LSAT Prep Options: Next Step Test Preparation

Next Step LSAT PrepWe’re excited to initiate a series of interviews with various LSAT prep companies, exploring their approach and getting some tips for success. (If you’d like to be featured, let me know.)

Today, we’re talking with Next Step Test Preparation, which specializes exclusively in one-on-one tutoring.

Find out more below!

Could you talk a bit about Next Step Test Preparation: What’s your philosophy? What type of instruction do you offer? How are you different from other LSAT prep companies?

We are very different from nearly every other company in that we really specialize exclusively in one-on-one LSAT tutoring. That means that all of our instructor training is focused on delivering exactly that, and our materials are designed to be incredibly flexible. Our founders had both taught at one of the big national companies and learned that, among other problems:

  • It’s pretty much impossible to structure one curriculum that’s going to be exactly right for students starting in the 130’s and those starting in the 160’s.
  • Even if by some miracle you get some group of 15 students together who all score exactly the same on their diagnostic test, they’ll move through the material at vastly different rates and be good at different things. For example, over the years we’ve worked with many students that were just innately great at logic games (lucky). A student like that is wasting her time completely sitting in a prep course where 40% of the instruction is going to be about logic games. Instead, she needs to focus on the other 2 sections. We make that happen.

We found that as educators it was much more effective to teach one-on-one. We really believe that, while there is a core nugget of knowledge needed to do well on the LSAT, after that the way that students learn is very different. The logic is the same for everyone, but we’ve found that individual students tend to make very different mistakes in their mechanics.

Sitting across from an incredible tutor, the tutor can diagnose and help you fix those procedural mistakes or bad habits that hold you back from your best LSAT score.

Even with the world’s best LSAT instructor, there’s no way to accomplish that teaching a room of 20 students.

We’ve been really fortunate that a lot of our instructors feel the same way — any of our instructors could teach (and, often, have taught) courses at one of the big companies, but just prefer to see individual students make big improvements. We look for instructors that not only have 170+ scores and great teaching experience but also really like engaging directly with students rather than being a “sage on the stage.”

Finally, tutoring is never cheap, but we’ve put together a business model where a program of individual tutoring, including materials, starts at around the price of a course from one of the big national companies. You could always get tutoring from one of the big companies — it would just be $150-$400/hour. We fix that.

What type of student is most likely to benefit from taking a Next Step tutoring program?

Students at any point in their LSAT careers can benefit. We work with students who are just starting out as well as those tho have been studying for a good while on their own, or who are re-taking the test.

We actually work with a LOT of students who already took one of the prep courses and just didn’t make an improvement.

(They go on to write us great testimonials about how they wish they would have skipped the course and just done tutoring, saving themselves $1,400).

And since everything we do is custom-designed for the individual student, we can get a student’s program going at any time — no need to wait for a course to start somewhere.

Who would your course not be a good fit for?

We aren’t a good fit for students that think studying for the LSAT is like going to a lecture class where you passively accept information.

One of the things students never like about prep courses is that it’s tough to sit through a really long discussion of frankly boring material from 6pm-10pm after a full day of work or school.

When you meet individually with a tutor, you’re engaged the whole time — which means that you get called out if you’re zoning out or not putting in the effort, and you can’t check your phone every 5 minutes.

I’m getting ready to choose an LSAT program. What should I look for to ensure the one I select is a good fit?

You need to think about what your goals are and how you learn best. The first thing to say is that lots of students study on their own and do fine. Beyond that, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. Instructor quality has a lot to do with the success of any given program, so you should always check that out.

Among the prep courses there’s a lot more similarity than difference these days. Students really need to decide if they will a) self-study, b) take a group lecture course, or c) do individual tutoring.

Availability is also a big question. For the record, we offer live one-on-one tutoring in 15 cities, and we also do quite a bit of tutoring online through video conference. The big advantage there is that you can work with a 99th percentile tutor with 5+ years of experience even if you don’t live in a major city or if you’ll be traveling during your study time.

How much time do you suggest students spend to prepare for their first LSAT? Can it be done on top of school/work?

Yes — most students studying for the LSAT have work, school, or both. It really depends on how much time you can devote, but a good metric is 2-4 months working about 8-12 hours per week.

The key is treating the LSAT like a job.

LSAT prep is the only obligation in your life where no one punishes you if you don’t show up to do it — until of course, LSAC punishes you on the day of the test.

Schedule out when you’ll study on your calendar, and treat skipping LSAT study as seriously as you would skipping work (and MORE seriously than skipping class).

What are your three best tips for doing as well as possible on the LSAT?
  1. Get started 4 months before your test and set up a study plan. If you’re doing tutoring or taking a class, get that settled 5 months out. We talk to a lot of students who have been “studying for 8 months” when that really means they’ve owned LSAT books for that long. You really need to commit to yourself that you’ll put study time and practice tests on the calendar, then follow through.
  2. Once you’ve learned the methodologies, take a lot of timed practice tests. You aren’t ready for the LSAT if you’ve taken less than ten 4 or 5-section full, timed tests (and then reviewed them thoroughly afterwards). Practice tests aren’t sufficient to do well on the LSAT, but they are necessary.
  3. Learn the logic. One of the signs that a student isn’t ready to take the LSAT is that they can’t explain why an answer is right or wrong even given unlimited time. Make sure you’re studying questions that you miss to start seeing the patterns that recur on the LSAT. There are only so many ways a logical reasoning prompt can be flawed.

More about Next Step Test Preparation:
Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one LSAT tutoring in 15 cities and worldwide via their one-on-one video conference platform. Visit their Facebook to stay up-to-date on LSAT news.

More LSAT Prep Options:

Trying to decide which LSAT prep course is right for you? Check out some of our other interviews for different options:

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