For those who don’t have the $1,400 to earn their “I love Kaplan” T-shirts, outrageously pricey Kaplan and Princeton Review courses give other students an advantage on LSAT testing day. The LSAT’s logic puzzles can quickly turn into a nightmare for students who aren’t familiar with the test prior to taking it. In law school admissions, a high LSAT score can be the deciding factor in whether the admissions officer drops an applicant’s paperwork in the reject or accept pile. Unfortunately, because LSAT preparation courses cater to those with extra cash in the bank, the LSAT contributes to a system that privileges the wealthy and contributes to a lack of diversity in the field of law.
Even though students can apply for application fee or LSAT test waivers, costly prep courses are a luxury only wealthier students can afford. In Ann Arbor, private peer tutoring by Kaplan can cost up to $4,500. A classroom course will cost at least $1,250, and even an online course can cost $1,100. The Princeton Review charges comparable prices.
A new alterative for boosting LSAT scores has a much more reasonable price tag – just $50. Supported by the Division of Student Affairs and the LSA Student Government, the Career Center recently kicked off its first LSAT familiarization course, offering students a seven-session alternative to elite study programs. Although there is currently a limited number of spots in the course, popularization of courses like this one has the potential to drive down the high costs of exclusive prep courses and level the playing field for law school applicants.
The new course gives students an opportunity to gain familiarity with test-taking strategies, a chance to take a full-length practice exam and a course evaluation so students can get feedback on where to focus their future studies. While the Career Center does not guarantee the results that Kaplan and the Princeton Review do, the program can complement individual study and provide students a sense of how they will fare on testing day.
Law school admissions are highly competitive, and admissions boards weight the LSAT very strongly in acceptance decisions. The LSAT Center reports that LSAT scores can weigh up to 70 percent in calculating whether an applicant will be admitted. Its website states that at some schools, the one short test is more important than four years of undergraduate work. As it becomes increasingly necessary for students to earn certification beyond a bachelor’s degree, it is important that students have equal opportunities for consideration – and decisions shouldn’t be tipped out of their favor simply because they couldn’t afford the high costs of cream-of-the-crop prep courses.
The Division of Student Affairs and LSA-SG worked hard to get this course started, and they should continue to support ambitious students by encouraging the University to expand this program. By offering more in-depth preparation and developing courses for other exams like the MCAT and GRE, the University can help students who cannot afford private prep courses gain the same edge as their wealthier peers in graduate school admissions.