Competition has one LSAT prep business shifting focus

But other companies remain in this high-priced and highly competitive — but loosely accountable — market.

The LSAT is only one part of applying to law school. (Photo: Dave Lostracco)

Prep 101 is leaving the highly competitive LSAT prep business.

The Canadian-based company is refocusing on the MCAT, and science and math tutoring programs.

“We’re a science-based company. We’re focusing on our strengths,” said Glen Tiwana, executive director of Prep 101.

The company started at the University of Toronto in 1999.

The number of people taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is down across the board. Between 2009 and 2012 there was a 24.1 per cent decline in test takers worldwide but in Canada there has actually been a slight increase, according to numbers released by Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

“It’s a competitive marketplace and we are 100 times smaller than our major competitors,” Tiwana said.

But the business of medical school (MCAT) preparation is up.

“Our company has seen significant growth over the past five years,” said Blaise Moritz, executive director of The Princeton Review’s Canadian operations.

Princeton Review is one of the largest providers of LSAT prep classes in North America along with Oxford Seminars and Kaplan.

Moritz says the decline in number of overall LSAT takers has not hurt business. The Princeton Review offers 30 and 84-hour LSAT preparation programs that cost between $900 and $1,400. Prep 101 charges $1,350 for a six-week LSAT prep class.

Proven results  

The companies that operate in this sector charge substantial fees with little accountability for their claims.

When asked about the “proven results” companies such as The Princeton Review boasts off he said, “We make every effort to collect accurate results, but it can be a challenge.”

Some law students wonder how much LSAT preparation helped. (Photo: Dave Lostracco)

Moritz says the company conducts its own studies on the accuracy of their coaching after students take the test. The company relies on the students to share the results of their performance accurately, as it does not have access to their actual score on the standardized tests.

Mortiz says the minimum requirement to teach the LSAT course is to have taken the test and scored high.

The instructors generally are grad students, teaching assistants, high school teachers and the like. Few if any actual lawyers or professors of law are listed as instructors on any of the companies’ websites.

When asked about Prep 101’s instructors, Hussein Younouzov marketing director said, “We hire through university recruitment” he added, “Our instructors come from a variety of backgrounds.”

Nationally, Prep 101 lists three LSAT instructors on their website: A PhD student, a law student and a high school English teacher with lifeguarding experience.

Sarah Baddeley is a student who recently went through the LSAT preparation process.

“My LSAT score only increased by two points between my first practice test and my final mark,” she said.

“I didn’t, however, find them particularly helpful in actually learning the material,” she added. “I benefited more from practising the tests myself and learning from my own mistakes.”

Recent data from Canadian universities suggests the LSAT is only a small part of getting into law school. Only in rare cases are students with a GPA less than 3.5 admitted, regardless of high LSAT scores.