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Friday, September 21, 2018

Something Fun to Try Over the Weekend—LSAT Prep


One of the most fun things I have done lately is become a volunteer member of the LSAC Audit Committee which resulted in my being able to attend the LSAC Annual Meeting and be present at Sal Khan’s presentation of his collaboration with LSAC to make high quality LSAT preparation available to all prospective law students(and everyone else) free of cost.  I love Sal Khan and the Khan Academy.  Their materials were lifesaving to me while I was plowing through the statisticsand research methods part of my Ph.D.  Not only is the material clear, it’s actually fun. You can find yourself dipping into subjects from art historyto Differential equations-all presented in manageable chunks with exceptionally clear visuals.

For the LSAT, the Khan Academy program provides individualized diagnostic testing that direct students to practice materials in the areas where they are the weakest.  These practice questions are not just similar to the LSAT, they are provided to Khan by the folks who write LSAT Questions.  And if that’s not enough, it creates a scoring system that makes studying for the LSAT a game and encourages students to put in the time needed to become comfortable with some very odd looking material. It can supplement a commercial program or be used as a stand-alone.

I introduce this material to you not to open up a debate on the value of the LSAT in predicting law school success or even to encourage you to share this information with anyone you know considering taking the LSAT (although they will appreciate it). 

Rather, there is a real opportunity to use these resources for law students who want to sharpen their skills before or during law school.  Of course, this is not using the materials as they were designed—our friends in medicine would call it “off-label”—and the fit may not be perfect.

But students might appreciate knowing that while their LSAT Scores are yesterday’s news, their reading comprehension and logical analysis skills are not immutable.  Using the Khan materials before (or during law schools) could be the equivalent of strength training for swimmers and tennis players.

These skills transcend subject matter.  For example, my Torts students know that the one question I will always ask them about every case is “What facts would have had to be different for the judge to reach a different conclusion?”  In Torts, the issue often involves the extent of the defendant’s duty of care to the plaintiff and the dispositive fact is usually about the relationship between the two—are they passing strangers, doctor/patient?  It is the kind of analysis so embedded in every subject area that any lawyer, law student, or law professor reading this can create their own example from their own area of expertise.

So dive in and have fun.  Make your own decisions about whether these materials would be helpful for your students. And a word before you do—remember these questions are designed for people who have not yet graduated law school.   Most of our students find starting the process of learning the law as initially difficult as we might find learning to compose music, play tennis, solve equations, or paint in oils.

Posted by Jennifer Bard on September 21, 2018 at 11:11 PM | Permalink


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