LSAT Diary: Study Like An Olympian


LSAT Blog Diary Study Like Olympian
This installment of LSAT Diaries comes from Amanda, who followed one of my day-by-day LSAT study schedules and got some private LSAT coaching from me via Skype.

She improved from 160 to 172 on the October 2012 LSAT and will be going to Harvard Law!

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

Thanks to Amanda for sharing her experience and advice!

Amanda's LSAT Diary:

I discovered Steve’s blog when I was an overly ambitious freshman in college. I was bored in a law related class, and decided to search “LSAT study blog” on Google in the hopes of finding some entertaining reading material from a student freaking out about the LSAT. Instead, I found this site. Within a few days I had read most of the posts related to LSAT prep and immediately jumped on the anti-prep class bandwagon. Even though I wouldn’t have to study for the LSAT for a long time, I was convinced that I could do it on my own.

Flash forward two years: I was a junior in college and decided to study abroad in Italy during the spring semester. I chose a program that ended in mid-May, which meant that I could still technically take the LSAT in June. However, I knew that the lures of gelato, late nights out with friends, and weekend trips around Europe would make LSAT studying pretty difficult. I decided to set my sights on the October LSAT, telling myself that I could enjoy my semester abroad to the fullest, but I would have to really hunker down and study during the summer. I’m so glad I made this decision. If I would have taken the LSAT unprepared in June, I know my score would have been significantly lower.

A few weeks after returning to the U.S., I checked back into LSAT Blog and purchased the 4-month day-by-day LSAT study schedule. I didn’t take a timed practice test before beginning my studying because I knew that doing badly would make me feel discouraged. I did foolishly decide to open the June 2007 LSAT exam to try my hands at a logic game. 20 minutes later, when I still couldn’t figure the game out, I knew I was in for a long summer of studying.

This website already has a ton of great information on it, and I don’t want to be too repetitive, but looking back on my LSAT experience, there are a few things that I would highlight:


1. Do what works for you. When I first started studying, I had serious problems with logic games. I would read the Logic Games Bible and then try the practice problems, but would still miss almost every semi-complicated inference. I was convinced my brain just didn’t work in the way the LSAT expected, and it was seriously frustrating. What really helped me (beyond just following Steve’s schedule) was making my own explanations for all of the logic games from PrepTests 29-38. After every logic game I did, I would go through all the problems and write down why the correct answer was right and why the wrong answers were not correct. Yes, this took a lot of extra time. But as I wrote down how I arrived at the answers, I began to see how the questions worked. After those first few weeks, things that seemed impossible suddenly became simple. Logic games ended up being my best section.


2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Studying on my own was going pretty well until I began learning Parallel Flaw questions in logical reasoning. For some reason, even after reading the Logical Reasoning Bible’s section at least 5 times, I still couldn’t answer any of these questions correctly. As much as I wanted to do everything independently, I knew a tutor could help me get over this road-bump.

Living in South Florida for the summer, I was hesitant about doing long distance Skype tutoring sessions with Steve. Instead, I looked on Craigslist for tutors in my area. I called a few and was outraged by the things they were telling me. One woman actually said that if I wanted to score above a 170, then I needed to have 3 hours sessions, 3 times a week with her. She told me that all the learning I had done up until that point was wrong, and she would have to start from scratch. (As a side note, let’s use some LSAT logic here: This tutor’s statements can be diagrammed as a conditional statement. 170 or above √† crazy lady tutoring sessions. That would mean I couldn’t get a 170 without her tutoring. Pretty illogical for someone who claims to teach logic…)

In the end, I decided to try out a Skype session with Steve. After only one hour, I suddenly went from answering every Parallel Flaw question incorrectly to getting every single question right. Part of me thinks Steve is some sort of LSAT wizard. This turnaround can only be explained by magic, right? Realistically, though, Steve knew how to approach the questions in a way that worked for me. This is something I never would have seen if I refused to ask for help.


3. Studying for the LSAT is a lifestyle. I think every LSAT diary harps on this point in some way, but it’s worth saying again. When I got back to school after studying for the summer at home, it suddenly became hard to balance real life with the LSAT. I ended up waking up early before my classes to do 2 timed sections twice a week. On Sundays, I would wake up early and do a full timed practice test with an extra section. When I wasn’t doing a timed test or in class, I was going over every question from these tests in detail.

I’ll be the first to admit that this was annoying. I definitely got plenty of guilt from my friends when I chose not to go to a tailgate before a football game or to skip out on parties (If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “Elle Woods got a 179, you’ll be fine,” I probably wouldn’t need loans for law school.) Looking back on the situation, missing those few parties was a small price to pay for an LSAT score that gives me real options for my future.


4. Think of yourself as an Olympian. My parents gave me this somewhat clich√© analogy when we were watching the Summer Olympics together, and I liked it so much I figured I’d pass it along. Just like an Olympian, you spend hours training to take this test. You have to perform well under pressure, but if you train hard enough, relying on your instincts will help get you through. The real test is no different than any practice test you took. In the days leading up to the test, I imagined myself sitting at a desk, breezing through every section. I pictured myself opening an email that told me my score was a 170. I had trained hard and felt confident in my abilities.

In the end, it always helps to put things into perspective. The LSAT is nothing more than a booklet of papers. All this worrying and stress is over nothing more than paper. If I could go from being unable to even finish a logic game to scoring a 172, this test really is beatable.


Photo by bobaubuchon




3 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you on how skipping those parties and dinners to study for the LSAT is only a small price to pay (you'd be paying a higher "opportunity cost" than if you were studying for the LSAT!). I mean dinners and parties happen all the time. Although I've tried to keep my studying and my law school plans a secret from most people, I found that when I started to tell them what I was actually doing most of them were really supportive and understanding.

    Nevertheless, I long for the return of my freedom, in less than two weeks.

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  2. This is so inspirational :)

    - Someone who was consistently scoring 168-170... and bombed today's December LSAT :( Score will be cancelled.

    Totally disheartened, but your diary and people's comments above give me ammo to continue.

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