Help me become a good LSAT tutor.
October 29, 2009 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I recently applied for a position as a pro-bono LSAT tutor, unfortunately I wrote my LSAT three years ago and I have no tutoring experience. Help?

About the only thing I have going for me is that I scored in the 97th percentile. Honestly, I remember very little of the test, most of it just came naturally to me, and the strategies that I applied to the analytical reasoning section are long forgotten.

How can I prepare so that I can help this person as much as possible, besides once again familiarizing myself with the test? What advice do you have for helping someone do better on the LSAT, with a focus on increasing overall speed, and strategies for the analytical reasoning section? What about being effective as a tutor in general?

I have access to limited resources, so I'd appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction in that regard as well.

posted by paradoxflow to Education (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not strictly an answer to your question as you asked it, I guess, but if I somehow found myself in your situation (applying for a job for which I am unqualified, that will clearly require a lot of my time, and for which I will not even earn any money), I would withdraw my application for the position. In any case, it seems premature to begin cramming to become a tutor before you've even been offered the job.
posted by kindall at 4:10 PM on October 29, 2009

It isn't a job. for one thing. I volunteered for pro-bono work through my law school and got placed as a tutor. It wasn't my first choice, but considering I was one of the better choices for the position amongst available applicants because of my LSAT score, I'd like to make the best of it.
posted by paradoxflow at 4:19 PM on October 29, 2009

What advice do you have for helping someone do better on the LSAT, with a focus on increasing overall speed, and strategies for the analytical reasoning section? What about being effective as a tutor in general?

I scored in the 99th percentile on the LSAT and debated picking up LSAT tutoring as a job during my last year of college. The only thing that helped me prepare for the test was exposure, exposure, exposure. Lots and lots of practice tests, untimed logic game work, etc. Most people taking the Kaplan course, I think, treat the in-class exposure as enough and never crack the "advanced" workbook. This is a mistake.

Don't let your charges kill themselves in the days before the test. They should start preparing a few months in advanced at a generally relaxed pace and really get on the grind on weekends or when they have time.

I've seen a lot of people who claim to be "bad at logic games" when in fact they're just not familiar with them; by contrast, everyone is exposed to reading comprehension and some variant of more straightforward logic work in college.

Find out early on whether someone considers themself a "verbal" or "math" type, break down the artificial (for testing purposes) division by recommending that they work most of the time on things that are very difficult. Even reading difficult questions seems to generate familiarity with the archetypal stuff that recurs over and over on the actual test.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:24 PM on October 29, 2009

How long do you have with these classes prior to them sitting for the test? Some of your strategies will depend on the time available.

The most important thing, I would say, is to liberally utilise timers and practice tests. It's not very useful to them to be able to do an A+ job on a particular question if it takes them 20 minutes and they end up not finishing the exam. Get them practicing with timers from an early point, so that they get used to that pressure and don't find it to be utterly terrifying on test day.

Do you have resources available through this job such that you could purchase extra sample tests? The more exposure they get to the actual types of questions asked, the better. Practicing with outside reading comprehension material and logic games is fine, but all the better if you can get your hands on the real deal, in as many variations as possible.

Also, one thing I was always told was: do NOT try to figure out which of the questions is the unmarked, "test" question, because it diverts your attention, wastes time, and if you're wrong, could badly affect your score.
posted by Pomo at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2009

(Having done the tutoring..and scored 95th percentile)

Get a cheap book of logic games to practice on and as many practice tests as possible. Walk them through the section they have trouble with in detail (I know people who the reading section killed and people who the logic games section killed). It can help to prep with more than one person together to reinforce each other.
posted by eleanna at 6:27 PM on October 29, 2009

I taught LSAT for Kaplan for a year or so. You could strongly benefit from their (or a competitor's) teaching materials in terms of specific question-type approaches. Absent those materials, I would suggest a primer in logical arguments (syllogisms, fallacies, necessary vs sufficient conditions, etc), review the practice materials thoroughly to be able to teach why this answer (in reading comp and logical args especially) is better than THAT answer, and go over plenty of games. With the games, teach your students to identify whether it's grouping, sequencing etc. Teach them to make a master sketch (e.g. grid- sometimes you need two) and incorporate every rule into it (if possible, if not notate rule clearly near sketch "Betty never RED on TUESDAYS"). After all the rules reviewed, go back and draw inferences based on the interplay of the rules. Only then hit the questions. Remind the students that the first two are supposed to be easy. But you have to set the game up correctly or it won't run right. Take time in the set-up.
And remind them that it's all about the practice. Practice, practice, practice!
posted by Jezebella at 6:37 PM on October 29, 2009

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