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LSAT Diary: "That Dog Just Don't Hunt"

LSAT Blog Diary That Dog Just Don't Hunt
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Please leave Rob some encouragement and advice below in the comments!

Rob's LSAT Diary:

Imagine you’re a young lad in ancient Greece just trying to make your mark on, oh I don’t know, western thought. Of course, you need a school to join first, otherwise, your advances in thought will be undisciplined and without context. So you shop around – hedonism seems fun, but rather undignified; eclecticism is interesting, but rudderless; and the Stoics? Those guys definitely do not get the ladies.

I firmly believe that shopping around for an LSAT philosophy is much the same way – you have to find a system that works for you because it will become the foundation for all your future study. (From now on, just assume that I’m writing this for all my fellow mere mortals out there. The rest of you trying to get over a 175 can go dissect the ‘Dinosaur’ game or something.) People have a tendency to parade around their LSAT prep company of choice like it’s a badge of honour – “Oh, you prepped with Princeton Review? Well, I’m a Kaplan man myself.”

Whomever you study with, I think it is very important to find your company of choice and stick with them. Your system of attacking the LSAT must stay consistent. Especially when it comes to terminology and question classification, LSAT prep companies develop their value through a proprietary lexicon -- nothing is worse than hearing a perfectly confused fellow student try to explain the difference between the “Denial Test” and “Negation.”

I like to think of myself as a ‘fallen Kaplan.’ Yes, I shelled out the 1200 clams for the full LSAT course, all the books, the whole shebang. And (for those following my ‘diary’) that was before I got my simply stunning 151 (note: my Kaplan diagnostic test was a 156). Admittedly, I am guilty of what I like to call the ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ syndrome. Often, when you pay for one of these courses, you think you’ve paid so much money that if you just show up to the classes somehow you’ll learn the method through sheer osmosis. Using the rhetorical tradition of my current state of residence, "That dog just don’t hunt."

I’m sure Kaplan works for some people, but it definitely didn’t for me. I switched to the blog's LSAT study schedules and found that style much more to my liking. Again, it’s all down to personal preference (God, how often do you hear that cop-out during LSAT preparation), but if you’re struggling with what plan to use for your study, consider using the schedules to guide you.

My next little tidbit of advice: the necessity of a study-buddy. I long ago accepted the fact that, no much how potential I have, I am an innately lazy bugger, and that is doubtful to change. Luckily, my fiancée realized early on that she has as much invested in my LSAT score as I do. So began my own personal hell. She requires 5 hours a day of LSAT studying. And remember, I have a full time job. I get up at 7am, get to work by 8:30am, work until 5pm, get home at 6pm, chow down some dinner, and am in my ‘study dungeon’ by 6:30pm for 5 hours of uninterrupted study. Rinse and repeat. Honestly, I have run out of Asian dictators to compare her to on my Facebook status updates. Tomorrow I’m googling African dictators just for variety’s sake.

To her credit, she does everything in her power to maintain a ‘conducive’ study environment in our house while I’m studying – and believe me, with an active 4 year-old, that is no easy feat. When we decided that I should take the October LSAT, we had almost exactly two months of studying to work with. We made the judgment call to trust my visual memory (which has always been good) on the Reading Comprehension, and focus on Logical Reasoning and Logic Games.

The first month, I took pages upon pages of notes and worked through every example. Then, in the second month, I have been taking timed LSAT after timed LSAT (one a day), then breaking it down, and reviewing. For the most part it is working; with an average LSAT score between 160 and 164. But when you take 15 tests and they are all in the same range, how do you push beyond that range? What happens when you exhaust every little technique you have read?

Stay tuned for the next installment: ‘LSAT Diary: Practice Tests Score Plateau.’

Photo by snakphotography



10 comments:

  1. "Honestly, I have run out of Asian dictators to compare her to on my Facebook status updates."

    Well played, sir.

    Good article, too. I decided to take this test merely to "beat it" (with no intention of going to law school) but have come to respect the thing and am now actually considering law school (all of this prep has to go for something, right?)

    I also liked that you have been at it for 2 months. Me too. A lot of website and whiz-kids out there proclaim the need to go for 7 months to really get a high score. While they may be right, the NEED for 7 months is certainly not matched by my CAPACITY to study for a test for 7 months. F that noise. 2 months of focused attention is about all I'm capable of. And even that's a stretch.

    I'm curious to read your 'plateau' installment. I've felt like my scores have stagnated too, and I don't appear to be getting much smarter. I went through the entire section of logical reasoning in the powerscore book and now feel 0% smarter than when I started.

    The only benefit I notice is when I study a lot and then take several days completely away from it. This isn't surprising since practicing an instrument (I was a jazz major) was the same way.

    5 hours a night? You're definitely burning yourself out. That, or you have a nice doc who gave you all the adderall you could want.

    Speaking of, I have tried using adderall on tests and notice that- while my attention to the test is better- I lose the speed necessary to get to all the questions. So there's that.

    Okay, longest comment ever. Keep on keepin' on brother, and good luck in October! I'll be taking the test too, so think of my lazy ass in a classroom somewhere sweating it out just like you. Small comfort, right?

    Caleb

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  2. Caleb,
    I'm right there with you...I could never focus on the LSAT for 7 months. I'm having enough trouble staying focused for the next 11 weeks (I'm taking the December LSAT).

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  3. If you're not taking any days off, I would definitely recommend doing so. After I dropped 4 points from my average, I decided to just take a night off. The next practice test I took, I scored two points above my average. A day (or night) off can really be a positive thing.

    Good luck on the 9th!

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  4. Excellent post!

    I don't know how you handle 5 hours a night after work; I work 45+ hours a week, along with some work travel, and I have to take time off (or do a few hours of review).

    I can't wait to read your comments on plateauing. I've plateaued around a 167, and believe me, I am by NO MEANS complaining with that score. I'm very curious, though, because the more I read and the more people I talk to, the more it seems that people tend to plateau.

    Good luck! 11 days of h*ll left and I am right there with ya!

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  5. I completely agree about the Kaplan/ bibles point. I took a Kaplan course, it was fine and it gave me some decent materials, but reading the bibles has definitely been whats made the difference. They are just so straightforward and methodical.

    Good luck! I.can't.wait.for.this.to.be.over. :)

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  6. I'll tell you one thing: this is not a passively-learnable (yeah I make up words) test. You can't hammer out test after test, take courses, or read books and just expect to get better. This is a test you have to learn yourself. You have to expend the mental energy for each missed question to see where you're going wrong. You have to analyze patterns and detect your own weaknesses, then attack them like a rabid rottweiler.

    I have been focused and engaged for 20 minutes of studying and made greater gains then when I loaf around for hours "half-assing" it thinking that, "if I say I spent 4 hours studying, then I must be getting smarter." Newsflash: doesn't work.

    Keep on pluggin! The good news is that, while it may not seem like it right away, hard work really does pay off on this test and your scores will go up. And stay up.

    That's what she said.

    Peace out girl scouts.

    Caleb

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  7. Interesting about the plateau. I was at 168 from PT 50-52, a 167, on 53, a 170 on 54, and now 167s on 55 and 56. LR sections have been getting worse, and I'm not sure what's up. Extraordinarily frustrated right now. Any thoughts from anyone would be appreciated.

    Good luck to all -
    Ben

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  8. Ben- it's like exercise. You don't see the results of hard work right away. Keep plugging away, get some (used) help books on Amazon, and have patience, padawan.

    Unless your test is next Saturday, then you're screwed.

    Just kidding- you'll be fine. Count on a test-day 7 point boost minimum.

    That's a scientific fact.

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  9. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    I've been at it for 12 weeks now; I used Steve's 3 month plan and all the requisite materials and it's been fantastic. I've just been struggling all of a sudden with LR - from missing 0-2 per section to missing 3-5.

    I'm afraid it's burnout, but I'm just trying to get back in the right mindset. My Saturday preptests are always better, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

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  10. I hear ya. That's what is frustrating about this test- a moment's lapse, a slightly unfamiliar question, anything that throws your game off a few questions is huge in terms of your overall score.

    Oh well.

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