Am I in an untenable situation?
September 8, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Please assist me with my LSAT prep anxiety...

The test is on October 4th. I'm consistently scoring 158 on practice lsats. I haven't done much prep work aside from taking the tests, though I have the powerscore logic games bible, a book of ten past tests, and the LSAC's ultimate prep dealio which has three tests with explanations; right now, I'm (very, very) worried that I'll never break 170, and that my score indicates I maybe shouldn't even apply to law school due to mental deficiency. Most of the questions I miss are in the analytical reasoning section (logic games) which I haven't developed a method for handling yet. Can I improve by 15 or more points on the calculated score (not the raw score) within a month if I study well and constantly?
posted by anonymous to Education (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Please don't take this the wrong way, but you realize that MANY people go to law school and are successful lawyers who have just over a 150, right? You realize that in law school, and later, on the job, no one is going to ask you to do logic games all day, right?

The only reason you shouldn't apply to law school is if you don't want to be a lawyer. Otherwise, postpone your LSAT, take a Testmasters course, and you'll be fine.
posted by onepapertiger at 9:01 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get The Princeton Review's LSAT prep book. They teach a great method for solving the logic games (it involves making a simple chart of the info given). Makes you faster and more accurate, the two most important factors in raising your score. Are you timing yourself when you take the practice tests? Because 158 with unlimited time will not translate into 158 on a timed test. The clock is your biggest enemy on the LSAT.
posted by junkbox at 9:03 AM on September 8, 2008

Disclaimer: I teach LSAT prep.
Getting from the high 150s to low 160s is a matter of content familiarity for many. Low 160s to high 160s is about strategy.
Get a tutor, IMHO.
I am currently teaching a 3 day a week class, so probably most classes have started already.
You can always take December.
Good luck.
PS I have seen a number of 20 point jumps, but those students were extremely dedicated. 5+ hours of work per day.
posted by k8t at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2008

You'll probably never get a 170. Most people don't. That doesn't make you mentally deficient, it makes you, well, not exceptional. Now is a good a time as any to realize that you won't always be the smartest guy in the room.

You do need to get the best score you can get--and if you haven't done prep work, and haven't studied, I would consider postponing and doing a LOT more preparation, including a prep course.

Improving 15 or more points within a month is very unlikely.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:06 AM on September 8, 2008

As far as logic games: Every single one draws from one (occasionally two) archetypes: sorting, choosing, eliminating, grouping, etc. What you need to do is break down the game as far as reasonably possible:

1) What is the output I'm looking for?
1) What are the entities in this situation?
3) What can I do to sort, group, or choose among the entities that will yield me the result I want?
4) What sort of limitations am I working under?
5) Given those options (multiple-choice answers) that I can strike immediately for noncompliance with the limitations of the question or an inappropriate output, what options am I left with? After working through the first of those, have I hit any snags? What about the second?

Once you've arrived at an answer that you can work through and it's an option that either cannot be eliminated (or, if the question asks which answer will not work, must be eliminated), that's it. There are no "good, better, best" answers with logic games: four out of five answers must have something wrong with them and you're essentially out to strike first the obviously wrong ones and then work through the harder ones.

Experience is the best teacher in this regard; the more time you've spent doing logic games, the more quickly the patterns that the LSAC uses to come up with its logic games will jump out at you.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:18 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you started using the Powerscore book yet? I struggle the most with finishing the logic games in time and that book has tons of great advice for being more efficient. I'm currently working through it right now and it's the best prep I've done yet.
posted by prozach1576 at 9:19 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

No one has given you the "tough love" answer, so let me try. There are probably too many lawyers, and especially in the present bum market many graduates of lower-tier schools are very unhappy with their job prospects out of school. Given how much law school costs in money, time, and pain, this is reason to reconsider a career plan that includes going to a lower-ranked law school.

Really, it doesn't matter whether this is about "mental deficiency" or the inherent unfairness of the testing system. If you can't improve your scores, you may have a hard time getting into a really good school, which should cast the whole enterprise into doubt.

Papertiger is right that if you graduate law school employers will not ask you about your LSATs, but that's a red herring, because you need a good LSAT score to get a degree that will open up some doors. You can be a lawyer with even a 150 LSAT, but you would find yourself with a much narrowed universe of legal possibilities, and many people who take this route regret their choice.
posted by grobstein at 9:41 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you can't handle not getting a 170 on the LSAT without questioning your own competence, you can't handle law school without a nervous breakdown.

That said, I think grobstein's advice is pure nonsense.

First of all, it's only a "bum" market if you're looking to go to a top firm, and then it's only a "bum" market because they've been over-hiring and over-paying for so long -- the bubble has been due to burst for quite some time. If you want to get out making $150k+ a year, then yes, you're probably in for a disappointment.

If, on the other hand, you want to be a lawyer and are content with the kind of jobs that most lawyers get right out of law school, then your 150ish LSAT won't make that big of a difference.

"Getting into a really good school" is no more necessary for the practice of law than going to MIT is to be a computer scientist. Are you going to have better opportunities right away from a "really good" school? Yes. Are there doors forever closed to you if you don't go to one? Not at all. The question is, really, do you want to be a lawyer or are you just enamored with the kind of money you think lawyers make? If the former, go to law school, and don't pay any attention to the folks saying that your law school sucks (and those people will exist in pretty large numbers unless you go to harvard or yale)

Also: every time you read about something that "many" people do, keep in mind that "many" is a weak descriptor. It's the word people use when they want to sound persuasive but don't have any actual data and can't support a claim of "most".

In short, regardless of your LSAT score, you should go to law school if you want to be a lawyer. If you don't want to be a lawyer (or have some other specific plan for using the degree), don't waste your time with law school.

Also keep in mind that once you get beyond the Top 10ish, your job prospects have far more to do with your class rank than what school you go to.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:12 AM on September 8, 2008

I improved my performance on the logic games section over my study period by doing lots of the logic games, and repeatedly doing the same ones until I was able to get them right. It gets easier when you know the answer, of course, but forcing myself to do the work to get you there makes it a lot easier to recognize the different forms.
posted by mzurer at 11:24 AM on September 8, 2008

The Powerscore Bible is one of the best tools for learning the games that you can use on your own. Read it two or three times, practice the games again and again. Photocopy the games in the book so that you can repeat them every 2-3 days. Patterns emerge, their method is pretty good. You might never get 170, but 165 makes you very competitive.
posted by bluejayk at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2008

I didn't say that employers won't ask you what your LSAT score was. They just might. You never know. I'm just saying that the LSAT isn't what you really need to master to become a lawyer or a law student and if you think that a high LSAT score indicates that you're going to be a superstar law student or meant to be a lawyer, then you're not really getting the point of what the LSAT is for. Also, you're probably drinking the LSAT Kool-Aid, but believe me, all that will matter is how diligent and serious you are of a student.

At least that's what I have heard a million and one times over.

Also, don't listen to other people who tell you you shouldn't go to law school because there are too many lawyers and there's a bum market. Do whatever you want. It's just best to be prepared and be very realistic about why you would spend all that money to go to law school. If it's what you really want, go for it.
posted by onepapertiger at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2008

The way I studied for logic games is to basically prove the right answer to myself. That is, without starting with the correct answer, I would find an answer and prove that it is correct. It probably helps to have a little background with what a mathematical/logical proof is but not more than what google will provide.

Once I got to where I could consistently prove the correct answer, I was able to scale up my speed. So basically, comprehension first, then speed.

Also I would highly recommend not going to law school unless you break the top 20 unless you have a personal passion for law or a willingness to work like a dog.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 2:05 PM on September 8, 2008

Practice practice practice. I used to teach for a major LSAT prep course and one of the most useful steps in their method involved understanding what the game's limitations mean. So identify the type of game (grouping, distribution, sequencing, etc), identify the entities, set up a sketch, build the rules into the sketch whenever possible ("Pink is always Third"), shorthand the other rules (don't forget the contrapositives on the if-then rules), and when that's ALL done, take a minute before diving into the first question to double0check the implications of the rules vis a vis the numerical (or whateverelse) limitations. Look for common entities in more than one rule and combine them. Note the entities with NO rules. Sometimes you can find yourself with two mastersketches. It's the synthesis following the analysis. Good luck.
posted by Jezebella at 4:59 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older What should I eat in the morning?   |   Picking a psychiatrist Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.