Private LSAT tutoring online or by phone
Hello! Welcome to my LSAT tutoring page. On this page, you’ll find information about my qualifications as an LSAT tutor, my approach to tutoring for the LSAT, the materials you’ll need if we work together, and my rates. You can also read feedback comments from previous tutees; there’s even a short list of previous tutees who are willing to receive email or phone queries from prospective tutees to answer any questions you may want to ask them.
Speaking of which, although I do not provide any LSAT tutoring sessions for free, I strongly encourage that, if you’re interested, we have a preliminary chat, which IS free. During that chat, I can answer any questions not covered here at my site, I can ask a few questions of my own so I can customize my tutoring for you, and we can deal with logistics, should you decide to proceed (session schedule, payment, etc.).
Please note: I tutor (only) from November 1 to April 30 (but I accept queries and schedule preliminary chats during October).
What are your qualifications to be an LSAT tutor?
I have been designing reasoning questions that actually go on tests like the LSAT for over fifteen years; I’m currently not writing for the LSAT (if I were, I’d be prohibited from LSAT tutoring), but I received my initial training in test item writing at LSAC, near Princeton, and wrote questions for the LSAT for about 5 years.
Also, I’m the author of a logical reasoning/critical thinking textbook that is used in logical reasoning/critical thinking courses across the U.S. and Canada (Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason, Routledge 2011).
Furthermore, I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, and tutoring exclusively for the LSAT for over 7 years.
Lastly, I have an M.A. in Philosophy (we’re all about argument), a B.A. in Literature (there’s my RC), a B.Ed. (so, yes, I know how to teach!), and ESL certification (helpful for tutees whose first language isn’t English), along with five years ESL teaching experience.
How do you tutor for the LSAT? What is your method?
Once you develop the basic reasoning skills required, the best way to prepare for the LSAT is to do practice test after practice test after practice test… That way, you become familiar with the LSAT-type questions, you develop your mental stamina, and you increase your speed — all of which lead to a better score.
Unless you’ve already done a lot of prep and know which areas you want to work on, we’ll start with LR, partly because understanding and evaluating arguments is difficult (for most people, it takes longer to master the LR than to master the RC or LG) and partly because LR is sort of halfway between RC and AR (more commonly called LG), skill-wise. I have a ‘fundamentals’ session I’ll present, and then I’ll work through a few out loud, slowly and thoroughly, so you can hear my reasoning — so you can hear what parts of the question you need to emphasize, what parts are irrelevant, what connections you need to make, what missing premises or unstated assumptions you need to articulate, etc. You need to know the right answer, but, more importantly, you need to know how I got to the right answer. (This will involve a bit of meta-thinking: thinking about my thinking.) Then I’ll explain exactly why the right answer is right, and why each wrong answer is wrong. And then, when you’re ready, we’ll put you in the driver’s seat, and you’ll go through a few out loud; I’ll interject as necessary, if you miss something important or make an incorrect inference… We’ll continue to go through several LR questions, as slowly as needed for you to completely ‘get’ the reasoning, for you to understand the architecture of the argument (to understand that they are arguments and not just mini-discussions).
At subsequent sessions, we’ll go over every question you got wrong (or got right, but aren’t sure you got it right for the right reason), getting as much mileage as possible from each mistake. We’ll do a fair bit of meta-thinking: thinking about your, and my, thinking, figuring out how you got to the wrong answer and how to get to the right answer.Once you’ve got a good grip on the LR, we’ll go through a similar process for RC, and then AR/LG.
Alternatively, as I imply above, we can just work on the question type that is giving you most trouble.
I can also help with the Writing section: I can give you tips about how best to approach this section, and I can give you extensive feedback on your practice essays.
We need to be on the same page, literally, so we just need to make sure we have the same practice books. (The ones published by LSAC are the best, in my opinion, because those questions are ‘approved’ by them as being truly representative of what will be on the test.)
Some students (especially those who aren’t Philosophy majors and haven’t taken a critical thinking course) (and so, typically, haven’t developed the basic reasoning skills required) choose, in addition, to purchase a copy of my critical thinking text and work through the relevant sections (the introduction to argument, the two logic chapters, the chapters on relevance, generalizations, analogies, principles, causal reasoning, and so on). When I wrote the text, I had in mind typical critical thinking classes which tend to be very large and taught by the professors with the least experience, so I wrote a very extensive ‘Answers, Explanations, and Analyses’ (AEA) section, which makes the book a very ‘do it yourself’ enterprise.
Having the text is also helpful because when, for example, we get to an LSAT question that involves, say, sufficient and necessary conditions, I can just refer you to the relevant section in my text, and you can read it, do the exercise, then check your work with my AEAs section — in addition to, or perhaps instead of (depending on what it is), having me explain the concepts during one of our sessions. And I can, of course, to go over any material in the text that you get stuck on.
What materials do I need?
We use the actual LSATs of years past, so you’ll need to have them (available as pdfs or in books of ten published by LSAC (available here, though you may be able to get a better price elsewhere); you should also have the more recent tests (from #80 onwards, which are sold individually).
Also, one of the reasons Philosophy students ace the LSAT is that we’ve had a year-long course in argument (titled, variously, Informal Logic, Critical Thinking, An Introduction to Argument, and so on). So if you’ve never taken such a course before (some non-Philosophy degree programs recommend or even require it, but most don’t) (sigh), I do recommend (but don’t require) my text (or any other good informal logic textbook). As mentioned above, it will save us some time during the sessions if I can just refer you to a section in the text that applies to what we’re working on if you’re having trouble with it. Many previous tutees have found it very helpful.
If you do decide to buy my text, note that most of it is relevant to the LSAT, but there are a few sections you don’t need to work through. See below.
And if you decide to do the in-chapter exercises (recommended), just do the odd-numbered bits (1, 3, 5 of a set of 5; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 of a set of 10) because only for those are the answers, explanations, and analyses available to you in the AEAs pdf (answers, explanations, and analyses for the even-numbered bits are in the Instructor’s Manual, which is not available to you). Go to the text’s website and click on the AEAs (top of vertical menu on the right); it will open a 287p document that you can download (so you don’t have to keep coming back to the website). (This document was supposed to be the Appendix at the back of the book, but it was so long, the publisher decided it would make the book too expensive and so put it on the website instead.)
You don’t need to do the end-of-chapter exercises except for ‘Thinking Critically when you Discuss’ in chap2 – this will be helpful for the LRs involving two people.
Chap1 – optional – I wrote this because many of the students I had in university didn’t understand what ‘critical thinking’ meant (they assumed, as I explain in the chapter, it meant negative, perhaps even insulting…)
Chap2 – very important – this chapter lays the groundwork for argument – read it slowly and carefully
Chap3 – worth reading so you can see how complex arguments can be built; the material on chain arguments in 3.6 is relevant to the LSAT, as many of the LRs are causal chain arguments, but I have seen only one LR that requires you to know the difference between convergent, multiple-separate and convergent, multiple-linked arguments
Chap4 – very important – I’d say at least two of the wrong answers for LRs are wrong because they’re not relevant, so you need to get a good grip on relevance as it relates to argument
Chap5 – you need read only section 5.3
Chap6 – read 6.3.2, 6.3.3, 6.4.1, 6.4.2, and all of 6.5; if you’ve taken a research methodology course, this will be review
Chap7 – very important – many LRs implicate generalization, analogy, and principle
Chap8 – very important – many LRs implicate causal reasoning
Categorical Logic (one of the three Supplemental Chapters; see bottom of the vertical menu on the right, mentioned above; again, you can download the chapter) – important – you need do only the first 3 sections
Propositional Logic (one of the three Supplemental Chapters; see bottom of the vertical menu on the right, mentioned above; again, you can download the chapter) – again, important – again, you need do only the first 3 sections
How often would we meet?
As often as you like. That said, I see best results when people start with 2-3x/week: after 5-10 weeks, they are typically at their target accuracy, then they reduce to 1x/week, to keep on target and to go over problem questions, while they work on increasing their stamina (by increasing the number of questions they do at one sitting) and their speed (primarily by practice, but also by trying a few different strategies).
Do I call you or do you call me?
I can call you on my landline (the call’s on me) or, if you have unlimited calling, you can call me. Or we can connect online (by skype, googlechat, etc. — audio only).
So are these conference calls?
No. LSAT tutoring sessions are always one-on-one.
What is your hourly rate?
$150 USD per one-hour session for those located outside Canada, payable by PayPal ()
$150 CAD per one-hour session for those located within Canada, payable by Interac
How do I pay?
See previous question.
What was your LSAT score?
I have not taken the LSAT. I have designed questions that go on the LSAT. (So this is sort of like asking someone who wrote a book whether or not they’ve read it.) This means that I know premises, conclusions, strengtheners, weakeners, assumptions, apparent paradoxes, etc. inside-out and upside-down.
Nor am I a lawyer. The LSAT is not about the law. The LSAT is about reasoning skills: understanding an argument, recognizing premises and conclusions and the relationships between them, understanding what assumptions are or must be made, determining what’s relevant and what’s not, knowing what would strengthen or weaken an argument… Hence, the relevance of my M.A. in Philosophy (philosophers are all about argument; that’s why Philosophy students tend to do quite well on the LSAT), as well as, of course, the fact that I used to be one of the people who write the LSAT questions, and the fact that I wrote a textbook all about reasoning.
The LSAT is also, to some extent, about reading skills. Hence, the relevance of my B.A. in Literature.
Lastly, note that although some people who score well on the LSAT can teach others how to do the same, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they can do so. Hence, the relevance of my B.Ed. (and my extensive teaching experience).
I’m a little hesitant about the online thing; wouldn’t I be better off with an in-person tutor?
I was also a little hesitant, but given my location, it’s really my only option. (The pandemic and the price of gas reinforces this view!)
Furthermore, at the beginning my internet access was ridiculously limited to 5GB per month, so not only were sessions online only, they were audio only. However, I discovered an unexpected advantage to phone/online-voice-only LSAT tutoring: the visual doesn’t distract and the body language doesn’t intrude–we’re both focusing completely on the text in front of us, on the arguments presented and the questions asked. The sessions are, thus, very intense; as many of my tutees have remarked, you get your money’s worth!
How does the voice-only thing work for LG? Won’t I need to see what you’re doing?
Working on an LG together can be a bit challenging at the beginning, but I’m careful about describing exactly what I’m doing on my page, so you can do the exact same thing. In fact, instead of various diagrams, I use a one-size-fits-all approach, a chart, which makes things quite simple.
Even so, yes, it can be a bit awkward at the beginning–I will never call you rude for interrupting (because you don’t have body language to depend on), and, in fact, I encourage interruption to make sure we are indeed ‘working from the same page’.
I will add that several of my previous tutees were similarly hesitant, but, I believe, completely changed their mind once they started. Please feel free to contact them and talk about this part of the process (see the references below).
Lastly, if it doesn’t work out, and you are more comfortable with in-person or video sessions, you can just quit. I don’t require a contract.
Does LSAT tutoring help? / Is it worth hiring an LSAT tutor?
Longer answer: think of hiring a tutor not as getting extra help (let alone remedial help), but as hiring a private teacher — that is, one who is 100% focused on just you (and who, consequently, hopefully, adjusts their teaching accordingly).
Do you have any references?
You can contact the following former tutees with any questions you might have (most recent at the top):
Pete Baldwin or 480-326-6521 (PST)
and read some testimonials here.
Anything else I should know?
I limit my active roster to 10 tutees.
Requests to reschedule or cancel a session must be made by phone (just leave a message) twenty-four hours in advance; otherwise, you’ll be charged for the session. (Please don’t just send an email, as I often don’t check my email until it’s too late; however, I see the red flashing light on my answering machine throughout the day.)