Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

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LibertyKoko

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Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby LibertyKoko » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:29 pm

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/ar ... or/504530/

What does everyone think about this article? I think it greatly overstates the cost of how much it takes to learn the LSAT. I had the $179 7sage subscription, powerscore books, and some practice tests. Altogether that was probably about $300 bucks. I understand how if you were dead broke you couldn't afford that but I also know that there are prep books available at libraries and 7sage does logic games videos for free on youtube.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby kindofcanuck » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:39 pm

LibertyKoko wrote:http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/the-lsat-is-rigged-against-the-poor/504530/

What does everyone think about this article? I think it greatly overstates the cost of how much it takes to learn the LSAT. I had the $179 7sage subscription, powerscore books, and some practice tests. Altogether that was probably about $300 bucks. I understand how if you were dead broke you couldn't afford that but I also know that there are prep books available at libraries and 7sage does logic games videos for free on youtube.


It's utterly ridiculous. Most people preparing will pay something for preptests (although, whilst not endorsed, if a person were strapped for cash they could obtain them online without even that). Explanations are free online, as are communities to help. There is no requirement for expensive books or courses.

The bigger question is how on earth that journalist got exactly 1 Q right her first time doing LG. I can understand only tackling three games, and missing the harder questions on each. Getting a single one right, and every other Q wrong means she has extreme problems with basic reading comprehension (which is all the first Q for most games is).

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby logan3000 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:51 pm

agreed that it's a bit exaggerated but the time factor is definitely significant

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby haus » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:00 pm

Keep in mind that reliable (and reasonably speedy) internet access is not a given in this country, especially on a system which is well situated and suited for extended study periods.

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LibertyKoko

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby LibertyKoko » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:03 pm

haus wrote:Keep in mind that reliable (and reasonably speedy) internet access is not a given in this country, especially on a system which is well situated and suited for extended study periods.

I guess but most of the people taking the test are in college so they obviously have access to internet or are college graduates which greatly decreases the chances they are living in poverty.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby haus » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:07 pm

LibertyKoko wrote:
haus wrote:Keep in mind that reliable (and reasonably speedy) internet access is not a given in this country, especially on a system which is well situated and suited for extended study periods.

I guess but most of the people taking the test are in college so they obviously have access to internet or are college graduates which greatly decreases the chances they are living in poverty.

I see you have not hung out with a lot of theater arts majors.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby devilsadvocatetroll » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:17 pm

The article is dumb on so many counts. First off: I am someone who has had no tutoring in the LSAT. I have only read the logic games bible and afterwards, never got more than 1 wrong on any logic game section under real time constraints. Her whole premise is that you need tutoring or to pay an extensive amount in order to become good at LG. I am sure I am one of many who have become good at LG with no tutoring. Simply because she is terrible at LG doesn't mean that everyone is like her.

I absolutely bomb (and still do) RC all the time, with a median of -6 and a standard deviation of prolly around -2. I do not find this section easy, even though I am a humanities major and I have done fairly well in school. Frankly, I process words slower than symbols. If I take her simplification that you are "either good at RC or not" to be a legitimate argument, I can just as easily apply that to LG. After all, you can get a good LG score if you are detail oriented, good at making inferences, and have a good memory, all of which are also just something you are "either good at or not" from your years of living on planet earth.

The real reason that there are so few poor people that attend law school is that it is 3 years opportunity cost of not earning money plus (with no aid) 300k down the drain. The cost of private tutoring pales in comparison to this massive amount of money, and I seriously even doubt a potential law student is deterred due to their percieved lack of ability to get good at the Logic Games section.
Last edited by devilsadvocatetroll on Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby 20170322 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:17 pm

The problem with this article is that it doesn't address the fact that the LSAT is, on net, an equalizer. If it was just GPA/undergrad prestige/softs, it would be even less fair.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby ivankasta » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:38 pm

Also, the article is trying to make claims about a systematic, statistical bias in the test yet it treats a quote from one student they met as reliable evidence?

The whole thing read like it was written by someone who asked "what's an LSAT?" when they were assigned this article.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby mtf612 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:56 pm

There certainly are some smaller test taking strategies which cannot be gained without either a tutor or a class. For example, knowing not to waste time on the 'replace a rule' game questions (if you're not at mastery level), or knowing when to cut your losses on a hard LR question. These things only really matter at the margins. I fully agree that the availability of time makes a world of difference. I put off moving into an apartment for a few months so that I could work part time and do the forty most recent PTs. I will say though, that this test can be learned without spending four hours a day. Law school is expensive - getting a high score to mitigate cost with a scholarship is worth it. Taking one hour each day over the course of several months to either study free materials, a book, an online course like 7sage, or to do a section and review it will create major improvement over time.

The focus on logic games seems arbitrary. As others have said, the LR and RC sections are not perfect reflections of skills learned in undergrad. In fact, it took me a while on RC to stop trying to 'forsee' what the author 'would think' and to see what 'they said.' My skills as a polisci/philo student made RC a total pain which required doing many many sections to hone to even a -3 average. Even LR requires a degree of understanding what each question type is referring to. In my eyes, learning LG took less time than learning the nuances of LR and RC.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby calpolisci2016 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:20 am

I wonder how many people who have posted in this thread thus far actually come from the bottom half of society's annual income distribution.

Many of you here have said that you're exceptions to the subject of the article. Congratulations, but you're just that: exceptions. The data says otherwise about how skewed law school is towards the top quartile of the income distribution. Now the extent to which LSAT acts as a barrier to that inequality is certainly debatable.

This topic really interested me so I actually read the study the article cited, and the lack of SES diversity in law school is stark. I highly recommend you all at least read the tables in that study.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby ivankasta » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:38 am

calpolisci2016 wrote:I wonder how many people who have posted in this thread thus far actually come from the bottom half of society's annual income distribution.

Many of you here have said that you're exceptions to the subject of the article. Congratulations, but you're just that: exceptions. The data says otherwise about how skewed law school is towards the top quartile of the income distribution. Now the extent to which LSAT acts as a barrier to that inequality is certainly debatable.

This topic really interested me so I actually read the study the article cited, and the lack of SES diversity in law school is stark. I highly recommend you all at least read the tables in that study.


I don't dislike this article because I don't believe the test has a bias towards those from wealthier backgrounds. It does, the data is clear. What I dislike is that the article attempts to simplify this extremely complex and puzzling issue down to "you need to pay for a thousand dollar class if you want a chance to do well." That may play a role, but to treat that as the main/only issue is misleading.

What bothered me most is the fact that the article shamelessly plugged two for-profit prep companies.

The bottom line is, as SweetTort pointed out, the LSAT has flaws and biases, but as a whole, it is an equalizing force.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:29 am

I'm just baffled at how any reasonably literate, presumably neurotypical person could only get one LG question correct.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby ivankasta » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:45 am

rinkrat19 wrote:I'm just baffled at how any reasonably literate, presumably neurotypical person could only get one LG question correct.


At least an illiterate person would guess randomly and get 5 correct.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby BobBoblaw » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:00 am

Classes are one thing, this board obviously attracts a lot of people who are self organized and don't really need the structure of a classroom, but we need to remember that we are not a representative sample. The one thing I do read all the time on these forums that does indicate an inordinate amount of privilege is the 'put it off a year and do another retake' refrain. There are so many reasons why putting off law school to retake the LSATS won't work for those at the bottom income brackets. It sometimes surprises me how often such advice is proffered with no apparent consideration for how easily plans and life in general can get derailed when one is at or below the poverty line.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby kindofcanuck » Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:43 am

calpolisci2016 wrote:This topic really interested me so I actually read the study the article cited, and the lack of SES diversity in law school is stark. I highly recommend you all at least read the tables in that study.


The topic interests me as well. The article is rubbish. And incidentally, 'Article references a table which is true, and contains important information, therefore the article must be true' would be a very early LR identify-the-flaw question.

In order to buttress that argument, the author needs to show that the LSAT worsens socio-economic inequality. What she showed is that she can't read 'A must go before B' (and I feel bad writing that, because that's actually the alphabet and you'd hope a journalist would know that - but that's all the rules she couldn't understand come down to).

She also misunderstood the scoring of the entire test - she says by getting 1/24 on her first LG, "I had a 160 before starting the other sections". No, she could max out at 160. She had 120. And it's a small, but telling difference, that illustrates she's writing about something about which she has no idea.

The writing on work placements is very poor, and bordering on libel. She says that 180/200 law schools "can't find jobs for 80% of their graduates". She is either actively pretending that 80%+ of JD graduates aren't using their JD, or she has misunderstood a similarly-but-differently-worded claim in the article she links to, or she is unable to write in a manner which makes it clear that jobs can't be found for 20% of their graduates, and that law schools rarely have employment rates over 80% for their graduates.

She says it is unlike 'anything taught other than in high level maths and philosophy courses'. Formal logic is the foundation of philosophy, and taught right at the start, because you couldn't evaluate the rest of the degree without it. Whilst you wouldn't expect students to encounter it in a high school classroom, you wouldn't expect high school students to be taking the LSAT. And if they did, the LG that she's being paid to randomly blast, is the section they'd probably do best on because it's simply puzzles. Formal logic training helps, but is no requirement. Anyone can write out "A before B. If C, no D." Many of the questions, especially early ones, are basic reading comprehension, there's a sequence, with rules. She doesn't seem to grasp just how poorly she did, compared to even the worst normal cold diagnostics.

Article uses one anecdote from a student who believes they did poorly, but doesn't know because they cancelled, and presents it as data.

Article then says the wealthier students find games easier because they can pay for classes. This would only be true if all the wealthy students do pay for classes. A small difference, but indicative that she probably didn't go -0 on LR either. She assumes both that everyone who can pay for a class does so, and that everyone who goes to a class is helped by them. I submit that neither one is the case.

Her other argument is that more affluent people have more time to study. That's just about the first thing in the entire crap-fest which isn't necessarily untrue (Well. I suppose her LG probably isn't, because lying to claim she had a -23 on one section would be madness). But it's the sort of time pressure that evens out relatively early. If you're working two full time jobs and a part time job, then yes, you'll barely have time to sleep, be eating at work, and hopefully they're all within five minutes walk. Those people would struggle. But we're not talking merely about the bottom 5% being underrepresented, we're talking about the bottom 90%. Most of whom will do one job (for far too many people, won't be as many hours as they'd like), and have a few hours free each day. For a trust-fund brat doing prep as their full-time 'job', I'd reckon there would be a high degree of burn-out, and massively diminishing returns. Once you have time to drill sections, and do occasional full-tests, additional time doesn't help so much as having the time for the basics.

Ooooooof. And breathe. Perhaps someone else will someday write an article for them giving an actual critique of the LSAT, rather than this bizarre hatchet-job by someone who didn't know anything about the topic :)

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:37 am

Yeah, I do think that having money makes it easier to do well on the LSAT wrt access to resources and time (there are obviously cheaper/free resources but courses and tutors do cost). But the focus exclusively on logic games is really weird, especially since it seems pretty anecdotally clear that people taking diagnostics are all over the place wrt success on logic games - there are plenty of people who come to the test doing well at logic games without prep. Law schools do suffer from a lack of socioeconomic diversity, but pinning that on the LSAT seems to overlook all kinds of problems that occur much earlier (poor schools and pressures that make it hard to succeed in school probably play a much bigger role than the format of the logic games).

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby devilsadvocatetroll » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:46 am

I think some of you who wrote after my comment have missed a fundamental point said in this article.

Someone above mentioned that she is talking about the average 0L and not TLSers. She literally wrote: good LSAT score (specifically LG section) --> received tutoring. If this were true, one CANNOT get a good LSAT score (specifically score well on the LG section) if one does not have tutoring...which is utterly false. To reiterate my previous comment, her whole argument is based on this premise and so ultimately fails.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby poptart123 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:28 am

ivankasta wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:I'm just baffled at how any reasonably literate, presumably neurotypical person could only get one LG question correct.


At least an illiterate person would guess randomly and get 5 correct.


If I sat the author and a chimp down to take the test for the first time, the chimp would score better.

tl;dr chimp > author for LSAT

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby Hikikomorist » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:30 am

Any aptitude/admissions test that didn't have a rich-poor score disparity would almost certainly be an ineffective test.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby Aristogeiton1 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:38 am

The privilege on the board is so thick you could cut a slice of it off, toss it into an urban area, and it would gentrify an entire neighborhood.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby guynourmin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:19 am

mtf612 wrote:There certainly are some smaller test taking strategies which cannot be gained without either a tutor or a class. For example, knowing not to waste time on the 'replace a rule' game questions (if you're not at mastery level) .


In the FREE 7sage videos JY says to skip these unless you're solid on games at least half the time they come up. Probably close to every time, honestly.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby Nichilismo » Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:42 am

Eh, I'm dead broke, my folks are broke and I was able to scrape up books from friends and ebay along with finding some great online resources. I could not come close to being able to afford any of the classes available. I actually waited on the dean of my University's law school (at the restaurant I work at near the school) and he asked me if I took any of the classes... I just stared at him and said, no dude... I wait tables for a living... A lot of people in that world are totally out of touch with what it takes us lesser's to afford the resources to take a test. LSAC also has a GREAT program where they give you one of their books that has 3 full LSAT's and explanations and you get 2 test attempts on the house. Not to mention fee waivers for the application process, LSAC really does good work in that regard. At the end of the day, if you want to go to law school, you better be smart, and if you're smart, you'll find a way to get in. *excessive comma to make a point alert*

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby amta » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:21 pm

weird that they focused on the most equalizing part of LS admissions as the cause of inequality in admissions.

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Re: Article: How the LSAT Destroys Socioeconomic Diversity

Postby Barack O'Drama » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:12 pm

I can see BOTH SIDES of the argument I guess. Though I mostly agree with all of you guys above who say it's bullshit in one way or another. Someone made a good point about not having reliable internet access, though. That's something to consider.

I guess the simple answer for me is: Life isn't fair. There are disadvantages all throughout life and if you are incapable of navigating them then entering the legal profession probably isn't a good idea anyway.

I've always been a sort of "que sera sera" guy when it comes to shit like this. If you're smart, you'll find a way. Be it broke, completely poor, homeless, etc. Believe it or not, I've been all of those things... Where there's a will there's a way.


That's just how I see it....
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