August 10, 2004
Curious George: The LSAT
I'm taking the LSAT in October and any helpful hints would be appreciated.
12 years ago
It's fine by me, as long as you bring it back again.
Definitely do practice tests. Do lots of them. Do them so that: a) you get used to the question types, b) you find out on which types you have trouble, so you can spend extra time practicing them, and c) so you teach yourself to focus and relax while answering questions under pressure. Add to that the usual test-taking advice: arrive early, get enough sleep, bring some water and extra writing implements (or is yours to be computerized?) A word about that -- if you can avoid a computerized test, do so. I took a paper LSAT and a computerized GRE, and I'll take paper any day. The reason? The computerized version hasn't decided what question to give you till you give it a right or wrong answer on the previous question (at least on the GRE). Thus, you cannot follow the #1 rule of test-taking: do the easy ones first and then go back and finish the rest. Do you know which schools you're looking to apply to? If so, find out whether they average multiple LSAT scores or take the highest, or what. Different policies for diff schools, and you'll want to know, before your big day, whether you should plunge ahead or cancel if you feel a sudden (if rational) lack of confidence in your preparedness for the day. Also, try to not be freaked out by the intensity in the room. GRE -- room full of students of different subjects, chatting. LSAT -- eyes ahead, nervously fingering pencils, little talk (at least that's what I found). Good luck!
[reaches back into long-repressed memories] I took the LSAT back in 1992. I took Kaplan to prepare for it, and I'm pretty sure that helped. It provided a structure to take the practice tests, and having shelled out some $$$ for the class imposed some discipline to prepare for it. I don't remember exactly what my score was, but IIRC I scored in the 93rd percentile, so I'd have to say I was reasonably adequately prepared. YMMV, of course. Feel free to email me if you want more info, or ask questions about the whole process. and on preview, what Rorschach said.
Don't let it freak you out. Seriously, it's just a test, and a stupid one at that, so if you let it psyche you out, then you lose. Work through some problems beforehand. Only take a course if you find you have serious problems with parts of the test. I didn't take a course, and neither did most of the people I know - most people don't need it, and it's $$$. Best advice is to sit down and write a few *full* practice exams. You get a feel for the length and breadth of the exam and the experience of writing it. (Oh, and tied in to the first thing - don't fret about the length. I finished each part easily, and everyone I know who was relaxed either finished or got as far as they could.) Don't worry too much about mastering each section. I got 50% on the games section (which I was thrilled with) and like 99% on the reading comp, and ended up in the, I believe, 89th percentile. So you can make it work out. And like ambrosia said, you can email me if you want more advice, although, as you can probably tell by now, my main advice is to not sweat it.
I took Princeton Review, and was very, very satisfied. I had trouble with the logic problems, and they taught me how to tackle them. I do test well anyway, but I thought the strategies they taught were well worth the money. I scored in the 99th percentile, and got into Harvard Law.
just to chime in with livii -- *relaaaaaax* is the best possible thing to do. Assess yourself, obviously: if you know you're crap at the logic games (which I love, but am crap at), practice some of those, and certainly be familiar with the structure and types of questions, but...I think I spent about 45 minutes preparing to sit the thing, all told. As to the class (ack! mucho money), you know yourself best and whether the concrete tips will help [e.g. "there are 6 types of logic games. Here is how to recognise and solve each kind"]. Your mileage, etc. Disclaimer being I almost got kicked out because the procter didn't like me (I was innocent! Really.) so may not have the most serious outlook on the whole obnoxious process.
[also, since we're doing that, I got in the 99th too, and was even offered a spot at the Florida West Coast School of Law (motto: Almost ABA Approved!!). The few, the proud...]
Thanks for your help Monkey Lawyers! When I'm finished with the test, I promise to bring it back to Skrik. I wasn't really planning on taking any of the prep courses, but I did get a copy of the Princeton Review book "Cracking the LSAT", and oddly enough, I think it's making me more apprehensive about some sections, particularly the arguments than if I'd just hit the practice tests head on. If I throw any more money at books, would it be better to spend on acquiring more practice tests or buying another guide like Kaplan? Any prep books you recommend in particular?
Well, since this is a pissing match - with
89th I got into a great law school in Canada and am now doing the master's of law program of my choice. ;)
The important lesson, though, is that other people who did better than me on the LSAT flamed out, while I'm still going. The LSAT has nothing whatsoever to do with law school, other than to test your tolerance for bullshit and ability to sit through really long exams. That's it. On preview: One book was all I used, and I think it should be sufficient. Definitely write as many full tests as you think you need to in order to be confident - so that's where I'd spend my money. And it might be best to do a test first, find out how you fare naturally, and then work on your problem areas - i.e. don't let the book freak you out over things you might be just fine at.
I went the Kaplan route (no course, either). I don't think you need more than one prep book, unless someone here has used both and found the mix helpful. You may want to check out Kaplan in your local store and do a quick browse to see if it's got additional worthwhile content. Otherwise, I'd stick with practice tests if you want more prep material. Nervousness isn't a bad thing, but if you find yourself really stressed out coming up to the test, do what you have to do -- meditation, yoga, jogging, swimming, sex! I spent three months in prep for the GRE (99th% there) but maybe 5 weeks on the LSAT (89th) and the difference definitely had to do with prep. You'll figure out the amount you need. The practice tests will show that to you. Once the prep is passed, no amount of worry will help (and will probably hurt), so it's all about focus, rest, and relaxation, as others here have stated.
Where are you doing your master's, livii?
and to agree, my 89th% got me into the second biggest law firm in Canada, on Bay Street, which I promptly left for my #1 career choice in law. all's well that ends well.
Ooops-- I wasn't intending to brag. I've got nothing to brag about; my ivy league education has done nothing for me but put me into incredible debt. I'm not even an attorney (although I did graduate). My post was meant as a testimonial-- I know I would not have done anywhere near as well without the review class, so personally, I would highly recommend it. And livii is absolutely right, the LSAT tests nothing but your ability to take the LSAT. But my thought was, if I have to jump through this lame-o hoop, I might as well jump through it skillfully and get into the best school I can (in retrospect, I probably should have chosen somewhere cheaper, but I still feel scoring high was worth the comparitively small amount of money I spent on it).
C. Just C. "Good ol' trusty rock! Nothing beats that!"
blah. I should say that the 89th% got me into my first (and only) choice for law school, which got me to... and in turn... it really is all a step-ladder, with plenty of other things factoring in. This is just the first step, so just give it your best shot.
At UOttawa, in law and technology. (Well, starting in September). I just finished my LLB at Dal. Where'd you go? And to just go wildly OT - I saw on the CD swap forum that you're working in legislative drafting now? I'm so jealous - that's something I'd like to get into as well. We should meet up sometime, since we're both in Ottawa. I'm thinking of calling for a meetup next month, actually, since there are at least four of us here.
Uh, on-topic, on-topic...good luck, Dr. Zira!!
I didn't think you were bragging, krebs - the rest of us just couldn't resist, I think. :) Can I ask what you're doing now? I'm always eager for stories of people who did law school but aren't lawyers. I myself do not want to be a "lawyer" and so I like hearing stories of other people who did, in the eyes of so many career counsellors, "the unthinkable" and didn't just work on Wall/Bay Street.
get out! we should totally meet up. I'm a UBC boy, did articles with Justice and yep, 1st choice :) legis drafting. I start in one month. couldn't make this cd swap, though. you in?
That goes for me, too, krebs cycle. What are you up to, now?
I'm in the CD swap - shame you aren't, I was hoping to get a group where I might just meet 3 of the others, rather than have to pay the postage. ;) Oh, and since I see in your profile that you're busy (yes, change is good!) drop me an email sometime when it's good for you and we'll get together.
I *really* wanted to but would have been crazy to try to fit it in considering what's ahead this week. yeah, was wondering if we might get a Canadian group so as to stick with domestic mail, but I know that they change the groups up, so that was doubtful. Would have been nice to get back from Cuba with 5 mix CD's waiting, though! will get in touch when I get settled. cheers!
Also, it's not a threadjack if you type r e a l l y s m a l l .
*sends in the thread marshals*
*cuts thread with scissors. then runs with them.*
I'm a nurse, which is what I was before I went to law school. Also, mom to a wonderful special needs son, who needs me more than Wall Street does. Not that I was planning on going to Wall Street anyways; I thought I wanted to be a prosecuter. Once I had my son though, I became too soft-hearted to ever do that. I suddenly started thinking everyone has reasons for the stupid things they do. When my son is older, I would like to write (wouldn't everyone), and if I make a career of that, I'll consider my education as having fulfilled its purpose. I'll probably never give up nursing completely though; I love it. And I have no intention now of becoming a lawyer (nor could I probably, even if I wanted to-- my financial situation is too unstable). /end derail.
Howdy folks! To prepare for my LSAT I worked my way through the book
Master the LSAT
by Jeff Kolby. I found the whole book well organized and extremely helpful. Coming from computer programming I found the logic questions relatively straight forward but I did need to learn how to do the logic games. Those babies are tough. In my research for good books I also heard really good things about
The Powerscore LSAT Logic Game Bible
. I wasn't able to find where I live so I didn't bother purchasing it. The Kolby book was enough for me anyways. I also did one Official prep test before I took the LSAT. Many people recommend doing a number of practice exams but I felt I would just end up burning myself out and not enjoying myself anymore. I basically used the prep test to work out my pacing. I was right on the first time so I didn't bother doing any more. I suppose my strategies succeeded since I scored in the 92% percentile, but I can't claim they will work for anyone else. Good luck! And remember, try to have a bit of fun when you're studying. Study with a partner and take lots of short breaks to let your mind absorb all that information. Oh yeah, Dr. Zira, one more thing. I have two or three prep tests left over that I didn't end up using or marking up in any way. They're recent (within the last three years I think). For a fellow Monkey I'd be willing to send them for free. If you're interested send me an email and we can chat.
A question for Rorschach. How was your experience at UBC law? It is one of the places I'm considering applying to this fall. I did alright on the LSAT but my GPA leaves a bit to be desired (bit over a B). How tough is it to get in?
I must confess -- oh...
I must confess two things: i) I only applied to UBC Law, so find it difficult to judge how "difficult" it is to get into law school generally, and ii) I (and many at UBC) had a bit of an infatuation with UVic. Well, many would deny that but I don't. I had decent grades in undergrad, but not exceptional. Bit of an anomaly, though, in that I had years of volunteer work in the legal community, so that probably helped. From what I hear, UVic is harder to get into than UBC (it does have the co-op program). Pros and cons -- Pros: - greater course selection than any other law school in North America - gorgeous campus, and all the other great stuff that goes with Vancouver (cheap, abundant, excellent sushi, 3 local mountains for snowboarding or skiing, good hiking, kayaking, cherry blossoms in the spring, etc) - still reasonable tuition compared to elsewhere in Canada, but it is going up now that the NDP freeze is over - great exchange program, including some nice law placements (I did Maastricht, the Netherlands) Cons: - high living expenses in Vancouver. you're probably looking at a few years in basement suites - rain in the winter if that gets you down (it's really just falling mist) - a completely clueless law school career centre - a somewhat idiosyncratic jurisdiction, if you're planning on practising law in a different province (but note the fabulous new rules for changing provinces!) Pretty much everywhere I go out "east", I'm the only one from UBC, so I'm not sure if that makes me a novelty or an exception. If you want Bay Street, you really are better off going to Osgoode, UofT, McGill or Queens. If you want federal government, UofOttawa (natch) is a good bet, especially if you do a combined civil/common law ("the national program"). I understand that the combined LLB/JD is still offered at Windsor/Detroit, which seems like quite the specialized feather to have in your cap, but haven't met anyone who has done it to comment. Out west, UBC is better for private firms in Van, while UVic has a distinct advantage for government work in B.C. And Dal, well. Fantastic reputation. (and cute girls) OK, that's a lot of small print, even for lawyers! Overall, I really liked UBC. How much of that was because of the setting, I'm not sure, but I did return a half year early from the Netherlands (which I loved) to spend one last term in my beloved Van. I'd left my email address out of my profile, but will include it here if anyone wants to get in touch. I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org. cheers.
Good times, that LSAT. I took it last year (Oct 03). Not to brag, but I did well on the thing. I'll share my study tips with the hope that they help you get into the school you're aiming for... 1) I used both of the above-mentioned books "Master the LSAT" and "The Logic Games Bible." Both were helpful, and the logic games book is, hands-down, the best prep-book on the market for that section. Get it. 2) I subscribed to a Yahoo LSAT group that broke down actual LSAT questions. It's always up and open to anyone. Their entire archive of posts can be searched, too. It took some time to figure out who knew their stuff and who was clueless, but once you decypher the signal-to-noise ratio it's pretty useful. 3) I did an actual prep test every Saturday between Aug. and test day. Anal, I know, but the LSAT is as much a test of endurance as it is a test of mental agility. 4) I only practiced using real test questions. Check your prep books. Both PR and Kaplan put out books that have "simulated" questions rather than real LSAT questions (the LSAT company licenses their questions and not everyone's willing to pay). There's a subtle, but real, difference between the real LSAT questions and the "simulated" knock-offs. 5) Finally, and there's some debate over this, the LSAT got harder sometime around 1993. This is in part due to a different company writing the test questions from 1993 on, as well as a reaction to the success of the test-prep industry. So when shopping for real LSAT questions, buy the 10 MORE REAL LSATs book before you purchase the 10 REAL LSATs book. Seriously different. Break a leg on test day!
Good Lord. Monkey lawyer overload! I don't have a whole lot to add to what has already been posted except to say that there is no right method of preparation that works for everyone. I always advise people to take a prep course - if only because it imposes discipline on the study process. One point that I don't think anyone has made is that the LSAT is only one part of the admissions puzzle. And arguably it is an increasingly irrelevant part of the puzzle. Schools may use raw scores or percentiles to make the first cut, but beyond that experience and undergrad performance are much more important. So if your credentials are really strong, I don't think you need to sweat getting into the 99th percentile. Having said that, I am proud to say that I had the lowest undergrad GPA of my entire class entering law school, and those low expectations were entirely borne out. My name is Ereshkigal, and I am an underachiever.
Wow, so many lawyers. *dribbles icecream on floor* I don't think I could hack it myself.
My nominee for the 99th percentile? Phillips, Tom.
oh man, what a great post. I'm graduating next year from an "elite" school but with a mediocre GPA. I hear they're planning on changing the LSAT within 2 years, possibly even adding a listening section? Thanks again for the tips. P.S. Could someone do a similar post on the GMATs and getting into the Finance world?
wait, I'm sorry, a 'listening' section? As in audio? What? For?
If the LSAT is still like the old Analytic on the GRE, it's dead easy once you crack those logic puzzles (A is next to B but not to C, D is somewhere else, etc). I practiced for about a weekend, and did very well on that bit (made up for the pathetic math section). Use all the free material from ETS before paying for more - the training material I got for the GRE was just as good as any course would have been.
jb -- did both, and found the LSAT to be very unlike the GRE logic puzzles. Can't say why, but found the LSAT to be scads tougher (except for that damn GRE math portion -- some of which, I didn't *recognize* and I'm not a total math slob).
silly me, my email address IS on my profile, so general invite for anyone to get in touch who wishes to.
Could the difference be the time pressure? I remember looking at a friend's LSAT prep book and finding the puzzles to be very similer, but maybe they are also much harder (there is little competition over the GRE, because no one with any smarts would want to be in grad school : )
It just hit me - are we monkeys sort of naturally self-selecting, are those of us who didn`t do as well on the lsat just not chiming in, or what? We all did so well, it`s ridiculous.
And Dal, well. Fantastic reputation. (and cute girls)
Aw, you flatterer, you! Seriously, I`d recommend Dal, it was a pretty good school, considering that it`s law school, yuck.
I took the LSAT in June and did fair (I'm not looking to go to a great school, just a decent one!). I used the two books mentioned above and both really helped. I also did all the practice tests I could get my hands on. To repeat others - relax before the test. Also, if you can, take the LSAT in your hometown so as to avoid jetlag. I currently live overseas and the closest testing center (and cheapest place to stay) has a time difference of 5 hours from where I live. Not only that, but a trans-Atlantic flight two days before the LSAT wiped me out. Oh, did I mention I thrive on stress?! I'm lucky I scored as well as I did.
livii -- well, had I not done reasonably well, I wouldn't have commented, but I know that different things work for different people. Can't help with finance, esquire_1983, but if anyone wants to bust into air traffic control, I can help out with that exam.
mmm. forgot one con re: UBC Law -- the building is a concrete BUNKER. I believe it actually won an award for "best concrete building" when it was built. seriously. but if you need a study area, go hide in the forestry building. all beautiful woods, green bankers lamps, bright open areas and wooden catwalks. the way law school *should* look. livii -- Dal's the Canadian prestige school, I think. Oh sure, Osgoode and UofT slug it out, but Dal is an export school (and a pricey one at that) so it's something of a special bird. They're the exception to my little work-study list above, seemingly placing well anywhere.
Speaking as a mediocre-to-low-scoring MoFite, I echo Ereshkigal's point about the LSAT being just one part of the admissions puzzle. Also, avoid cancelling your score unless something goes horribly wrong for you at the test. I think my first score could've been my highest given that I went down for the following two. (I don't advise taking it thrice, either.)
Can I just say: I went to Dalhousie too! It would be immodest to comment on the girls, but the boys aren't so bad either, and in my experience, being outside the corridor means you have a little more footwork of your own to do to get to Bay/Wall St., but it is entirely do-able. In fact, I got in on Wall solely because my senior partner had fond memories of Mahone Bay. Really, I do think most Can. law schools have great things to offer, and in the end pretty much put everyone in similar positions. Except UofT, but that's because Dean Daniels is a wanker and you can tell him that for me.
My advice to esquire re:finance is go to a school that lets you use your LSAT as a stand in for the GRE. That's what I did.(
yet another reason to love Dal.
no tips or tricks to offer, just congrats and best of luck dr. z. esq.
more prep tips
from people who've been there, and in fact, a whole group-blog project about
Some Things I Learned in Law School
. best tip would be to ignore them all though (especially the study partner bit), cuz eh, what do they know. That and CANS. Its all about the CANS.
Perhaps I should qualify my "Study Partner" statement. My study partner was not studying for the LSAT. It was just nice to have someone to share the pain of hours of studying with. It allowed me periods of conversation to let my mind relax, someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to sit quietly with while ramping up the ol' brain to full power. It was also someone who would get me studying when I just plain did not want to. For this reason alone I would HIGHLY recommend someone to help you study. (Unless, of course, you're one of those self-motivating, self-punishing folks who can sit and study for hours at a time, alone, with no human interaction). Yes you can get the same effect from enrolling in an LSAT course, but friends are free and will appreciate your company in turn.
to pick up on ilyadeux's statement, DO NOT attempt to form your own small group in first year and "each do a CAN", then share, a la Paper Chase. there is ALWAYS one person who doesn't end up doing it and then you're all f**ked. but first year law should have its own post (and support group).
ilyadeux, when did you go to Dal?
And it's true that most schools offer similar advantages. Unless you end up at a non-ABA approved school, I don't think you have anything to worry about. And that might even work out, so, no worries, really, is key. Um, do you think this thread is reinforcing the idea that lawyers just like to talk, and talk, and talk...
eh, it's not like we're getting paid for it.
Monkeyfilter: Talk, and talk, and talk
and we can't even hear the sound of our own voices here. Remarkable.
Do not slam two (2) guarana health food capsules prior to taking the test, unless you want to spin your wheels on the imponderable problems.