Review of BenchPrep’s Online Test Prep Site

Check out BenchPrep!I just logged into the BenchPrep test prep website and am welcomed with their greeting of “Gain an unfair advantage on test day”; I like this – a test prep site with an edge! Let’s continue exploring…

After you sign in and choose your test (see list below), you’ll then choose your target test date. The program then generates a study plan of week-by-week tasks that you’ll need to complete to achieve your optimal preparedness for your chosen exam. Each task has a timeframe next to it, indicating the expected amount of time the exercise should take – a nice touch.

As you move through the little icons on the left side of the screen, you’ll encounter some nice features – games (mainly flashcard games – pretty simple and straightforward), practice tests, discussion boards, study groups, and others. Another organizational feature is the table of contents icon which, when you click on it, gives you a very clear outline of your study plan with links to other parts of the site.

There is also a BenchPrep mobile app (Android and iPhone), making this program excellent for test-preppers on-the-go!

One thing I’d like to see more of on this site are videos. There is certainly no shortage of written prep resources here – there are loads of practice tests and explanations and tips, which of course are extremely important. For some people, this may be exactly what they’re looking for, but others – those auditory/visual types – the absence of video will be noticed.

Tests (a sampling):

ACT • GMAT • PMP Exam
• AP Exam • GRE • Police Officer Exam
• CFA Level I Exam                       . • LSAT • Postal Exam
• CLEP • MCAT • Praxis Test
• EMT • Nursing School Entrance Exams        . • SAT
• FRM • PCAT
• Firefighter Exam • PE Exam

Features:

• Ask-a-tutor, and receive an answer within 24 hours
•  Bookmarking and highlighting features
•  Ratings/tracking of your confidence level (so you can go back to review those weak areas)
•  Games
•  Practice tests
•  Discussion boards
•  Study groups

Head to BenchPrep now to check out these features on your own!

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

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WSJ Law Blog Offers Most Recent Law Applicant Stats

Check out our recent podcast episode, "Business, Law, and Beyond."

Number of LSAT test takers is down, and that’s a good thing.

Highlights of the Wall Street Journal article, “Number of LSAT Test Takers Is Down 45% Since 2009,” include:

• The number of LSAT exams administered in October 2013 (33,673 exams) is 11% lower than in October 2012 (37,780 exams). This is the lowest test taker volume since 1998.

• The total number of LSAT test takers in June and October is down 38% from four years ago when test taker volume peaked. The number of test takers in October alone is down 45% compared to the 2009 high.

• The number of law school applicants dropped 12.3% compared to last year, and application volume dropped 17.9% this year.

My Take

This is good news.

There used to be a naïve belief that a legal degree was a “good thing to have.” That’s true if it’s also an inexpensive thing to have, which a law degree is not.

When the legal job market initially tanked, applicants were still applying to law school in droves. Apparently that madness has ended. These LSAT stats indicate that those serious about the law and using their legal education professionally are taking the LSAT and that far fewer applicants are defaulting to law from the social sciences and humanities than did so a few years ago.

People committed to a career that requires a legal degree and promises an income in excess of the cost of a legal education are the ones who should be taking the LSAT. And there are simply fewer people who believe they fit that description today than there were five years ago. Plus, more people today recognize both the high cost and the more limited opportunity associated with a J.D. than in years past.

They should have recognized it five years ago. The good news is that more do so today.







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Should You Retake the LSAT?

Click here for advice on dealing with a low LSAT score

To retake or not to retake?

Completing the LSAT requires both time and money – you must dedicate extra effort to preparing for the test in order to earn as high a score as possible. After you receive your initial LSAT score, you must then decide if it is worth the additional resources necessary to retake the test, aiming for a better score. In coming to this conclusion, there are three factors that you should consider.

How far below your intended school’s ideal score were you?

Schools typically publish the range of LSAT scores for their admitted students, and future admissions decisions are largely based on the candidate’s GPA and LSAT score. Obviously, the higher your LSAT score, the stronger your application will be, but you need to consider how close both your GPA and your LSAT score are. If one, or both, are at the top of the range, then you have less to gain from retaking the test – you are already in a comfortable position for admission. If you are on the low end, however, then you may wish to sit for the exam again in order to increase your score and therefore your odds of acceptance as well.

How many more points do you need for scholarship money?

Some schools will make scholarship decisions based, in part, on LSAT scores. Even if your LSAT score and GPA are comfortably within the school’s required range, an LSAT score above the school’s 75th percentile can often translate to awarded financial aid. The less you pay for school, the less debt you will graduate with, and therefore, it may be worth the extra effort to take the LSAT again.

What was your LSAT score the first time?

Before deciding whether to retest, you need to critically examine what your LSAT score was and why you got that score. Lower scores are, by their nature, easier to improve upon; it is easier to go from a 150 to a 160 than it is to go from a 160 to a 170, and it is harder still to get from a 170 to a 175.

In deciding whether or not you have room to improve, the first thing to consider is what your highest practice scores were – were they better than your test day score, or lower? If your test day score was significantly higher (more than three or four points) than your strongest practice score, then you may want to hold on tight to the score that you have. Try taking another practice test and see if you are able to get a score close to, or higher than, your test day score.

You should also determine why you got the score that you did. Did you run out of time on a section and answer the last five questions incorrectly? Did you struggle with one particular logic game, but get the rest of the section largely correct? In situations like this, retaking the test, especially if you can fix the timing issue or understand how to solve the game that you didn’t comprehend the first time, can improve your score. However, if you answered random questions incorrectly for no discernible reason (and not, for example, all of a certain type of logical reasoning problem, like the assumption questions), then it will be more difficult to increase your score.

Retaking the LSAT, if your score increases, will likely aid you in gaining acceptance into a better school, and may result in more scholarship money. However, retaking the test can also be a gamble and you do risk your score dropping. You need to consider whether the potential reward justifies the time, expense, and uncertainty. If it can ensure your acceptance to your first-choice school, greatly increase your chances of a scholarship, or is an easily correctable mistake from the previous test, then taking the exam again is probably advisable. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with the score that you have.







Justin Meyer is a professional LSAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. He holds a JD from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary.

What do Law School Adcom Think about Law School Admissions?

Law School Enrollment Declines

54% of law schools reduced their 2013 entering class size

The Kaplan’s 2013 survey of law school admissions officers provide the answer to this and many other questions about law school admissions trends, trends in legal education, and the role of the LSAT. Here are some highlights from the Kaplan report:

• 54% of law schools reduced their 2013 entering class size as compared to class size in 2012.
• Only 2% of admissions officers said that they are “very confident” that law school applications will begin to rebound in the next application cycle; 32% were “somewhat confident”; 45% were “not too confident”; and 22% were “not at all confident.”
• 70% of admissions offers accepted June 2013 LSAT scores for fall 2013 admission; 30% did not.
• 60% of respondents “generally disagree” with President Obama’s statement that law schools should condense their three-year programs into two-year programs. 5% “completely agree”; 20% “generally agree”; and 15% “completely disagree.”
• 12% of admissions officers said that their law school currently has an accelerated two-year JD program.
• Of the 88% of schools that do not have an accelerated program, only 6% say that they plan on creating a two-year program.
• 42% of schools offer 6-10 clinical programs; 29% offer 1-5 such programs; 16% offer 11-15; 13% offer more than 15; and 1% offer no such program.
• 62% of respondents “generally agree” with the following statement: “The LSAT is important to law schools because it is the only uniform, objective measure by which law schools can compare applicants.” 26% “completely agree”; 9% “generally disagree”; and 3% “completely disagree.”
See the Kaplan report for more details.

Take-aways

1. With 88% of respondents agreeing that the LSAT is important, it isn’t going away anytime soon.

2. The two-year law school will remain the exception and not the rule for the foreseeable future.

3. Don’t look for the go-go days of law school to return in the next couple of years.







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Law School Admissions Tip #1: Develop Your Law School Admissions Strategy

Law School Application Strategy

The Top 15 Things Every Law School Applicant Should Know is a series that will teach you the ins and outs of successful law school applications. Stay tuned for the remaining elements. This week starts with “Law School Admissions Strategy.”

Numbers and stats for law school admission are important – certainly more so even than for undergraduate – but the right components of your application can make all the difference in the world.

Does it seem like you just finished your undergraduate applications for admission, and now here you are applying to law school? Or maybe you did your undergraduate more than a few years ago, and are returning to law school after an academic hiatus. Either way, it’s important to know what admissions committees are looking for BEFORE you starting working on your application. You need a strategy.

The first thing to know is that the numbers that schools list on their web sites are real. Yale really does look for an LSAT score in the mid 170’s, whereas Tulane is happy with a 160. So look at the web sites of the schools in which you are interested, and make your list accordingly. Of course, you should always reach for the stars by including a couple of reach schools, but you also need to be realistic.

When making your list of schools, other things to consider include location, and whether or not you are able and willing to move to attend law school. For someone in their early 20’s, this often is not an issue, whereas if you are returning to law school a little later in life, you might be settled where you are and therefore are not able to relocate. From a financial point of view, the local school may also be more affordable.

At least as important as location and affordability is focusing on what kind of law you want to study, what you want to do with the degree, and which programs will therefore be the best fit. Are you interested in corporate law or do you see yourself working for LegalAid after graduation? Different schools have different specialties. Do your research and make sure that the schools you are including on your list match your interests.

Once you have done your due diligence and figured out where you can reasonably hope to be admitted, which schools have the best program for your interests, and which two or three schools fit into the “reach” category, then it is time to assess the potential strengths and weaknesses of your application. Suppose you have an excellent LSAT score, but your GPA suffered your junior year, thereby bringing your overall GPA down. Instead of seeing this as only a weakness, you need to make sure that you frame this in the best possible way. (Our professional consultants and editors can help you.)

After assessing and summarizing your professional, extracurricular, and community service activities, the single most important part of your application is your personal statement. This is your opportunity to make your story come to life and give the admissions committee an authentic look into who you are. Make sure you dedicate the appropriate time and energy into this essay. We’ll cover the personal statement in a later post, but if you want to get started immediately or simply want individual advice, consider hiring a law school admissions consultant to guide you.

For now, figure out your strategy, make a plan, and get started. You’re ready!

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