Some LSAT perspective...

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kswiss
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:58 am

Some LSAT perspective...

Postby kswiss » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:10 am

I took the LSAT last December. I remember frequenting this board looking for anything that could give me a slight edge.

Unfortunately, I don't have any amazing advice about how to go about answering a certain kind of RC question, or about a superior mapping strategy for a LG. I do have a little perspective, though, that some might find useful.

1. Background

I decided to go to law school October of last year. I had some specific schools in mind, and my UG GPA was well below 3.0, so I knew I had to destroy the LSAT to get where I wanted to go. My first diagnostic (self administered) was a 155. I took the Dec. test and got a 170. (My score probably would have been significantly higher if some idiots next door hadn't started filming a domestic violence scene for a class movie. I missed 4 more than usual in that LR section. No way to tell if that was why, but it was a hardcore outlier compared to my normal LR scores.)

I'm now a 1L getting ready for my first set of exams. All of this studying has made me think a lot about how I studied for the LSAT, which is why I'm writing this.

2. Keep in mind what the LSAT actually tests.

This is my number one piece of advice. If you asked me last year what the LSAT tested, I would have said reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and how good someone is at logic games.

But if you take a step back, the LSAT is really testing:

a. time management
b. ability to work under pressure
c. ability to synthesize a large amount of information, and then apply it to novel questions.

Really, the LSAT is testing the ability to take a test. The reason that the LSAT is learnable isn't because you can figure out how to answer every question (you can), but because you can learn how to apply that information and learn how to take the actual test on the actual day. This is a whole lot like law school exams. Knowing how to get the right answer is necessary, but the ones who win on exam day are the ones who learned the test so well that a hard LG section or a couple well-placed LR questions don't throw them off.

Anyone can get the right answer given all the time in the world. What sets apart the high scores from the mediocre are the ones that do it accurately on test day.

3. Actual Advice

This is kind of like beating a dead horse. Do everything you can do to learn how to answer the questions correctly. But realize that a lot of people that score in the 150s will be able to answer every single question correctly if they have enough time. To set yourself apart, you have to learn how to take the test better than anyone.

Do all of the little stuff. Have a roommate or a sibling time you. Find an empty classroom to take the test on a small desk. In the last several weeks, never take an untimed test. Go over every test and look not only at the individual questions you got wrong, but look overall to see if there is a time in the test that you start to go downhill. Test out different #2 pencils. Practice using your watch. Do all of the things that everyone else doesn't think they have time for because they are too busy trying to figure out the best way to diagram a logic game. By all means work on the substantive question answering stuff, but do more!

Finally, do everything you can to make sure that the test goes as you plan it in your head. Check out the testing center before hand. Arrive early. Try to schedule your studying so that you peak a week before the test so you can relax. Get on the correct sleep schedule so all your brain cells are firing at the right time on test day. And be confident.

4. It's worth it.

The economy sucks. No way around it. But people are getting jobs, and the people at the top are doing well. Besides all that, law school is fun. It's intellectually engaging, the students are nice, and there's always interesting/fun things going on. It's satisfying as hell to finally get here and work your ass off. Keep your eye on the prize.

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kkklick
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:33 pm

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby kkklick » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:20 am

Interesting stuff, justa side note your extra -4 on LR could likely have been the result of december having a painfully difficult LR section. Otherwise good advice my second time around I did pretty much all the stuff you've outlined (I can't stress enough how important it is to understand what the LSAT is testing) and felt better about the test

motiontodismiss
Posts: 870
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:36 pm

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby motiontodismiss » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:11 pm

Interesting...I fall into that "can get a perfect score if given enough time" category. I can take a 4 hour test and get a 170+. A standard test will yield me mid 150's. Hopefully I can bridge that gap somehow.

tomwatts
Posts: 1551
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby tomwatts » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:00 pm

At the same time, don't get sucked into the "I believe that I can get all the answers right given enough time even though the evidence clearly shows otherwise" trap. I can't even count the number of times students have come to me and said, "My biggest problem is that I just can't finish the sections," and then we go through a section that they've just done, and sure, they've gotten to 15 out of 25 questions, but of those 15, they've only gotten 7 or 8 right. Well, at that point, finishing the section is just going to get you 4 or 5 more points. If you SLOW DOWN, answer only half the questions and only miss 1 or 2, while randomly guessing on the rest, you'll score the same or better as if you just sped up to finish the section. And it's usually easier to build up your speed gradually once your accuracy is high than it is to build up your accuracy gradually once your speed is high.

Worry about speed when speed is your problem, but not when accuracy is your problem.
Last edited by tomwatts on Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Skyhook
Posts: 322
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:30 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby Skyhook » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:39 pm

kswiss wrote:I took the LSAT last December. I remember frequenting this board looking for anything that could give me a slight edge.

Unfortunately, I don't have any amazing advice about how to go about answering a certain kind of RC question, or about a superior mapping strategy for a LG. I do have a little perspective, though, that some might find useful.

1. Background

I decided to go to law school October of last year. I had some specific schools in mind, and my UG GPA was well below 3.0, so I knew I had to destroy the LSAT to get where I wanted to go. My first diagnostic (self administered) was a 155. I took the Dec. test and got a 170. (My score probably would have been significantly higher if some idiots next door hadn't started filming a domestic violence scene for a class movie. I missed 4 more than usual in that LR section. No way to tell if that was why, but it was a hardcore outlier compared to my normal LR scores.)

I'm now a 1L getting ready for my first set of exams. All of this studying has made me think a lot about how I studied for the LSAT, which is why I'm writing this.

2. Keep in mind what the LSAT actually tests.

This is my number one piece of advice. If you asked me last year what the LSAT tested, I would have said reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and how good someone is at logic games.

But if you take a step back, the LSAT is really testing:

a. time management
b. ability to work under pressure
c. ability to synthesize a large amount of information, and then apply it to novel questions.

Really, the LSAT is testing the ability to take a test. The reason that the LSAT is learnable isn't because you can figure out how to answer every question (you can), but because you can learn how to apply that information and learn how to take the actual test on the actual day. This is a whole lot like law school exams. Knowing how to get the right answer is necessary, but the ones who win on exam day are the ones who learned the test so well that a hard LG section or a couple well-placed LR questions don't throw them off.

Anyone can get the right answer given all the time in the world. What sets apart the high scores from the mediocre are the ones that do it accurately on test day.

3. Actual Advice

This is kind of like beating a dead horse. Do everything you can do to learn how to answer the questions correctly. But realize that a lot of people that score in the 150s will be able to answer every single question correctly if they have enough time. To set yourself apart, you have to learn how to take the test better than anyone.

Do all of the little stuff. Have a roommate or a sibling time you. Find an empty classroom to take the test on a small desk. In the last several weeks, never take an untimed test. Go over every test and look not only at the individual questions you got wrong, but look overall to see if there is a time in the test that you start to go downhill. Test out different #2 pencils. Practice using your watch. Do all of the things that everyone else doesn't think they have time for because they are too busy trying to figure out the best way to diagram a logic game. By all means work on the substantive question answering stuff, but do more!

Finally, do everything you can to make sure that the test goes as you plan it in your head. Check out the testing center before hand. Arrive early. Try to schedule your studying so that you peak a week before the test so you can relax. Get on the correct sleep schedule so all your brain cells are firing at the right time on test day. And be confident.

4. It's worth it.

The economy sucks. No way around it. But people are getting jobs, and the people at the top are doing well. Besides all that, law school is fun. It's intellectually engaging, the students are nice, and there's always interesting/fun things going on. It's satisfying as hell to finally get here and work your ass off. Keep your eye on the prize.


Will you let us know how your exams go and whether your experience on the LSAT helped with them in anyway?

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kswiss
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:58 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby kswiss » Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:33 pm

Will do. Our section took a graded midterm and I got the second highest score, but that is my only feedback so far.

There aren't that many LSAT outliers at any school because the score bands are so narrow for a given school. My LSAT is many points above the 75% for my school, and I know there are few people on here like that. We'll see how it works out.

One thing about law school is that everyone seems extremely intelligent. You realize that the LSAT isn't much of an indicator of how smart you are, but it seems like a pretty good indicator of how well you take a test. I'm using a lot of the same methods, like strict timing, going over my answers to old tests, etc.

BTW I self studied for the LSAT, so I feel like that experience helped me know the type of drive needed to push myself up in the curve.

Skyhook
Posts: 322
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:30 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby Skyhook » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:18 am

kswiss wrote:Will do. Our section took a graded midterm and I got the second highest score, but that is my only feedback so far.

There aren't that many LSAT outliers at any school because the score bands are so narrow for a given school. My LSAT is many points above the 75% for my school, and I know there are few people on here like that. We'll see how it works out.

One thing about law school is that everyone seems extremely intelligent. You realize that the LSAT isn't much of an indicator of how smart you are, but it seems like a pretty good indicator of how well you take a test. I'm using a lot of the same methods, like strict timing, going over my answers to old tests, etc.

BTW I self studied for the LSAT, so I feel like that experience helped me know the type of drive needed to push myself up in the curve.


I know I'm changing the direction of the thread slightly, but would you mind saying how you've approached studying in your first semester? I also self-studied for the LSAT and the self-discipline is there, so I'm wondering about the amount of work you've needed to put in outside of class and whether there have been any areas that were more challenging?

Can I PM you about the FSM?

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kswiss
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 1:58 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby kswiss » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:08 pm

Skyhook wrote:Can I PM you about the FSM?


Have you also been touched by his noodley appendage?

The first semester is really weird because you feel pretty lost at first. I read all of the "destroy law school by following my 5 simple tips" threads, but studying is really personal. Some people retain a lot of info just from reading, and some people have to constantly work on problems.

RC has never been an issue for me, so I don't read the cases over and over like a lot of people. I book brief, not with all of the crazy colors like in LSC, but with a few highlights per page. I use supplements to prepare for class, and also after class when I'm outlining and updating my notes. Most of my professors are pretty vanilla; they aren't articulating radical views of the subject matter. So hornbooks and EEs restate a lot of what they say more clearly than they do.

I took some practice tests in preparation for a midterm, and I found that I treated them way differently than most people I talked to. I took them under strict time constraints, and I then took my answers and compared them to the model answers to see where I was deficient or inefficient in getting points. I then rewrote the tests to come up with a "perfect" answer, so that I would have a mental template of what I wanted my answer to look like when given a novel fact pattern.

It's worked so far. The only test I've taken is an issue spotter type test, which is at least a major element in all of my finals. I take some of the EE questions for each class and practice exam answers also. When the clock is ticking it is really hard to have a well organized argument, so practicing that part of it has helped me. I also type really fast, and no matter what people tell you, the ability to write more in most cases = more points. Thats not to say that being clear/concise isn't important, but typing slowly is a pretty severe disadvantage when you have a massive amount of information to get down in a short amount of time.

Alright, back to studying.

Skyhook
Posts: 322
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:30 am

Re: Some LSAT perspective...

Postby Skyhook » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:44 am

kswiss wrote:
Skyhook wrote:Can I PM you about the FSM?


Have you also been touched by his noodley appendage?

The first semester is really weird because you feel pretty lost at first. I read all of the "destroy law school by following my 5 simple tips" threads, but studying is really personal. Some people retain a lot of info just from reading, and some people have to constantly work on problems.

RC has never been an issue for me, so I don't read the cases over and over like a lot of people. I book brief, not with all of the crazy colors like in LSC, but with a few highlights per page. I use supplements to prepare for class, and also after class when I'm outlining and updating my notes. Most of my professors are pretty vanilla; they aren't articulating radical views of the subject matter. So hornbooks and EEs restate a lot of what they say more clearly than they do.

I took some practice tests in preparation for a midterm, and I found that I treated them way differently than most people I talked to. I took them under strict time constraints, and I then took my answers and compared them to the model answers to see where I was deficient or inefficient in getting points. I then rewrote the tests to come up with a "perfect" answer, so that I would have a mental template of what I wanted my answer to look like when given a novel fact pattern.

It's worked so far. The only test I've taken is an issue spotter type test, which is at least a major element in all of my finals. I take some of the EE questions for each class and practice exam answers also. When the clock is ticking it is really hard to have a well organized argument, so practicing that part of it has helped me. I also type really fast, and no matter what people tell you, the ability to write more in most cases = more points. Thats not to say that being clear/concise isn't important, but typing slowly is a pretty severe disadvantage when you have a massive amount of information to get down in a short amount of time.

Alright, back to studying.

Good stuff - thanks! Personal preference and ability when studying is obviously a big variable, but I'm looking to get many perspectives on what works for people and their general disposition towards studying.
Good luck with those exams.

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