LSAT Diaries: Prep While In The Military Overseas

LSAT Diaries Prep Military Overseas
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Please leave Derek some encouragement and advice below in the comments!

Derek's LSAT Diary:

Kudos to Steve and the blog readers. What an awesome opportunity to share some LSAT reflections! My particular situation deviates slightly from the average future law student prepping for the LSAT. I’m in the military, deployed, and planning on taking the LSAT in June 2011. I decided about six months ago to pursue law school, and have been wrestling to manage my study time with my other obligations on this side of the world.

Since beginning, I’ve been going through those (I hope somewhat common) cyclical phases of obsessive-compulsive studying closely followed by subsequent feelings of exhausted apathy. I’m sure some of you can relate; that initial jolt of focus and concentration to absorb as much information as possible, inevitably followed by a period of restless indifference where you want to want to study, but you either:

(A) can’t find the motivation


(B) what little you do study is hard to absorb

In true military fashion, I started hitting the LSAT books well before the prescribed timelines to begin studying for the June 2011 LSAT. I’ve already blasted through the bibles, though I feel the Logic Games Bible is much easier to internalize. The Logical Reasoning Bible gives you a general approach for the question type, but the level of analysis they expect for each question type I think is a little superfluous to the speed that section requires.

If you go into the level of detailed analysis they suggest, it seems like you would need to spend extraordinary amounts of time memorizing and internalizing the mechanics of each question type; something I see as slightly impractical. I found that using the LR Bible to learn the broad overview of question types (particularly where the sources in the logic errors may be found) and curtailing your own intuition (which should already be decent…right?) is a more efficient way to answer those questions.

My goal is somewhere over a 160. My GPA gives me some cushion, and I’m not shooting for Ivy Leagues, just a good, practical education from a reputable (T100 school) that I can utilize as a military lawyer.

I was a foreign language/linguistics major in college, so I haven’t had a whole lot of issues with the LR or RC sections (usually -10 to -15 combined). However, LG seriously kicks my ass. On my first diagnostic, I got like 5 right, now I can get 10 right…sometimes.

My biggest problems are:

1. Inability to infer (I always get inference questions right on the LR!)

2. Figuring out the most organized way to diagram (particularly the grouping games, it seems that their diagramming differs much more amongst the types than linear or sequencing).

Anyway it is what it is…I guess there’s no other way than to just keep on keepin’ on. Anyone out there that has any game-changing advice (no pun intended), please share!

Unfortunately, I can’t study as regularly as students in the U.S. can. I leave on week-long and month-long “trips” that most certainly do not allow any LSAT studying, so I try to get as much in as I can, when I can.

I’ll be able to get more regular studying in closer to the exam, but for now I’m following (albeit very loosely) Steve’s 7-month study plan. Luckily I don’t have to worry about December finals, as I’m not in school full time, but I do have to worry about other stressful things that make my undergrad “stress” seem laughable. But hey, it’s all relative right?

I’m off to hit the books. Any comments you leave will most certainly be welcome. However, please reserve any political/anti-war commentary for somebody else. I’m just a normal dude in slightly abnormal circumstances trying to accomplish the same thing you are. Thanks!

Photo by bobaubuchon


  1. Good luck! I plan on taking the Feb 2011 exam here in Afghanistan.

  2. Hello Derek,
    As an ex-mil myself I understand your predicament with the lsat. My advice to you for the games is practice makes perfect. I used to hate those suckers, but doing one or two a day makes it seem as the dragon is not as scary as it seemed. Even if it is one game per day is ok.
    you got plenty of time (7 months). Practice makes perfect sense, and consistency is the name of the game (also lots of patience).
    Thank you for your services, I wish I was there, but my time has long gone...(1984-1991)

  3. Rock on, Derek. You have until June and you're shooting for 160+... you'll be fine! Mini (above comment) was right in that doing a couple LGs every day will help- it's mental conditioning. Also, when you are on a 'trip', I would recommend having a notebook and pencil and come up with games on your own. Sounds daunting, maybe, but it's not that tough and thinking about LGs from the other side really helps to understand the "choke points." Plus, you can do it in your spare time with no materials!

    Kick some ass, dude.


  4. Derek,
    Thanks for your service to our country, and best of luck in your pursuit of a JD! Same goes for you Dan (commenter above).


  5. Wow, thanks for the encouragement guys. That's awesome. Appreciate it.

  6. Derek (Sir!):

    Thank you for the service you are doing our country. You're brave as hell to be in the military and brave as hell to take the LSAT. I wish you all the best. I too use the Powerscore Bibles and agree with your assessment, particularly on the Logical Reasoning Bible. By far the best advice is to complete every real LSAT question available, not necessarily timed. Good luck, God bless, and get home soon!

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