Beware of LSAT Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Posted on Jan 1, 2024

For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden
that will not be known and come to light. - Luke 8:17

UPDATE: Since we exposed his close relationship with 7Sage in Part (1) below, Graeme Blake has subsequently updated his bio to remove his affiliation with 7Sage. Thankfully, the Internet always remembers. You can find his updated bio with 7Sage removed here. Isn't that interesting?

The LSAT tests what makes arguments persuasive—whether an argument provides enough evidence to prove its conclusion convincingly. On the LSAT, most arguments are flawed. That typically means the argument overlooks important pieces of evidence that suggest that its conclusion might not be true.

In the real world, as on the LSAT, conclusions that make black-and-white claims like, "This option is the best!'" or "This is the only good option!" are hard to make convincingly. As LSATMax's 33 Common LSAT Flaws textbook explains—which, by the way, every LSATMax student receives to help them understand and identify flawed arguments—arguments that make bold conclusions like that are easy to poke holes in. These arguments will crumble under the weight of any evidence suggesting that the option may not be the best or the only good option.

It would be much easier to defend claims like "This option is the best!'" or "This is the only good option!" if we could just, like, delete any evidence that undermines the claim we make. But as any LSAT educator worth their salt can tell you, that's not how things work on the LSAT or in the world.

Except, are there a few places that are attempting to do just that? LSAT message boards and third-party ranking sites make claims like "This option is the best!'' or "This is the only good option!" for inquiring LSAT students. But do they overlook or suppress important evidence that undermines their claims? And, if so, why would they do that?

LSAT students approach these message boards and third-party ranking sites with the assumption that these sources will provide unbiased information with the sole purpose of helping students find the best LSAT program to help them achieve their law school dreams. In other words, these students assume that these sources look at and weigh all the evidence and make their objective, balanced determination of which option is "the best" or "the only good option."

But let’s take a look at two examples of these message boards and third-party ranking sites to see how they don’t always take a look at all the available evidence when making claims about which LSAT courses are worth students’ hard-earned money.

(1) The LSAT Subreddit

The LSAT Subreddit is the most popular message board focusing on LSAT prep. Users ask questions about studying, share their triumphs and setbacks, and, naturally, try to figure out which LSAT prep programs they should enroll in.

A popular message board would provide a hotbed for LSAT prep courses to advertise their wares and attract prospective students. To make sure that advertising doesn’t get out of hand and that conversation stays civil and upbeat, the page is moderated by Graeme Blake:

Of course, even with moderation, some LSAT prep courses get recommended more frequently on the LSAT Subreddit. But oddly—despite the number of quality LSAT prep programs out there—the LSAT Subreddit has largely determined that one specific LSAT prep course is "the best," "the only good option."

The LSAT Subreddit heavily promotes 7Sage as the best LSAT prep course available. But the weird thing is that this is the only place on the internet that seems to think that 7Sage is unambiguously the best LSAT prep course available. 7Sage’s Trustpilot’s page shows that 68 of its users have rated it 4.7, on average. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

But compare that to LSATMax, the highest-rated LSAT prep course on the market. The Trustpilot page of its parent company, TestMax, shows that 570 of its users have rated it a 4.7, with more 5-star reviews than any LSAT prep provider. LSATMax’s website boasts that its students earn a best-in-class 18-point average score increase.

But on the LSAT Subreddit, you will not find a single positive review of LSATMax. How can this be? It would seem like LSATMax’s student reviews and success stories would count as some evidence that there are other quality LSAT prep programs to consider. Is this LSAT Subreddit considering all the available evidence when making their claims about "the best" LSAT prep program?

Well, let’s return to the LSAT Subreddit’s moderator.

Hmm. Interesting work experience you have there, moderator. Still, just because 7Sage employed this moderator doesn’t mean the board he moderates can’t provide balanced, fair advice. (In fact, assuming otherwise is a common flaw that might show up on your LSAT.) As long as they’re looking at all the available evidence and making a reasonable decision, it could be a fair argument.

So, does this Subreddit have access to all the available evidence?

There’s a curious history of posts by LSATMax students getting deleted on this Subreddit. LSATMax students have also been banned from the Subreddit for posting about their experiences with our program.

And on the pro-7Sage side of things, even users on this message board have started to notice that something is amiss with how heavily 7Sage is promoted:

Now, 7Sage might be a great option for budget-conscious LSAT students. But can we reasonably take the consensus of this Subreddit as evidence that it’s "the best course" or "the only good course"? Or has the message board succumbed to the flawed reasoning so often tested on the LSAT?

(2) Third-Party Ranking Sites

Next, let’s take a closer look at some of these third-party ranking sites. These sites don’t provide a place for LSAT students to discuss their study journeys. Instead, they aggregate the hard data—they compare each LSAT prep company’s resources, outcomes, and reviews to rank the many prep courses available. Surely, these sites can provide a more objective take on which LSAT courses are worth students’ dollars. Right?

On Crush the LSAT, Blueprint is currently ranked as the #1 LSAT prep course on the market. This, however, was not the case until 2021, which is strange given that Blueprint launched in 2008 and built its reputation on its popular in-person classes that were suspended in 2020.

So, what changed in 2021 that resulted in Blueprint being ranked #1 by Crush the LSAT? Did the course improve?

Let’s take a closer look …

Here is a screenshot of Crush’s LSAT course rankings as of July 31, 2021:

Here is a screenshot of Crush’s LSAT course rankings the next day, August 1, 2021:

As you can see here, nothing changed with Blueprint’s offerings. When the change was first made, Blueprint was still 4 stars, yet somehow ranked in front of two providers with 5 stars.

This is the explanation we received from Crush the LSAT about this abrupt change in the rankings:

While it is completely natural for third-party ranking sites to receive commissions for promoting various test prep programs, it is not normal for rankings to be impacted by the amount of these commissions. In fact, Crush the LSAT promises that affiliate commissions will not impact the objectivity of their rankings on its own site:

"We accept forms of compensation from affiliate companies. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made by us on this Site. All of our recommendations and opinions were created from our personal experience and use of the products. We are not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites, or other various topics."

Of course, interested LSAT students visiting Crush the LSAT won’t be aware that an "offer" can influence the rankings on the site. Even the intrepid students who venture into the Disclosures page of the site will be assured that such offers will not influence the site’s rankings. So, once again, we have a supposedly balanced resource hiding evidence about its claims.

Other sites like TestPrepInsight promise to provide “honest and comprehensive reviews” through “a series of practical, detailed assessments” after it “actually purchases, examines, and rates each educational product.” That sounds great! Surely there will be no hiding of evidence from this dispassionate and sedulous institution …

… except TestPrepInsight’s rankings have an odd tendency to bounce around with no explanation.

Here were their rankings of LSAT prep courses on October 4, 2023:

And here are their rankings as of February 28, 2024:

There’s no explanation for why Kaplan or The Princeton Review shot up their rankings. It’s not as though either prep company changed their classes or the quality of their instructors. They just got a higher score for reasons unknown.

Coincidentally, since Test Prep Insights moved Kaplan and Princeton Review up their rankings, they have also removed the word "honest" from their pledge.

Prior Pledge:
"Unlike other review sites, the Test Prep Insight team actually purchases, examines, and rates each educational product on our website through a series of practical, detailed assessments, with the utmost commitment to independence and integrity. You'll find images and videos throughout our website that provide evidence of our pledge to produce honest and comprehensive reviews, which is part of what makes Test Prep Insight the most trusted source of e-learning content on the internet."

Current Pledge:
"Unlike other review sites, the Test Prep Insight team actually examines and rates each educational product on our website through a series of practical, detailed assessments. You'll find images and videos throughout our website that provide evidence of our pledge to produce comprehensive reviews, which is part of what makes Test Prep Insight the most trusted source of e-learning content on the internet."

The subtle yet significant change in Test Prep Insight’s pledge is a cause for concern. The removal of the word "honest" raises questions about the integrity and independence of their reviews. With Kaplan and Princeton Review now ranked higher, it's crucial for students to be aware of potential biases and to critically evaluate the sources of their information.

Is TestPrepInsight also hiding evidence of Crush the LSAT-like behind-the-scenes “offers”? We have no idea whether TestPrepInsight engaged in any backroom shenanigans, and we’re not making that accusation. But we will point out the general shoddiness of third-party ranking sites.

For instance, it’s not true that Blueprint has at least 1,000 more questions for you to practice than any of its competitors. We’re all working with the same licensing agreement with LSAC, which you can read here. We all offer the same official Practice Tests, so we all can offer the same number of questions. (That said, some LSAT companies don’t even give you access to all Practice Tests, so make sure to do your research there.)

It’s also not true that LSATMax’s live classes are only offered with a “Premium Subscription,” whatever that means (we don’t offer anything called a “Premium Subscription”). There are multiple ways to access our daily live classes and bank of over 1,000 hours of recorded classes, and you can also purchase just a live class subscription for $99/month.

The conclusions drawn by TestPrepInsight get even more inexplicable when we consider tutoring.

Here was TestPrepInsight’s ranking of LSAT tutoring on June 6, 2023:

And here’s their ranking as of February 28, 2024:

A huge surge for Kaplan! Which is strange, given that you only need to score in the 90th percentile of the LSAT to tutor for them! While there’s nothing shameful about a 90th percentile score — it’s currently a 166 — most LSAT prep companies don’t think that score demonstrates the mastery necessary to teach the LSAT effectively to paying students. You’ll also notice some discrepancies between what each program offers on the LSAT course and tutoring pages, again showing the shoddiness at play here.

But we don’t need to dwell on the specifics. Let’s not lose the picture of the forest through the trees: this is an arbitrary-ass forest of third-party ranking sites. Even if they promise fair and thorough reviews, they can still get facts wrong and make unexplained decisions, misleading their audience in the process. And, most importantly, they don’t know which system makes the most sense for you. Only you know that.

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Whatever conclusions you draw from this post, we hope you can realize that the people who teach and discuss the LSAT’s flawed reasoning are not immune from offering flawed, misleading claims of their own.

So, when searching for the best LSAT prep option for you, we recommend doing your own research. Dig into all the available facts, try out the different options, and base your decisions on your own judgment and experiences.

After all, only your judgment and experiences—not those of message boards and ranking sites—will help you through law school, the bar exam, and a legal career.

And remember, unlike any other LSAT course on the market, if you have a question about LSATMax or something you saw on the Internet, you can call our founder on his personal cell phone number to discuss.

For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing,
whether good or evil. - Ecclesiastes 12:14