Monday, February 22, 2010

Zen Tutoring Student Journal - Initial Consultation

The following is the first entry from one of our new online LSAT tutoring clients. We thought his experience might help our readers decide how to approach your own LSAT practice.
Around this time of the year, one year ago, I was trying to sort my life out after ending my collegiate football career due to a fractured neck. I always had an interest in attending law school and becoming an attorney; however, I never took the time to actually investigate what it took to get into law school. Now I had that opportunity. I decided to research a little bit and stumbled upon a practice LSAT on the LSAC website. It was about three am on a spring break night and I had no idea what taking this simple practice test would mean to me in the future.

Throughout that summer, I attempted to gain as much knowledge about law school and the admissions process as I possibly could. I was reading websites such as for advice on how to prepare for the LSAT and what scores I needed to obtain admission into the best possible institutions. Following their advice, I purchased every practice test out and I began to take individual sections on the test. I was scoring very well on each section, so I set my marks on the upper echelon of schools (Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Chicago, Etc.). I knew to obtain admission into one of these schools I needed to improve upon my scores. I decided to ask around with professors, forums, and lawyers to figure out the best method to study for someone scoring like I was, and I got the same answer everywhere I went, “Self-study, the classes and tutors are for people who are bombing the practice tests.” With this I purchased the three Powerscore bibles to begin my practice with. After painfully getting through the bibles, I realized I just wasted around $100. I didn’t gain anything from the strategies presented in the bibles. I was back at square one, but now the June 2010 test felt much closer than before. I searched on for strategies for self-studying, and I happened to come across a hyperlink for the Zen of 180 blog and decided to check it out.

I read through some of the posts and was very intrigued by the information throughout the website. Upon further inspection, I found the pencasts for the Oct 1996 logic games and chose to check them out. A few minutes into the pencast I was amazed at how simple Mr. Bennett made the games look, yet so easy to understand. I watched every single pencast after that, learning more than I ever did with my other study methods. Immediately, I contacted Mr. Bennett and talked with him for a few days about his services and what he could provide. After hearing the pricing and how everything worked I decided to try the online tutoring services.

I was told to take two Preptests before my initial consultation, so we could have a baseline of where I was starting at. On my first two tests, which were also my first two full Preptests, I scored a 164 and 168. I was thrilled because these were higher than I expected; however, Mr. Bennett was able to locate a few problem areas that were holding my score down on these two exams. During our first consultation we focused on the main point and weaken questions for the Logical Reasoning section of the test and the implied questions of the Reading Comprehension section. Mr. Bennett showed me how to use key pieces of information in the stimulus or passage to correctly answer the different types of questions. With the interactive software, I could really be in his mind while he was answering example problems, so I could see the strategies that he applied to each question type.

Next I answered some of the questions, and just as I had been in the head of Mr. Bennett while he was answering, he was able to see my thought process for the tasks. With this knowledge, he could now provide me with adaptations to my approach to assist me in obtaining the correct answer. That is probably my favorite thing about the Zen of 180 tutoring: it is not about changing your approach completely, but it is about combining new techniques with what you are already comfortable with. This is the key to the effectiveness of the tutoring services because it allows me to stay within my comfort zone, while still changing my techniques to better suit each question type.

The methods had an immediate impact on my scores. In fact, the three question types we specifically addressed I scored perfects on during subsequent tests. This allowed me to raise my score to a 172 after just one consultation. If this speaks to how the next couple months of tutoring with Zen of 180 will be, then it is more than worth the time and effort.