Realistic LSAT improvement question

Character Zero
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Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby Character Zero » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:17 am

I've recently volunteered to come to Afghanistan with my job for six months, and I decided that I'll utilize this time here to study for the LSAT. Law school has always been a goal of mine, and I figure this time deployed will afford me a few hours per day to study/prep for the LSAT. I took my first prep-test this morning (#19, June '96) and scored 155. With this base-line score, is it conceivable to prep enough to score high 170s on the December LSAT? I've ordered all 3 Powerscore Bibles, and just received LSAT SuperPrep in the mail this morning along with 2 of the 10 Official PrepTest books.

I scored terribly on the RC and Logic Game sections; although I did answer the first 12/14 questions correct on RC, but due to the time I raced through the remaining 2 passages and the score reflects that. I've thought that I'd be a big higher to begin because I've been reading this forum for a few weeks now in anticipation to begin prepping, and I've seen many posts where people are beginning in the mid-160s.

TL/DR; Scored 155 on initial diagnostic today, is high 170s feasible in December?

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TheThriller
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby TheThriller » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:19 am

Get through both bibles, and nail the LG until its -0. Once you learn a formula that works for you LG -0 can be a realistic goal. That right there may bump you score into the high 160s. You will also get a stronger grasp of timing as you study more.

Good Luck and be safe over there!

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Nova
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby Nova » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:21 am

It has been done before.

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manofjustice
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby manofjustice » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:47 am

Administered LSATs are remarkably stable: when a test taker retakes, generally scores half the time improve and the other half decline, but rarely by more than 3 points (less than half a standard deviation).

That said, perhaps almost everybody who cares enough about the LSAT to retake it prepared thoroughly for both their first take and their retake. And anecdotally, most people end their practice doing better than they began. Conclusion? You can get better, but only to a point. How much better? Not clear. We could look at the advertised score gains from test prep companies (as we could suppose that such a number is highly scrutinized, and at the same time, based on the low end off of cold first takes). On the SAT at least, they're widely reported to be an average of less than half a standard deviation (the equivalent of about 2 points on the LSAT). (source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124278685697537839.html But a test prep course is not intensive repeated practice, which probably has the best result. And maybe not all people who take SAT prep courses engage in intensive repeated practice (perhaps some take the course merely because their parents made them.) Maybe the throughness of preparation is normally distributed and correlates to score gain; in that case, the outliers preparing the most account for the highest score gains (and the data do show that some retakers of the LSAT do score much better). Or maybe students who take test prep courses do engage in through practice, because their parents make them do that too.

We could be pessimistic and reason thus: people who retake their LSAT do so because on the actual LSAT, they scored lower than their higher practice test scores. These are the most motivated, so they engaged in intensive and repeated practice, but (usually) did not receive a significantly different score. This would bode poorly for people who have not yet even had a higher practice test score and would suggest a "discount" to their best future score increases vis-a-vis their actual score.

We could be even more pessimistic: perhaps, however, most people who retook the LSAT took it cold the first time, realized they didn't do well enough to get into a good law school when they thought they would (as most do), then engaged in intensive and repeated practice before taking it again. People who do well on the LSAT have some incentive not to retake it; people who do poorly do not, and there are surely many people who do poorly taking the test cold who thought they would do better. This reasoning would bode horribly for score improvements.

But this still doesn't give us a number. I know of one person who experienced an increase of a standard deviation (i.e. 7 points) or more. Many people in this thread will report even greater increases. Others will privately admit they experienced a decrease of a standard deviation or more. But anecdotes just simply aren't a substitute for data.

So, horseshoe and hand grenade it? 170? Probably not. But 162? Maybe. Maybe 180...keep on practicing. It's important enough to give it a shot, even with no guaranteed increase.

Now another thing: large score variations, in my experience, are all mental. Something physiological during the actual test can simply make you smarter and more alert. It's "fight or flight." I think if you can get yourself in that mode, and then, instead of "fleeing" (i.e. panicking), manage to maintain your focus (and "fight"), you may be pleasantry surprised.

Now one more thing: focus on strengths. My biggest gains came on the sections I was already best at. There was a clear work-reward imbalance in my practice favoring the sections I was already strong on.

TL;DR (It wasn't that useful anyway) Just practice and see. Answer through experience.

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manofjustice
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby manofjustice » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:14 am

Oh, and another thing, again from personal experience: to get into that "fight or flight" mode during the test, you have to have the right mindset before the test. It's almost like faking yourself out. Before the test, look at your practice test average, and "be okay" with it. Literally understand how your life will work out with that score. Think of the schools you'll get into (or, if the score is low enough, think about the other things that you can do with your life besides law school). Do not expect a higher score. Don't even "sorta" expect it. A higher score is not a possibility (tell yourself that, and have that attitude). Then, your score just might be far higher. But if you're constantly trying to "force" yourself to score higher, like you're pushing a plow through clay, it just won't work, and you might snap and free fall. (I remember doing that once on a practice test, a few days before the main event. That was when I started drinking more beers and doing fewer practice tests, and I think it helped.)

Day of the test, take a jog, have a good breakfast, etc. etc. etc. And bring raisins or else score lower.

TL;DR No, read this one. It's good advice IMHO.

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Noblesse_Oblige
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby Noblesse_Oblige » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:19 am

manofjustice wrote:Oh, and another thing, again from personal experience: to get into that "fight or flight" mode during the test, you have to have the right mindset before the test. It's almost like faking yourself out. Before the test, look at your practice test average, and "be okay" with it. Literally understand how your life will work out with that score. Think of the schools you'll get into (or, if the score is low enough, think about the other things that you can do with your life besides law school). Do not expect a higher score. Don't even "sorta" expect it. A higher score is not a possibility (tell yourself that, and have that attitude). Then, your score just might be far higher. But if you're constantly trying to "force" yourself to score higher, like you're pushing a plow through clay, it just won't work, and you might snap and free fall. (I remember doing that once on a practice test, a few days before the main event. That was when I started drinking more beers and doing fewer practice tests, and I think it helped.)

Day of the test, take a jog, have a good breakfast, etc. etc. etc. And bring raisins or else score lower.

TL;DR No, read this one. It's good advice IMHO.


Same thing happened to me, went from 173 to 161... lol

and ewwwww raisin

TL;DR Raisins = gross

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cc.celina
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby cc.celina » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:36 am

It sounds like the issues you're experiencing are not fundamental difficulties, but time. You CAN get Games down to -0. You might not be able to get to that level with RC (I didn't) but drilling will get you a lot faster and get you a lot more points. The only way to know the score you can realistically reach is to study a lot and take a lot of practice tests - diagnostic scores can be accurate sometimes, but they're certainly not a reliable indicator of your ability.

Good luck!!

bp shinners
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Re: Realistic LSAT improvement question

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:16 am

Character Zero wrote:TL/DR; Scored 155 on initial diagnostic today, is high 170s feasible in December?


Definitely possible. I've seen it many, many times.




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