I recently had the opportunity to explore Kaplan’s LSAT Self-Paced Online Course. I’ve been teaching, tutoring, and preparing students for the LSAT for over ten years, and I know that there are many options for online test prep. As such, I hope to shed a little light on what you can expect from Kaplan’s Self-Paced Course to help you decide which test prep company best fits your learning style and objectives.
What You Get:
- An impressive amount of books and physical study materials mailed to your address
- Email contact with an instructor who answers your questions generally within 24 hours
- 70+ hours of on-demand core video content with downloadable follow-along PDFs
- 145+ pre-recorded online sessions on specific topics
- “Smart Reports” or an analytical tool that tracks your progress and recommends your next steps
Kaplan is Best for Students Who:
- Are motivated to study on their own. Unlike Kaplan’s Live Online Course, there is no set schedule. Rather, you have access to recordings of previous live online classes and can watch them at your leisure.
- Are aiming for a score of 140-165. Those students aiming for the uppermost echelon of scores may find the course insufficiently detailed to propel them to the top.
- Learn best in a classroom environment. The video portion of the courses consist of watching an instructor who you can actually see on webcam at their own computers. These videos are pre-recorded but they offer a simulated classroom experience because they include actual students who engage and ask questions via chat panel in real-time. Though with the Self-Paced Course you aren’t able to participate in the chat, it’s quite useful to see other students’ questions.
- There is an app for on-the-go learning. Although the app has a very low rating on the App Store (1.4 of 5), I personally experienced no problems with it.
- There are explanations for every question of every past LSAT.
- The price is reasonable. At approximately $800, it is in the middle of the pack for similar types of offerings from other companies. Considering the amount of video content and the incredibly useful “LSAT Channel,” the price is sensible.
- The layout and site’s design isn’t particularly intuitive. But you get used to everything after a bit of web exploring.
- The quality of instruction is inconsistent between instructors. Some of the instructors ask engaging questions of their virtual classroom while other instructors tend to ask inane questions (for more info, continue reading).
Kaplan’s Online LSAT course has three main sections, each with something really cool to offer:
1. The Study Plan Area
This is the main learning area which includes Core Session Videos, a Practice Library, and Explanations for past LSAT questions.
The Core Sessions start out with a Diagnostic Test (which has a terribly unattractive interface, but I suppose it doesn’t have to look pretty), followed by a series of fairly in-depth videos alternating between logic games, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning. There is also a Mid-Point Test and Final Test. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in this section–it teaches you, clearly and concisely, what you need to know to raise your LSAT score.
I found the Practice Library to be one of the best features of the course. Here you find thousands of practice questions with an incredibly useful explanation button for each. You can also see stats on how other students fared on each question, which is a nice touch. The questions are arranged by difficulty level–not just section type–so you can easily practice at your skill level.
This section includes every question of every past LSAT explained! This is an amazing resource. Each past LSAT retails for about $10, so access to all 90 and counting, with an added explanation after each question detailing how to ascertain the correct answer. It’s an amazing deal.
2. The LSAT Channel
I would easily call this resource the shining star of Kaplan’s Self-Paced Course. Here, you can find two things: live scheduled discussions on various LSAT topics, and a wealth of recordings (145 and counting) of previous discussions.
The live sessions, scheduled several times a week, allow you to participate in the test-prep discussion via chat panel while an instructor discusses LSAT FAQs or a challenging game/concept. There is also a message box to privately ask the Teacher’s Assistant for clarification.
These sessions have excellent student engagement, and the instructors present polls to the attendees, wait for answers, then discuss the results. Each of these sessions is recorded and added to the available sessions to watch on-demand at your convenience.
The only problem is that these LSAT Channel videos are hit or miss.
Some of the instructors are really fun and compelling. For example, in one video the instructor welcomes the joining attendees by singing and playing guitar. Many of the instructors ask questions that really make you think. Unfortunately, other instructors (probably the majority) ask unchallenging questions. In some cases, the screen may be showing a Logic Game that says “Exactly four of seven athletes will be selected” and the instructor will say “We need to select exactly how many athletes?”
3. Personalized Recommendations
The final section of the interface is for “Smart Reports” which analyze your performance on questions you’ve completed during your studies or those which you input into the system. This analytical tool then determines and suggests (based on your personal skill level) the next topics and/or activities you should tackle. This is a very handy tool for optimizing your time and energy, and is one of the best features of Kaplan’s online offerings.
In summary, I would give Kaplan’s Self-Paced Online LSAT Course 3.75 stars out of 5. The highlights are…
- The LSAT Channel where you can participate in live discussions on a variety of topics, or watch the recordings of previous discussions
- The Practice Library with a useful “Explanation” button after each question so you can learn more right on the spot, but only when you need it
- The access you receive to every past LSAT ever released
Tempering my praise, however, is the inconsistency in instructor quality, engagement, and pacing. Kaplan, unfortunately, does not offer a free trial period to check out whether its methods resonate with you. However, if you’ve read and liked a Kaplan book, you can expect that the Self-Paced course will meet your needs while giving you a ton of extra resources you can use to achieve your goal score.