Now that anyone who believes in science is vaccinated—or soon will be—the world is re-opening. I don’t know about you, but I’m most excited for movie theaters, restaurants, and art museums. There are some experiences that just can’t be replicated at home.
LSAT prep is not one of those things. Not only is online LSAT prep just as good, it’s actually quite a bit better.
I’m as surprised about this as you are. I’ve been teaching LSAT since 2007. I’ve taught thousands of students in person in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and across the country. I’ve loved every minute of it. If you would have asked me for my resolution on New Year’s Eve 2020, I might have resolved to continue teaching those in-person classes forever.
But the pandemic forced me to move my classes online. And, as a result, student outcomes improved dramatically. My teaching experience did, too, but that’s not what really matters.
Sure, Ben and I might do a special weekend class in New York just for the laughs. It’s a delight to meet in person and take y’all out for drinks. But lawyering is for serious folk, LSAT prep requires a serious investment of time and energy, and online LSAT prep is more efficient—seriously. That’s why my classes will be online from now on. Here’s what I’ve learned in my 14 months of teaching exclusively online:
Students waste an insane amount of time and energy commuting to live LSAT classes. Every minute spent getting there is a minute not spent studying. You’re in the car, you’re in a parking garage, you’re on a bus or train, you’re walking 10 city blocks—hopefully you’re listening to the Thinking LSAT Podcast—but you’re not working on actual LSAT questions.
Even once you get to the venue, you’re still not working on actual LSAT questions. You’re finding the classroom or conference room, you’re climbing over other students to find a seat, you’re waiting for everyone to get settled, you’re faking a smile at whatever dumb chit-chat wastes the first few minutes of class time—so far, zero learning has taken place.
Then, maybe an hour after class begins and every hour thereafter, people have to pee. Sometimes there’s a break for everyone—the chit-chat resumes, people go get coffee or a snack, everybody queues up for the toilets, and the whole resettling process commences. A “five-minute break” takes fifteen minutes. Even if there’s no formal break, people leave the room and return on their own schedules, causing slight lapses in everyone’s concentration each time.
When class is over, everyone treks to their car, bus, or train and wastes even more time getting home.
None of this happens online. The “commute” to and from an online class is a matter of a quick tab over to a different screen. There’s no shuffling for seats, no delay in waiting for the room to settle. And once we’re rolling, there are no breaks—when you need to pee, or get a coffee, just turn off your camera and instantly blink out of the room. When you’re ready, turn your camera back on and instantly blink back into the room.
When you’re running late, there’s no need to apologize. It makes no difference to anyone else. Just show up when you can.
When you have to leave early—peace! There’s no need to wait for a stopping point, and no need to say goodbye—just go. We’ll see you again soon.
Minutes saved add up to hours, and hours add up to days. All of this time can be spent doing actual prep work. And even the prep itself is more efficient.
On Zoom, there’s no getting stuck in the back of the room, struggling to see over a sea of heads. There are no bad side angles, no glare from any classroom windows. Blow up my face on your monitor as big as you dare. Feel free to take screenshots of my logic games setups if you find it helpful. If you’re struggling to hear me, turn up your headphones. If I’m yelling too loudly, feel free to turn me down.
If you want to participate, please go ahead and unmute yourself and make a comment or ask a question! When you do, no matter how many people are in the room, your face will jump onto my screen. When you participate I’ll be able to refer to you by name, even at your very first class, because Zoom has built-in nametags. I’ve had students participate in every Zoom class for a month, then tell me that they had always been back-row, no-question students in the real world. Everyone’s in their own safe space online.
In person, there were all kinds of human discomforts to be endured. Your neighbor on one side took up too much space; the dude on the other side brought smelly food or chomped loudly on his ice.
On Zoom, you’re in your own office or home, enjoying whatever comforts you prefer. In my Brady Bunch view of 25 faces at once, I see students lounging in Aerons, recliners, couches, and patio furniture. I see you making coffee, pouring glasses of wine, and petting a wide variety of pets, children, and partners. Some wear suits and ties, but sweaty workout gear and—especially—pajamas are even more common. Online LSAT class fits seamlessly into your life. I don’t care where you are or how you look. All I care about is what’s happening inside your brain. And the results indicate that a lot is happening there.
As it turns out, Zoom’s killer feature for LSAT isn’t the audio or video—it’s the chat. In the live classroom world, students whispering to each other was the bane of my existence. I appreciated that students wanted to help each other, but I could hear them. It distracted me, and it distracted their fellow students. When one person gets helped but the teacher and the rest of the room get distracted, that’s an overall loss for the room.
Online, it’s a different story. I was initially surprised, and am continually delighted and humbled, by how helpful LSAT Demon students are to one another in Zoom’s chat. Students, especially those who are new, ask a lot of questions. Higher-level students, who have been with us for a while, are quick to respond with answers and resources in the chat. This happens silently, without any distraction to me or anyone else. The chat can be hidden with a click. Students can participate as much or as little as they want.
Need to ask a private question or make a private comment? Cool—you can private message your teacher instantly. In bigger classes, I have TAs tagging along. They can answer questions and share resources in the background while I continue doing my thing on camera.
Have a study partner in the room? Awesome. Have whatever private conversations you want while class proceeds. Ultimately you have to figure this stuff out for yourselves, and teaching and learning from your fellow students is one of the best ways to make that happen.
Need a link to a recent class or lesson? It’s all in the chat.
Want to make a slightly off-topic comment or joke? Sure, we can have a bit of fun—in the chat.
Lost, confused, angry about a particular aspect of a question? Let it out in the chat. Your fellow students probably feel the same way, and they offer support and encouragement to one another in every one of our classes. These voices, in the live classroom, were a distraction. Online, they’re a vibrant community of LSAT learners working toward a common goal.
Something came up and you missed class? No worries—watch it tomorrow. Found a favorite teacher that you wish you started with months ago? Wish they had class more than once or twice a week? For you, they do—you can binge their last three months of recorded classes on demand.
Woke up this morning hankering for an advanced reading comprehension class? Need to work on some logic games basics instead? Want to do a timed section or test, then review it with a teacher? It’s all there—just hit play.
If online didn’t work, Ben and I would go back to in-person classes. But the results from these last 14 months of teaching exclusively online speak for themselves. Ten-point improvements are expected. Fifteen- and even twenty-point improvements are almost mundane. The LSAT Demon community of teachers and students is killing it, online, every day. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been studying for months and need to get out of a rut, I strongly recommend you give online LSAT prep a try.
If you’re looking for a date, the bars are re-opening—those will always be in person. If you’re looking for serious LSAT improvement, online is better. And there’s no better place to do it than LSAT Demon.
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