Good to Know: LSAT Edition

I’m done with the LSAT! My summer of studying is finally done and beyond me!!! So while I try to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing my score for the next month, might as well write down all the little tips and tricks that helped me while preparing for the LSAT while they’re all fresh in my head, right? And so, here I go!

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Register for the LSAT early because there’s no stress quite like logging into LSAC.org only to find all the test centers within a 50 mile radius are full and you need to put yourself on a waitlist. (Even though the waitlist is basically a guarantee that you’ll find a spot somewhere, I’d say to save yourself trouble and secure a spot somewhere nearby that you can postpone or change later rather than panicking about the kind of commute you’re going to end up having on test day.)

Don’t cheat yourself when it comes to your diagnostic practice test, don’t study or prepare in advance! There’s so much to learn from your first score; from your aptitude for certain sections over others, to what specific logical reasoning stems confuse you, to just how much progress you end up making during your entire study journey! Nobody will ever ask to see your diagnostic, so make that first test all about you and go in blind! You’ll only go up from there!

Take at least 5 practice tests in full testing conditions. Whether its through a course or offered free on your campus or done through your own impeccable willpower, knowing the timetable of the test like it’s second nature is incredibly comforting the day of the actual test and will give you one less thing to stress about.

During these practice tests in full testing conditions, test out what kind of snacks/water/breakfast/coffee makes you feel the best because it’s the little things that can matter a ton. I got a iced coffee before every single practice test in the beginning because I thought I needed it to stay alert (and plus I basically always get an iced coffee in the morning!), only to realize later on that the caffeine + adrenaline from the test was too much to handle and made me way too jittery and unfocused for the test.

Also, maybe this is just the superstitious side of me talking, but feeling and looking your best can honestly help you preform your best— at least what I’ve noticed in my case! The days I show up in my random t-shirts while not looking on point, my score was also not on point. But I guess there’s something about getting up a little early and spending some (as cheesy as it sounds) one-on-one hype time with yourself in the mirror that adds a positive and empowering spin to your whole day! I’m not saying dress up for your tests and you’ll get a 180, but definitely feel your best in every single way so that when you walk into a test so there are no excuses to hold you back.

If you’re going to take a course, take Blueprint because their resources are truly unmatched. You can target your weaknesses down to the question type, the difficulty, the subject type and get explanations down to every question– every answer choice– you get wrong. Along with that, the analytics they offer you on your practice tests is so so helpful when you’re trying to figure out what you’re not understanding. I could sing my praises forever, basically, okay? Just go with Blueprint. (However, 7Sage also seems really promising and they offer access to every single practice test out there, so maybe that’s worth a shot too? Just, for your own best interests, avoid Kaplan.)

Everyone says Logic Games are the easiest to improve on and they are right. In fact, courses will end up teaching you many different forms of logic games so you’re super prepared– but at one point you’re going to realize that after the first few lessons you have the tools to master anything they throw at you. The only thing that can mess you up is getting nervous and over-assuming what the rules mean. Because like Zena said to me once during LSAT class, “How many different ways can there be to formal logic?” She’s right! There’s not that many! Learn not to panic on this section.

Once you understand assumptions in Logical Reasoning, the whole test opens up for you. Sufficient assumptions are the missing link that you need to make your argument valid, where necessary assumptions are the pieces of information you need to even have an argument in the first place. And those assumptions play heavily in Strengthen and Weaken questions too!

Fallacies are also everywhere! I knew all the fallacies like the back of my hand in 11th grade but somewhere along the way to today they all got jumbled, and a refresher in them was nice. Fallacies don’t just show up in flaw questions but literally throughout the test (possibly throughout all the Logical Reasoning question types and then some in Reading comprehension!). Get them completely down the first time you learn them and it’ll be a breeze going forward.

Seek out advice wherever you can find it– the internet is a goldmine of resources! As someone who likes to know as much about a situation as possible before I dive into it, the whole process of studying for and taking the LSAT was completely foreign to me and I got a lot of my best advice and most comforting stories from internet friends and law school blogs! On the days leading up to and immediately after the LSAT, r/LSAT was super helpful for providing me a space to ask my dumb questions about the test and my study struggles and read other people’s advice and solutions, as well. All the LSAT course out there have some great blogs with informative content (Blueprint, Powerscore, 7Sage, Manhattan Prep, etc), and you’d be a fool not to take advantage of free advice!

However, on that note, it’s important to know your limits. There was a point where I was just reading pages upon pages for hours upon hours of wild success stories on the Blueprint blog about people who made 30 point jumps to their dream score and got into their dream school instead of oh, I don’t know, actually studying. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of content and be overwhelmed by everyone else’s success stories that your own seems too far out of reach. But that in itself a self-fulfilling prophecy and you don’t have any head space for bad vibes when you’re trying to master this test. Kick that shit to curb and move onward, pal.

Read! They say Reading Comprehension is one of the hardest sections to improve on (not impossible! Just hard!) and so something I started doing to boost my tolerance for absorbing dense material I most-of-the-time didn’t care about was to start avidly listening to NPR. And honestly, I underestimated the National Public Radio because some of the stories they aired in the mornings were actually incredibly informative and entertaining (I listened to one about Angela Duckworth’s new book, Grit, for about 40 minutes in the Ralph’s parking lot! Just left my car on and wasted that gas…. smh….), but occasionally they had something scientific or generally dense that really tested my attention span and willpower to not switch to 105.9. And that was the point I guess, because on test day you can’t switch the channel when you’ve got a difficult ass passage about judicial candor that you have to get through, right?

You’re probably not going to get a good night’s sleep whether you sleep in your own bed or a hotel, so if you can get a hotel for cheap nearby your center instead of a long commute in the morning, I’d say do it! My commute to my testing center would’ve only been about 30-50 minutes, but considering how many traffic horror stories I’ve lived through, I didn’t want to take my chances and because of that my morning of was so peaceful and stress-free. If you can stay closer, do it. If you can’t, just don’t create additional stress for yourself and make sure you leave early + ready for anything!

Prepare your gallon baggie for the test a couple days in advance after you’ve thoroughly read the instructions about what you can and cant take into your testing center. I’m obviously a very big planner and organizer so that was really helpful for me– but even so I accidentally brought a mechanical eraser that Blueprint gave me to the exam and had to James-Bond-style stash the mechanical part in the school somewhere so I could get it back later. Just do yourself a favor and don’t put anything remotely mechanical in your bag! Read the instructions!

The analog watch trick where you turn the clock to 12 at the start of each section to easily keep track of time? Genius. If you try it for the first time on the real test day (like me) you’re probably going to fuck up your timing on one of the sections, but hey! Better than nothing!

It might be wise to circle the questions that you skip but still bubble in the answer you think might be right as a placeholder while you’re going through the test. Something that was particularly challenging for me was remembering to bubble in guess answers while I was running low on time– and it’s crucial to always bubble something because every question is a possibility for a point and there’s no penalties for wrong answers! However, do whatever works for you, but figure out some kind of strategy for getting those potentially lucky guess points before the proctor calls time.

And at lastly, an important piece of perspective, you don’t need a 100% for a “perfect” score of 180, you can actually get 2-3 questions wrong. Along with that, if you answer about 50/100 questions right, you’ll be in the 40th percentile of test takers and if you answer 75/100 questions right, you’ll be in the 90th percentile! Act fast, but don’t get completely hung up over trying to get to all the questions and get them all right but rather focus on accuracy. If you can guarantee that basically every single question you’ve answered is right, that’s better that speeding through the test and missing even more than expected.

Now in the end, this was only my first LSAT attempt and I have about a month to go before I find out my score and need to decide if I want to take it again. So I’m definitely no expert on this test or this experience, these are just tidbits I wish I knew earlier/would tell anyone else in my shoes. But as daunting as the test is, it’s also been a wonderful time of testing my limits, learning new things, and working hard on improving myself. I’ve actually enjoyed everything I’ve done and learned– and while law school is literally nothing like this nit-picky logical stuff, man, I’d be so excited to take on that challenge too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Shiggy (2)

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