Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

AfricanGal
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Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby AfricanGal » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:58 pm

For someone who doesn't particularly display much aptitude for standardized testing is it possible to diligently study your way to a 170+. People on TLS seem to have that mentality and I'm wondering if I should be worried or not. Prior to attending my UG I had difficulty scoring "well" on the SAT. Normally on practice test I'd score between 1950 to 2150 but even with three official tries I only managed to get up to a 1750. I still managed to get into a top 15 LAC which I am now attending but my troubles with standardized testing are starting to worry me. Although, I mostly seem to struggle with time management more so than an inability to comprehend the test material.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is if I were to invest in LSAT prep books and materials, perhaps a pricey Prep Course, and an adequate amount of time would I at least be able to score a 170?

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:04 pm

Who knows? Probably, but how much work it will be will depend on your starting score, and your current abilities.

If you start at 140, it *can* be done. But it'll be a long, hard, road, and almost everyone who starts there will fail. You'll hear some people on here say they did it, but they're unrepresented. Most people who start at 140 and don't get a respectable score just quietly fade away, they won't post here.

For 170 to count as a perfectly achievable goal, you'd have to pass 160 on your diagnostic. Pass 150, and it's doable with a lot of work. Less than 150, slim odds.

There are three levels of improvement, broadly speaking:

1. Getting used to the test. You'll naturally get better at this just by doing more tests.
2. Learning test specific skills that are easily teachable: LG diagrams, LR diagrams, Question type strategies, criteria for correct answers, RC passage organization, etc.
3. Getting smarter

Past a certain point, you have to improve your reasoning skills to improve your score. Literally changing the way you think. That's hard. So you stand the best chance of meeting your goal if it can be met with the first two types of improvement alone.

I'm speaking it very general terms. You can quibble with the details, but I think it's broadly correct.

Tl;DR Your question can't be answered unless you tell us a diagnostic score. However, your SAT score isn't promising :/

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Snowboarder1588
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby Snowboarder1588 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:20 pm

The above is great advice. You have to remember that typically only 3% of the population scores 170+. I got 143 in my initial diagnostic, scored a 155 on my first take, and then retook and got a 160. I'm perfectly happy with 160 and for the general population it's a fantastic score (not for TLS posters though). Be realistic with your goals and what you want to do, and make sure you have a great study plan in place.

AfricanGal
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby AfricanGal » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:40 pm

Wow, prospects seem incredibly disheartening. Law School already is a gamble, especially for me. Hoping to complete two PTs this week, one of which I won't be timing just to get a feel of my potential without time constraints. Will update soon..

Thanks for the advice, any other feedback would be nice too

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RuleSubstitution
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RuleSubstitution » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:41 pm

Snowboarder1588 wrote:The above is great advice. You have to remember that typically only 3% of the population scores 170+. I got 143 in my initial diagnostic, scored a 155 on my first take, and then retook and got a 160. I'm perfectly happy with 160 and for the general population it's a fantastic score (not for TLS posters though). Be realistic with your goals and what you want to do, and make sure you have a great study plan in place.


the lsat is not the sat, obviously. like meant above, only 3% of test takers get 170+. but OP should review mlsat books and powerscore bible and drill cambridge. if you want to go to law school, just shoot for your potential. no real getting around that.

also, no one should ever ASSUME they will get 170+. even those that do well on ptests (as op knows) can fail to perform on test day.

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Clearly
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby Clearly » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:52 pm

Outside of just poor english reading ability, you should have confidence about your ability to do well given any amount of work you are willing to put in. Unfortunately that dedication is either impossible, or impractical for many students. If you are a decent reader and willing to never give up, it might take a year, but eventually you can do it. I diagnosed at 150, and after working harder then you would ever think necessary for a test, scored well over 170. Just understand its going to be frustrating, but if you want a good shot at a good legal career, you're going to have to tough it out to get that 170+

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SteelPenguin
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby SteelPenguin » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:00 pm

AfricanGal wrote:Wow, prospects seem incredibly disheartening. Law School already is a gamble, especially for me. Hoping to complete two PTs this week, one of which I won't be timing just to get a feel of my potential without time constraints. Will update soon..

Thanks for the advice, any other feedback would be nice too


The upside is that this is a very learnable test. I don't think SAT scores are very meaningful. Take a diagnostic and come back to get more specific advice and info.

ManOnAMission
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby ManOnAMission » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:04 pm

Clearlynotstefan wrote:Outside of just poor english reading ability, you should have confidence about your ability to do well given any amount of work you are willing to put in. Unfortunately that dedication is either impossible, or impractical for many students. If you are a decent reader and willing to never give up, it might take a year, but eventually you can do it. I diagnosed at 150, and after working harder then you would ever think necessary for a test, scored well over 170. Just understand its going to be frustrating, but if you want a good shot at a good legal career, you're going to have to tough it out to get that 170+



This. I agree, I think it's possible. You can at least get the point where you're -0 on games. Then focus on perfecting other two sections.

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RobertGolddust
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RobertGolddust » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:36 pm

African Girl,

Just a piece of advice. I would never take advice about the possibility of success in your legal career from someone who teaches the LSAT. Life's a long road, and an there is more to success than a number, although it certainly helps.

Humbert Humbert
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby Humbert Humbert » Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:04 pm

AfricanGal wrote:Wow, prospects seem incredibly disheartening. Law School already is a gamble, especially for me. Hoping to complete two PTs this week, one of which I won't be timing just to get a feel of my potential without time constraints. Will update soon..

Thanks for the advice, any other feedback would be nice too


Diagnostic: 151
Real thing (June): 172

Diagnostic is meaningless if you are willing to put in the work and are using the right techniques.

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RuleSubstitution
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RuleSubstitution » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:02 pm

RobertGolddust wrote:African Girl,

Just a piece of advice. I would never take advice about the possibility of success in your legal career from someone who teaches the LSAT. Life's a long road, and an there is more to success than a number, although it certainly helps.


This is irrelevant. You could be right, but African Girl asked a question specific to the tutor's area of (supposed) expertise, even though the advice has a bearing on eventual pursuit of a legal career.

Further, if a tutor has observed a phenomenon regarding initial diagnostic scores and final scores, why should that be discounted? At least prep instructors are in a position to be aware of trends as they pertain to the LSAT, though they are not necessarily experts in law or law school.

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RobertGolddust
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RobertGolddust » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:47 pm

Rule Substitution,

you are right to regard the tutor's advice as valuable. And I must admit that I took the tutor's suggestion and exaggerated it to its most extreme conclusion: If you don't score in the top three percent on the LSAT you have no shot at a decent legal career.

I did this because I think some of the less informed members on this site really do believe this. I prescribe to the school of thought that citizen's of the United States are still privileged with a great deal of liberty; this is not China or India where one would need to display elite aptitude in order to have a decent shot at success. Even though the U.S. is no virgin babe, there still is a vast amount of opportunity for all types of people with all sorts of skill sets and backgrounds.

kiyoku
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby kiyoku » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:11 pm

AfricanGal wrote:I guess what I'm trying to ask is if I were to invest in LSAT prep books and materials, perhaps a pricey Prep Course, and an adequate amount of time would I at least be able to score a 170?


I diagnostic tested low 150 (I recall 151). That was not with strict standards during my diagnostic. I'm aiming very high and like a previous poster mentioned, it can be very frustrating at times.

All of the investments you speak of has to do with buying things. When I started off, this was my mindset. Which books must I buy?

While that helps, I need to tell you, that I've improved far more than some of the other people studying the lsats in the library, and they are using the same books. The good books and the good prep courses are great resources, but how could they possibly help you to do the learning if you wouldn't spend the time and energy to rewire all of your potential sub-optimal thought-processes?

If anything the investment you must make is determination and a great habit of approaching the material with a readiness to attack your weaknesses and mastering the "proper" methodologies.

My PT score when separated by 10 minute breaks between sections (so it's not accounting for my mental attention, which is another big weakness of mine), sits at 160 now. I'm about 1 month in and I've devoted a lot of time and emotional energy into trying to fix sub-optimal thought-processes.

I know that a part of you (and me too) wants to hear a definitive answer such as:

a) Yes. You can actually make it to 170+
or
b) No. You can't. Don't be a fool.

But the real answer is that the majority of the people who diagnose low will have to take much more effort and time to learn the same material that others (who have diagnostic tested at 160+) are already walking into their learning journey with. When you put time and emotional energy on the line, the chances of a person quitting is very high. So for the large majority of people who test at 150s, I would say that most will quit early, and some will make it to 160. A very small group of people just feel the need to prove the odds wrong and will work harder every time they hit a brick wall. This small percentage of 150 diagnostic testers MIGHT make it to 170's.

If law is a random choice, i'd say doing your MBA will be far easier and will give you good career options in terms of $$.

My guess is that anyone who posts a thread like this will almost always be rather discouraged by the responses. Somehow it doesn't help you to know that a person is saying that he made it to 170 from 150. (not me... yet)

But maybe what matters is how you respond to the odds, be it against you or for you. May I suggest... the odds are definitely against you.

If I were you, I'd start by making a list of all the reasons why you don't want to be a lawyer or go to law school. If you still want to go to law school after that, I'm afraid it doesn't matter how hard the LSATs are... or what people are saying about the real learning curve because apparently you are as stubborn as I am.

I'm hoping you decide to go for it. It would encourage me too. =)

nugnoy
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby nugnoy » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:15 pm

RuleSubstitution wrote:


I think both comments have merits, but in different ways.

RobertGolddust was talking about success in legal career, and I agree with his comment. Even if you can't get 170+, you can still succeed in the career. It's a good big-picture advice.

But I agree with RuleSubstitution that Robert's comment is not the most relevant to this thread because the OP asked a specific question on the LSAT. If a tutor actually saw many people who were bad at taking tests work up to 170+, these people would serve as concrete examples to support the statement that people who are generally bad at taking tests can work up to 170+.

I personally think that a competent person + dedication + the right method will lead to 170+.

What's "competent"? In my opinion, competent means
1. You can read a college level writing (by peers) and understand it. You may not understand college level reading assignments completely by yourself, but you can get the essence of what a difficult college level reading is saying with your effort + some help from TA/professor.
2. You don't find it impossible to get As and Bs in college level classes (Even if you put 2+ hours of regular intense and genuine effort for every 1 hour of class, you get Cs and below; this is not crammed; this involved TA/professor/peer help)
3. You have some analytical skills (it wasn't impossible for you to get a B or above in a college level class that involves analysis like math/statistics/a humanities class that involves analysis etc)

What's dedication?
1. You've genuinely given it effort. You're not listening to music or being distracted in some way. You're concentrating solely on the subject at hand.
2. You spend at least 30% of the time available to you. If you don't have any other commitment, you have 24 hours minus sleep and eat etc, let's say 12 hours. You should spend at least 3~4 hours. (In a similar situation, I've spent 9~10 hours avg per day and I don't feel like I've given it my 100%. But that's my judging myself with my standard).

What's the right method?
It's really hard to define this. But basically, the right method is one that makes you understand the material to the depth that you have control over your understanding. Major prep companies have similar big picture (but not identical) approaches, and these build a good foundation. But the actual understanding comes when you critically analyze things. Don't just follow a system given by a prep company. Think about new ways to approach a problem that you believe is better than other approaches or that you believe is a different approach that works better for you specifically.

For example, I've used my own symbols in In and Out games. These symbols are suited to the way I think. By using this system, I've been able to do any generic In N Out games like the birds in the forest or the picture one with Yumiko(?) and Zack and the random extremely easily - some under 4 minutes with 100% correct. Or, I was able to cut down on the more complex In N out games, like the record one with Opera Pop Jazz etc with New and Old. I used to be able to do it in like 10 minutes. Afterwards, I was able to do it in 8:30.

Someone else may be able to do it in 6 minutes - is it a better system/diagram or is that person just better than me in LG? If it's the former, there's no reason I can't do it as well as them if I knew how they did it. If it's the latter, then I just have to accept that some people are better than me at some things, and just make sure that I can get mine done in time.

So basically, the right method, in the details, differs by individual. If you feel like you need guidance though, that's fine, and you can approach it in a standardized system like ones used by Powerscore or Testmasters. If you just follow a major company's system with competence and dedication, that should get you over 160s. Then if you use this foundation to really explore the LSAT, after a few months (again with competence and dedication) you should be able to hit 170+.

Just as a reference: my scores were: initial diag: 153. 1st take 168. 2nd take 176. I did not have a natural aptitude for the test - I worked my way up. My SAT was 2280 (800 800 680).


BTW:

A very small group of people just feel the need to prove the odds wrong and will work harder every time they hit a brick wall. This small percentage of 150 diagnostic testers MIGHT make it to 170's.


I knew that I was capable of high 170s. There was no doubt that I would get at least 176 if I studied it the way I know I should. There was no odds for me to beat, just a truth I could prove. I don't think I'm exceptionally smart - I've never been a child prodigy or anything like that. I've failed uni classes, have low gpa. Didn't win any math tournaments or anything like that. It's a learnable test. The question is, are you smart enough to be able to learn it well? It's like reading. If you can't read, you can't teach yourself to read by yourself. There's sort of a threshold analytical skills that's necessary for a person for that person to really understand the LSAT. But I don't think the threshold is high enough to bar an average university kid from getting there.

kiyoku
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby kiyoku » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:23 pm

nugnoy wrote:
RuleSubstitution wrote:

initial diag: 153. 1st take 168. 2nd take 176. I did not have a natural aptitude for the test - I worked my way up. My SAT was 2280 (800 800 680).



man that's awesome~

Like you said, all things aside, I think you need to be good at learning. There's a skill to learning. Some people just don't connect the patterns fast enough. But I would say that nugnoy is a fairly exceptional scenario. I'm surprised nugnoy had the confidence to score at 175+ (which is a high degree of accuracy of performance by any measure).

My confidence extends to 170+, but the rest of it is really unknown. I know I can improve all the time, but I'm not sure how long my life situations will permit me to spend on improving.

I do believe that if you want a 170+, you should aim to master all material, instead of aiming to get a few wrong here and there.

kiyoku
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby kiyoku » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:34 pm

OP, if you are continuing with your LSATs.

I just finished the new book The LSAT Trainer. I finished this after Looking at Powerscore and MLSAT's logic games and after doing some cambridge drilling.
I believe that the best order of studying for me would have been (and should be):

LSAT Trainer
Powerscore/MLSAT
Drilling sections
Doing PT's

(Perhaps mixing in Pt's here and there).

The LSAT trainer has a lot of great content in there which made me really change the way I think about the test. (Obv I can't speak for other books or authors since I haven't explored them yet).
If you were going to buy those anyways, my suggestion would be that you start with the Trainer (although if you don't... i think it won't make a huge difference).

kiyoku
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby kiyoku » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:44 pm

RobertGolddust wrote:Rule Substitution,
And I must admit that I took the tutor's suggestion and exaggerated it to its most extreme conclusion: If you don't score in the top three percent on the LSAT you have no shot at a decent legal career.

I did this because I think some of the less informed members on this site really do believe this.


last note:

I strongly agree with what robertgolddust is saying here. I'm all for aiming high and self-improvement. I have insanely high goals and I have difficulty trying to live up to them. I think it's great if OP decides to shoot for top 3%.

However, I must agree with the fact that a "decent career" can most definitely be made without a 170+ (although a 170+ will definitely open many doors that would otherwise be either closed or locked for those who score in the low 160s).
I have a family friend who started her own small law firm which grosses $2.5million+. She scored 158 and went to a pretty unpopular law program.

No, she doesn't work for Watchell, but yes she does have her own small firm that she set up. No, she'll never be able to say that she's a Columbia law graduate, but when I look at her, she is most happy with her life. And by all means, since she achieved exactly what she set out to do, I must say she is successful on many levels. I look up to her in many ways, even though I study with a "I-want-to-be-a-180-on-these-types-of-questions" mindset.

I think it's great to aim high. But you should never aim extremely high and expect it to be anything short of pure long-suffering =)

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mindarmed
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby mindarmed » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:54 pm

if you're a URM scoring 170 doesn't matter. hth

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RuleSubstitution
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RuleSubstitution » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:03 pm

Regardless of what is to be said of OP's career path, if they want to go to law school it is absolutely in their interest to put significant effort into studying for this test. A 170+ is not necessary to become a good lawyer or to have a great career, but the higher a score the better the prospects for merit aid and the less of a financial burden with which the will be laden in the future if OP goes to lower tiered school. A higher tiered school could lead to more earning potential. But not all fit into a statistical mold. Just do all you can to improve your future prospects, African Lady.

Edit: Wow, are we all projecting enough on this thread?
Last edited by RuleSubstitution on Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kiyoku
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby kiyoku » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:05 pm

RuleSubstitution wrote:Regardless of what is to be said of OP's career path, if they want to go to law school it is absolutely in their interest to put significant effort into studying for this test. A 170+ is not necessary to become a good lawyer or to have a great career, but the higher a score the better the prospects for merit aid and the less of a financial burden in the future if OP goes to lower tiered school. A higher tiered school could lead to more earning potential. But not all fit into a statistical mold. Just do all you can to improve your future prospects, African Lady.


agreeeed.

and lawl at the bolded haha

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RuleSubstitution
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RuleSubstitution » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:11 pm

kiyoku wrote:
RuleSubstitution wrote:Regardless of what is to be said of OP's career path, if they want to go to law school it is absolutely in their interest to put significant effort into studying for this test. A 170+ is not necessary to become a good lawyer or to have a great career, but the higher a score the better the prospects for merit aid and the less of a financial burden in the future if OP goes to lower tiered school. A higher tiered school could lead to more earning potential. But not all fit into a statistical mold. Just do all you can to improve your future prospects, African Lady.


agreeeed.

and lawl at the bolded haha


We should all be studying instead of posting.

AfricanGal
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby AfricanGal » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:11 pm

Thanks for the multitude of knowledge everyone every bit helps. If it's possible to score well on the LSAT given effort, time, and prepping, I'm definitely ready to do all I can to reach that 170.

RuleSubstitution wrote:Regardless of what is to be said of OP's career path, if they want to go to law school it is absolutely in their interest to put significant effort into studying for this test. A 170+ is not necessary to become a good lawyer or to have a great career, but the higher a score the better the prospects for merit aid and the less of a financial burden in the future if OP goes to lower tiered school. A higher tiered school could lead to more earning potential. But not all fit into a statistical mold. Just do all you can to improve your future prospects, African Lady.


armedwithamind wrote:if you're a URM scoring 170 doesn't matter. hth


Just to add, I'd love to attend HLS or SLS for Law and hopefully go into Corporate Law or Academia which is why acquiring a high LSAT is important for me. My GPA is lacking at the moment, as well and I don't want to rely on my URM status to get me into law school. So it seems like it's 170 or bust for me, if I can't get into a T14 I may have to decide on an alternative career path (and I don't want to do that).

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RuleSubstitution
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby RuleSubstitution » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:25 pm

Good luck. Give yourself as much time as possible to study if that is the case. If you're still in school, don't be afraid to wait a year to apply to law school so that you can sufficiently study for this thing. YHS are very tough to get into without both a stellar LSAT and GPA, obviously. You will find great info in the forums and there are plenty of posters who did well on the test. Don't be shy. Welcome to the community.

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Sourrudedude
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby Sourrudedude » Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:31 pm

OP, is your problem studying enough to be able to get a 170 or is it test anxiety?

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gnomgnomuch
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Re: Can you really study your way to a 170+ LSAT?

Postby gnomgnomuch » Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:05 am

Graeme (Hacking the LSAT) wrote:Who knows? Probably, but how much work it will be will depend on your starting score, and your current abilities.

If you start at 140, it *can* be done. But it'll be a long, hard, road, and almost everyone who starts there will fail. You'll hear some people on here say they did it, but they're unrepresented. Most people who start at 140 and don't get a respectable score just quietly fade away, they won't post here.

For 170 to count as a perfectly achievable goal, you'd have to pass 160 on your diagnostic. Pass 150, and it's doable with a lot of work. Less than 150, slim odds.

There are three levels of improvement, broadly speaking:

1. Getting used to the test. You'll naturally get better at this just by doing more tests.
2. Learning test specific skills that are easily teachable: LG diagrams, LR diagrams, Question type strategies, criteria for correct answers, RC passage organization, etc.
3. Getting smarter

Past a certain point, you have to improve your reasoning skills to improve your score. Literally changing the way you think. That's hard. So you stand the best chance of meeting your goal if it can be met with the first two types of improvement alone.

I'm speaking it very general terms. You can quibble with the details, but I think it's broadly correct.

Tl;DR Your question can't be answered unless you tell us a diagnostic score. However, your SAT score isn't promising :/


Diagnostics mean very little, for example the first time I picked up the LSAT I had NO idea what to expect and subsequently scored abysmally, I believe a 147.. but that had nothing to do with how I am doing now (upper 150's) and how I expect to be doing once I am ready to take the test. The important thing to remember is to be CONFIDENT that you CAN score a 170 and above. If on the other hand you study for a couple of months and AFTERWARDS score in the 140's, your chances are slim that you will achieve a 170. Its not about where you start, its about where you finish. Don't be discouraged over your poor standardized test taking history, and a 1750 is not that poor of a score, the SAT and the LSAT are two completely different tests that test and look for different concepts (albeit RC is more similar). Remember, you CAN and you Will own this test =D




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