LSAT Logic: Lessons From Skydiving

LSAT Blog Logic Lessons From SkydivingThis past Saturday, I went skydiving for the first time. Yes, it was amazing, and yes, I probably used 5 years' worth of adrenaline during the 13,500-foot jump.

After waking up at 5AM to travel out east on Long Island, my friends and I reached an old military airstrip where the skydiving company operates.

We signed a legal document (PDF) that says, among other things:
I am aware that “parachuting/ skydiving activities” are inherently dangerous and may result in injury or death...

I hereby release and discharge SKYDIVE LONG ISLAND from any and all liability, claims, demands or causes of action that I may hereafter have for injuries or damages arising out of my participation in “skydiving/ parachuting activities” even if caused by negligence or other fault of SKYDIVE LONG ISLAND.

Needless to say, that document only had the effect of making us feel more hardcore for going skydiving. I mean, what's left after that? Base jumping? Bullfighting?

(By the way, if there are any future lawyers reading this, you can probably learn something from that contract (PDF).)

Well, a Google News search for "skydiving" informed me that some jerk named Felix Baumgartner is skydiving from space (a distance of 23 miles), and he's doing it, not for his own self-interest or bragging rights, but for science.

Baumgartner's 120,000-foot free-fall breaks a record, he gets to fall faster than the speed of sound, and it's all sponsored by Red Bull, which gets a ton of free media coverage.

Baumgartner's clearly trying to make me look bad.

Fortunately, Baumgartner may not the angel that portrays.

Another Google News search led me to this article from Courthouse News.

Apparently, some guy named Hogan pitched the space skydive idea ("SpaceDive") to Red Bull a few years ago. Hogan claims Red Bull pumped him for info about the project, told him they weren't interested in working with him, then went ahead with it a few years later without compensating him for his idea.

This all raises the question:

Does Hogan deserve compensation?

The answers to the following questions would help us evaluate Hogan's argument (which would then allow us to strengthen it, weaken it, point out flaws, etc):

-How likely is it that Red Bull independently arrived at the SpaceDive idea a few years later? / How unique is this idea? / How many others have independently arrived at this idea?

-Would Red Bull have carried out the project even if Hogan hadn't approached them a few years earlier?

-How similar is Hogan's initial proposal to the final one?

-Did Red Bull ever sign a contract indicating that they were obligated to compensate Hogan for any projects discussed between them?

-Did Hogan come up with the idea himself, or did he get it elsewhere? / Did Hogan's friend actually come up with the idea, but Hogan just beat him to the punch in approaching Red Bull?

Principles that would strengthen Hogan's argument for monetary compensation:
-If one person provides another with an idea, and the latter uses that idea, then the former deserves a significant portion of profits resulting from that idea

-If two parties come up with the same idea, but one informs the other of this idea, the latter is obligated to compensate the former.

Businesses are usually loathe to sign documents binding them to compensate a non-employee for an idea (or to even listen to such an idea in the first place).

This case is a perfect example - if the non-employee (Hogan) presents an idea that he believes to be unique, but the business (Red Bull) has already been working on something similar, the non-employee might believe himself/herself to be entitled to compensation, when, in fact, he/she is not the sole "idea-haver."


See PrepTest 31 (June 2000), Section 2, Question 14 (p84 in Next 10)
(It's about Leibniz, Newton, and calculus.)

Photo by divemasterking2000 / CC BY 2.0

Free LSAT Proctor mp3 Download

Free LSAT Proctor mp3 downloadBlog reader Ryan recently emailed me:
I think that using the LSAT Proctor DVD can be a great asset during studying, but I also can't justify spending $25 dollars on it. This led me to create a similar mp3 with the Proctor prompts and noise distractions built into it. I have thrown the mp3 up on my blog for free download /or play.
The mp3 version for free download is "good if you are going to play it on an mp3 player, iPhone/iTouch or want to always have access to it."

The version for streaming play is "good if you are at a computer that you can't download to or are away from your main computer."

Of course, this is sound-only, so it lacks the visual component that the SimuGator LSAT Proctor DVD has.

However, it's still a good alternative to the DVD if you:

-don't have $25 to spend for the DVD

-want to try out something with distractions before getting the DVD

-want to take PrepTests while traveling but won't have a DVD player/laptop with you

The mp3 is only 35 minutes long (the length of one LSAT section). However, if you download the mp3, you can "loop" it to repeat. This will allow you to take LSAT sections back-to-back with distractions. Alternatively, if you're only streaming the mp3 from your computer, you can take a second or two to click and replay the mp3 to do multiple sections.

The mp3 doesn't have various levels of distraction like the DVD does. However, you can adjust the volume level of the mp3 depending upon how much you want to be annoyed while you're taking a practice test.

Big ups to Ryan for creating this mp3!

Photo by liveu4

LSAT Logic and Korean Pop Band Girls Generation

LSAT Blog Logic Korean Pop Band Girls GenerationBlog reader Jacqueline left an excellent comment on my blog post about Amy Winehouse last week.

As a result, I decided to do a post based on her recommendation that I cover Korean pop band Girls' Generation (aka SNSD).

Since I didn't know anything about the band, I did a quick Google News search. I found that aside from doing real music videos, Girls' Generation has created a series of videos promoting a new LG phone called Cooky.

Here's the main promo video featuring all group members (via allkpop):

I hope that video's catchiness didn't drive you crazy. I had to listen to the guitar solo from Stairway to Heaven at least 5 times afterward to regain some semblance of sanity.

Apparently, this is not Girls' Generation's only endorsement of LG phones, as kpoplive says:
Nowadays, we all do see our favorite idols endorsing products from various South Korea big name companies,such as Samsung and LG.

Without a doubt, Girl’s Generation is probably one of the biggest marketing group for phones.
A quick glance at a few related websites suggests that fans don't mind. In fact, they're even happy that Girl's Generation has gotten these endorsement deals.

It's as if love of LG phones and love of Girls' Generation combine to make a super-happy sweetness-oozing video featuring pop music, girls, and baking, and the fans love it.

On the other hand, pop bands in the U.S. don't usually make songs entirely devoted to products (as far as I know). Perhaps they fear overexposure and/or the appearance of "selling out." Of course, some of this resistance has declined in recent years, but it's still got to be unusual for pop bands to create entire songs and music videos based on a product.

Questions for Analysis
What are some arguments in favor of Girls' Generation creating music videos about LG phones?

What are some arguments against Girls' Generation creating music videos about LG phones?

In other words, how might these endorsements help or hurt their careers?

What sort of information would be most helpful in evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of Girls' Generation's willingness to make these endorsement deals?


Like I said in the Amy Winehouse post last week, I'm open to your suggestions for celebrities to cover in future posts.

(Perez Hilton still hasn't responded to my proposal!)

Photo by protocolsnow / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

LSAT Diary: Law School Dreamer

LSAT Blog Diary Law School Dreamer
Below is Law School Dreamer's latest LSAT Diary, which covers the past two weeks.

She talks about LSAT vocabulary, finding motivation to study, and Equal Pay Day for women, among other things.

Law School Dreamer's LSAT Diary:

Week 4 (4/11 - 4/18):
This past week has been so crazy, I feel like I’ve hardly had time to catch my breath! As usual, I sign myself up for too many extracurriculars (which I enjoy, don’t get me wrong) but it leaves very little time for everything else on my plate. While I did study for the LSAT here and there in one hour increments or so, I didn’t really have any major breakthroughs.

I spent the week reading my LSAT books wherever I was, even during one of my classes; an upper level writing class about the original fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm. The only trouble with doing that was I kept hearing “The Little Match Girl” and that poor “Snow White” while I was trying to read logical reasoning passages and needless to say it was rather confusing.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m taking the upper level writing class, not only has it really boosted my reading comprehension, so many of the words we use now days have different meanings than they did hundreds of years ago (I did a double-take when I read “the Little Mermaid swam up from the booty” (ie. treasure chest)) but it has also helped polish up my writing skills. I LOVE to write (as you may have sensed from my long diary entries). But it had been two years since my last writing class so I was glad I could take a writing class that fulfilled one of my graduation requirements.

Speaking of reading comprehension, I began circling all of the words I encountered during my logical reasoning that I wasn’t totally sure of the meaning. I got this idea from Steve himself, when I saw his list of words to know. My words for this week are:

Antecedent: Something that happens or exists before something else. “The book deals with the historical antecedents of the revolution.”

Condescension: Snobby and pretentiously kind manner. Behavior that implies that somebody is graciously lowering himself or herself to the level of people less important or intelligent.

Complacency: Satisfied and unaware of possible dangers; eager to please.

Preclude: Prevent something from happening or somebody from doing something.

Prelude: Introductory event or occurrence (just like a prelude to a song).

I have found that studying the “families” of logical reasoning question types is really helping me to learn how to approach each question. I think part of the battle is learning what the question is really asking you. I mean sure, “which one of the following strengthens the argument” seems simple enough. But realizing that this type of question is really asking you to choose which answer choice helps the stimulus is helping me choose correctly.

I also learned that in certain types of questions, sometimes the correct answer choice will have information that goes beyond the sphere of the stimulus (and that is allowed).

Of course, in cannot be true or must be true questions no outside information beyond the sphere of the stimulus is allowed in the correct answer choice – so an answer choice in those questions that goes beyond the scope of the stimulus tips you off that its probably incorrect.

It seems every week I am constantly finding motivation. This week, I presented at my undergrad’s research conference. I have been researching judicial independence, and mostly contrasting judicial selection by merit appointment versus judicial selection by popular election. I compiled my research into a 24-page manuscript which I am currently seeking publication, and somehow managed to fit most of that into my 15 minute allotted time for my presentation.

Anyway, after my presentation this man in a suit (I was thinking maybe he was a lawyer) came up to me and said he loved my presentation and he could tell I was very passionate about the topic. He said I am so persuasive – I should think about going to law school! I just thanked him and introduced myself (he didn’t offer his name). Come to find out, he’s the DEAN of my college.

Week 5:
Monday, April 19, 2010 – The Countdown Begins – 49 Days

June 7th is approaching faster and faster. I am continuing to work through all of the “must be true” questions from PrepTests 1-40. But I am starting to realize that with less than six weeks to go, there may not be time for me to go through each individual logical reasoning question type like I did with the logic games.

So I think I will amend my study plan slightly; I will begin taking full practice tests as soon as possible. I am already starting to question whether I should defer until the October administration, but I know I will be even more busy come this fall, so I really want to get this behind me as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 – Equal Pay Day – 48 Days
Today is Equal Pay Day. Women earn just 78% compared to their similarly situated male counterparts. I organized a table talk discussion on campus and was pleasantly surprised at the equal presence of men. (Maybe they just came to pick up chicks, who knows). Anyway, this is basically how I spent my free time today and while I feel guilty about not spending it working on the LSAT, I feel good about educating others.

I did some research on equal pay for women lawyers. As many of you may know, the first United States Supreme Court case which banned women from being lawyers was Bradwell v. State. Myra Bradwell was a practicing attorney in Illinois, she was more than qualified and very well versed in the law; in fact she ran a publishing company which published legal opinions which other lawyers used as legal precedent, yet she was told she could not practice law – it made the men in the courtroom nervous to be in “mixed company.”

Today, while women makeup roughly half of all law students, women make up only 30% of all practicing lawyers. While it is true this may be because women did not really start attending law schools in high numbers (or any graduate school for that matter) until the 70’s, that 30% statistic seems pretty low. Women are also earning less in the field of law. As a future lawyer myself I find this concerning. For those interested in women’s history in the law, you may enjoy reading “Barred from the Bar.” It’s a fairly short book, but it's packed with good info. I read it in an afternoon and was certainly impacted.

Wednesday, April 21 – So how far have I improved, anyway? – 47 Days
When I took my initial diagnostic of the June 2007 LSAT (PDF) back in January, I scored a 143. I cried. I got over it. I got to work.

How much has my work paid off? I studied on and off from January to March 1 and then began my “real” prep March 1st and have been averaging about 7-10 hours a week. I sat down and did another exam wth the time constraints. I was feeling pretty good, and even better when I started scoring my exam. What really surprised me though, was I was not able to finish any of the sections before time was up. The farthest I got on Section 1 was to Question 21. I scored a 149. So this is an increase of 6 points.

Of course I would like for my score to be higher, but this shows improvement. Of the questions that I was able to answer in the allotted time, I answered 75% of them correctly. I need to improve that. I ran out of time before I could do much more review, but tomorrow I will complete the questions I did not have time to answer, and then examine the questions I answered incorrectly.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 – 46 Days
I had just enough time to go back and complete the questions I had run out of time for during my simulated exam yesterday. I was a little disappointed that of the 27 questions I went back to answer, I only answered 6 of them correctly – what gives? I went from answer 75% of my attempted questions correctly, to 22%. I’m not quite sure what happened. I was in a rush, and it was late in the day. Anyway, had I answered those 6 additional correct answers during my allotted time, my score would have been 152. I am aiming for 160. I hope this is possible in 46 days.

Friday, April 23, 2010 – Mystery Novels – 45 Days
I had my usual internship with the county judge today. We got on the subject of what made him want to become an attorney. He said as a child he loved mystery novels, especially Sherlock Holmes. He loved making inferences and deductions based on the available evidence. I thought this was interesting, because as a kid I loved reading books that had alternate endings, usually they were mystery novels but at the end of every chapter, you had a decision to make, and depending on your decision, you would turn to a different page of the book for an alternate ending. Similar to my childhood reading, I hope I’m making all the right decisions that will get me into law school.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 – Photoshop: The Worst ADD Distraction Ever! – 44 Days
I attend a state university that has good deals on software as part of their licensing agreements with Microsoft and Adobe. So while I was in the school’s bookstore, I picked up Photoshop. I was supposed to be studying for the LSAT and writing a 5-page paper, but this program had me totally sucked in. I got pretty good at it.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my hero so I found a photo of her standing next to another woman – that other woman became me. Then I placed myself on the United States Supreme Court (I will be replacing Justice Stevens of course). I spent way too much time fiddling with that but to be honest, it was just the recharge that I needed. I had been spending so much time helping others, extracurriculars, work, school stuff, etc. that I was starting to feel robotic.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 – Getting it In Gear – 43 Days
I spent way too much time blowing off my school obligations and LSAT studies, I have to really cram everything in today. I hope to take another PrepTest today and finish off my paper and study for a poli sci exam. I am still super worried about the LSAT being just 43 days away.

I have until May 16th to decide whether or not I want to defer until October, and it will cost me a $68 reschedule fee. Alternatively, I may just take it, cancel my score and retake in October. Or take it, get my score, and take it in October. Who knows. I suppose I could approach June as my “initial attempt,” but I know I won’t have much time to dedicate to LSAT studying in October. Plus, I won’t get my score until almost November and I want to have already submitted some apps by then.

Photo by archeon / CC BY-ND 2.0

LSAT Logic: Downloading mp3s of Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse LSAT BlogI just sent the following email to Perez Hilton:
I'll cover celebrities on LSAT Blog every now and then if you'll cover the LSAT on your blog.
Mr. Hilton hasn't responded yet, but he's a busy man. I'm starting on my end with the expectation that he'll reciprocate.

I start by covering the drug habit of the sexy-voiced, but occasionally scary-looking, Amy Winehouse.

Yes, I know her drug habit isn't news. Being an LSAT tutor makes it difficult to keep up with celebrity gossip without becoming violently ill.

Anyway, I've included (above) a photo of Ms. Winehouse on one of her good days.

Unfortunately, her massive drug habit led her father-in-law to call for a boycott of her music:
Perhaps it is time to stop buying records. It's a possibility, to send that message.

One fan created the following "poster" to support the boycott:

(Photo by spinneyhead / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In case you can't see the photo, the poster says:
Record sales fund their drug habits. For their sake, download.
Yes, record sales probably do a bit to support Amy Winehouse's drug habit.

However, it's possible that boycotting purchases of her albums and downloading her music instead will not necessarily lead her to stop abusing drugs.

Here are several problems with the father-in-law's (and poster's) argument:

1. Like most Grammy winners whose albums have gone platinum several times, Ms. Winehouse probably has quite a bit of money. She probably has enough savings to support her drug habit for the rest of her life.

2. Replacing record sales with downloads may actually increase Ms. Winehouse's fan base as a whole. mp3s are viral. friends will share them, and her fan base will grow. Ms. Winehouse might actually prefer that people download her music instead of buying her albums, in order to incrase her reach and increase ticket sales.

3. The image above should've specified that the consumer download her music illegally. If consumers download her music on iTunes, Ms. Winehouse still gets a cut, and it might not hurt her purse much, if at all.

4. I'm not an expert on the music industry, but it's my understanding that musicians make more money from concerts and swag than from albums. Most money from albums goes to record labels and marketing efforts. A boycott of her albums isn't likely to really hit her in the purse much. The image probably should've told people to boycott her concerts and not to listen to her music at all.

5. A boycott of her albums might further harm Ms. Winehouse's fragile mental state and sap her desire to be sober (if any). It might depress her to the point that she actually increases her use of drugs.

What do you think?

In what ways can we strengthen or weaken the argument in favor of the boycott?

What sort of information would be most useful to know in evaluating a potential boycott's effectiveness?

Finally, what celebrity would you like me to cover next? Links and topics are welcome.

Leave comments!

Photo at top by douglascason / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

LSAT Grouped by Reading Passage Type Book

LSAT Blog Grouped by Passage TypeFor those of you who intend to complete every LSAT Reading Comp Passage ever published, there's a book for you. It's called:

GROUPED by Passage Type: LSAT Reading Comprehension: The Complete Collection of Actual, Official Reading Comprehension Passages from PrepTests 1-20

This book is incredibly useful for two major reasons (which the title makes obvious):

Reason #1: It compiles all the passages from PrepTests 1-20 for you in one book, saving you the trouble of getting all the separate books you'd need if you wanted every Reading Comp passage from these exams. 10 Actual, Official, LSAT PrepTests only contains 7, 9-16, and 18. It lacks PrepTests 1-6, 8, and 17. You can still get those, but it's a bit of a pain. (19 and 20 are in 10 More Actual Official LSAT PrepTests.)

Reason #2: It organizes Reading Comp passages by passage topic, rather than putting them in order by PrepTest (as the traditional books of PrepTests from LSAC do). It divides them into different "chapters" based upon the type of passage. This makes sense because these exams are so old (June 1991 - October 1996) that you'll want to complete them in pieces, rather than as full timed exams.

Reading Comp Passage Categorization
Most prep companies simply divide passages into 4 major categories:

Natural Science, Social Science, Humanities, and Law

I find that breakdown a bit too simple, so I've done my own categorization of every Reading Comp passage from every LSAT PrepTest.

The categorization of passages in the GROUPED by Passage Type book is somewhat similar to mine, only the categories are slightly broader since it's limited to PrepTests 1-20. (Because there are 4 passages per exam, you get 80 passages altogether.)

I'm listing the book's chapters so you can see the types of categories it uses:

-Music & Poetry

Social Sciences
-Racial Minorities

Biological & Physical Sciences
-Earth & Space
-Scientific Theories

Issues Related To The Law
-Legal System
-Legal Theory


Who should use this book:

Most test-takers won't find this book absolutely necessary. However, anyone who intends to complete every LSAT Reading Comp passage ever published will find this book worthwhile and convenient.


Also see GROUPED by Question Type and GROUPED by Game Type.

LSAT Diary of a 20-Something American in Asia (Singapore)

LSAT Blog Diary American Asia SingaporeThis LSAT Diary is from T, who's doing his LSAT prep while living in Singapore.

If you want to be in LSAT Diaries, please email me at (You can be in LSAT Diaries whether you've taken the exam already or not.)

Leave T some encouragement below in the comments!

Here's his LSAT Diary:

I have been considering law school since my first year of college, but going into my final year after my second summer abroad, I realized that I wanted to take some more time to get experience and see the world. So, after my last year of college, I headed to Singapore on a fellowship to teach for two years.

LSAT Prep – The Beginnings
Last year, I kept postponing my LSAT preparation, which had a lot to do with the fact that I had no idea where to start or what to do. I have several friends that have taken the LSAT, but they all had different approaches or schedules. It was around that time that I found Steve's blog, and felt I finally had a good plan to follow.

My first attempt at preparation failed because of a family issue I had to deal with, and so I decided to postpone the LSAT. When I finally decided to start again, I had a disappointing discovery - the February exam is not offered in Asia! Although I was ready to start, the timing was not that big of a deal since I am planning on applying for the class of 2011 or 2012.

During all of that time, I focused my efforts on training and preparing for a marathon, which was a great pre-LSAT experience. The mentality for both the marathon and the LSAT is very similar - hard work, dedication, and discipline, followed by one single day of intense pressure, and the ability to see how your time paid off.

LSAT Prep – Finally Started
Although I have a full-time job, activities, and language classes, I do have one thing as a teacher that a lot of people wish they had: school vacations! When my semester ended in March, I decided it was time to get serious, so I took a week off of work, and hit the books. I will probably apply to law school in the early fall (when my top choices start accepting), but there is a chance I will wait another year, depending on my job situation (that means I would start 3-4 years after Undergrad). Even though I might not be applying right away, I decided that this is the best time for me to take the test since I do have days and weeks off between now and then.

For the first four weeks, I completed almost every recommended section and chapter in Steve’s 3-month plan (save a fair amount of actual LR questions). I have made a few variations in materials and prep methods:

* Week One Practice: I did about half of the games untimed, and the other half timed.
* Week Three Materials: Instead of reading the recommended book on arguments, I watched a series of lectures on Logic from Oxford University. To find these free lectures, go to iTunesU (within the iTunes program, or from an iPod/iPhone), and search ‘Logic’. These video lectures were nice when I wanted to do something productive, but was too tired or lazy to do practice questions. It is easy to get 20 or 30 minutes of formal logic in while eating dinner or even having a beer.

My studying over the course of a week:

I am heading in to my 4th week on the 3-month study schedule. It took me a while to get moving, but after a big cup of coffee, and one episode of CSI, I decided it was time to start.

There were still a few sections I had to finish from the previous three weeks, plus a couple of games to review. I had about 4 games that I wanted to review, so I started with that. To begin, I look at my setup, then the correct answer, and try to figure out what I did wrong.

For the logic games, I am doing fairly well, but sometimes I miss questions or waste time because I leave out a detail. This usually happens in questions that ask for possible orders or combinations, I’ll attack the answers choices with the various rules and Not Laws, and then discover that there are two answers that appear to be possible. For example, let’s say I have narrowed it down to the following (made-up) answer choices:

1. 2 green sedans, 1 red van, 3 yellow sports cars, and 2 blue convertible.
2. 2 green sedans, 1 red van, 2 yellow sports cars, and 1 blue convertible.

Now, my problem is usually something like this – I stare at the answers, check the laws, and cannot find any violations. FINALLY, after either wasting too much time, or getting the answer wrong, I re-read the question and realize that there can only be 6 cars in total. (There are lots of variations of these mistakes, and it is hard to make-up examples!)

This means I am being a bit careless, and not taking enough time to think about the scenario and the various rules. I am confident that this will get better with practice.

After some review, I worked on some unfinished games from PrepTests 29-38.

Nothing specific to the LSAT, but I did watch one of the Oxford lectures on Logic. The lesson focused on deductive and inductive logic, valid and invalid arguments, and the strength of arguments.

I have to come to the office this week, but I don’t actually start teaching for a couple of weeks. I have a few things to do before next lessons start, but I can still give myself a couple of hours each day at work for the LSAT.

Today I read some Logical Reasoning tips on LSAT Blog. I thought about doing a few practice questions, but didn’t want to make it too obvious that I was doing LSAT stuff at work!

Tuesday – Thursday - The problem with distractions
Distractions can be a bitch, especially since they always take up more time than we think. If a colleague comes to speak with me for five minutes, it usually takes an additional 10 minutes for me to get back to work. While that is not a major issue, my distractions from the LSAT tend to be.

Recently, I had to put down the books and focus on preparing for a job interview. It was a bit unexpected (I had not put much effort into the job search since I started getting serious about the LSAT), so I ignored everything but the interview.

After two full days, I completed the interview, but found myself having a hard time pulling the books off the shelf. It reminded me of a line from Dumb and Dumber – “I can’t start and stop again, it stings!” On Thursday, I was sitting at my computer tired and debating whether to work. I decided that I needed some inspiration, and so I came up with a plan.

My first step was to do some reading about my top choices. After all, I was not 100% about wanting to attend law school until I found a couple of very specific programs that got me excited. This excitement eventually turned into motivation, since most of the programs are at top schools.

Next, I sought motivation from another source. Thinking back to my marathon training days, I remembered a couple of awesome inspiration movies that helped me out (I know, it sounds lame, but whatever helps, right?). My movie of choice was Without Limits, which is about the Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine. I was ready to go.

Two new sites!

This site has two logic tests (validity), and some links to other sites on logic and philosophy.

This site has a ton of information to help you learn logic (I am really amazed at how much free information is out there these days!), but probably not worth spending a ton of time on.

By the way, for those wondering, I found these sites by ‘Stumbling” the logic section of StumbleUpon.

I am skipping actual LSAT stuff for the day, but will get back to it tomorrow.



I decided to switch things up a bit, but it means I am going to be a bit behind next week. Instead of doing the Logical Reasoning questions, I decided that I would tackle all the remaining Logic Games from 29-38 in chronological order. For me, I think I would rather focus on the questions in the practice tests by section.


I had a chat with a good friend that has taken the LSAT twice. I was discussing my goals, and mentioned that it is probably time I take a full test to get an idea of where I am. I think this will help me figure out how much time I need to spend until the June exam. She agreed, but was kind enough to remind me that most people score 3-4 points lower during the actual exam…

Photo by bobaubuchon / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Law School Admissions Questions and Answers

I've previously interviewed law school admission consultant Anna Ivey. (Topics covered include which law schools are worth attending and appropriate addendum topics.)

Anna recently informed me that she's holding a free one-hour web chat titled Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Law School Admissions But Were Afraid to Ask.

It'll be on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 from 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

Here's the official description of it:

Event Summary

The chat content will be driven by the applicants/participants. The kinds of questions we will cover are ones like these:

How should I pick my recommenders?

Should I pick the easy courses and juice my transcript, or take the harder classes and risk lower grades?

How do schools look at multiple LSAT scores? Cancellations? No shows? [Ed: My detailed analysis of the cancellation vs. no show issue is in Cancel, Postpone, or Absence? -Steve]

How do I explain my C in Organic Chemistry/my switch in major/the semester I took off because of my eating disorder?

Do I have to disclose my academic probation/my minor-in-possession charge/my expunged teenage shoplifting record? How would they even find out?

Should I be applying right out of college? Is there an advantage to doing so? Would it help to get a master’s degree in between?

My mother thinks I should write my application essay about the Math Olympiad I won in high school. Is that a good idea?

Presenter's Bio

Founder of Ivey Consulting, Anna Ivey received her undergraduate degree at Columbia University and her law degree at the University of Chicago. After practicing corporate and entertainment law in California, she returned to the University of Chicago to serve as Associate Director and then Dean of Admissions. Today, she leads a team of consultants who counsel college, law school, and business school applicants through the admissions process and their longer-term academic and career planning. Anna is the author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions and also serves as Vice President of AIGAC.

LSAT Answer Keys for Every PrepTest / Exam

Below, you'll find the answer keys to every LSAT PrepTest. However, the answer keys only tell you the correct answers - LSAT PrepTests don't tell you why a particular answer choice is right or wrong.

This is unfortunate, because learning from your mistakes is the way to improve your score. Since the LSAT doesn't come with explanations, you'll need to get them separately.

On LSAT Blog, you can get PDF explanations for LSAT PrepTests by section (LG, LR, and RC):

-Logic Games explanations for the newest PrepTests
-Logic Games explanations for PrepTests 62-71
-Logic Games explanations for PrepTests 52-61
-Logic Games explanations for PrepTests 29-38
-Logic Games explanations for PrepTests 19-28

-Logical Reasoning explanations for the newest PrepTests
-Logical Reasoning explanations for PrepTests 62-71
-Logical Reasoning explanations for PrepTests 52-61
-Logical Reasoning explanations for PrepTests 44-51
-Logical Reasoning explanations for PrepTests 29-38
-Logical Reasoning explanations for PrepTests 19-28

-Reading Comprehension explanations for the newest PrepTests
-Reading Comprehension explanations for PrepTests 62-71
-Reading Comprehension explanations for PrepTests 52-61
-Reading Comprehension explanations for PrepTests 44-51
-Reading Comprehension explanations for PrepTests 29-38
-Reading Comprehension explanations for PrepTests 19-28


Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 1-10:

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 1-10

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 11-20:

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 11-20

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 21-30:

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 21-30

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 31-40:

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 31-40

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 41-50:

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 41-50

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 51-59 (and June 2007):

LSAT Blog Answer Keys PrepTests 51-59 and June 2007

Answer Keys for LSAT PrepTests 60-69:

LSAT Answer Keys PrepTests 60-69

Answer Key for LSAT PrepTest 70-74:

LSAT Answer Keys PrepTest 70-74

Answer Keys for PrepTests A, B, C, and Feb 97:

A, B, and C are in LSAC's SuperPrep book. Feb 97 is the Official LSAT PrepTest with Explanations (now out-of-print - available as LSAC's ItemWise).

LSAT Answer Keys Feb Exams

* = item removed from scoring

LG = Logic Games
LR = Logical Reasoning
RC = Reading Comprehension

Each published exam has 4 sections. I've included the answer keys for each section in the order in which they appear in the published exam.

(For example, in the published version of PrepTest 1, the 4 sections appeared in the following order: RC, LG, LR, LR. The first section of LR is Section 3 of the exam. As such, I've placed it in the 3rd column of my answer key for that exam.)


Also see LSAT PrepTest Raw Score Conversion Charts.

All actual LSAT content used within this work is used with the permission of Law School Admission Council, Inc., Box 2000, Newtown, PA 18940, the copyright owner. LSAC does not review or endorse specific test preparation materials or services, and inclusion of licensed LSAT content within this work does not imply the review or endorsement of LSAC. LSAT is a registered trademark of LSAC.

7 Ways To Waste Time During LSAT Prep

LSAT Blog Waste Time During LSAT PrepWith the June LSAT approaching, some of you might experience burnout.

Here are 7 funny websites to help you waste time while you're taking a break.

Easiest LSAT Curve: December | Hardest LSAT Curve: June

LSAT Blog Easiest LSAT Curve June Feb Oct DecOne of the most common questions I get from you guys new to the LSAT is: "Which LSAT's month is the easiest/hardest?"

Anyone who knows anything will tell you, "They're all the same. No month's LSAT is particularly easy or difficult."

You then ask, "But what about the curve?"

Answer: "It's not actually curved. It's equated."

If you're especially savvy, you won't be satisfied with that. You'll look at my LSAT PrepTest Raw Score Conversion Charts and calculations of what it takes to get an LSAT score of 160 or 170.

Using that data, you'll find that the December exam consistently has the easiest "curve," and the June exam consistently has the hardest.

In this blog post, I do two things:

1. include my analysis of the raw score conversion charts, which supports the claim that December exams consistently have the easiest "curve" and June exams consistently have the hardest "curve."

2. include my lengthy email conversation with the blog reader who brought this to my attention.

I should mention right off the bat that the differences we're talking about are only a point or two out of 180. Additionally, I still think that the June exam is the best for admissions purposes (see February vs. June LSAT and June vs. October LSAT.)

However, the differences covered in this blog post are consistent for the past 8 years (and in some cases, beyond that). Even an average difference of a point or two is significant.

Analyzing the Past 8 Years (aka how do you know I'm not making this up?)
First, I did a month-by-month comparison of the raw score conversion charts for the past 8 years of exams: PrepTest 37=June 2002 through PrepTest 59=Dec 2009 (present). I analyzed the June, September/October, and December exams on 5 data points.

The following is the average number of questions you could answer incorrectly (by month) and still achieve scaled scores of 160, 165, 170, 172, and 180, respectively, over the past 8 years:

LSAT Blog December Curve Comparison Averages 2002-2009

In case you can't see the image, here's that data in text form:

Jun: 24.125, 16.5, 10, 8, 1.5
S/O: 24.875, 16.5, 10.25, 8.25, 1.75
Dec: 26.25, 18.125, 11.375, 9.25, 2

(I didn't examine any data points between 173 and 179 because each exam lacked at least one of these scores. In other words, there were too many cases where there was no raw score that converted to one of those scores out of 180.)

In all cases for averaged raw score conversions over this period (for these data points), one could answer a greater number of questions incorrectly on the December exam than on either the June or the Sept/Oct exams, yet still achieve the same score out of 180.

In 4 out of 5 cases, the Sep/Oct exam was slightly "easier" than June, as well. In the other case, they were perfectly tied.

To put it another way, in 4 out of 5 cases, the June exam required the most correct answers to achieve a particular scaled score. In the other case, it was perfectly tied with Sep/Oct.

How Big Is This Trend? Does It Also Hold For The 8 Years Before That?

To determine this, I also analyzed PrepTest 11=June 1994 through PrepTest 36=December 2001 by month: June, September/October, and December on 2 data points, just to see if the general trend held true in the 8 years prior to June 02:

The following is the average number of questions you could answer incorrectly over that period (by month) and still achieve scaled scores of 160 and 170, respectively:

LSAT Blog December Curve Comparison Averages 1994-2001

In case you can't see the image, here's that data in text form:

Jun: 27.875, 12
S/O: 29.125, 12.875
Dec: 27.625, 14.125

These findings are somewhat surprising, given what I found for June 02-December 09 (above).

From 1994-2001, it was even easier, on average, to get a 170 in December than in June than from 2002-2009 (The older period had a difference of 2.125 raw score points at the 170 data point, while the more recent period only had an average difference of 1.375 for the 170 data point.)

In other words, the June exam was not only still the toughest to get a 170 on in this period, but it was even tougher to get a 170 in June over this period than in the more recent period.

I also found that the September/October exam's "easiness" was closer to December than it had been in the more recent period.

However, my most surprising finding for this period: it was actually a bit easier to get a 160 in September/October than in either June or December, a trend that certainly hasn't held true in the past 8 years.

How Do February LSAT Conversions Compare To Those of Other Months?

After all this analysis of June, Sep/Oct, and Dec, I started wondering how February exams compare. Unfortunately, no February LSATs have been released since 2000, so our sample size is both older and smaller than it otherwise would have been.

However, I did what I could. I looked specifically at the conversion charts for nearly every exam from February 1994 - December 2000. 7 February exams were released over this period. (I excluded the entire year of 1998 because that year's February exam was not released.)

I didn't compare the February exam data with current exam data because it currently takes more questions correct to get a particular scaled score (out of 180) across the board than it did in the past (data).

The following is the average number of questions you could answer incorrectly over that period (by month) and still achieve scaled scores of 160 and 170, respectively:

In case you can't see the image, here's that data in text form:

Feb: 27.166, 12.333
Jun: 27.833, 11.833
S/O: 29.5, 12.833
Dec: 27.667, 14.166

At the 160 data point, the Feb exam was the most difficult (required the most questions correct to get a 160). At the 170 data point, it was the second most difficult.

Of course, as we know from looking at the entire 8-year period from 1994-2001 period (previous section), what was true of the 160 data point was not true of the present day.

We have no way of knowing whether Feb exams have continued to be relatively difficult, of course, since they're no longer released. However, it's still something to keep in mind.

The following email exchange includes some off-the-cuff hypothesizing about the reasons that December exams consistently allow one to have a greater number of incorrect answers, yet still achieve the same scaled score. (The data above also raises questions about why June exams consistently require one to have a fewer number of incorrect answers to achieve the same scaled score.)

Unfortunately, we have more questions than answers as to "why."

Is it because the December tests are consistently harder and June tests are consistently easier?

Looking at the exams, it doesn't seem that way. Without a large sample size, it's difficult to say. All we can say is that difficulty of particular exams and questions is, to a certain extent, subjective.

Additionally, one would think LSAC aims to make each exam of equal difficulty to avoid too much variation in the raw score conversion charts. After all, LSAC wants to maintain the equivalency of scores from different exams.

Is it because the December/June pools of LSAT-takers are "different" in some way? Maybe.

Is it because LSAC abducted Elvis? Maybe.

Any hypothesis about it is just that - a guess.

As I've said before, statistics isn't my thing - it's much easier for me to take averages, as I did above, than to tell you the reason the numbers appear as they do - that's a whole different ball game.

I've asked LSAC to shed some light on these questions. Here's part of LSAC's response:

"The differences you describe are very small and represent the type of minor fluctuation we expect to observe."

I still think the differences are important enough to warrant this blog post.

My emails with the blog reader (Christopher) who brought this to my attention:

I read your posts about the LSAT "curve" (that's not really a curve) and then looked at the raw score conversion charts - it seems to me from quick analysis that the December LSAT consistently seems to be "easier."

Easier is a relative term I suppose, but let's say we look only at the upper end of the scores - ie. 170-180. It's hard to get an exact comparison since there are so many blanks in the upper ranges from year to year but it seems that consistently in a given year with the December test, you can afford to get more questions incorrect to achieve the same scaled score.

Let's say we look at 180 and 172 which are both uninterrupted (no blanks) since June 2002. Basically in every instance, you could afford to get more wrong in December than in June (granted the differential is only 1-2 points). 2005 seems to be an odd year, but for the rest if you pick a score between 172-180 where there are three data points, overwhelmingly it seems to indicate that December is more forgiving.

I guess you could make the argument that the December test is in fact "harder" and thus someone who scored 94/101 in Dec '09 would most likely score 96/101 in Jun '09 (achieving 176 on both tests) - BUT given a small chance of human error (you pick the right answer, but fill in the wrong bubble) or let's say you run out of time and leave the last question on every section blank no matter how easy or hard it may be - aren't you better off taking the December test if you're aiming for 175-180?

For the last 8 years, at least, the data supports what you suggested.

It would certainly be worthwhile to take in December if one's primary goal were to safely achieve high scores - less punishment for bubbling errors, or for any errors at all, of course. I would expect someone scoring at that level wouldn't have significant time issues, though.

There are considerations that, generally speaking, might lead one to avoid December, though. An admissions-related consideration is that Dec is rather late in the cycle to apply to a T14 school, especially for T5 schools. Of course, a 175-180 would more than eliminate any drawback of applying that late. However, if something goes wrong in December, you're basically out of luck for that cycle (for many top schools).

(You could always take in December and apply in the following fall, but most people don't plan that far ahead, and most aren't willing to wait that long.)

At the same time, though, if you're capable of getting 175-180 in Dec, you can probably also get it in Feb, June, or Sept/Oct. At the same time, better safe than sorry, though.

All the points you mention are definitely true if you have other concerns than just scoring high - i.e. admissions/timing concerns. My question was more just specifically if your intent was to try and get as high a score as possible (and timing was less of an issue).

Thinking more about this - I wonder if it's due to the fact that more people take the test in December but the ratio of high scorers to low scorers doesn't scale equivalently at the same rate.

i.e. if the ratios were the same, and when the number of test takers doubled it was as if everyone grew a twin with the exact same scoring ability, then it would make no difference which month you took the test in.

However, conversely (and what the data would seem to suggest, although you wouldn't be able to prove it) - maybe when twice as many people take the test in December, there's a disproportionately increased number of "average test-takers", but less (as a percentage of the total) "high-scoring" test takers. Therefore if you were a "high scorer" it would be in your benefit to take December because there are a smaller percentage of people who are at your ability or better.

This latter thought is just a hypothesis - not sure how valid it is given that I did a quick glance at scores in the ranges around 130 and it still seems that "Dec" is easier.

If you look at the data from LSAC on the number of test-takers for each exam, you'll find that the September/October exam is the most popular, by far.

I hypothesize that there are fewer strong test-takers in the December pool because it's late in the cycle. Perhaps a lot of the weaker test-takers who take, or planned to take, the September/October exam retake it in December. Generally, the stronger test-takers from Sept/Oct wouldn't need to retake because they did fine.

I'm inclined to agree with your hypothesis about December test-takers. I think it's a combination of what you mentioned + the fact that (for college kids) Sept allows for summer prep whereas Dec doesn't. Also, Dec runs into the problem of conflicting with exam study.

Additionally, under our current tough economic conditions, I would guess a lot of people may not think about going to law/grad school until they realize that finding a job is harder than it seems. For May graduates they may not realize this until the summer winds down and the end of the year approaches and suddenly they find themselves in a position where they want to take the LSAT, GMAT etc. "just to leave their options" open. Once again though, unfortunately there's really no way to prove this, though.

Photo by bensonkua / CC BY-SA 2.0

LSAT Diary: Overcoming LSAT Test Anxiety | Tips

LSAT Diary: Overcoming LSAT Test AnxietyLaw School Dreamer writes, "My week 3 diary is attached. Thank you for allowing me to participate. It's really helping me to hold myself accountable and really stop and think about my LSAT practice, what I've learned, what's working, what isn't, etc."

If you want to be in LSAT Diaries, please email me at (You can be in LSAT Diaries whether you've taken the exam already or not.)

Here's Law School Dreamer's third LSAT Diary:

Monday, April 4, 2010 – Overcoming LSAT Test Anxiety

As I become more and more familiar with the LSAT, I have to admit, I am feeling less and less nervous about it. However, there certainly have been times where I was actually over-prepared for an exam and still found myself nervous and anxious during the test.

I picked up a brochure on test anxiety at my undergrad, but I was a bit miffed at what I read. Most of the tips listed were “develop good study habits and strategies,” “Manage your time, deal with procrastination, distractions, laziness,” etc.

This upset me. Despite being ADD/ADHD, I do actually manage my time quite well, maybe this is because the working world has forced me to overcome “procrastination and laziness” and my full-time school load often leaves me with little free time so when I do sit down to study I know it must be productive. The brochure left me feeling a little insulted; it was as though my test anxiety was likely as a result of mismanagement of time and laziness! I started to really think about why I get anxious and even developed a list:

1. I am afraid that all of my hard work and preparation will not pay off and I fear I will be left with disappointment in myself.

2. Often, I get in a rhythm when taking tests; I spend equal time thinking about each question, answering it, and moving on. If a question stumps me and I pause, I panic; as though taking slightly longer to answer means I am failing.

3. I take my grades seriously. Knowing that I will be applying to law schools at the end of this year adds pressure, of course. By most standards, my GPA is great (3.75) but for some reason I see this as .25 GPA points away from perfect. Like almost perfect, but not close enough. I think my current 3.75 is the lowest I will ever be happy with, and so I fear that if I bomb a test, I will only further disappoint myself.

4. I am a very competitive person; I get very anxious when I see other test-takers finished and turning in their exams, and feel stupid if I’m one of the last few test-takers to finish. To me, it means everyone else in the room is smarter than me, and for every additional minute it takes me to complete my exam that is how much stupider I am than the other test-takers.

I even apologized to a professor once for being the last one to turn in an exam. It was all essay and I told him that I really did study hard but I was so sorry for being the last one to turn in my exam. And to that he responded, “I’m sure you took the longest because you knew the most.” I got a 100% on the exam, an exam others hardly passed.

5. As for the LSAT specifically, I am nervous because this one test can have devastating consequences. But what I should be telling myself that it has the potential to unlock admittance into great law schools and scholarship money. But then, actually that just leads to more anxiety.

As I began to think about what would make me feel better, I thought of my competitiveness. While I am in a sense competing against all the other students in the room, there is nothing I can do about other people. So instead of feeling competitive with the other test-takers, I should look at the LSAT as my competitor. Every correct question bubbled, I am beating it. Every wrong question bubbled, its beating me. Screw everyone else in the room.

As corny as this sounds, I think self-affirmations work. I am not saying every morning I’m going to get up and tell myself I will score 180, but my own negativity towards this tests ends today. I am putting in the time, and I must believe my investment will reward me. In fact, the LSAT is an opportunity for me to show myself how hard work pays off. I have said I am always fearful that I will bomb a test and feel that my hard work didn’t prove worthwhile, and that has never happened. Not once have I ever failed an exam.

To bring my A-game on June 7th, I will eat fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce stress, stay away from artificial sweeteners, processed food, junk, etc. I want my brain to work to its full potential. I will also plan ahead and have my “clear plastic quart-size baggy” packed and prepared ahead of time. I will have read all test center rules and leave in plenty of time to arrive early.

If I find myself anxious or tense (I’m sure I will, it is, after all the LSAT), I will take slow deep breaths, try not to think about my fear, tell myself I have prepared and this is my chance to show off my hard work.

As for my progress, I am feeling a little burnt out on the logic games. I have completed all basic linear (balanced and unbalanced), advanced linear (balanced and unbalanced), and the grouping defined balanced games from preptests 1-40. That leaves the grouping defined fixed (unbalanced), the grouping defined moving (balanced and unbalanced), the grouping partially defined and grouping/linear combo/hybrid games left for me to complete.

I find that I’m having fewer “aha!” moments, and I feel some pressure that it is April and I have not yet moved on to logical reasoning. Considering there are TWO logical reasoning sections to the LSAT, it makes sense to devote plenty of time to logical reasoning and I don’t want to short myself in my preparation. So for now I’m putting the logic games on the backburner but am promising myself to go back and finish the ones I have yet to complete (though I did get some experience with them through my previous studying). I will sprinkle them in when I need a break from the logical reasoning, etc.

Tuesday, April 5, 2010 – Logical Reasoning – Here We Go!
I did the “Must Be True” questions from PrepTests 1-40. Of the 37 questions I did, I missed 6. Not too shabby for my first shot at the logical reasoning, and I did immediately review why I chose wrong, and often I had narrowed it down to two questions and the correct answer choice was one of them.

I do have A Rulebook for Arguments and will begin reviewing that tomorrow. The book spends a chapter on an overview of argumentation, premises, and conclusions which are really the foundational concepts of logical reasoning. It'll get me ready to focus on specific question types.

I gave myself many months of on-and-off logic games practice. I spent about a month and a half slowly going over through Logic Games question types. Now that I have only a month to go over the Logical Reasoning section, and will do some extra practice with Logical Reasoning questions by question type.

Wednesday, April 6, 2010 – Large White Envelopes
Was it a premonition? A dream? Wishful thinking? No. Oddly enough I received a large white envelope in the mail today from a law school that I am interested in. As I held my mail tightly to my chest, I said to myself “this is what the admissions process will be like in 8-10 months, and all of my acceptances will be in large white envelopes.” But actually, the Animal Law Professor/Expert I mentioned a few weeks back had the school’s admissions office send me a viewbook. I am very impressed with the school and this really helps motivate me, but the cost of tuition is so high, around $36,000 a year! Yet another reason to master this LSAT, it can pay dividends in scholarship money!

I have begun recognizing a major difference between the Logical Reasoning section and Logic Games is that test-makers actually provide several answer choices that “tempt” you to choose wrongly. This is unlike Logic Games where one answer choice is correct, and once you find it you usually need not read the remaining answer choices (especially in must be true/must be false style questions). Having to read each answer choice certainly does not help with the time constraint. The logical reasoning sections contain 24-26 questions, which means I have one minute and twenty-five seconds to complete each question.

Additionally, when I began going through the “must be true” logical reasoning questions, I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about whether the arguments made would be true in the real world. I think while it is reasonable that I should take into consideration my own sense of what could be true or not, I need to remember that I need only examine whether an argument is true or not, based on the facts given in the question stimuli – not what I may or may not know to be true based on my own independent past experiences (college research, personal experiences, whatever). In other words, does the premise prove the conclusion? I think by not pondering the validity of the premise based on my own thoughts, this will save me some time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 – LSAT Bum in a Tunnel
I love my study spot in the tunnel, its so useful for dealing with the distraction of having people walk by constantly yet its quiet. So when I say I’m a “bum in a tunnel” I’m using the word “bum” to mean somebody who is excessively devoted to a particular activity or place, not a hobo or homeless person. I’m making great progress. I’ve gone through about 50 of the “must be true” LR questions, and have also returned to the logic games – grouping/undefined/unbalanced (completed about 10 more games).

Friday, April 9, 2010 – More Nightmares!
Last night I had another LSAT nightmare. Well, I assume its LSAT-related but it may not be. Basically, I dreamt that my teeth were falling out and all I could do is just hold out my hand and try to catch them as they flew out of my mouth. I think this is stemmed from the fact that regardless how hard I try, the LSAT is still coming up in 59 days and I can’t stop it, I can’t control it. Anyway, according to the online “dream moods” dictionary, my teeth falling out may mean (among other things) a sense of powerlessness. It seems as the LSAT draws closer and closer, its coming at me faster and faster. I hope I can keep up!

Photo by offshore / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

US News Law School Rankings 2010 Released

US News just published this year's law school rankings (part-time rankings).

For most people, the biggest change is that NYU was bumped out of the top 5.

Its replacement? University of Chicago.

Robert Morse, the man behind the rankings, explains his methodology
(part-time methodology).

The US News site also has several interviews with various law school admission officers.

(Of course, I have a few interviews of my own, too.)

I linked to a few good rankings-related articles last year.

See them in Law School Rankings Released by US News.

What Do Old People Think About The LSAT?

LSAT Blog Old People Think About LSATWell, I asked a few.

Here are their responses:

Logic Games

LSAT Blog Logic Games Old Guy
Logic isn't a game, son. It's serious business. Now let me enjoy this cigar in peace.

Logical Reasoning

LSAT Blog Logical Reasoning Response Old Woman
You'll have to excuse me. It's time for my Bingo game.

Reading Comprehension

LSAT Blog Reading Comprehension Old Guy
Why don't you let me tell you a story about the War instead?

Writing Sample

LSAT Blog Writing Sample Response Old Woman
I'm so proud of you, honey. Mail me a copy, and I'll show the neighbors.


LSAT Blog Old Guy Response
Why would you want to mess around with a fancy typewriter like that?

I want to see your captions - especially for the top photo, which has none.

Leave them in the comments!


Photo by loungerie / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo by hawleyjr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by jeffcapeshop / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

LSAT Logic and Running Shoes

LSAT Blog Logic Running ShoesIn Born to Run, Christopher McDougall claims normal athletic shoes are actually bad for your feet. He suggests it's best to get as close to running barefoot (NYMag) as possible.

Being an LSAT dude, I'm pretty skeptical of things I read at first, especially when an author makes big claims.

In a nutshell, McDougall says many foot problems and foot/leg injuries today are a direct result of our footwear. He thinks cushioning and support are bad. They negatively impact the way we run and walk (heel down first = bad), and they make our feet and leg muscles weak so that we can't handle the impact of running this way.

He offers a lot of support for this, but let's look at one particular piece of evidence in isolation.
Runners wearing top-of-the-line shoes are 123 percent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes, according to a study led by Bernard Marti, M.D., a preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland’s University of Bern.
Reminds you of an LSAT Logical Reasoning stimulus, doesn't it? I'll add McDougall's conclusion (in my words): "Therefore, design flaws in top-of-the-line shoes are the cause of these runners' injuries, and they'd be less likely to experience injuries if they switched to cheap no-frills shoes."

Let's think about the evidence and conclusion here and examine for potential flaws.

The evidence regards a correlation (in this case, a direct relationship) between top-of-the-line shoes and a greater number of injuries. Similarly, there's a correlation between cheap shoes and having fewer injuries (than those with top-of-the-line shoes).

Can we conclude from this that the top-of-the-line shoes are actually causing the injuries? It's possible, of course, but there are other potential explanations.

The LSAT's Logical Reasoning section frequently contains arguments where the author confuses correlation with causation (and whenever studies or surveys are presented, there's usually some sort of flaw in their construction or interpretation).

For this reason, I immediately started thinking of alternative explanations:

-Maybe injury-prone and inexperienced runners are more likely to buy fancy and expensive running shoes (hoping the shoes will be a substitute for good technique and actual exercise!)).

-Maybe people who have fancy and expensive running shoes take more risks while running (and thus, it wouldn't actually be the design of the shoes that is at fault - it'd be the runner's fault).

-Maybe people who have fancy and expensive running shoes spend more time running and are thus at greater risk of injury (like the previous alternative explanation, the runner's behavior is to blame for the injuries, not the shoes).

McDougall provides additional evidence
If that one piece of evidence (the correlation) was all McDougall provided to support his argument, I wouldn't take him seriously, given the alternative possibilities.

He's smarter than that, though, and provides dozens of pieces of evidence to support his argument about modern shoes. He also gives additional support for the particular study described above:
Dr. Marti’s research team analyzed 4,358 runners in the Bern Grand-Prix, a 9.6- mile road race. All the runners filled out an extensive questionnaire that detailed their training habits and footwear for the previous year; as it turned out, 45 percent had been hurt during that time.

But what surprised Dr. Marti, as he pointed out in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 1989, was the fact that the most common variable among the casualties wasn’t training surface, running speed, weekly mileage, or “competitive training motivation.” It wasn’t even body weight, or a history of previous injury: it was the price of the shoe. Runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40.
(Source: Born to Run, p171-2)

McDougall tells us that Dr. Marti was considering potential alternative causes such as "training surface, running speed, weekly mileage," and "'competitive training motivation.'" Of course, perhaps there's something else Dr. Marti failed to consider, but he seems to have considered, and dismissed, some of the biggies. In short, Dr. Marti's argument appears to be pretty good so far.

However, there are still other areas to attack in this study now that we have more information.

Is 4,358 runners a large-enough sample size? We might want to think about how big the running community is in general.

Is the previous year enough of a period to look at? Perhaps we want to go back further in time.

What sort of runners go to the Bern Grand-Prix race? What sort of runners run a 9.6-mile road race? Maybe racers in general aren't representative of the running population.

You won't always have to go this far into your analysis of a particular argument, but it's good to be skeptical. Always think about alternatives. Think "what if?"


As for me, I'm enjoying running barefoot. Let me know if you want to go for a run in Central Park sometime!

Photo by mikebaird / CC BY 2.0