Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Lsataddict175
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Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Lsataddict175 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:12 pm

I'm new to TLS and am already finding all of the advice on this website to be invaluable. It's great to hear from top scorers on how to approach the LSAT in both an efficient and successful manner. Consequently, I would like to ask everyone a few questions regarding LSAT preparation. I plan on taking the June 14' test and will begin studying for the test within the next week. I don't expect any of you to answer all the questions, but even answering one will help me immensely since I'm a novice when it comes to the LSAT. Thank you in advance!

Q1- Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative? I remember reading an LSAT diary on Steve's LSAT blog about a girl who stated that not taking a diagnostic LSAT was the best decision she ever made. She mentioned how she was afraid that if she got a low score it would dash all her hopes. Many people assert that it's highly unlikely/impossible to score 20 points higher than your diagnostic. In the end, this girl ended up scoring a 172 on the actual exam and was really happy with the decision to not take a diagnostic. I tend to feel the same way. My hope is to receive a 170+ on this exam, and I feel that if I took a diagnostic exam today I would only get in the low 150's. My confidence would be shattered and I want to begin my LSAT prep with full confidence. Did anyone on TLS not take a diagnostic exam?

Q2- After reading various posts on this forum I have purchased the following materials to help conquer the LSAT:1) LSAT Trainer 2)BP Logic Games book (is it good?) 3)PS Logical Reasoning Bible 4)Manhattan LR 5)Cambridge Packets Tests 1-38. My question is: In what order should I study with these books? What would be the ideal process? I’ve read on TLS that many users “wished” they had started with the “LSAT Trainer” since it altered their way of thinking about the LSAT. So would it would be best to begin with this particular book?

Q3- Lastly, the schools that I would love to attend are NYU, Georgetown, Penn St, and GW? I have a 4.0 GPA from a respectable university and pretty good softs. What score would I need to get on the LSAT to attend any of those schools?

Again, thank you for your help!

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rftdd888
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby rftdd888 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:41 pm

just don't take a diagnostic exam. You don't need to. Everyone does because it gives people a base-line perspective of where they're at, but you really don't need to. Just jump into the good books, drill, master LGs, and put it all together at the end by taking PTs

magickware
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby magickware » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:47 pm

Lsataddict175 wrote:Q1- Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative? I remember reading an LSAT diary on Steve's LSAT blog about a girl who stated that not taking a diagnostic LSAT was the best decision she ever made. She mentioned how she was afraid that if she got a low score it would dash all her hopes. Many people assert that it's highly unlikely/impossible to score 20 points higher than your diagnostic. In the end, this girl ended up scoring a 172 on the actual exam and was really happy with the decision to not take a diagnostic. I tend to feel the same way. My hope is to receive a 170+ on this exam, and I feel that if I took a diagnostic exam today I would only get in the low 150's. My confidence would be shattered and I want to begin my LSAT prep with full confidence. Did anyone on TLS not take a diagnostic exam?


No. It's just used as people to see where they are without any prep whatsoever. It doesn't really mean much though.

Lsataddict175 wrote:Q2- After reading various posts on this forum I have purchased the following materials to help conquer the LSAT:1) LSAT Trainer 2)BP Logic Games book (is it good?) 3)PS Logical Reasoning Bible 4)Manhattan LR 5)Cambridge Packets Tests 1-38. My question is: In what order should I study with these books? What would be the ideal process? I’ve read on TLS that many users “wished” they had started with the “LSAT Trainer” since it altered their way of thinking about the LSAT. So would it would be best to begin with this particular book?


Go to the guides sticky and read them all.

Personally, I'd say just read them all through quickly and just reread them as necessary.

Lsataddict175 wrote:Q3- Lastly, the schools that I would love to attend are NYU, Georgetown, Penn St, and GW? I have a 4.0 GPA from a respectable university and pretty good softs. What score would I need to get on the LSAT to attend any of those schools?


http://www.mylsn.info/

Pancakes12
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Pancakes12 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:49 am

I never took a cold diagnostic. It doesn't make a difference.

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flash21
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby flash21 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:43 am

I think you should take one. Yes they don't mean much, but in my opinion it is still nice to have an idea where you are at without studying. this helped me because my diagnostic wasn't good so it gives a sense of urgency that I don't think I would have had otherwise.

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Skill Game
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Skill Game » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:05 am

A 4.0 is past the 75th percentile even at Yale and Harvard. If you haven't already graduated, do everything you can to keep that because higher GPA means more cushion for a lower LSAT score. A cold diagnostic is basically meaningless. The first time I looked at the LSAT was the free June 07 online and it took me probably 6 hours to do the whole thing. If I had taken it timed, I probably would have scored around 140, but I'm scoring in the 170's on PTs.

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oxie
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby oxie » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:25 am

I don't think a cold diagnostic is necessary -- I didn't take one and it worked out fine for me. I think a lot of LSAT studying is about knowing what works for you personally. If you think taking a diagnostic will be a helpful motivator, go ahead and do one. If you think it'll just stress you out, don't worry about it.

Congrats on that that awesome GPA!

NapoleonXV
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby NapoleonXV » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:30 am

1. I took a diagnostic. I think it is useful in that you will have a better sense of your starting point.

2. I only used Powerscore. PS is great for LG and LR, and the Manhattan LSAT forum is SUPER USEFUL! For RC, personally, I doubt if any test prep book would give a huge boost to your score. I would recommend reading academic journals a lot and familiarise yourself with the style of academic journals.

3. Congrats on the 4.0 GPA. If you get 175+, you should pretty much be a lock at Harvard, and some decent chances at YS. For Gtown, Penn, I feel that 170 would definitely get you in there.

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Cicero76
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Cicero76 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:46 am

Taking a diagnostic is not necessary, but it is fun. You get to see how far you've come at the end.

Also, if a low diagnostic is something that can shatter your confidence, you might want to reconsider being a lawyer. Part of the job description of a partner is "shatter associates' confidence."

delusional
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby delusional » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:53 am

The main benefit of diagnostic scores is for LSAT instructors to show how much they improved you.

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Jeffort
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Jeffort » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:47 pm

delusional wrote:The main benefit of diagnostic scores is for LSAT instructors to show how much they improved you.


ehh no, they are used to measure progress over time, many people use diagnostic tests to track their own performance leading up to test day. Your statement is really dumb.

OP: Taking a timed practice test before you start preparing is not essential, but not totally pointless either. The main and obvious purpose is to get a baseline of your current skill level before learning LSAT specific methods for solving the questions. There is value in knowing your starting point to determine strengths and weaknesses you already have to get an idea of how far you have to improve from your cold baseline and to determine if you have serious problems with basic logical thinking/rudimentary concepts of logic that need to be addressed. This can be helpful since different people start with different levels of aptitude for the types of logic, reading and critical thinking tested by the LSAT.

However, the starting score shouldn't really change how you begin to study to learn all the fundamentals of the LSAT since everyone should start by learning all the basics of the LSAT from the ground up no matter their starting score. Not having a cold diagnostic score doesn't change anything about how to start so not taking one isn't going to hold you back when you begin studying, but you'll still need to take one to figure out your current scoring range pretty early into prep to adapt your study plan to your strengths and weaknesses as they play out under testing conditions.

You are going to have to take a diagnostic test at some point after you start studying to get an idea of your scoring range, so if the main reason not to start with one is to avoid getting a disappointing score that might discourage you, all you are doing is pushing that day off into the future. You will end up taking a practice test and getting a score lower than what you want and what you expected to get once you start taking practice tests, so I'm not sure how getting your first disappointing score after having prepped rather than before having prepped is going to make it easier to swallow, especially for people that start in the 140s range. I'd be way more upset getting a first disappointingly low score after having put in several weeks of prep than getting it before doing any prep and then using it as an improvement benchmark so that later scores, even if low, can be seen in the proper light of progress and improvement.

There is also motivational value in taking a cold diagnostic. It wakes people up to the reality of the difficulty of the test in a sobering way that clearly, right from the start, screams that it is going to take a lot of work to get into shape to achieve a good score. This helps people realize right away that they are going to have to do a lot of homework to get better and motivates many people to take prep seriously rather than just doing a little bit of prep here and there/half-assing it hoping to get lucky on test day. It's really easy not to be motivated enough to put in a lot of LSAT study time until you realize how far from your goal score you really are. A timed practice test score is the only thing that can drive that point home 100%.

Whatever you do, put in a lot of time studying and practicing with the assumption that you have a lot of improvement to make, otherwise you won't push yourself enough and may mistakenly believe you are in a totally different skill/score range than you actually are. It's really easy to get the false idea that one is in the 160s range after doing well on the HW questions in the first few weeks of LSAT prep when learning the really basic basics and working mainly easy questions used to teach the basic easy concepts before heading into the harder stuff.

If you don't take one before you begin, no big deal not having that score, but make sure you don't wait super long to take your first one to get an idea of your current score range, otherwise you will be flying blind with your studies with no idea of your real performance ability level.

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Iroh
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby Iroh » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:28 pm

Have to agree with Jeffort here. The first score you get after spending some time prepping is often more depressing than your diagnostic. I would think it would be even more depressing without having taken a diagnostic first, as you wouldn't know if you had improved at all. I wasn't exactly thrilled when I only improved 5 points after 3 months of prep, but at least I could find solace in the fact that my score improved at all.

The very first timed PT is an intensely humbling experience for most people. Get the experience over with, and spend the rest of your prep building up your confidence.

delusional
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Re: Is taking a diagnostic LSAT imperative?

Postby delusional » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:35 pm

Jeffort wrote:
delusional wrote:The main benefit of diagnostic scores is for LSAT instructors to show how much they improved you.


ehh no, they are used to measure progress over time, many people use diagnostic tests to track their own performance leading up to test day. Your statement is really dumb.

I was referring to the initial diagnostic that tutors often suggest, before you even know what a logic game looks like. Of course you need to take and track practice tests along the way.




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