LSAT Diary: Taking the LSAT on Saturday (Part 1)

LSAT Blog Diary Taking LSAT Saturday
This is Part 1 of Travis' LSAT Diary. In it, he shares his LSAT preparation methods leading up to the October LSAT on Saturday.

(Here's Part 2.)

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.)

Leave Travis some encouragement, and share your thoughts as the October LSAT approaches below in the comments!

Travis' LSAT Diary (Part 1):

With the October test coming in just a few days, my prep is finally coming to an end. It has been a long, hard, rigorous 5 months of preparation but the time has finally come to the big day. To help take my mind off of the prep, I'm writing this to recollect what the past few months have held, what I've done to study, what has worked and what hasn't, etc.

I'll begin by introducing myself! My name is Travis, I'm a senior in college this year from the University of Texas. Being a lawyer has always appealed to me, but as I've grown older I've found better reasons to be a lawyer rather than just to be one. I believe being a lawyer is the only defense between civilized problem-solving and chaotic self-serving justice. Although many lawyers are held as greedy, or devilish in some people's sense of humor, I find them necessary to construct a civil society around which fair and proper decision making occurs. Particularly for me, standing up for those who don't always have the ability to speak for themselves via through oppression, financial, or other means. 

Being a lawyer hasn't been my desire all through college, I initially wanted to pursue my PhD in Chemistry, but after doing research for two years I realized there was no way I could stand in a lab any longer than I had to. After a slight crisis of figuring out something, I did more research back into being a lawyer and decided that it was the proper course for me. Despite the job prospects, I knew I wouldn't be satisfied if I didn't try, so the preparation for the LSAT began.

I began gently studying around October a year ago; however, I didn't really hit it hard until after finals in May. My summer was no classes, just prep, work, and fun. I believe taking some time for yourself is important while studying. Many of my friends who were studying for the same time I was became highly reclusive and uninvolved with other people. Quite a few burnt out early on and gave up, while others toughed it out but sacrificed a bit of who they are. Law school and a legal career will both be demanding, but will require finding time for yourself. I felt finding the time for myself was important during prep to keep my sanity. I should say, I didn't let it compete with my studying, but used it as a reward: every 5 preptests where I reached a certain score I would get to do something, be it grabbing a drink with buddies on a saturday night, or going skydiving for the day. This helped motivate me to study harder rather than simply sit down with a study guide for an hour with the TV distracting me because I really wanted to get that break.

Beginning preparation, I did not do a cold test. The way I saw it is, I wouldn't go into a test for my biochem class (which is my evil nemesis standing between me and my degree) without at least looking over some material basically. Additionally, without knowing anything about the test, I wouldn't be able to identify weaknesses and may be demotivated after getting my inevitable cold test 120! My first month of prep was reading through study guides and doing practice questions completely untimed. I was focused on getting my precision down. I've always been a fast test taker, so wasn't too worried about it anyway. 

After working through my first two books, I decided it was time to take a practice test to see where I stood. It was early July, and I managed to score a superb 153. Needless to say, I was slightly discouraged but it helped me realize that although I have the knowledge behind me, I really needed to step up my game. I reviewed concepts that were weak, doing more general practice (not practice tests) for the next month. Towards the end of July, I retested and only was at a 158. I knew my study approach wasn't working, and I needed to change it. I felt it was important to be dynamic with my study approach. Some of my friends set out a plan, and stuck to it. While I think this can be good, the self-studier like myself should be willing to be flexible. If you stick with something that isn't working you won't be improving, and so you have to revise your approach to the test. I felt review was out the window and I just needed to get more familiar with the test.

So as August began, I had to move and took a week off from studying to move, get settled, and take a bit of a break. Over this time, I ordered my first book of 10 practice tests. In mid August, I began doing them daily. With my first two hanging around 158, I realized I needed to do more than just take a test, score it, and be upset. I needed to be more active in it, than simply just practicing. 

The best approach seemed to be test, mark wrong answers, go back and try to correct them to the right answer by identifying what I did wrong and how to avoid it, and then seeing if my new answer choice was correct. If it wasn't, I would note down the right answer and go critically evaluate the question and all answer choices for about 3-4 minutes each to really figure out why both of my previous choices were wrong, and why the right answer choice was correct. This was much more helpful for me than general study because general studying covered lots of material, some things that I had already felt confident about. This helped to identify incorrect things so that I could focus my studying there. I would do a 4-section practice test 4-5 nights a week, and spend weekends studying those missed areas for about 4 or 5 hours both Saturday and Sunday. This method worked wonderfully for me on both LR and RC, I didn't need much work on games often getting them all correct or missing only one or two. After my first 10 prep tests were done I was up in the low 160s, averaging around 163. I continued this method to where I am now: with about 35 prep tests completed and comfortably scoring an average of 172, with an odd 180 high once.

***

Read on for part 2, where Travis shares some last-minute LSAT tips before he takes the October LSAT on Saturday.

Photo by bobaubuchon



2 comments:

  1. These are excellent tips, Travis! I'm sending your diary to all my students and clients because I think many will benefit from reading it.

    I really like your approach to self-studying (going over what you got wrong is KEY), your dedication to taking practice tests after learning the basic material, and your technique of rewarding yourself when you hit a certain score on 5 prep tests.

    Hope you kick ass tomorrow! I'm sure you will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Peg! Glad you enjoyed it :)

      That definitely was key, I felt initially like I was doing something wrong, but once I figured out the best way to approach it it all just started clicking and coming together!

      Tomorrow can't come soon enough :) I'm excited and ready! Thank you!

      Delete