New poster, longtime lurker. In the weeks preceding the October LSAT, my practice tests ranged from the mid to high 150s. I was consistently scoring in the 157-159 range. The highest I scored in a practice test was a 160.
I originally planned to take the test in June, but postponed until October because I was PTing in the low 150s at the time. I studied my ass off the entire summer and the first month of school. Nevertheless, I still didn't see marked improvements. I decided to take the test anyway, because I wanted to get it over with, and I didn't want it hanging over my head.
So, somehow, on test day I pulled off a 165. I did better in RC and LG than I had on any practice test. I didn't sleep particularly well the night before, although I was in bed (resting, watching TV) for about 10 hours. I'm not a naturally nervous person either, so in some ways I enjoyed taking the test and looking forward to some free time. Admittedly, I found the RC and LG portions easier than some of my practice tests, but I got about 10 questions more correct on the real thing than on my practice tests, which is naturally surprising.
My question is, what does this mean? Should I count my lucky stars and move on, or should I make the push to 170 in this next month? My only concern is that I'll start PTing again and will see scores way below 165, which wouldn't make sense to me. If anyone has any tips for getting over the hump to 170--I figured I only needed to get six more questions right in October--please let me know. At this point I am willing to do anything to get to that level because I have a 3.9 GPA I don't want to waste. Also, if anyone has heard about miraculous test day performances, it would be great to read about those.
I'd also recommend Manhattan LSAT and the Cambridge packets for anyone looking to make real improvements. It really does work for LR/RC, and I'd be happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more about how I studied.
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Lots of people are able to perform better within the actual exam setting, so this is not unusual. If you are dead set on applying this cycle, I would start working through LSAT Trainer ASAP. Though, I would recommend taking in February or June and applying next cycle, because you have a strong potential for high 170s. If December, I would also make sure you understand what tripped you up in October and why. Then, drill those question flavors the hardest. Make sure you are instantly able to tell what the question is asking you to do, what the correct answer would look like and what the incorrect answers most likely look like. If you are able to answer all of those questions very quickly before moving to the answer choices, you have a much higher likelihood of success and speed through pattern recognition. HTH and best of luck!