LSAT Diaries: The 22-Year-Old Repentant Slacker

LSAT Blog Diaries Repentant Slacker
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Leave Jake some encouragement and advice below in the comments!

Jake's LSAT Diary:

I write you from beautiful Santa Cruz, California, a city built equally on surfing, liberal activism and weed. Having just graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a History degree, I found my job prospects in history to be what one might expect: either get more education, or put boxes into other boxes for a living. While this provides some good stimulation to seek more education, that is not why I am trying to go to law school.

Both of my parents were court reporters, and both of them complained about lawyers endlessly. "They're just so darn sure of themselves," my Mom would say. Despite this, they did have lawyer friends. My Dad would sometimes "ask" me to proofread some of his transcripts, largely to make me get off my ass and work, and I enjoyed reading these transcripts enough to be terrible at it. Psychology majors need not inform me that this entire law school thing is just an attempt at rebellion/acceptance, as I've already considered that and agree.

Here comes the confession: I have always, until recently, been a slacker. Not the traditional slacker, but rather someone who only does what is necessary to get by without making waves, with no attempts at excellence. I went to a community college to start and transferred to UC Santa Cruz, and in all my classes I completed all of the assigned reading in exactly one class, and completed none of it in more than half. I never failed to turn in an assignment, but I'd often turn in my first draft of a paper that I had banged out in a short afternoon's work. To say memorization and recitation is not my forte would be an understatement. Yet still my grades were decent enough (3.3 at community college, 3.47 at UCSC).

It wasn't until I took my senior exit survey on Hitler and Stalin that I realized what I was missing. In this class, a hilarious and incredibly wise professor led a 18-person class in what was essentially a confrontational book club. We all read at least 10 books and wrote at least 70 pages (one book per week + books for 20 page research paper). Everyone was impassioned and had come up with their own conclusions on the books, and for our last meeting we got together at a student's house and drank while talking about our individual research projects. In the next, last quarter, I got the best grades I have ever gotten. I was later told that the class sounded a lot like law school, and that's when my research began. And now, here I am.

My studying habits revolve around my job: I have a 9-5 type job, and as I said earlier, I put boxes into other boxes. Luckily there's only about four hours of boxing to do, so I have the other four hours to research law schools and get all my transcript/letter of recommendation/personal statement business done. Unfortunately, that work ran out quick, so now I've resorted to acting like a kid looking through a car magazine, except the cars in this magazine are law schools. "Ohh that looks cool. Too bad it's in New Jersey. Oh, that school looks cool. UGH I WISH I could afford that one." Etc. My GPA isn't great but it's good enough: getting into a top 20 school will require a great LSAT score, but it's at least achievable. I'm setting my sights at getting a solid chance at Boston College and Minnesota, even though I'd still be happy going to a University like St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

These are high hopes, but I am also a great test -taker. I started my LSAT studying two weeks ago when I ran into one of my UCSC professors on the bus downtown (he is also now writing me a letter of recommendation). He had with him a friend who was in law school, and since then I have been a law school freak. I took my first practice LSAT that day (the only one i have done untimed), not knowing what to expect. I scored 20 on the first section, which was reading comprehension. Second section had the games, and I scored a fantastic 4/24, which is slightly worse than if I had guessed. I didn't even total up my final score from my test, afraid of the answer.

After working through Logic Games, I took their practice test a week and a half ago and got a 157, getting 13 right on the games portion. This is and probably will always be my weakest portion, because one bad game will knock off good chunk of my score. My main problems surrounding logic games are my inability to make connections between the clues and the diagram, and the tendency to misread some clues. The questions around text and arguments somehow just make sense to me, probably because of my extensive experience arguing. "What can be inferred from your argument, Mom, is that you think my respect for you is proportional to the amount of time we spend together."

The problem with LSAT study plans is that they are built to get you to study. What I need is something to get me to stop studying. Last week I constantly had a book in my hands, something my roommates have come to hate. The only good studying space is the living room, where my roommate comes to break up my study sessions by playing death metal at full volume. I can say with confidence that when LSAT day comes, I will not be fazed by a student tapping their pencil.

Since that first scored and timed test, I've been doing Logic Games (and redoing them). I took my first "Actual Official" LSAT PrepTest yesterday, one from 1995 (yes, I wish I had found this blog before I bought my LSAT books). When I tallied my score from test 14, I knew I had done well, but I wasn't expecting the whopping 168/169 (my raw score split the two) to be staring back at me. I had gotten lucky, with four easy games on which I missed only one. Yet it also proved it's a possible score. If only I had been 22 in 1995. Don't worry, Steve, I'm getting the LSAT books you recommended.

If there's one thing I'm worried about more the LSAT games, it's my own willpower. I have been looking at LSAT and law related stuff for 4+ hours per day, every day, for two weeks. I say now that I will not stop until I master games, and master the LSAT. Yet I know I'm the type to burn out quickly. I only wish I could fall asleep on an LSAT book and wake up in October knowing everything. But I guess I wouldn't get to do the fascinating work of putting boxes in other boxes.


  1. Jacob- Best of luck! Are you taking the October LSAT? I started studying about two weeks ago as well. I can't stop researching schools and programs and dreaming of a high LSAT score, either! My friends and 9-5'er help keep me in line, though. Good luck! From another UC grad : )

  2. Thanks Katie,

    Yup I'm taking in October. I wrote this a while ago so I went through all of the materials already except the superprep, so I'm just breaking down PTs into sections now. I found out a friend of my roommate is just starting an LSAT class this weekend. Made me realize how much time we have left.

    Good luck to you!

    PS: Awesome image. The Jake abides.

  3. Great post man, I'm very similar to you in terms of intelligence and motivation. I have nearly identical problems on the logic games. On some of the more difficult ones I usually come to a mental cliff where I sit until I finally make the inference that builds the bridge to get me going again, at which time the game usually breaks wide open and I complete it quickly.

    Also, when you corrected your mistakes, were you able to identify why you went wrong in the first place versus just understanding how to get the right answer? Although my hindsight is 20/20 when I'm facing a similar problem I still seem to get inference myopia.

    I'm assuming that drilling it over and over eventually makes it easier to spot these things. I'm taking the LSAT next June (I'm also planning on taking the GMAT for a dual degree), so I know I'm still just getting the hang of this stuff. Thanks in advance, sounds like you're going to kill the LSAT if you're testing at almost 170!

  4. Usually when I look back at the LG I get wrong it's either that I got the whole game wrong or just guessed on one and got it wrong. I remember with the CD game, I instinctively put the word "if" in front of the first clue, accidentally giving up two inferences. Derailed the whole game. When I guess it's usually because I feel like I shouldn't have to brute force a game and assume I'm missing an inference. I think it'll take too much time so I move on.

    The only thing I'd say is trust your reasoning and brute force the problem, eventually the inference will reveal itself in the pattern if it exists.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  5. Hey, first let me say CONGRATS!!!! Wooo-hooo, awesome score!! I am also a 9-5er and I'd like to know how much studying you achieved during the week? Like you, I have jotted down day by day what I must achieve;however, It seems to be working in theory, but not in practice. I'm already a week behind! I have a boyfriend and know we must take days off from "us" for me to pursure the LSAT, and we do, but it's still not enough time. Ahhhh! I'm taking the LSAT in Feb :-)

  6. Exact same boat bra-22, boardsports lifestyle, history, LSAT hopefully in Oct. depending on how I feel.
    Would you recommend taking practice tests early like you did? Or did that kinda screw you up?

  7. Hey Ms.,

    Any attempt at having a schedule was blown out of the water early thanks to illness. I got sick one weekend, then the next, and I pretty much cram my studying in whenever I'm healthy. Santa Cruz has had an inexplicably drizzly and cold summer. You have a ton of time though, being a week behind for a test in February puts you about three months ahead of everybody else still. I feel like I'm about to hit my peak right now, and I still have a month and a half.


    I'd definitely recommend taking a practice test first, knowing the score doesn't matter. Just see how you are on LR and RC. After you've studied for a while I'd recommend taking another test. You'll probably show improvement, and that improvement will give you some motivation to keep studying if you're like me.