LSAT Review Materials: how to access legally in the middle of nowhere
August 9, 2014 8:18 AM   Subscribe

What is the most economical and effective way to prepare for the LSAT in the circumstances described within. I am not looking for torrents or download sites. I'm looking for ways to tap into libraries.

Student has a university id card and can borrow books and log onto university and public library websites but all area libraries have severely limited resources. They have tried. We are very rural. And segregated.

Is it possible to find LSAT prep materials through LOUIS, the Louisiana public library system, or some other way? These are students who can't afford hundreds of dollars for prep materials. I am thinking there must be ways to access them, but I don't know what they are. I looked at LOUIS and didn't see anything myself. It just occurred to my that large city libraries might have ebook copies available for the borrowing, in which case they could get access via family members. But do LSAT materials circulate in ebook form?

I am hitting a brick wall on this. Metafilter librarians, any ideas what kind of prep materials are out there?
posted by CtrlAltD to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You go back and forth between "student" and "students." If it's more than one student, then depending on how many and what their affiliation is, they might create their own library of LSAT materials. Say each put in $10 and buy a bunch of books to be kept in some mutually accessible place. If there aren't enough low income students, open it up to any student. Students with money want to save money, too. If there's some sort of pre-law extra-curricular group, this seems like the most useful thing they could do.

Have you checked the university's career centre? Though the library seems like the obvious place, I found that career centres also carry test prep materials.

Finally, note that if you're really hung up on doing this legally, having family members get ebooks from their own local libraries is not legal. The ebooks are licensed to be used by the library card holder, not to be passed along to others. I have no probably with this, but I thought I should point it out since this seems to be important to you.

I assume you've googled "LSAT prep low income"? I just did and found local free courses run by the law school for low income students.

This place has a free online prep course.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:37 AM on August 9, 2014

You don't need "hundreds of dollars of prep materials," you need just 3 books:

1) General LSAT prep book such as the one from Kaplan or Princeton Review. The absolute newest edition might be $50, but the ones that are just a year old can be had for as little as $25. This gives you structure for the rest of your preparation.

2) "10 Actual, Official LSAT Practice Tests" from the LSAC (test administrator) itself. There are many volumes of 10 tests, but this relatively recent one is only $25 at Amazon. Take practice test, evaluate performance, go back to book (1) for strategies to improve weak areas.

3) The PowerScore Logic Games Bible. Step-by-step mental preparation for the test section most people screw up the worst. Use to supplement the insufficient logic games section of book (1). Can be had for under $30 used on Amazon, as linked.

That's a full LSAT test prep pack for about $80-85. If you really do have several students rather than one, they can go in together for this (and either go to a copier or grab 2 volumes of the official practice tests) and split the costs to bring it down to $50/student, $30/student, whatever.

This is not free, but it is pretty damn low cost to prepare for the test that will largely determine your law school admissions experience (I mean, no pressure, but it's kind of true). If it is worth paying the LSAT registration fee, it is worth prepping properly.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

What Joey Buttafoucault said.

I would also give Tulane a call, and see if you can send an email or put something on bulletin boards asking if some 1-Ls will donate or sell their old materials.

When I took the LSAT, I bought a $30 test prep book, and a couple-years-old pack of 10 tests. Studied like crazy, got a 173.
posted by freshwater at 9:18 AM on August 9, 2014

Have you talked to your local library? If my library does not have an item a member needs I either purchase it and let the member know it has come in for them or borrow it from another library through ILLO. When I purchase I am happy to get either the dead-tree or e-book version, whichever the member prefers.
posted by saucysault at 9:32 AM on August 9, 2014

Keep in mind that low income applicants generally qualify for an LSAT fee waiver. This lets an applicant sit for two LSAT administrations, sign up for the credential assembly service (for actually applying to law school) and four score reports (also for applying). As a bonus, you get a SuperPrep, which is actually one of the best prep books ever made, the only one that has explanations written by LSAC itself. It's a little bit out of date, so you'd want to also use newer stuff (I'd second the #2 and #3 suggestions by Joey Buttafoucalt, but would recommend the LSAT Trainer for general prep. It's become very popular in the test prep community over the last couple of years, and it's only $40.)

Also keep in mind that there is a tremendous amount of high quality LSAT prep available on Youtube these days.
posted by skewed at 9:48 AM on August 9, 2014

Whatever resources you might be thinking of, or familiar with, reduce those by three-fourths, and that's what we've got. They have talked to the campus library and the career center. At least one student was denied entry to the only law library in the region. I can see myself that the local public library is not... situated to help them. I don't know how to put it.

I am one of their professors. I do not have time to go find out what is going on myself. That is why I am asking this question here.

I know how law school admissions works and how important it is to do the tests right. The list of books above is helpful. These are students for whom $50 is a big deal. It's a big deal for many of us, of course. It is a big deal here in a way that is hard to imagine.

What they need is to borrow LSAT test prep books via interlibrary loan or in ebook form. I have seen myself that is it is possible to check out e-book versions of AP tests, the SAT and other standardized tests from large public municipal libraries. So that is where I am coming from.

Thank you all for your help.
posted by CtrlAltD at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2014

This doesn't really answer your question ("I'm looking for ways to tap into libraries") but I have a couple older books from 2004–05 that I'd be willing to drop into the mail. MeMail if interested. Good luck to your students.
posted by cribcage at 10:19 AM on August 9, 2014

For what it's worth, I just searched the New Orleans ebook sites for LSAT materials and found three- one is Master the LSAT from 2011, one is LSAT for Dummies, and one looks like a book of practice tests.

I would also be willing to put up a poster at the Tulane and/or Loyola law school buildings, or enquire about how to send out a message to their 1Ls, if you can send me some more information on the situation or mock up a poster etc. I live in New Orleans and I'm a grad student at Tulane, although not a law student.
posted by MadamM at 11:14 AM on August 9, 2014

If you've got time, looking back, the thing that was most helpful to me was a years-long habit of doing Dell logic puzzles. If they've still got a year or two left, logic puzzles are likely to be easier to find than official LSAT prep, and the games just kill so many people and really all they are is those puzzle games sans grid.

The unfortunate part comes next: if they cannot afford more than $50 to prep, they are going to have to do some very, very hard thinking about whether they can really afford to go to law school at all. Right now is a very bad time to be going anywhere that isn't fairly high-ranked, and moving is not cheap. They might have better impact from taking side work to raise some money for both test prep stuff and future school expenses than from spending more time looking for free resources. Unless they're already practice testing in the 160s at least, cheaping out on this part of the process--if it means a ten point score difference over having access to more materials, that could literally be tens of thousands of dollars of scholarships or hundreds of thousands of dollars of future income difference.

If you're young and really poor and dead set on law school, I'd not hesitate to suggest donating plasma to get prep materials. From my own practice, I would not say that 10 tests is really enough unless you're really doing well from day one. They should work oldest to newest, but however many they can possibly swing, they should be as recent as possible. Like, if they can get free access to one of the books with tests from the 90s, that's nice, but whatever you have to do, beg, borrow, or steal, get at least the most recent 5-10, like at least mid-60s to 70s. I'm not sure if anybody has those in book form; Cambridge LSAT sells the PDFs. Trying to find substandard ways of doing this for free is like trying to fix a failing business by buying cheaper office supplies--sometimes you need to find ways to bring in more money, not to cut costs.
posted by Sequence at 2:00 PM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

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