For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

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Da1andOnlyPharo
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For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Da1andOnlyPharo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:41 am

Okay as I was typing the original draft to this question, I did a second search and found the article on TLS called Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective. The guy definitely has a lot to say about how to do well in law, but it's pretty geared for current students.

I'd like a bit more of a broad but concise answer. Everyone's always saying how "0L's go into law school thinking they're going to be in the top 10% of their class but 90% of you won't be." That's great, but for the 10% of you that are at the top, and even those at the top 25%, to what do you owe your success to?

Innate intelligence? Test-taking skills? Hard work? Studying your ass off? Crafting a unique response? Getting in good with your profs?

Probably a combination of those, but which did you think were most important? Were you expecting to be at the top or were you pleasantly surprised by your aptitude? Also, if you care to share, what school do you go to?

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MTBike
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby MTBike » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:02 am

Da1andOnlyPharo wrote:Okay as I was typing the original draft to this question, I did a second search and found the article on TLS called Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective. The guy definitely has a lot to say about how to do well in law, but it's pretty geared for current students.

I'd like a bit more of a broad but concise answer. Everyone's always saying how "0L's go into law school thinking they're going to be in the top 10% of their class but 90% of you won't be." That's great, but for the 10% of you that are at the top, and even those at the top 25%, to what do you owe your success to?

Innate intelligence? Test-taking skills? Hard work? Studying your ass off? Crafting a unique response? Getting in good with your profs?

Probably a combination of those, but which did you think were most important? Were you expecting to be at the top or were you pleasantly surprised by your aptitude? Also, if you care to share, what school do you go to?


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Detrox
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Detrox » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:15 am

Da1andOnlyPharo wrote:Okay as I was typing the original draft to this question, I did a second search and found the article on TLS called Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective. The guy definitely has a lot to say about how to do well in law, but it's pretty geared for current students.

I'd like a bit more of a broad but concise answer. Everyone's always saying how "0L's go into law school thinking they're going to be in the top 10% of their class but 90% of you won't be." That's great, but for the 10% of you that are at the top, and even those at the top 25%, to what do you owe your success to?

Innate intelligence? Test-taking skills? Hard work? Studying your ass off? Crafting a unique response? Getting in good with your profs?

Probably a combination of those, but which did you think were most important? Were you expecting to be at the top or were you pleasantly surprised by your aptitude? Also, if you care to share, what school do you go to?


The answers to this question are going to be some combination or all of the above, except "getting in good with your profs" since the exams are graded blind (with potential slight ex post boost for class participation). More than this, it will depend on school, specific class, specific professor, and even the make up of the section composing the curve. There's no one way to get to the top 10%, and if there was and it was discovered, everyone would do it and it would collapse anyway. Not a satisfying answer, but an honest one.

Theres plenty of advice on these forums about how to study for your tests, but it's of limited value at best. Work hard, be smart, and get a bit lucky.

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LeDique
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby LeDique » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:01 pm

Knowing how to take exams. There's plenty of stuff already on here that explains how to do that.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:05 pm

Luck. Pure, dumb luck. Luck when it came to getting tests that fit my style (i.e., not word-limited and not multiple choice), luck when it came to pinging on the things the prof wanted you to talk about. Anyone who doesn't attribute a great portion of their success in law school to luck is deluding themselves.

To be sure, luck without the test-taking skills won't be enough. Test-taking skills is what will let you break median with more certainty (even at the top schools, there are some people who simply never develop the "law school test skill"), but luck is what gets you beyond that. Hard work matters only if you need to put that hard work in to develop the test-taking skills: some people need to put in the time, others don't.

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DCDuck
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby DCDuck » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:07 pm

I never fell behind in reading or note-taking. Not sufficient, but it really helps. Also writing clearly, concisely, and quickly helps, for both exam and essay classes.

Edit: I used to think luck had a lot to do with it, but if it was mostly luck, then there probably wouldn't be a group of people who consistently score in the top 10-25%. I think luck has plays more in success in job hunting these days. But I think luck is rarely sufficient and you can't control luck, so I try to focus on what I can control, which is mostly effort. Innate intelligence and luck are already set for you.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Persia » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:26 pm

I just spent a lot of time studying. Honestly, I probably over-studied significantly. The way I looked at it was that my 1L year would basically determine the rest of my law school experience, so why wouldn't I put in as much effort as I possibly could? It's only one year, but the consequences of doing well (or not) are huge. So I kept up with the reading, started outlining early, read through every supplement I could get my hands on, and just generally worked hella hard the whole first year. It paid off, and I was able to relax somewhat as a 2L.

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tedalbany
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby tedalbany » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:30 pm

Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby lobolawyer » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:44 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Luck. Pure, dumb luck. Luck when it came to getting tests that fit my style (i.e., not word-limited and not multiple choice), luck when it came to pinging on the things the prof wanted you to talk about. Anyone who doesn't attribute a great portion of their success in law school to luck is deluding themselves.

To be sure, luck without the test-taking skills won't be enough. Test-taking skills is what will let you break median with more certainty (even at the top schools, there are some people who simply never develop the "law school test skill"), but luck is what gets you beyond that. Hard work matters only if you need to put that hard work in to develop the test-taking skills: some people need to put in the time, others don't.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby lawyerwannabe » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:47 pm

tedalbany wrote:Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.
lobolawyer wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Luck. Pure, dumb luck. Luck when it came to getting tests that fit my style (i.e., not word-limited and not multiple choice), luck when it came to pinging on the things the prof wanted you to talk about. Anyone who doesn't attribute a great portion of their success in law school to luck is deluding themselves.

To be sure, luck without the test-taking skills won't be enough. Test-taking skills is what will let you break median with more certainty (even at the top schools, there are some people who simply never develop the "law school test skill"), but luck is what gets you beyond that. Hard work matters only if you need to put that hard work in to develop the test-taking skills: some people need to put in the time, others don't.


I would combine these two and then call it a thread.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby buckilaw » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:50 pm

Sexual favors + blackmail

Da1andOnlyPharo
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Da1andOnlyPharo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:11 pm

lawyerwannabe wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.
lobolawyer wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Luck. Pure, dumb luck. Luck when it came to getting tests that fit my style (i.e., not word-limited and not multiple choice), luck when it came to pinging on the things the prof wanted you to talk about. Anyone who doesn't attribute a great portion of their success in law school to luck is deluding themselves.

To be sure, luck without the test-taking skills won't be enough. Test-taking skills is what will let you break median with more certainty (even at the top schools, there are some people who simply never develop the "law school test skill"), but luck is what gets you beyond that. Hard work matters only if you need to put that hard work in to develop the test-taking skills: some people need to put in the time, others don't.


I would combine these two and then call it a thread.


Works for me I guess. Appreciated the insight. I still don't see how luck plays into it that much. In fact, even a lot of the "gamble" factors people talk about for getting a job don't really seem like like to me. "Knowing people", "acting in a job interview", or rather, networking and having interview skills are just skills in my opinion, and when it comes to the test-taking, I don't think your giving yourself enough credit. Aren't all the tests essays?

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tedalbany
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby tedalbany » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:16 pm

Pretty much everyone I know (myself included) had either consistently good or consistently mediocre grades, so I think luck may be overstated.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Da1andOnlyPharo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:31 pm

tedalbany wrote:Pretty much everyone I know (myself included) had either consistently good or consistently mediocre grades, so I think luck may be overstated.


When you went into law school were you confident that you'd do well or did you have the modest, if not pessimistic outlook that the majority of TLS users seem to believe is the "realistic" approach? And do you think either approach is better?

I'm predicting an answer to sound something like "Confidence is good but overconfidence will hurt you. It's not good to go in thinking you'll do poorly either though." But just be real about what applied to you.

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tedalbany
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby tedalbany » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:37 pm

I don't really know, you're trying too hard to predict the future. You really can't tell. I got partially lucky because I don't think my section is the most competitive, and I think my year is generally less competitive (the professors even stated the curve is much bigger than it's been before). So that could have helped. But you really can't know ahead of time. Just go somewhere you won't have to depend entirely on being in the top 10-25%. Be prepared for the best or worst; you may well and end up in the top, or you could end up in the bottom half and having to drop out or start a hardcore hustle for a job. Accept either possibility and have an idea of what you'll do in each scenario. If you just aren't willing to accept the latter scenario then you probably shouldn't go to law school (or should retake until you can get into a school where you could deal with being below median).

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby lobolawyer » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:55 pm

Da1andOnlyPharo wrote:
lawyerwannabe wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.
lobolawyer wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Luck. Pure, dumb luck. Luck when it came to getting tests that fit my style (i.e., not word-limited and not multiple choice), luck when it came to pinging on the things the prof wanted you to talk about. Anyone who doesn't attribute a great portion of their success in law school to luck is deluding themselves.

To be sure, luck without the test-taking skills won't be enough. Test-taking skills is what will let you break median with more certainty (even at the top schools, there are some people who simply never develop the "law school test skill"), but luck is what gets you beyond that. Hard work matters only if you need to put that hard work in to develop the test-taking skills: some people need to put in the time, others don't.


I would combine these two and then call it a thread.


Works for me I guess. Appreciated the insight. I still don't see how luck plays into it that much. In fact, even a lot of the "gamble" factors people talk about for getting a job don't really seem like like to me. "Knowing people", "acting in a job interview", or rather, networking and having interview skills are just skills in my opinion, and when it comes to the test-taking, I don't think your giving yourself enough credit. Aren't all the tests essays?


I don't think that luck plays into getting interviews during OCI. At my school, people on LR/journal with good grades got the lion's share of interviews and I think firms hired based on "fit" or interview performance, which are arguably luck factors.

As far as grades are concerned, I honestly think that the element of luck cannot be overstated. Everyone in my class that I've got to know over the past 3 years (there's only 115 of us) seems at a minimum smart, and some are outright brilliant. That being said, I know that many of the "smartest" (based on LSAT score, UGPA/difficulty of UG major, UG school, advanced degrees, WE, and my interactions with them) people are at or around median. I submit that the factors pointed out by ToTransfer and Albany account for at least 55% of grades.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Da1andOnlyPharo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:57 pm

Thanks for the insight all. Think I'll reflect on all this. Seems a lot easier to retake the LSAT and try to get into a better school to hedge my risk a bit.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Gail » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:00 pm

tedalbany wrote:Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.


Do people really do this on the exam? I guess it's hard to compare because I'm the type of neurotic person that posts on TLS years out from attending law school. But I already know that the answer to the law school exam isn't going to be repeating a law.


I wonder how much benefit we as TLSers have. I feel like I've already been exposed to what to expect on the exam. I've read enough sample exams to know the format basically.

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Detrox
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby Detrox » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:11 pm

Gail wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Didn't spend much time studying. A lot of it is just knowing how to take an exam and understanding the number 1 most important thing about law school exams: There is no right answer.

There pretty much NEVER is a right answer on an exam, they'll give you fact patterns that are typically ambiguous enough to go either way. You'll lose by frantically searching your materials for the right answer and spending excessive time to make sure you get it right. You get points by just thoroughly explaining whatever answer you do pick, while evaluating the other side and the relative strength of each argument. Comfort with ambiguity will get you far.


Do people really do this on the exam? I guess it's hard to compare because I'm the type of neurotic person that posts on TLS years out from attending law school. But I already know that the answer to the law school exam isn't going to be repeating a law.


I wonder how much benefit we as TLSers have. I feel like I've already been exposed to what to expect on the exam. I've read enough sample exams to know the format basically.


It's not so much that people expect a right answer to be a specific law, it's that they expect there to be a right answer to a specific issue (e.g. Yes an assault did occur, or no the party cannot be joined). Takes a bit of adjustment to learn that it doesn't matter, that the bigger issue is simply demonstrating that you know how the analysis works.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby boredatwork » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:16 pm

Do those of you who are successful think that perhaps you think differently? For example my biggest problem when I first started studying for the LSAT was I kept trying to solve the logic games, when in reality they were not solvable to a great degree. I feel like the law is much the same way, not solvable always open to interpretation. Much of legal work is applying a court's opinion on an issues to similar issues and sometimes you will have multiple courts giving slightly or completely different opinions on a single piece of black letter law, do people get stuck on that? does it lead to failure not being able to see the grey area? Sorry that this is long winded hopefully I got my point across.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby quiver » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:28 pm

Detrox wrote:
Da1andOnlyPharo wrote:Okay as I was typing the original draft to this question, I did a second search and found the article on TLS called Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective. The guy definitely has a lot to say about how to do well in law, but it's pretty geared for current students.

I'd like a bit more of a broad but concise answer. Everyone's always saying how "0L's go into law school thinking they're going to be in the top 10% of their class but 90% of you won't be." That's great, but for the 10% of you that are at the top, and even those at the top 25%, to what do you owe your success to?

Innate intelligence? Test-taking skills? Hard work? Studying your ass off? Crafting a unique response? Getting in good with your profs?

Probably a combination of those, but which did you think were most important? Were you expecting to be at the top or were you pleasantly surprised by your aptitude? Also, if you care to share, what school do you go to?


The answers to this question are going to be some combination or all of the above, except "getting in good with your profs" since the exams are graded blind (with potential slight ex post boost for class participation). More than this, it will depend on school, specific class, specific professor, and even the make up of the section composing the curve. There's no one way to get to the top 10%, and if there was and it was discovered, everyone would do it and it would collapse anyway. Not a satisfying answer, but an honest one.

Theres plenty of advice on these forums about how to study for your tests, but it's of limited value at best. Work hard, be smart, and get a bit lucky.
100% endorse this response.

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cinephile
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby cinephile » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:36 pm

boredatwork wrote: Much of legal work is applying a court's opinion on an issues to similar issues and sometimes you will have multiple courts giving slightly or completely different opinions on a single piece of black letter law, do people get stuck on that? does it lead to failure not being able to see the grey area? Sorry that this is long winded hopefully I got my point across.


I highly doubt that. Obviously I don't have anyone else's exams besides my own and the model answers to look at, but absolutely everyone knows you're supposed to argue it both ways and it's easy to see the ambiguity.

I imagine the problem some people have is in writing in the style that the professor wants, finishing in a timely manner, and simply writing enough. In many exams, the longer your response, the better your score (exception: word limit exams). Also, many professors want you to parrot back to them their own specific phrasing, and perhaps you took notes in your own words to make it easier to understand. Also, some people just can't finish the exams within the time limit. Also, some people completely miss the instructions and it says only discuss the assault, not the battery, but they do both. Some people get into an information dump and start giving extraneous information. Some people just cite the doctrine, but not the case where we learned it (and maybe the professor cares about that). Or maybe it's a really simple exam with a super tight curve and just slight differences in style make the difference between a B+ and an A-. Maybe the structure of your writing isn't clear and coherent.

There's a lot of reasons why you may not be the best grade in the class, but it doesn't really have to do with not knowing the law or not seeing the ambiguity, because those are the basics that everybody has down. I think it's mostly about how well you write, which is somewhat subjective (though easier to master if you do practice exams with model answers to compare against).

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tedalbany
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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby tedalbany » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:47 pm

cinephile wrote:There's a lot of reasons why you may not be the best grade in the class, but it doesn't really have to do with not knowing the law or not seeing the ambiguity, because those are the basics that everybody has down. I think it's mostly about how well you write, which is somewhat subjective (though easier to master if you do practice exams with model answers to compare against).


I think you overestimate what your classmates know, or we just have very different classes. The entire semester my professor had to keep giving lectures on how to take a law exam because people kept getting frustrated that he wasn't giving enough answers and the law isn't clear enough. Late into the second semester and many of my classmates still struggle with ambiguity.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby cinephile » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:57 pm

tedalbany wrote:
cinephile wrote:There's a lot of reasons why you may not be the best grade in the class, but it doesn't really have to do with not knowing the law or not seeing the ambiguity, because those are the basics that everybody has down. I think it's mostly about how well you write, which is somewhat subjective (though easier to master if you do practice exams with model answers to compare against).


I think you overestimate what your classmates know, or we just have very different classes. The entire semester my professor had to keep giving lectures on how to take a law exam because people kept getting frustrated that he wasn't giving enough answers and the law isn't clear enough. Late into the second semester and many of my classmates still struggle with ambiguity.


Maybe I do. But the vast majority of my classmates seem on top of things.

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Re: For Students/Grads that were in top 10/25%...?

Postby dingbat » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:38 pm

boredatwork wrote:For example my biggest problem when I first started studying for the LSAT was I kept trying to solve the logic games, when in reality they were not solvable to a great degree.

I think your biggest problem with the LSAT is that you thought logic games were not solvable.
I found every logic game solveable to the extent of the questions asked.
In all fairness, as a kid I often did logic puzzles for fun, do thè logic games were particularly easy for me




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