LSAT Diary: Studying as a Non-Native English Speaker from China

September 2018’s test date is little bit more than a month away. Hopefully, every test taker is preparing the best for this time. I am one of you guys, who don’t stress less nor expect more.
Like many others, I have the dream of becoming lawyer ever since middle school in China. Mandarin is my first language for the past 17 years. However, I have to prioritize English in this 6 years after moving to US. Both high school and college were finished expectedly. Since I am very interested in law, I considered CRJ as the only option.
Then, LSAT became the biggest obstacle. I attempted the test on Sep. 2017, scored 138. Only I and my boyfriend knew how much it affected me afterwards. In case if you ever heard about, it is true that Asian people cannot accept B (at least for me), not even speaking of failing. The result ruined my confidence, and almost, my daily life.
However, I am lucky to have my boyfriend who thinks more logically than me. He kept on telling me that I didn’t practice enough. In fact, way too underprepared. I agreed with him. At the same time, I couldn’t give up this dream so easily. The next step, I requested to become a part time banker. My manager is very understanding and he even allowed me to study during slow time. Things should get better right? NO! For the previous few months, I only saw a slight improvement with at least 4 hours of study daily. The book I used was lsattrainer. It was helpful at first; nevertheless, I was more confused with tricky questions in later practice. A lot of questions that I did on LR section were all guessed with no understanding how I got them right. I personally believe that there shouldn’t be a standard approach for every single question.
This is the time when I found lsatblog roughly a month ago. I envy those of you who found this blog during early preparation, because this is a treasure. I threw my old strategies away, studied as I never knew what is Lsat. Steve’s ideas not only help me seeing the pattern of correct answers with types of questions, but also help me seeing the pattern of wrong answers. As I doing the review after each LR section, I am able to see why I always get this question wrong. To me, seeing why wrong questions are wrong is as important as right questions. Especially for Lsat because no one thinks the same when it comes to understanding. My problem that I need to work on more is overthinking. I got majority of first ten questions wrong very often. For you who have the same problem, drop some thoughts such as, “it can’t be this easy,” or “maybe this is not enough.” Being more confident is necessary. After a lot of practice, it is easier to not doubt myself.
I don’t have a significant problem with LG. Surprisingly, I always love this section more than the other two. After learning the effective diagram with Steve, I found myself getting excited to challenge those games. However, I need to be more patient in this section and not thoroughly rely on the initial diagram. Create specific one if needed. I realized that when I slow down more, the game tends to be clearer, which also help me to answer the next questions.
As a non-native speaker, RC is the nightmare. Honestly, I am still struggling with this section. Not enough vocab and wrong feeling of author’s tone makes RC a lot harder for me. Since I spent too much time on practicing LG, I couldn’t follow exactly on Steve’s 2 month plan. This is where I found his RC preptest explanations helpful. My worry for RC was not able to understand the content due to language barrier. Steve helps me knowing that understanding structure can be approached without understanding the details. As long as I know where the information are in the passage, I just need to go back when I answer detailed questions. Individual passage needs a thorough explanation for students like me.The more I force myself to read, the more comfortable I feel. Just like LR, there is no shortcut. It is also important to adjust reading habits to find the most comfortable way to finish passages.
A month study with Steve’s online course, I increased from 138 to mid 150s. Even though this is nowhere near top score, I rebuild my confidence on Lsat. I am no longer scared to open the 10 officials. I can still remember that horrible feeling in chest area just to open lsat book and review wrong questions before April. But now, I can accept and embrace my weakness.
My tips to keep myself going besides communicating with family and meditation is telling myself:
Among all the test takers, there are people who failed, failed and tried again, tried again and succeeded, tried again but gave up, thought about lsat but never pursed, cannot take the lsat because of life events, etc. Where am I among all the others? If I am lucky enough to take this special journey in life, why shouldn’t I put in more effort? Why shouldn’t I overcome all the learning difficulties? As I was reading other lsat diaries, I was inspired by all of them. Many of them went through worse situations, such as full time job, family needs, and military. I simply don’t want to regret again.
Lastly, I wish all of September test takers deserve the score you want. One month can make a life change. I am telling myself every day, practice as much as you can for truly saying, I did the best I can!

1 comment:

  1. Hello I am in a similar situation. I am from Venezuela ( South American country) and I also have been having problems with my lsat. After study 3 mouth I did the test for the first time and got a 145. Since I new my score I dedicate a lot of time in doing practice tests and trying to figure out how to improve. I have manage to score consistently between 152 and 155. What I am trying to say is their is many people like us having problems because of language but that is possible to improve with enough effor so keep going because you can. I with you the best