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April 3, 2012

LSAT Diaries: Improving from 140s to 161

This LSAT Diary is from Anthony, who improved his original LSAT score from the 140s to a 161 on the February 2012 LSAT.

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Thanks to Anthony for sharing his experience and advice, and please leave your questions for him below in the comments!


Anthony's LSAT Diary:

I've been struggling for the past few years to figure out if an observation of mine is purely subjective, or if it is based upon some objective grounding: Things have always seemed to require twice the effort for me than they do for everyone else.

This much is the story of my undergraduate career, and even my upbringing as one of three children raised by a single mother.

For me, the LSAT would be one of the toughest psychological battles that I'd have to encounter on my journey to being accepted to law school. I wrote the LSAT for the first time in October 2010 during a race to complete a myriad of other responsibilities. I was preparing to study abroad, completing term papers and battling with Canada Student Loans over some bureaucratic issue that kept me from being issued the money I needed to buy groceries.

It was a tough first go. I bought a Princeton Review LSAT prep book. With about two months to go, I picked up the book for the first time and started reading. I found endless commentary and semantics regarding silly things like breathing techniques and mantras that one should mumble beneath their breath before beginning each section of the test. While I would later learn that filtering through this sort of nonsense is probably exactly what you need to do well on the LSAT, finding the irony in this was presented to me far too early in the preparation process for it to be helpful. In short, I had really no idea where to begin on my journey of LSAT studying, and these prep books that seemed to have been written by Reader's Digest were not making it any easier.

I quickly became frustrated by all of the semantics, and I craved the opportunity to just look at an actual test and see how it works. I bought a book of real LSATs and took a crack at them. I spent the last few weeks of my study period trying to increase my score from the terrible depths of the 140s, and it wasn't happening. I had heard stories of people writing the LSAT hungover for the first time on test day and scoring in the 170s. I figured if this was possible, anything could be possible for me.

I ended up writing the October 2010 LSAT and walking out with a 148. I felt frustrated and ashamed, because I had always been able to figure something out with enough determination. I'd later learn that this was no where near enough preparation.

I went away for my last term of undergrad and left my LSAT books at home. It was always my intention to write it again.

Starting in September 2011, I started reading up on Steve's LSAT blog, and looking into seeing how I could improve my score. By this time, so much time had passed that my LSAC account wouldn't let me access the information that shows how I did on each section of the LSAT. I knew that logic games needed the most work, so I started there.

I bought the 3-month day-by-day study schedule and started plugging away. I balanced the studying the best I could with my full time job. I was eyeing the February 2012 LSAT, which is the last one that my target Law School would accept for September 2012 admission. I quickly learned that, in my case, the biggest prerequisite for improving my scoring ability with logic games (and the LSAT as a whole for that matter) was improving my ability to be patient and persistent. Countless times I would find myself feeling frustrated and just wanting to throw all of the books and photocopies in the garbage. Pencil erasings and sharpenings were littered around my desk and on the floor of my room. I could feel my whole world quickly becoming an LSAT sweatshop.

Completely bombing a logic game and reading the solution put together by Steve was a common scenario for me. As frustrating it was at the time, it was really the only way I was able to improve. I would come back to studying the next day and start to get the gist of some of the basic linear and advanced linear logic games. Some of the games were logically almost identical, but for some reason I was able to understand one intuitively and the other not at all.

By the beginning of January, I was scoring in the mid 150s repeatedly. I was feeling great about the improvement, but I knew I had a long way to go. I started graphing the results of my studying and test results. My target LSAT score was a 160, which for many people is relatively easy to achieve, but for me it felt like one of the most difficult tasks I'd ever have to complete.

(Here's the second half of Anthony's LSAT Diary.)

Photo by offshore



19 comments:

  1. Your determination is inspiring!

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  2. Our stories are almost indentical! Thank you for sharing and giving me hope!

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  3. I'm one of those folks who score in the 140's. I've been told that if you score low, you'll never score any higher, but reading this story has inspired me to study harder. Thank you for posting!

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    1. I scored in the 140s in 2009 and am retaking this coming fall. I have heard the same thing too about never scoring any higher which has been frustrating. I am glad I am not the only one. Thank you!

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    2. Don't buy that rhetoric.

      I'm pretty sure that these comments are not based upon any objective measurements of LSAT scoring. Unless you hear LSAC come out with comments like that, I wouldn't assume that it applies to you.

      Besides, even if it is a reliable statistic, the ability for you to be an outlier to it is within your hands.

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  4. Is anyone else having trouble taking the survey?

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    1. Link fixed - thanks! And, of course, you can always email me.

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  5. The biggest problem for me is concentration. I get bored/tired halfway through the last sections.

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    1. Patience really is the biggest test of the LSAT. It is tedious work, there is no doubt about it.
      Once you feel yourself improving in your ability to concentrate, you will definitely feel motivated to stay focused.

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  6. This post could not have come at a better time, I have yet to break 150. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing, you are an inspiration!

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    1. I can't tell you how many times that I wrote a practice test feeling good about it, only to score it and see that I was stuck (once again) in the mid to high 140s.

      It's important not only to go over the questions you got wrong (and why you've gotten them wrong), but go over the questions you got right, and why they are right.

      It will help you stay positive because you'll be reviewing the successful parts of your preptest, but it will also give you a more clear idea as to what type of things the LSAT is actually testing for.

      Don't get discouraged.

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  7. Wohoo Anthony! Your story resonates with me and so Proud of your resilience.

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  8. It's nice to hear from a humble person who has truly persevered and overcame the odds. One of the reasons I chose law is because I am always rooting for the underdog.

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  9. I'm proud of you Anthony! I bet you can pull your 161 score even higher; indeed, I know some folks who vaulted from a 137 (dry run!) to a 174 (final score). That goes to show that the LSAT can be mastered by inane focus and intelligent studying. Skills-centered training can – and does -- enhance one’s mental agility and one’s exam score!

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  10. Thanks for writing about your experience. I am going to start studying for my second try at the LSAT soon and reading your diary has definitely encouraged me to make the second attempt to raise my score on the Oct test. Just a quick question: Were you working full time as you were studying for the test? And if so, how did you handle the study schedule while working?

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  11. I am EXACTLY where you are and let me tell you, your story has truly inspired me. I scored a 142 on the October 2011 exam and am planning to take the exam in two months. I have been studying for 5 months with no dramatic progress but I am starting to feel the stress and anxiety increase as I increase my studying hours...I also saw a drop in practice test scores from a 148 to a 155 (YAY!) back down to a 147. With two months left and 5 months of studying behind me, I am unsure how to proceed! :(

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  12. Hello, I took the LSAT in October of last year and I scored a 133! When my practice scores uncovered the mid 140's. My biggest and hardest section is LOGICAL REASONING; I took a stab at logic games the very first time and did not understand it then i took another stab at in the next week and grasp the concept well. I took a practice test of just logic games and scored 50 correct out of 80! I'm not worried about reading comprehension, for I know where my down fall lies (Logical reasoning). Many blogs and prep companies say that logic games is the hardest for students and logical reasoning is easier, but its the complete opposite for me and i'm not sure why. Someone please help me.

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  13. My first real LSAT score from yesterday's test was a 142...='(

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  14. I mean not the June test, but a diagnostic test. Long way to go before the October test.

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