About Ben Olson

Ben OlsonI am a full-time LSAT teacher with more than seven years of experience, a George Washington Law grad, and the founder of Strategy Prep in Washington, DC.

How I got here: The summer after my second year at GW Law School, I clerked at the U.S. Department of Justice. It was exciting.

A few weeks into my clerkship, I was tasked with writing an appellate brief on behalf of the U.S. Government—gulp—that was later submitted to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Of all the legal experiences that I could have had that summer, writing that brief was probably one of the best. Yet my excitement waned. I soon realized that I didn’t want to work at the DOJ or, possibly, anywhere as an attorney. The writing part was fun, but the research was dreadful.

A year later, shortly after graduating from law school, I started working for the law professor I had worked with in law school. His consulting firm—which helps attorneys write better briefs—was taking off, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was fun. The main difference, looking back, was that I was helping him create course materials for legal-writing programs that were presented at many of the world’s top law firms—Skadden, Cleary Gottlieb, and others. In other words, I was helping him teach.

A few years into this opportunity, I realized I could combine my long-lost passion for the LSAT with my new-found passion for teaching. That’s when I started Strategy Prep in Washington, DC.

I scored 176 on the LSAT. But the test didn’t come naturally to me. I started with 153, and I had to push my way through the games and just about everything else. I’m glad I did, though. It’s a challenging test that forces you to think clearly and precisely—one of the reasons I enjoy teaching it. These skills will help you to do well not only on the test, but also in law school and beyond. So if law school is your goal, reach out. I’m here to help.

16 Comments


  1. Hi Ben:

    I am hoping to take the LSAT this Fall. I have several LSAC test prep books at home that I have been utilizing. I am also looking at enrolling in a course and wanted to know what program you recommend. I have researched powerscore, blueprint and several others. I don’t have to option to attend the course in person due to my location. I reside in a very rural area, which is three hours away from Saint Louis, Missouri.

    I would be considered your typical non traditional law student. My only hangup that I fear is the dreaded LSAT, which is the most powerful tool on a candidates application. I say this because I am terrible when it comes to tests.

    Hopefully you can shed some light on this subject and provide me with some additional information!

    Thank you!

    J. Sommers

    Reply

    1. Thanks for reaching out!

      PowerScore, Blueprint, and Testmasters are all decent programs. Have you considered Nathan’s online course? That might also be an option, if you’re planning to take something online:

      https://www.foxlsat.com/online-lsat-course/

      I’ve since created my own online course:

      https://www.strategyprep.com/

      As for the LSAC books, those are good. I’d just make sure to save the most recent ones for later, when you’re really ready to test what you’ve learned. Also, don’t worry about the super old tests. You should focus on tests 29-38, 52-61, and eventually 62-75 (most of which are in Volume V).

      I’d also consider Nathan’s LR book:

      http://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Logical-Reasoning-Encyclopedia/dp/1479391271/

      And the PowerScore Bibles. Granted, if you sign up for any of those classes, then you probably don’t need to get the Bibles.

      I hope that helps!

      Reply

      1. Thank you! I am so glad I found the Thinking LSAT Podcast. It is one of the select few I listen to on my commute to and from work everyday. I did have another question I wanted to ask, what are your thoughts on hiring a law school admission consultant to help aide in the process of applying to law school?

        Reply

        1. No problem! I definitely think a good consultant is worth his or her fees; most are not. I always tell my students about Zachary Calo and Ann Levine, both of whom have been interviewed on the show (Ann in episode 29 and Zachary in episode 8). Feel free to reach out to either one: Ann and Zachary.

          Reply

  2. Hey Guys,

    I want to thank you for putting together the Thinking LSAT podcast. I enjoy listening to it and have received great advice. I would like to write about my experience with the October 2015 LSAT.
    I prepared for the LSAT as best as I could and was ready to take the exam and to be done with it. I am a very detailed person, I actually take the time to read all directions and rules pertaining to the LSAT. I read the rules about not bringing in certain items, more specifically a digital watch.
    I brought my analog watch to help me keep pace during the exam. As you might know, before entering the testing site proctors or staff members check your zip lock bag and watch to ensure you have the proper items. Well they check my bag and I proceed to wait around for an hour to start the exam. As I mentioned before, I use the watch to help keep pace, so what I do I take the clock hands and start them at the 12 and when the proctor says start I start my watch. I did this for 3 sections and when I started to the 4th section I continued to do so. It was during the 4th section when a proctor stopped me during the exam and asked me if I had a “silent timer”. I stated that I didn’t and she continued to ask me if I had a “silent timer”. At this point I was getting frustrated and I kept asking her to define what a silent timer was. She couldn’t answer that question and had me removed from the room.
    At this point I though to myself, well maybe I am not allowed to manually move the clock hands on my analog watch and I figured I was in trouble. She then gives me a notice of violation form and on the form it stated that I was in possession of an electronic digital watch.
    I did not realize that she put down I had an digital watch, so I drive back to the testing site to correct the matter. I tried to tell her that she made a mistake and that my watch was an analog watch. She asked if my watched beeped or buzzed. I stated once again that it is an analog watch and she then kept telling me that there was nothing she could do and that I would need to contact LSAC. At this point I was mad and I truly think she realized she should not have removed me from the room and there was nothing she could about it.
    My questions for you is, do you think the LSAC will be in my favor of this situation? and have you ever heard of situations like this before? What happens when you receive a violation form?
    I should point out that the proctors at this test site were not professional and failed to completely read instruction correctly. They also told us that we could not have our watches on the desk. The watch had to be worn or underneath your seat (which is stated differently on the admission ticket). I hope other people do not fall victim to this. Thanks for your time.

    Joe.

    Reply

    1. Hi Joe, this is a crazy situation. We’ll talk about this on Episode 45. I’ve never heard of anything like it, but maybe Ben has.

      Reply

      1. Nope, that’s crazy! I’d write up what you did here, just a little more polished, and then submit it to LSAC soon. I’d also ask for the option to take it again free of charge. The goal here is not come across as angry at LSAC, just give them the facts. They messed up, and they need to fix it. And that seems like the only appropriate fix. They also need to remove any “violation” from your record.

        Reply

  3. Hey Ben! Been listening to The Thinking LSAT for a few months now while studying for the June 2016 blah blah blah blah blah. I’m averaging a 157 on my last five PTs. My number wrong on LR is slowly and steadily decreasing as expected, but my games are pretty mercurial; -5 to -13 among my last 5 PTs, averaging a -7.5. I’ve only finished a games section once when taking a timed PT. When I blind review I usually get -1 on LG though I take usually double the time per game, and sometimes 15-20 minutes on the harder games. Most of this time is due to brute forcing the answer choices. When looking at past PTs, if I can knock that -7.5 average down to -3, I can crack the 160s then rely on my LR improvement trend to land me solidly into the mid 160s.

    I’ve heard a few times on your podcast Nathan mentioning he had his breakthrough on the LG section like five days before his proctored LSAT. I’ve obviously not had my breakthrough yet, but what exactly am I looking for, or what can I expect if I reach my breakthrough? Do I look for inferences to help me get answer choices faster? Do I ditch testing every answer choice? Am I searching for an “aha!” moment? Do the games feel different?

    I used to do one game per day, but after listening to your podcast I’ve started doing two timed sections per week, which means one timed LG section every other week, and I’ve also started redoing LG sections from past timed or piecemeal PTs. I feel like I need to work more LG sections in addition to the two timed sections per week and my full timed PTs on Saturdays but I fear burnout.

    What are your thoughts?

    Reply

    1. Thanks for writing, Raul! It’s hard to say for sure what you’re doing wrong without seeing your work, but given that you’re getting them almost all right with more time, you’re probably not setting up the game (or the “if” questions) as effectively as you could.

      You want to make as many inferences as you can before you look at the answers, but you also don’t want to stick with your diagram forever.

      Here’s the test: Every game has 3-6 rules or so. Draw them neatly and close together. Don’t clutter your diagram with other stuff. When you start an “if” question, create a new diagram and then go through each rule. Mentally check off each one, one at a time. Does this rule help? No, okay, does this rule help? Yes, okay, great. Now, does this rule help? Etc. This might sound slow, but it can speed things up when you spend less time testing out answer choices. After you go through each rule, you’re almost done.

      The only thing left is to ask yourself what variables are left. If you have three empty slots, for example, in most games, you should be able to list out three variables: G, H, J, for example. If one of your slots is filled with J/L, then you should list out G, H, and J/L because one of the three slots will be filled with either J or L, depending on which one ends up going in the slot that already has J/L.

      In short, you’re mentally checking off each rule and you’re listing out who’s left. That should help you make more inferences, and hopefully, speed up how much time you spend in the answers. You can follow these steps for your main diagram as well.

      I don’t know that you’ll necessarily have an “ah-ha” moment. But as you develop the right process, you should find yourself quickly finishing more and more games. Also, I think it could be good to start doing one game per day again, in addition to your timed sections. One game is not too much to add, and it can help you stay in touch with the games throughout the week.

      Reply

  4. Thanks for your response Ben.

    After writing you last night I did in fact decide to restart my at-least-one-game-per-day habit, and did a grouping game this morning. This game type is my weakness, and it took 20 minutes to do PT12 Game 2 (adults and kids camping) with a -0.

    I think I’m already doing what you suggested above by diagramming and applying each rule per game. It’s just when the dust settles…20 minutes have gone by. I’m obviously faster on timed PTs but it seems that there’s something I’m missing which is costing me one game per section. I think you’re right in that I need to drill more.

    On a positive note some of the tips from your podcasts that have helped with games:
    -Episode 23 with Matt Sherman on sequencing games: I’ve started looking at who can go first and last based on a recommendation from you and Nathan.
    -I’ve started the pattern of attack you generally espouse on your podcast with “If…must” questions first, then “If…could,” etc.

    Reply

  5. Checking out the online prep since I work on the road and am not normally near any decent in-person classes.

    I know Nathan offers a fully online course. From what I gather, StrategyPrep is offered only as an online/in-person hybrid – is this correct?

    Love the podcast. Do you guys have to pay anything out of pocket to produce them? (Other than your time)

    Taking the LSAT this Saturday and haven’t had as much time to study as I’d like, but I’m a natural test taker and the LSAT is up my alley. This time around is partially to get an attempt under my belt, partially because if the cards are right I like my chances to come away with a good score. I’m interested in the online courses because I feel that with more study I could be looking at schools I never considered (and saving a few g’s never hurt anyone).

    I know I haven’t taken the test yet, but if there was something I could say so many fellow listeners whose comments you’ve read on the show it would be to chill out and remember that all the questions have answers. Also, most of my emphasis in studying has been on reading; my focus and comfort levels while taking all sections of the test have improved since I decided to turn off the TV and pick up a book (just in the last few months).

    Hope to hear from you soon about the online course.

    Reply

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for listening! And good luck on Saturday. To your questions…

      1. We pay Andi, who is awesome, to edit our incoherent babbling, cut out background noise, and write the funny descriptions.

      2. Although my online class is presented as hybrid class where local students can attend the extra help sessions on Thursday nights and the live proctored exams on Saturdays, everything else about the class is online.

      So, for that reason, many students from different states (no foreign countries yet) take the online class even though they are not in the DC area.

      They take the practice tests on their own. And when they have questions, they usually email me. I’m happy to talk on the phone, too, but almost everyone just emails me, which is probably more effective anyway.

      I often get emails like this: “I sat down to ask you a question, but in writing it out, I figured it out. Is my reasoning correct?” And in most cases, it is. When it’s not, I clarify.

      Reply

  6. Hi Ben, I would like to take more proctored LSAT tests. I have studied a sufficient amount of time by myself but now need to take more exams. Do you have any recommendations as to where I can take more proctored exams and if I can pay strategy prep just to come and take exams during the week if possible?

    Reply

  7. Hi. Honest opinion is 58 just too darn old to start this process. I went and got LSAT prep books and I’m having a ball learning the secrets to the logic games and logical reasonings. I like studying. I am in a brain dead (good paying) job. So this gives me something to think about while preforming my duties. Just your thoughts. Thanks. Love the podcast.

    Reply

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