A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

TheCurrantThyme
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A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby TheCurrantThyme » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:57 am

*Note: This is not an admission of guilt
* Also Note: This is likely in no way worth reading

On the circumstances surrounding my taking of the LSAT

At some point in the not too distant past, I found myself on a heroic dose of psilocybin mushrooms. It was in the midst of this that I realized I should quit(reduce slightly) my exorbitant drug use, restructure the trajectory of my life, study for and take the Law School Admissions Test. And so I did! Awesome wow!

On my diagnostic and final scores

Diagnostic: 155
Game Day: 177(June 2013 test)

On the length of time of study

Unless you're some sort of unusually gifted cognitive behemoth with a propensity for making your harder-working peers feel like shit, attaining a top score is gonna take some time. I expect it can be done quite reasonably in 3 months(or even a bit less) with dedicated study, but if you want a more lenient schedule, try out six months.

On Focus

As someone with severe (self-diagnosed) ADD, I can say that focus is of extreme importance on the LSAT. You must train your eyes to be like razor powered laser beams. Read each and every question as if you are focusing on an alien space ship that just crashed into your neighbor's house. Do not get distracted. Do not think about banging your cute proctor. Do not think about what beer you are going to drink when you finish the test. Only think about the question in front of you. Meditation helps a lot with this.

On intelligence and the LSAT

While intelligence likely correlates quite well with LSAT score, this test is in no way an intelligence test. Furthermore, there is no way to concretely define intelligence. In other words there are many different types of smart. The LSAT tests for a certain type of thought that is entirely distinct from the so-called abstract intelligence measured on IQ tests. You should never think of it as a test of intelligence. I assure you that if you are of slightly above average intelligence and willing to work hard, you can achieve a 165+ score.

On confidence

Confidence, or self-efficacy, is so very key when it comes to the LSAT. I see scores of posts on TLS and other websites proclaiming that you should not expect to end up with a 170+ or you should not bother shooting for a 180 because you aren't capable, etc, etc. I believe this does a great disservice to many test takers, especially those with the tendency toward self-doubt. So I will advocate just the opposite line of thought. YOU CAN DO IT. And if you are truly motivated and dedicated, YOU WILL DO IT. Trust me when I say that no one has achieved a truly great score(or much of anything for that matter) by thinking they weren't capable of doing so.

On motivation

This is also of critical importance. As a super-splitter who has been widely regard by friends and neighbors as lazy his entire life, I implore you: find a way to get (highly) motivated! I personally take a sort of sadistic (sexual) pleasure in being a statistical outlier of any kind. This is not a great cause for motivation for any sane person, but my insanity is now accompanied by great logic reasoning skills! Whether it be pussy, riches, hookers, blow, prestige, fine deli meats, or spiritual enlightenment, find a reason to sweat and bleed (literally) for this test.

On the nature of the LSAT

I believe the LSAT is not in fact a test, but rather a thought programming manual. Being a student of my own brain, I notice that my thoughts today are quite a lot different in nature than prior to studying for the LSAT. I have not yet decided whether or not this change is for the better. Regardless, it seems that the the best way to study for the LSAT is to begin thinking like the test makers. You can do this by filling much of your days and free time with thoughts about the LSAT and its questions (probably not worth it). Another way to look at this is like learning a new language. Logic is the language of the LSAT. Spanish is also a language. Any great Spanish teacher will tell you that in order to become truly fluent in the language of Spanish, you must begin to passively think in Spanish. I believe it follows (not logically, of course) that in order to become truly fluent in the LSAT, you must begin to think passively in logic.

On practicing like you play

Michael Jordan did not become good at sinking game winning shots by lollygagging during practice. He simulated the intensity of a playoff game during each shot he took. You need only see a photo of the guy to feel his intensity. The point is don't half ass your practice. You should treat each and every practice test as if it the real thing that law schools will see. Heck, if you are reading a page in your Powerscore bible, you should be reading it as if it was an RC section on game day with the proctor in front of you keeping time. Practice with the same intensity and focus as you would use on game day. You won't regret it.

On wrong answer choices

It is far more important to become proficient at eliminating wrong answer choices than finding the good ones. You must learn to seek out wrong answers like an angry, rabid, starving pit bull.

On Prep Materials(read them books and then read em again!)

The Best (almost necessary, but not sufficient):

*Real LSAT preptests
*Logic Games Bible
*Logical Reasoning Bible
*Manhattan's Reading Comprehension Guide
*TLS Forum(save for garbage posts like this one)

The Next Best:

*Nova's Master the LSAT (mainly to increase the potency and speed of your hypotheticals on LG)
* Manhattan's Logical Reasoning Guide
* Super Prep(I didn't find this as helpful as many others, but still good nonetheless)

Meh:

*Powerscore's Reading Comprehension Bible
*Most anything else that costs money

On Timing in General

Most people consider timing among the most critical factors on this test. I have heard many exclaim with cries of pride that if the test were untimed they could achieve a top score. I question the motivation of these people. I will say that when I began I could not even complete an LR section(my best section) with decent accuracy in under 45 minutes. Because of all of the hype around timing, this worried me considerably and I considered quitting totally. Luckily, I persevered. My solution is this: Don't worry about timing. At all. Especially at the start. There is no point in rushing to get the questions wrong. First go for accuracy. Once you are able to score in the 170s in an untimed fashion, you can then make timing a (slight) consideration. If you cannot score at this level in an untimed manner, go back and reexamine the concepts again, because your foundation is lacking. The hierarchy: Accuracy first, then familiarity, then timing.

The Sections

On Logic Games

Logic Games are widely regarded as the most learnable section. I would say that I agree to some extent. Though I will add that Logic Games section scores are probably the most inconsistent of the 3 among top scorers. As such, planning for contingencies and keeping your cool is important on this section. The method I would recommend to best learn logic games would be this: Do them until your hands bleed. Seriously. I had the mindset that I would do logic games until I was certain I would not get caught off guard by anything they could throw at me on test day. This meant repeating the snakes and reptiles house game about a dozen times. I ended up with -2 in this section on game day and was quite disappointed with myself. But seriously read the (powerscore) bible and do LG until it hurts, and them do them some more until you are beyond certain you are fluent.

On LG Timing

I think that timing on LG is the most problematic of any section, because if you screw up your initial diagram or are too slow at churning out hypotheticals, it can throw off your pacing for the entire section and defecate on your score. The paradoxical conclusion I have reached is to not worry about timing at all. Hard games will take longer, easier games will be shorter just accept this with mindfulness and outcome detachment. Besides with enough repetition and familiarity, you will crush easy games(in 4-5 minutes) so as to have time to spare. As stated above thorough preparation is the key to completing this section at a relaxed pace.

On Logical Reasoning

This is half the test. I repeat: this is half the test, do not underestimate this. This section is all about finding your weaknesses and destroying them. After taking enough practice tests you should know where these are. Untimed, individual problem type training is what I found most effective on this section. This section is fairly intuitive. Despite, what many say about Reading Comp being the least learnable, I respectfully disagree and will say that LR is due to the stunning variety of question types. But, bracket that conclusion and go to town squires.

On LR timing

The first 10-12 in the section are generally gimme questions. Blaze through them like a nicely rolled joint but don't be careless. The middle questions(15-20) tend to have some tricky wrong answer choices so be a bit more mindful.

On Reading Comprehension

This section is widely renowned as the least learnable. I will disagree. I can personally attest that my reading comprehension skills are poor. Yet I somehow managed a -0 on this section (still thinking this was a mistake by LSAC). I would recommend a similar approach as to with LG. Simply do RC sections till your hands bleed. If you have trouble with this section, do them all, tests 1-69. I guarantee your score will improve! As for strategy, I recommend mentally organizing by paragraph. Write a 5ish line summary for each paragraph and circle or underline places to refer back to in the text. I was repeatedly PT at -3 and -4 just two weeks before test day when I reached a major breakthrough: I began to think of RC just as LR with a lot of extra useless boring bullshit garbage thrown in. Simply sift through the crap, find the conclusions and premises just as you would in LR and wallah! I am also in the camp that reading other difficult non-LSAT material can help. For example, about a month prior to the test I began reading the Classics. This made LSAT reading seem like a breeze.

RC Timing

While being a fast reader helps, I wouldn't say I am nor do I think it's necessary. It is more a matter of reading for what's important, and an innate sense of how to do this will come with familiarity. And most importantly, stay focused and push through the passages. The material is intentionally dry and loaded with technicalities so that you will get bored and zone out. Don't fall into this trap.

On Clutch

There are some of us that are incredibly motivated and hard working, well-meaning folk who when it comes to high pressure situations simply lose our cool and crack, failing to realize our true potential because our nerves get the best of us. The LSAT is one of these high pressure situations. 4 hours of your life >> 4 years of undergrad in terms of law school admissions. As backward and unfair as this may seem, law school is often rife with high pressure situations. As such it is best to accept the reality of the importance of the situation. If you have ice in your veins, this will help you on the LSAT. As such I recommend doing some high pressure things to make that measly paper packet seem silly by comparison. Go skydiving, have unprotected-sex with an attractive stranger, play with fire and gasoline(together), watch Breaking Bad, drive really-fast on a narrow curvy-road, go bowling, do cocaine, have a stroke, etc. After doing things like this, the hype will fall away and will be hard to take the LSAT seriously.

On Luck

I realize that the difference between a 172 and 177 is quite slim(one screwed up or tough LG). Furthermore, I believe that in order to achieve a truly top score (177-180) certain things simply have to fall into place for your given administration. So I wish you all the best of luck. But remember, luck favors the well-prepared.

On TLS

This forum has been a priceless resource in my study and research. Thank you to all in the community. And to the few (if any) that actually made it to the end, thank you for reading.


Humbly,

TheCurrantThyme

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Jeffort
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby Jeffort » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:17 am

I like the post, it's good motivational information. Although I was hoping the mushrooms were going to play more in the story, like some brilliant meta perspective on the LSAT you saw in a brief psychedelic vision or seeing the games work real time like an animated cartoon, that would be cool.

melmoththewanderer
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby melmoththewanderer » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:08 am

OP, thank you very much for this thoughtful post. I had a question for you, which is when did you know you were "ready" to take the test?

KingofSplitters55
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby KingofSplitters55 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:33 am

Disagree strongly with two things in your post:

1) Your post was not "garbage"
2) Your post definitely was worth reading.

Thanks for the enlightening read.

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Gamine
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby Gamine » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:55 am

Nice post

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Dr. Dre
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby Dr. Dre » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:11 am

I like your tone, OP.

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tuffyjohnson
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby tuffyjohnson » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:59 am

Did you use addy on test day for your ADD?

TheCurrantThyme
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby TheCurrantThyme » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:50 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:Did you use addy on test day for your ADD?



I did not. But I did drink a couple beers and do twenty pushups to get the blood flowing and quell the nerves. I had the advantage of being able to walk to my testing location, which was very nice.

TheCurrantThyme
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby TheCurrantThyme » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:05 am

melmoththewanderer wrote:OP, thank you very much for this thoughtful post. I had a question for you, which is when did you know you were "ready" to take the test?


To be honest with you, I am not entirely sure I maxed out my score. A bad breakup coupled with being out of school had my mind on other things and I had begun to lose interest(and focus) toward the LSAT in my final month of study. This probably cost me a couple points on LG. However, I had set a goal score of 174 3 months prior to test day and I was PTing in that range consistently with a few minutes to spare at the end of each section. So really I wasn't 100% sure I was ready yet, but I felt quite alright about my chances and had already paid for the test.

Blah, Blah, Blah........


In summary: I would say that in some point in your studies you will reach a point of severely diminishing returns where you can struggle for weeks or even a month for just a tiny improvement(or none at all). I would say this point is the point at which to stop. This is not to be confused with a plateau.

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wtrc
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby wtrc » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:07 am

Thanks for this post, really. I can identify with much of what you said regarding the nerves and timing issues and concentration etc.

Question for you: you said meditation can help you focus. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

TheCurrantThyme
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby TheCurrantThyme » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:12 am

Jeffort wrote:I like the post, it's good motivational information. Although I was hoping the mushrooms were going to play more in the story, like some brilliant meta perspective on the LSAT you saw in a brief psychedelic vision or seeing the games work real time like an animated cartoon, that would be cool.


Thanks! I would have focused much more on this aspect, as it did play an important part in my studies(motivation and confidence). However, I feel that the psychedelic experience is very esoteric, and I don't want to alienate anyone with hippie-babble. One interesting thing to note though: at the very peak of my 6 hour long trip I began thinking solely in conditional logic(involuntarily lol). And this was before ever having been exposed to any prep materials. I will say that it was a very nice primer.

throwawayy12
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby throwawayy12 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:22 am

I've always wondered how I would do on a PT while on a mild psylocybin or LSD trip.

TheCurrantThyme
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby TheCurrantThyme » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:29 am

wtrcoins3 wrote:Thanks for this post, really. I can identify with much of what you said regarding the nerves and timing issues and concentration etc.

Question for you: you said meditation can help you focus. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?


Thanks and most certainly. I believe that in order to truly maximize your score on the LSAT, you must learn to micromanage your thoughts. I would frequently be prepping and have to scold myself for letting my mind wander off to greener pastures. This will kill your pacing if done on test day. I needed to think about nothing but the RC sitting in front of me for 35 minutes. The reason meditation helped me is because, as the spiritual higher ups will tell you: Meditation is literally attention to attention. Meditation is the art of thinking about nothing, which is WAY harder and more boring than it sounds. This may not work for everyone, but when I was doing this regularly, I became much more aware of the useless, swirling thoughts and I was able to train my thinking to become clean and focused. On the LSAT I was able to coax myself into zen like state where I thought about nothing. I would literally be looking at an LR question, and there would be no inner-monologue, no sub-vocalization of words, just delightful nothingness. I apologize, it is kind of hard to describe haha.

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PrizeFighter
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby PrizeFighter » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:02 pm

TheCurrantThyme wrote:
wtrcoins3 wrote:Thanks for this post, really. I can identify with much of what you said regarding the nerves and timing issues and concentration etc.

Question for you: you said meditation can help you focus. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?


Thanks and most certainly. I believe that in order to truly maximize your score on the LSAT, you must learn to micromanage your thoughts. I would frequently be prepping and have to scold myself for letting my mind wander off to greener pastures. This will kill your pacing if done on test day. I needed to think about nothing but the RC sitting in front of me for 35 minutes. The reason meditation helped me is because, as the spiritual higher ups will tell you: Meditation is literally attention to attention. Meditation is the art of thinking about nothing, which is WAY harder and more boring than it sounds. This may not work for everyone, but when I was doing this regularly, I became much more aware of the useless, swirling thoughts and I was able to train my thinking to become clean and focused. On the LSAT I was able to coax myself into zen like state where I thought about nothing. I would literally be looking at an LR question, and there would be no inner-monologue, no sub-vocalization of words, just delightful nothingness. I apologize, it is kind of hard to describe haha.



I've recently started meditating to sharpen my focus, and I've found the struggle to maintain focus on something as mundane as my breathing feels very similar to the process of trying to reign in my fucus during a tough LSAT passage. When my mind starts to wander during the LSAT, I've been implementing a strategy of closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. This tactic has helped me nip these mental wanderings in the bud before they become a real distraction.

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objection_your_honor
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby objection_your_honor » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:33 pm

Very helpful post.

For the RC portion, I assume you mean "5 word," not "5 line."

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tuffyjohnson
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Re: A Neurotic Self-Loathing Sailor's Brain Dump on the LSAT

Postby tuffyjohnson » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:03 pm

Do you really think powerscore is better than Manhattan for LR?




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