a tutor, I feel it is also my job to assess the students' true potential and push them at a healthy pace to realize that potential. My job may mean shaking things up and trying new approaches every now and then to take the students out of their comfort zone. My philosophy is that through experience, patience, and truly putting in sufficient time to get to know your students on a personal level, you can better assess their true potential and help them stretch beyond their comfort zone so they really begin to take flight. This has to be done with care, because you do not want... read more

LSAT Prep - Making the Most of Your Time and Money

The average LSAT prep course can raise one's score by 5-8 points. These courses, usually set in a classroom with 20-35 students, can be expensive. For example, here's the cost for the most popular courses: * Kaplan LSAT Classroom - $1,329 (10 sessions, thus $133 per session.) * Blackstone Prep - $795 (5 sessions, thus $159 per session.) * TestMasters - $1450 (15 sessions, thus $97 per session) * Princeton Review – $1920 - $2160 (varies) (24 sessions, $80-$90 per session) * PowerScore - $1295 (20 sessions, $65 per session) Online courses, which offer the advantage of no other students, also don’t have an instructor there to answer questions. You have to teach yourself the material – at an expensive price! * Kaplan Online - $599 * Kaplan Online Premium – $1,149 * Princeton Online - $999 * Princeton Accelerated Online - $1,199 * PowerScore - $995 And then there’s private tutoring by a company. These prices are heavy, too. * Princeton... read more

Doing the Right Thing

In late November, I was contacted by my first student looking for assistance in the study of law. After exchanging initial emails with the prospective student, I got to thinking about the online law school that he was "taking" classes from. For some reason, my "radar" went off wildly that there was something wrong here - very wrong - not with the student but with the school. The student and I talked more and more - still by emails, and more problems were revealed. The online school was not "ABA accredited" which meant that if the student ever wanted to practice law as an attorney, the student would need to transfer his credits to another law school and take additional classes before being allowed to take the bar exam. After the school's contact answered some rather basic questions with evasive answers, I informed the student of what I feared about the school so that the student could make an informed decision about whether or not to continue... read more

Simplicity ...

After my first semester of Law School, we had a review of the entire semester on the last day of class in my Contact Law class. Mind you, we only had one test at the end of the semester, which then became your grade for the entire semester.  My thinking was that the notes that I had taken for months - which were the size of a small mountain - could never be remembered and digested - in one hour, and for a 4 hour exam. When the professor walked in the room, he had no books, no notes, no paper - nothing - with him.  He paused for a few seconds, as all of us waited for him to speak about Contract Law.  He stood in the front of the room, smiled, and looked up at a few hundred sets of eyes (including mine), and said one sentence that I still use with my clients today. "If you can't take everything I have taught to you over the last few months and write it down on one (1) index card, then you do not know it." That statement has stuck with... read more

I probably shouldn't post political stuff...

But I think the story is more a sad commentary of the level of reasoning and general knowledge in the US, despite having the Internet as the greatest lay research tool ever, bar none. A story in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is about yet another soldier who is of the opinion that his Command-in-Chief is a foreigner and not the rightful President. He cites the oft-used "birth certificate" argument. The comments after the article are very instructive as to what's wrong with the level of reasoning and debate in this country (two entire pages of abusive comments struck down by the editors, for instance). I did some research of my own into citizenship law months ago, as anyone could do via any search engine. My findings are that the particular section of code that applies is 8 USC 1401. Just type "US citizenship law" into any search engine and you'll get the same result. There are two sections of law that I believe apply here (the... read more

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