Let's begin on a light note:
Q: Has anyone ever vomited on you due to test anxiety? A: No, but in my December writing one guy did vomit onto himself (and much of the test...yuck.."
Q: Has anyone ever cried in front of you? A: Yes. The infamous 'ugly cry.' There's no shame in that. Just like me every time I watch "The Notebook."
Q. Are you all right? A: "Agh...just let me sob for a bit now... 'what happened..who did she choose?' " *reaches for a Xanax"
Q: The night of the exam...what should you do to relax? A: "Watch a horror movie. I watched the whole Saw series. Don't do any LSAT work past dinnertime...you want your mind as far removed as possible. Escapism. Do what works for you.
Q: What if I'm so nervous I can't sleep a wink? Will I need coffee? What about that Xanax.."
A: Ok, so no experimenting in the medicine cabinet for the first time.... BUT if you occasionally do use benzodiazepines or stronger sleep aids, take a slightly generous dose. The problem on the exam is never wakefulness. You will be VERY awake...even WIRED as the adrenaline kicks in. You won't need coffee..and a trip to pee mid-exam will be the costliest of your life. And yes, this happened to me...I'm not sure if I ran into a stall or a maintenance closet, but I sprinted back within seconds...so just avoid the coffee.
Yes, this exam is designed to put you on the spot to see how you can withstand that anxiety. Some people are far more resilient that others. I'm the total opposite. But that means I know all the stress-abatement techniques, and I talk about this with most students. Morale is key...if you start slipping and get dispirited, it's hard to bounce back. One section at a time, and then you forget it and move on. Easier said than done.
So..my honest advice for stressballs like myself...and this is not to be shared with parents....
If you have experience with Klonopin/Xanax/Valium, it may be a good idea to pop half a tab before you walk in. Make sure you practice a few times beforehand in the same state, obviously. On my first writing in Montreal, I was so nervous that I couldn't even read the first 10 LR questions...they might have been in Chinese, for all I know. I did recover somewhat, but that set a grim tone for the exam. So--food for thought.
Q: Is it okay to prepare with textbooks, without doing any actual preptests?
A: No. Disaster. Forget it. Use real tests. I have oodles for 'ya.
Q: How do I get to your St Clair W location by TTC?
A: We're located literally 30 seconds from the NORTH exit of St Clair WEST station. Coming from downtown, exit at the FRONT of the #1 University Subway train (or vis versa if coming from North York). The signs will say "Heath Street." When you ascend to street level, our building is at 11 o clock, walk straight and cross the street. It's a 50s style 12-story high rise. Alternatively, the building is proximate to the #8 Bathurst Bus (get off at "Tichester Rd") and the #512 St Clair Streetcar (it'll go into the station). Click here for a map.
Q: Is there free parking?
A: You may park in the Loblaws parking lot free of charge, with is just south of the building. Otherwise, there is metered parking on site and on the street during business hours. It's $1.50/hr, and free free evenings and weekends.
Q: How many tutors do you have? Who will I get?
A: The owner of the company is Nick Banerd, (yours truly) and I've handled most students over the years. There have been a few times were I've advertised heavily, and found it necessary to hire and train a second tutor. I am now out of school, so I'm working on growing my business substantially, which eventually means hiring and training a number of new tutors.
Q: Can tutors travel?
A: Yes...coming in 2021 we plan to offer a housecalls with my handpicked subordinate. I think you'll really enjoy her.
Q: Do you offer evening and weekend appointments?
A: Absolutely. We don't believe in "business hours." Most students chose to book a biweekly or weekly slot at their time of choice. Consistency is the key on this test. Desirable slots book up quickly!.
Q: What if my tutor wants to change my appointment time?
A. Sometimes, a tutor may ask to reschedule an appointment, or slightly change the times. If a class runs long, our tutors would rather dash out than keep a client waiting, but some things can't be helped. If the tutor is running late, he/she will advise you by text, and credit the extra time. In terms of time change requests, if you and your tutor can work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement, great! We've actually never had a real inconvenience caused to a customer, but if this should occur, rest assured that we will do all we can to put it right.
Q: What if I'm sick with a cold or flu?
A: DO NOT COME! We'll be sure to get you up to speed when you're well again. If you're contagious, you may me forced into quarantine of a closet or something! I know: you're stressed and an exam is looming (Sept/Dec/Feb... the height of cold season). But not only will you torture yourself and learn relatively little, but you might just make me sick too, which in turn results in all my other students getting sick a week later. And dreams thus broken.. Not to mention I'll miss my peak income periods and be forced to survive on spam and ramen noodles for a month. No sickies! IN TURN, I pledge the same to you. A missed lesson isn't as torturous as a drippy nose and throbbing head when you're writing. And I should know, I wrote sick as a dog for my December score.
Q: Why are your fees so high?
A: Our former students have found, after a series of sessions with us, that they are more prepared than after paying thousands of dollars on courses. This amounts to a great value proposition. Also check to see if you qualify for a tax write-off to offset our fees here.
Our fees are in line (a tad cheaper, even) with other reputable tutoring outfits in the GTA, including Tara's Tutors in Markham and John Stamford in Woodbridge. Both have been around for a while with long track records of success. If you decide not to go with us, we'd refer you to either of the above. As for the BigPrep companies, Princeton Review charges $167/hr, Kaplan wants $148/hr. Sometimes, you'll see current Law students offering to tutor the LSAT casually. Our advice: don't go there. For the LSAT, you want an experienced professional.
We do understand that finances are tight for some! Just remember, every aspect of law school is going to be expensive. A relatively small investment now may not only get you into your school of choice, but a high score may land you a sizeable entrance scholarship, covering our fees many times over. And remember those all-important tax credits & refunds!
Bottom line: we're very good at what we do. Can you find cheaper out there? Absolutely. But a word to the wise: this isn't really the time in life to hunt for the discount. Go for quality on this one.
Q: Why do you charge tax?
A: We're incorporated, so we must collect sales tax. HST #835917170
Q: How do I pay? Can I pay by credit card?
A: We accept basically every kind of payment except debit cards (Interac e-transfers are fine). And yes, we use Square to process all credit cards; we thought about charging you a 1.5% surcharge on credit cards so that we'd split the cost, but we thought that was a little cheap. So charge 'er up!
Q: What score do I need to get into ____ School of Law?
A. This is a conversation to have in person. But as a general rule, our goal for every student is to get them into the 160s.
Q: What did Nick score on the LSAT?
A: 159, then 161, then 165.
Q. That doesn't seem to be as high as some tutors from the Big Prep firms...
A. It's not. But since I'm no Einstein, I had to lumber my way through the hard way. Over time, I had to develop methods, strategies, tricks, and shortcuts that got me the right answers quickly. That's the big trick. Since I've made every mistake in the book, I know how to teach students how to avoid those same mistakes.
Q: What's your firm's best student score/success story?
A. After 10 sessions, Ms. Gabrielle McLaughlin wrote for the first time in Fall 2016. She scored an amazing 168, and got offered early entry into the University of Toronto with a nice big scholarship. I also tutored a student who refered me to his younger brother who was applying the following year.
Unlike Gabby, who was brand new, they were both decently prepared already...the first brother scored a 163 and glided into a secure spot at Queen's...while his younger brother, already at Western...scored...the exact same! 163. How uncanny.
Q: Do you have references?
A: Yes, see our testimonials at the bottom of the homepage -- they're easily verifiable with a simple click.
Q: Do you guarantee results? I hear some of the big companies do.
A: Obviously, we can't guarantee any particular score; so much depends on a student's own efforts. Some big prep companies offer "money back guarantees," which sound great, but often ring hollow. I actually don't know of one dissatisfied student I've taught who's actually gotten money back...
Most importantly, the "big guys" charge for a series of lessons upfront. Our students are free to come regularly, or just for a couple of sessions. There's no obligation if a student decides he/she is prepared to go it alone--after all, that's the eventual goal! However, we do tend to book up as the test day looms.
Unless you have a regular weekly or biweekly 'slot,' be sure to book new and/or additional appointments in advance during the two-week crunch time before a writing date.
Q: Should I look into paid online courses/tutorials? A: With the exception of 7 Sage, which seems like a cut above the rest, the answer is no. Save your money.
Q: Should I prepare for the writing sample section? A: No. I doubt anyone ever even reads it. Write something comprehensible and you're fine.
Q: Should I ever cancel my score? A: Unless you're gunning for McGill, the U of Alberta or another school that averages scores, then there's never a good reason to cancel a score. This is why it pays to know the differences amongst the schools in their admissions criteria.