Interview With Patrick O'Malley, President

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Patrick O'Malley, President

Better Know an LSAT Prep Expert

"We know that practice makes perfect, so our goal is to provide students with the tools they need to get the most out of their practice testing..." - Patrick O'Malley, President, Get Prepped!

January 21, 2011 \\ Get Prepped LSAT prep was founded in 1999 as an affordable alternative to the big test prep conglomerates. We continue to offer low costs and great results, as evidenced by the fact that more than 9 out of 10 of our students would recommend us to a friend.

AD What is the best advice you can give to a person taking the LSAT?
PO One piece of LSAT advice rules over all others: You must take many, many practice tests. You then need to thoroughly and honestly analyze your wrong answers. If you don't learn from your mistakes you are destined to repeat them. Let me illustrate my point with a real-world fact. My staff and I have interviewed thousands of applicants who scored in the top 5% of the LSAT. Of these thousands of high scorers, virtually all of them took more than five practice LSATs. Folks, there is a reason LSAC sells practice tests in books of 10. We know that practice makes perfect, so our goal is to provide students with the tools they need to get the most out of their practice testing and analysis.
AD Many companies compete for the LSAT student's business, what sets Get Prepped apart?
PO We stand apart due to our affordable prices, small classes, and our exclusive focus on the LSAT. Our classes and tutorings are far and away the most affordable, period. I really want to stress the value that we offer. Our classes start at just $200. Our personal LSAT tutor program is about half the price of tutoring at the big firms. We also offer the benefit of a small class; there are never more than 12 students in your class. Finally, we specialize in the LSAT. We are lawyer-owned and all of our instructors are law students or law graduates. Unlike our competitors, we don't teach college applicants or aspiring dental hygienists. These three factors, affordability, personalization and exclusivity all add up to satisfied students. We even have testimonials from satisfied pre-law advisers singing the praises of our courses; you can see those at our site. Our offer is simple: show up for class, do the work, and you will get a higher score on the LSAT or you don't pay.
AD Many companies offer classes of up to 100 hours. Your longest class is 36 hours, how can you do that?
PO When a class is well-organized, well-taught, and doesn't have 50 students, then 36 classroom hours is ample. As I alluded to when answering your first question, simply sitting in a classroom does not increase your LSAT score. The only way to increase your LSAT score is to take practice tests and analyze your wrong answers using the tools you learn in class. For most students, spending 80 to 100 hours in class and $1500 they don't really have is not a good use of their limited time and money. We offer fast, affordable LSAT prep classes and tutoring. By fast, I mean we get students ready for the LSAT quickly. Our students still make the same gains, but only attend 24 or 36 classroom hours in the LSAT weekend review, freeing up dozens of extra hours to practice the techniques. Another reason our classes are faster is because we limit enrollment to just 12 students. The larger classes of our competitors simply move more slowly. Just as important as time efficiency is price efficiency. Instead of spending $1500 for a very long class, students can take our classes for as little as $600 or $900.
AD So are you saying that 80- and 100-hour classes are a bad idea?
PO For most LSAT takers, yes. But there are definitely exceptions. If an applicant has a fabulous GPA and is realistically shooting for a top 5 law school, then it is very smart to spend $1500 and attend 60 extra hours of class. Top law schools, as you know well, reject the vast majority of applicants, so a 99th percentile is practically required. That applicant must leave no stone unturned, no matter how uncertain the return is on all that extra class time and money. But, for everyone else it makes sense to weigh the extra costs of time and money versus the anticipated benefits. For LSAT takers who want to work smarter, not harder, and want to save a lot of money in the bargain, we are here for them.
AD What is your average score increase?
PO We are so confident that our students will improve their scores that we refund their money if they don't. The reason we are so confident is that most of our students improve in the range of 5 to 10 points. Obviously, some students exceed this, and a small number fall short. Basically, a score increase in the 5 to 10 point range is unremarkable, we expect it. Sure, like every company, we have the occasional student who goes from 150 to 165 or 170, but I don't want to create the impression that that is a common event. Anyway, when a student gains 20 points, it's often due to some beginner's mistake they made on their first test which artificially lowered their score. Students who want to do a reasonable amount of work and get a 5 to 10 point improvement; those are the students we work best with. A big part of the reason we see these improvements, despite our shorter class times, is that we keep our classes small. We never have more than 12 students in a class, so students get all the information and the personal attention they need in a lot less time.
AD You have talked about classes, but Get Prepped also offers tutoring. Which is better, tutoring or a class?
PO We get that question all the time. The answer is, "it depends." The important thing to keep in mind is that they are very different learning dynamics. Students in LSAT prep courses learn passively through the lecture, while a tutoring student learns from the back and forth interaction with their instructor. Some students clearly do better in a classroom setting where they can receive the information and apply it. Some students get more out of tutoring because they proactively shape the program to suit their needs. The third group of students does equally well in either learning environment. It is up to you, the student, to know which learning dynamic works best for you. Now, I have to say, when it comes to value, our tutoring simply can't be beat. Our personal tutoring costs less than the classes of our big competitors, and it is half the price of their tutoring. I give credit to other companies when credit is due, but tutoring is one situation where a student would make a foolish mistake to get tutoring from another company. They would pay a lot more money, and it is likely that they would get a tutor that is not as qualified as our tutors.
AD Speaking of qualifications, what are your teacher's qualifications?
PO The best indicator of our teacher quality is the fact that more than 9 out of 10 of our former students would recommend Get Prepped to a friend. We even have pre-law advisers who have praised our teachers. I invite your readers to review the video and written testimonials on our site. Another indicator of quality is our depth of experience. Some of our teachers have been with us since we started in 1999. You don't see that level of experience at the bigger companies. We scrutinize our student survey results to make sure our teachers deliver the best instruction in every session. Unfortunately, we have found all too often that 99th percentile scorers can be terrible teachers, while 95th percentile scorers can be fantastic. In fact, we have found that our teachers who are 95th percentile scorers often get higher student satisfaction ratings than our teachers who are 99th percentile. That makes sense when you think about it. A teacher who scores in the top 1% usually started out scoring in the 90th-95th percentile before he or she even cracked a book. That teacher is a natural test-taker, and is not as capable of relating to a student trying to move from the 50th percentile to the 75th. As a student, it is better to have a teacher who did extremely well on the test, but still understands where you are coming from.
AD Web-based instruction is becoming increasingly popular, how do live classes compare to web classes?
PO Web-based instruction has pros and cons, like any other instructional method. On the positive side of the ledger, it is nice to be able to study when you want and to re-watch a lecture if you didn't quite get it the first time. Also, LSAT internet video classes are so affordable that you simply can't ignore that benefit. We have a full web class for $200. One big negative of a web class is that you don't get high-quality personal interaction. Web chat or trading emails with an instructor simply does not work when you are trying to grasp a complex follow-up question. To eliminate this problem our web students have the option to work with a personal tutor. The best thing about web courses is that people who can't afford a live class can still get all the lecture and materials, if not the personal interaction, for half the price. Most LSAT takers don't take a live prep class, due to the high cost, so it is good that students who don't have big budget won't be at as big a disadvantage as they used to be.

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