My LSAT Advice- Don't be like me!

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My LSAT Advice- Don't be like me!

Post by LostGirl90 » Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:02 pm

Advice about LSAT - Learn from my mistakes!

1. Make sure you give yourself enough time (both in terms of time devoted per week and duration over several months) to study.
There’s a lot of asinine advice online that warns against studying “for too long”, saying that over, say, a course of 6 months or a year, you’re in danger of forgetting the concepts you learned in the beginning when you finally take the test. This is stupid because as you progress, concepts build upon previous concepts and it all fits together and is continually practiced. The other warning is that you will “fatigue” and “burn out” before the test if you spend too much time studying. This is completely untrue. Just like in any test, the more you study for the LSAT, the better! It’s better to be overprepared and “fatigued” then to put an artificial time limit on yourself and end up underprepared. This is what happened to me the first time I took the test. I gave myself only 3 months to prepare, while working two part-time jobs, one of which was very demanding.

My advice on study time:
-If you have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE GOING ON and are able to devote yourself to LSAT COMPLETELY, 3-4 months should be sufficient.
-If you have a part-time job that’s no big deal, MAYBE 5 months is okay.
-If you have a full-time job, two part-time jobs, are a parent or have any other significant responsibilities, plan on spending 9 months to a year studying for the LSAT.
For perspective from my own story, by the time I took my second test, it had been about 7 months from Day 1 of studying. The first 3 months (during which time I took the first test), I had 2 part-time jobs, one of which was demanding. For the remainder of that time, I had only the one part-time job that was not a big time sink- about 20 hours a week. In terms of material/knowledge/intellectual preparation, I was at 100% at this point. (Psychological is a different story....which I’ll get to later in this post!)

My advice on test date:
Be prepared to change your test date if your practice tests are not where they need to be. This was my mistake. I had my heart set on taking the test in the summer so I could get my score back and apply to law schools by Sept/Oct. The reality was that I wasn’t ready, ended up having to retake in November and ended up applying in DECEMBER.
SO, if you have ANY inkling or concern that you haven’t studied enough or are not where you need to be about 1 month before the test (I forget the bench marks but you should essentially be at/around goal at this point), CHANGE THE TEST DATE. Don’t worry about losing the money. You’ll lose a lot more money if you don’t get the LSAT score you need to get into your goal school with big scholarships!

2. Research what school you want to go to and THEN set your LSAT score goal.
My mistake was that I had my heart set on that magical 170, which would solve all my problems and get me into my dream schools and beyond. I did very little research on what was required to get into the schools I was most interested in. What you need to do is find your goal school, based on the market/location you want to be in and possibly based on specialty as well. What I learned is that most schools outside of the T14/T20 are REGIONAL to an extent, so you really need to know where you want to live and work before applying to law school! So, choose your ideal school. Look up the percentiles. An LSAT score at a school’s 50th percentile (median) will pretty much ensure admission, as long as gpa is ok and no other red flags. However, you generally need to get higher than 75th percentile in order to get money. Of course, the higher you get, the better. Only one school I applied to gave me a FULL scholarship, and my LSAT score was 11 points above their median. (Not guaranteed that this is a formula, but just to give you an idea).
Set a reasonable goal for yourself based on admissions statistics for your gpa and various LSAT scores. (Although gpa is a LOT less relevant than LSAT score). Even if you set your goal high, if you know you’re doing this to get into a particular school, it will change the psychological landscape tremendously. For me, I got nervous because my goal of “getting the best score I could get” (Which I assumed was 170) became a symbol of my self-esteem, intelligence, and potential as a student. I think if my goal was to get a 170 because that’s what I needed to get a substantial scholarship at XYZ Law School, I would have seen the test differently- more as a means to an end, rather than a reflection of me. Note that this mainly applies to Type A/obsessive/self-critical personalities such as myself. The moral of the story is, Frame the LSAT in a way that is most conducive to your individual psychological makeup . This is REALLY important and not discussed enough AT ALL. Throughout college, I NEVER had test anxiety or any psychological issues with school or taking tests. And the LSAT broke me. Forewarned is forearmed!

3. Make sure you want to be a lawyer before taking the LSAT!
Don’t be like me. I did everything backwards. I jumped into the LSAT because I gave myself an unnecessarily restrictive timeline. If I was gonna go to law school, it was “now or never.” I have somewhat of a good reason because of my age, but if you’re like 22 years old just coming out of undergrad, or even in your mid 20’s after working/floundering for a bit, really THINK THIS THROUGH before committing to it. There are two main benefits:

-Knowing that you WANT THIS will strengthen your resolve and make you a lot more serious about studying for and taking the test. It will force you to PRIORITIZE the test and make good judgements concerning study time, test date, and other factors.

-Understanding the law profession, specialties, how you get a job, etc. will better prepare you for the application process. If you didn’t think any of this through before the LSAT, you will be forced to do it after the LSAT, when your brain is fried and you’ll be feeling pressure to “apply as soon as possible” and possibly make poor choices in school selection and/or application materials. Trust me, WHEN YOU APPLY DOES NOT MATTER. I applied to the majority of my schools in LATE DECEMBER AND JANUARY and for the most part, I got great results considering my numbers. And yes I got decent scholarship money. A few other schools I applied to in MARCH and I got accepted. With money. So don’t worry so much about when to your research BEFORE deciding to take the LSAT. And once you decide to take it, devote yourself entirely to it and RESCHEDULE THE TEST IF YOU’RE NOT READY. Trust me. It isn’t worth it to take the test if you’re not sufficiently prepared.
WHEN you apply is infinitely less important than WHAT you apply with (in terms of your LSAT score/gpa).


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Re: My LSAT Advice- Don't be like me!

Post by QContinuum » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:31 pm

Thanks very much for taking the time to post the above. It's a great post that should be very helpful to any 0L contemplating law school.

Two points, though:
  • GPA and LSAT are about equally important. The thing is that by the time most folks start seriously thinking about law school applications, their GPA is already "locked in" and unchangeable. The LSAT, on the other hand, is always changeable because one can always retake the exam and schools only consider the highest score (not the average). That's why TLS focuses so strongly on optimizing LSAT score. But again, GPA is equally important, so in evaluating which law schools you're likely to get into, you must consider both your GPA and your LSAT. Only using one or the other will invariably yield inaccurate predictions. I strongly recommend using MyLSN to get a good sense of where you're likely to be competitive for acceptances & scholarship money.
  • Timing of application does matter. Bigly. If possible, it's optimal to apply before December 1st. It's strongly recommended to apply before December 31st if at all possible. This is because law school admissions are "rolling," so if you apply late, schools will have fewer acceptances to give out and a smaller pot of scholarship money to draw from. You are likely to "underperform" your expected results (based on MyLSN's predictions from former applicants' results) if you apply in January or later. (On the other hand, there's no big advantage to applying "super early," i.e., in September or October. So long as you get everything in - including rec letters - by December 1st, you shouldn't be at any disadvantage at any school.)

Blueprint LSAT
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Re: My LSAT Advice- Don't be like me!

Post by Blueprint LSAT » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:49 pm

I wish more people would seek the perspective of other students before diving in. Everyone is a little bit different, but there are a lot of important things here that people should hear. I think a lot of the drastically varied advice comes from the fact that different people need to do different amounts of prep. If you can get to your goal score by tweaking your natural instincts you don't need a ton of prep. If you need a big bump in score then it doesn't matter how smart or talented you are up front you may have a considerable amount of work ahead of you, and the total amount of time you will need to spend studying isn't always clear up front. In a lot of areas you will be replacing your natural talent, not augmenting it. Giving yourself time and flexibility to figure that out and make adjustments is good advice.

I do want to say something about burnout, though.

You make a really good point about skills building on skills. The burnout I warn students about is more short-term, and the solution isn't to limit your overall duration it is to cut back on the number of hours/day if you are going overboard and take a few days off now and then. The reason that is so important is that the LSAT requires peak attention, which you can't give if you are at your wits end. You will find yourself falling in to traps you haven't fallen into in months because your brain is shutting off and you are defaulting to your instincts rather than using your knowledge.


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Re: My LSAT Advice- Don't be like me!

Post by 239840 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 3:48 pm

The point about test dates is great. Don't let yourself get caught up emotionally in taking it at a specific time. As OP said, it's far, far better to sit for the LSAT after you've reached the point where at/above your goal score on several PTs. If you feel like you're not quite ready, it's never a good idea to just take it in the hope that it will go unexpectedly well.

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