LSAT Diary: A Retaking-The-LSAT Success Story

Retaking LSAT Success Story LSAT DiaryThis installment of LSAT Diaries comes from JT (Justin Timberlake?), who followed one of my LSAT study schedules, scored a 172, and got accepted to UVA Law!

He's got some great LSAT advice for you about how he did it.

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

Thanks to JT for sharing his experience and advice, and please leave your questions for him below in the comments!

JT's LSAT Diary:

After my first practice test, I thought that Logic Games were impossible; they were unlike anything I had seen before. I couldn’t keep track of any of the variables or rules and felt so frustrated. I stumbled across Steve’s blog and attended one of his free LSAT Logic Games workshops in NYC. I was amazed at how quickly he solved them - there was hope! I began working through logic games, and although some games would take me 20 minutes, I was starting to figure them out. I started Steve’s 5-month study schedule and within a matter of weeks I was feeling comfortable with linear games.

By the end of the 5-month schedule, I felt ready to take the June 2010 LSAT. I was averaging a 173 on my 10 most recent timed practice tests and felt confident about meeting my 170 goal. I took a week off from work in the days leading up to the test to maximize study time.

I was restless the night before the test; I kept dreaming about impossible Logic Games and convoluted Reading Comprehension passages. Arriving at the test center I had butterflies in my stomach. I anxiously waited for the test to begin and almost immediately began second guessing my answers. My adrenaline was flowing and heart rate was high. I ended up running out of time on the second LR section and guessed every answer on the last logic game. This had not happened to me in months of taking practice tests. I couldn’t believe it – I was devastated and felt that after 5 months of studying, I had blown the chance of reaching a 170. I simply was not ready for the pressure of the real test and ended up canceling my score.

During the practice tests I felt calm, sure of my answers and confident with Logic Games. After reading the question, I could frequently predict what the answer would look like. The real LSAT felt like a totally different test. I thought I was seeing different question types and logic games that never existed on other tests. When the June test was released, I realized that it was just like all the other tests; the truth was that I simply was not prepared for the pressure of taking the real thing.

I started following Steve’s 3-month retake schedule. I knew that the most important area for me to improve on was overcoming test day pressure. Steve recommended taking practice tests in a simulated setting, with a proctor and other test takers. This truly helped. I felt nervous at the beginning of my first simulated test but quickly got into a rhythm. Success on one section of the test led to success on the next section. After a couple simulated tests, I felt much more confident about taking the real thing and started to relate to Steve’s blog entry “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the LSAT”.

Taking the October 2010 LSAT felt good. In the days prior to the test, I did not take off any time from work and treated the whole thing like it was no big deal. I slept well the night before. I finished each section with time to spare and felt confident in my answers. I had 2 LG sections (1 was experimental) and felt like I crushed both of them. Logic Games turned out to be my best section and I only missed 1 question on it.

I learned that doing well on practice tests is necessary but not sufficient to doing well on the real thing. It is just as important to learn the skills necessary to conquer test day nerves. I scored a 158 on my first timed practice test and scored a 172 (99th percentile) on the October 2010 LSAT. Putting time and effort into the LSAT will pay off; I was just accepted to my dream school, University of Virginia School of Law.


  1. I am taking the LSAT for a third time this December...I am literally depressed about it. The first time i took it, I didnt study well, the second time I put my whole heart into it and put a lot of time into studying and was soo confident I could atleast jump 10 points. I jumped 5, and get a score of 149. I am so fustrated. I am a smart person, I have a great GPA and test well, and I feel like I could understand and do understand the LSAT but am not scoring well. My highest practice score was 157 and I was always in the mid 150s, and I feel like i can do even better than that. So scoring a 149 was heart breaking and defeating. I have no motivation for this third time and have lost all confidence. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  2. To smgrosso:
    I was in the same spot, not moving beyond meager 147-151!!!! I hated the f%$^# thing, I hated myself, I hated everthing, it was killing me! I was so freaking depressed all the time. I felt I would never be able to get into Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley, my dream school).
    So I paused my studies for a month, postponed my October test to June '11, and I am now much better mentally, and I am going slow on my study, I take 2 games per day, 4 reading comps per day (just read, don't answer any questions), and I go through a section of the logical reasoning question type. The lsat is about conditioning (mentally and physically); it is like preparing for a marathon, you just cannot be ready for a marathon in 3 months, is just impossible to win it (winning here is getting the desired score on the lsat). So go back to basics, get into conditioning: just solve games for fun, one or two, re-do them until you get it; for logical reasoning just go back to the book to get the right answer and think until you get it; finally, for reading comp. just read four sections a day, without anwering any questions, just get used to convoluted reading.
    Hope this helps, it is helping me and I am on my way of getting the so much sought after 180, and getting into UC Berkeley. Good Luck!

  3. Also, leave the practice tests for two months before the test, if you are taking it on saturday, go to the law school you are taking the real test, and take a full practice test were the real deal will be, every saturday.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I feel that I am in the same situation you were in before the first test. I average about 173 on my practice tests and feel pretty confident going into the real test in Dec. But I just signed up for a proctored exam next week so I can see how I do with other students and a proctor! Thanks again!

  5. how did you practice in a simulated proctor setting? i have the same problem and I wonder if I can do what you did too. Thanks!

  6. @ Anon 11/12 3:39PM

    Kaplan and Princeton Review both sponsor free proctored LSAT events. I would highly recommend attending one because taking a test with other people can feel completely different from taking one by yourself. Distractions like annoying test-takers and a noisy room can really throw you off your game, especially if you're taken all your practice tests in a quiet, controlled environment.

    Attending a Kaplan event the Saturday before the Oct LSAT gave me a huge confidence boost. Despite all kinds of distractions, I was able focus in on the task at hand and score very close to my PT average. When I walked in to the actual LSAT a week later, I knew that nothing could stop me or break my focus. Coincidentally, I got the same exact score (171) on the Oct LSAT as I did on the PT I took at the Kaplan event.

  7. I am retaking the LSAT, and I am unsure about what I should study, the first time around I took all of my Prep Test and re taking them now I am not sure if I am scoring in the 165-172 because I know the answers or if it is my real PT score any advice on what I should do? I feel like I am lost and maybe I will end up with a 150 on the test day! and at 8 dollars a pop these prep tests are getting to be costly and I am unsure if there is any benefit to them.

  8. Question for those who have taken the LSAT.

    When the time is running down, and there is a need to guess the last answers, does it have to been done in the 35 minutes?

    In other words, after you finish a section, and they take away the question book (i guess thats what they do), can the answer sheet still be filled in for those question on the old sections?

  9. You've probably already taking the December 2010 LSAT.

    Basically, this is what happens. The answer sheet is all one page. The question book has all 4 sections (with large numbers at the top stating the section, so you can't really flip back and forth)

    So to answer your question, yes if you need to guess, it has to be done within the 35 minutes.

    After you finish a section, they do not take the question book or answer sheet away. That only happens twice (before the break, and after the exam is over)

    The answer sheet TECHNICALLY, HONESTLY, AND LEGALLY cannot be filled in after that section is over. You are only permitted to work on the section that you're supposed to be in. There are ways to get around this I guess if you were sly, lol. You could just bubble in a guess if you know the number and all that.

    However, they do tell you often that you're not allowed to go back, EVEN TO DARKEN A PREVIOUS BUBBLE. So it's all very strict, but whatever.