On today's episode, J.Y. speaks with international student Grey Warden who scored a 170 on her LSAT.
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Links to other content mentioned in the episode
Blind Review method
Fool Proof Method for improving on Logic Games
Other 7Sage LSAT content
7Sage LSAT course: 7sage.com/enroll/
7Sage Admissions course: 7sage.com/admissions/enroll
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Free LSAT proctors: 7sage.com/free-lsat-prep-tools/
Free LSAT discussion forum: 7sage.com/discussion/
Free video explanations for every question in the June 2007 PrepTest: https://7sage.com/lesson/preptest-june-2007-video-explanations-for-all-questions/
J.Y.: Hello and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, I speak with 7Sager Saumya who scored a 170 on her LSAT. Her first diagnostic score was a 150 and she had two official LSAT scores in the low 160s before finally getting that coveted 170 on her third attempt. This difficult process was made even more challenging by the fact that English is not her first language. In fact, she wasn't really immersed in English until she went to high school, and as an international student, the LSAT was the very first standardized exam she had ever taken.
Her success was a result of 18 months of intense studying and her clearing two plateaus. We talked about how she did that and the importance of having supportive friends and family. I learned from Saumya about the concept of an energy vampire. And we also speak in detail about the highly effective ways in which she incorporated outside reading from The Economist into her studies.
Over the course of the conversation, it became abundantly clear to me how she was able to reach her 170 in spite of the odds. Saumya is a student full of conviction and embraced every opportunity to work hard and go the extra mile. I have no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her as a law student and a lawyer. I hope you enjoy listening to her story.
J.Y.: Hi, I'm here with Saumya. She's known as Grey Warden on 7Sage. That's her handle on our forums. Saumya, can I get you to just introduce yourself briefly?
Saumya: Oh, well, I'm an international applicant and I have actually never been to America. I studied for the LSAT for about 18 months even though I made my account on 7Sage much earlier. I started studying for the LSAT diligently much later and it took me about at least 18 months of an intensive preparation to be able to get a decent score.
J.Y.: What did you get?
Saumya: I got a 170, though it was in my third attempt.
J.Y.: As long as you get that 170, you're fine. It doesn't matter if it's your first or third attempt, law schools look at high scores anyway. So, congratulations! Are you applying this cycle?
Saumya: I may have to put it off for one more year, but maybe in one or two years I will apply. I had applied last cycle, and I was very late in applying so I got waitlisted at almost all of the T14 law schools except Yale. And I got a full scholarship at one of the lower-ranked schools, but I thought maybe I could reapply earlier in one of the next cycles or retake the LSAT to increase my chances. I'm thinking about doing that now.
J.Y.: Last cycle was kind of tough, especially for applying late. Were you applying with the 170 or were you applying with a different LSAT score?
Saumya: I applied with the 170. I got it late because I took it in December. My score came out late so I applied in January, actually applied on the deadline for all top law schools. I remember doing that in a cafe. It was not a good idea. Don't do that.
J.Y.: Yeah, that's rough. This cycle should be better if you can just get your applications in earlier. I don't know if you've taken a look at our predictor. Your odds actually improved quite a lot when you apply in October versus January. The percentages go up quite a bit.
Saumya: Yes. And they have more money to give out also. I'm not sure about it, but that's what I've read.
J.Y.: Yeah, for sure. I'm really curious. What stoked your interest in getting a legal education in the United States?
Saumya: I had some exposure to the laws and jurisdiction in my country, and I wanted to explore laws and legal system of another jurisdiction and have a more holistic knowledge of the law. I've always wanted to at least work for some time in a different country before I come back to my home country to get some experience because it would be really valuable to use in the market where I also live.
J.Y.: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think US is definitely still the one place in the world that attracts international applicants from everywhere, but I imagine that must have been a really strong decision. You must have had a lot of conviction to back up that decision because studying for the LSAT is such a giant hurdle.
Saumya: Initially, I was so busy with work and everything, I couldn't start preparing. But I made time for that because of the conviction that I got to do this. So I needed to make time and had absolutely no social life for a very long time but I guess it's really worth it. And you know, I have realized that studying for the LSAT has made me perform better at my job. I guess I've become more analytical and I read more carefully now. My whole brain feels rewired.
J.Y.: Nice. What were your previous LSAT scores?
Saumya: I got a 161 in my first attempt. I studied quite a bit in between and then I got a 163 in my second attempt. I was really heartbroken because it was just a 2-point improvement. I realized that first attempt I was in a rush to get it done. I guess I shouldn't have taken it. I should have waited. I gave in to the pressure and I took that test when I wasn't fully ready. People shouldn't do that. It's a waste of an attempt. I hadn't even gotten a 170 in my preptests and I shouldn't have taken it. But I took it. I didn't understand that I should have not taken.
J.Y.: It's okay now. I really admire your persistence and I find it just nothing short of remarkable that you're able to stay with the plan for a year and a half. I mean, there must have been times when you felt really dejected. Did you ever feel like things were hopeless?
Saumya: Of course, I plateaued all the time. There were two plateaus—when I had to break into the 160s and when I had to break out of the late 160s. Those places in my preparation, I started to feel that maybe I can't do this because I had never even taken a standardized test. We never took the SAT. Standardized test was something new to me, and so I was required to get to know about the format of these standardized tests. It requires a different state of mind to take a standardized test. It's not like the exams we used to take and it was nothing like it. I remember meditating a lot when that used to happen. I used to have a workout routine. I did a lot of yoga also. I became really good at it—the whole process.
J.Y.: Meditation and yoga, nice.
Saumya: I used to do a lot of it. I used to go to the forums on 7Sage and there are so many people talking about it—that it's a very learnable test. So I trusted when people said that. They have their experience and so I thought maybe I could do it too. It was not easy though. I mean, breaks in between, especially when I am not the greatest test taker. I'm a really bad test taker. My diagnostic was like 150. I'm not a good test taker, and I freaked out while taking the exam. I get so anxious. I feel like my forehead has sweat. If I can do it, anybody can do it, because I think I'm the absolute worst of the test takers.
J.Y.: Oh, come on, that's not true. I'm amazed at how much you improved. That's a 20-point improvement from your diagnostic. That's amazing.
Saumya: Yes. I used to score higher in preptests sometimes, but I think there's an anxiety penalty on the day of the test. Also, I made a mistake of not regulating my sleep cycle properly. I was running on two and half hours of sleep on my test day. I think it did cause me a point or 2. But I did practice taking the exam without sleeping much because I kind of foresaw that this may happen considering I'm an anxious person.
J.Y.: Just this word of advice for your next retake, whenever it's scheduled. I guess you're scheduled for the international test next year. Is it March or some time?
Saumya: It's in January and then I think it's in June.
J.Y.: Two, oh wow.
Saumya: We only have three attempts. We don't have five. I don't think digitally launched LSAT is taking place here. It's the regular one.
J.Y.: Oh, thank goodness. You got take it on good old-fashioned paper and pencil. But I was going to say just as a word of advice: Try to get enough sleep in the entire week building up to the test, that way even if the night before you're not getting as much sleep it's not affecting you too much, because sleep is something that accumulates over time too.
Saumya: That's what I did the last time also, so I think that's why I did not make a disaster out of it.
J.Y.: Going back to the sort of the long studying process, how much of a role did your family or friends play? You mentioned that you have friends who are already in the US, [11:12] [in law schools].
Saumya: My family has been supportive mostly, but some of my friends haven't been that great though. I think there are some people who will really support you. I had one friend who I used to talk to every day. She's really supportive and still there throughout my admissions process and [11:37] [???]. It's really important to have a support system. If you're preparing for the LSAT, I think this is the time to distance yourself from toxic people too. [11:49] [??? not talk about], but it's really important I think. You know who I'm talking about. You feel that they're kind of—. I was reading about it, they're called energy vampires in your life.
J.Y.: Sorry, energy vampires?
Saumya: Yeah, they take your energy. I mean LSAT is difficult as it is even if you're surrounded with positive people, so if you have people who are toxic, it is good to distance yourself from them at least while you're studying for it.
J.Y.: I totally agree. That's really important. And I love that term. I'm going to start using that term now. I'm going to start calling people energy vampires.
Saumya: Before you know it, you'll realize that they may affect your state of mind in a negative way. Don't let that happen.
J.Y.: The thing is, it's hard for people who are not studying for the test to understand the mentality of someone studying for the test because it's so important, and it's so weirdly important like in this specific phase of your life in between, well, right before law school. This is, like, the single most important thing you can do. So that's what's hard for people to understand. But even if people don't understand, I feel like you can tell that there are people who will just defer judgment like: "This is important to my friend who's studying for this. Obviously, they know they can make up their own decisions about this so I should just respect their—" versus people that I've heard who are just like "Come on, just take it already."
Saumya: Sometimes people just start to resent you for your preparation and when you're not hanging out with them that much. Not nice.
J.Y.: That's really bad. There are people who, like, sort of don't want you to get ahead because they—it's unfortunate—think it kind of reflects poorly on them if you're getting ahead.
Saumya: Yeah, probably. I was told to just apply with that first score but I knew that I can do better than this and I just didn't study properly. I can do better than this. I felt it somewhere. Also, it's important to get a scholarship because law school is so expensive.
J.Y.: And getting more expensive every year.
Saumya: Yes, it's 2% increase, at least I guess every year.
J.Y.: That's right. I'm so glad you believed in yourself and you stuck it out. You have something to show for it.
Saumya: Yeah. It was really hard.
J.Y.: Yeah, I imagine as an ESL student this must be. I mean this is an insanely difficult test as it is for native speakers. Was there anything you found, like, especially difficult?
Saumya: Well, first of all, I did not have any experience with standardized test themselves, so that as itself is a hurdle. I had never taken standardized tests. And when I started to practice full-length preptests after preparing for a while and going through the curriculum, I realized that this requires an entirely different state of mind. It may be obvious but reading comprehension was especially difficult. Where I live, we didn't study English properly till high school, but I picked it up from there. It was all right.
J.Y.: Which is great. I thought that's incredible that you only started learning it in high school.
Saumya: We used to have English as a subject but everything else we studied in our native language. We're a Romanized school. I was transferred to a school where other subjects were also taught in English, which was helpful. So RC was especially difficult. I would say in a full-length preptest, I never got a perfect score. But as I progressed in my preparation, in blind review I started to get a perfect score. I think the best I got in RC was -2 in a preptest. That was the section I was still trying to improve upon even in the days leading up to the test.
Thankfully, I was getting quite good in logic games so I was able to offset the possible loss points in RC with a perfect LG score. I remember it was very difficult in between, like parsing long sentences and deferential phrasing, but I was reading about it on the 7Sage discussion forums and I got to know about Scientific American and The Economist. I started to read The Economist very regularly and I realized some of its passages are very similar to the LSAT passages. I especially used to hate the cultural passages, of all things. I remember reading somebody suggested that there is a cultural section in The Economist so I would go there and read those passages also.
I had this advantage that I was okay with legal passages, but for other subjects I used to resort to the forums and read a lot of the science passages. I would read at least one article on The Economist a day, and I would take a print out of it instead of reading it from the screen. I would read it in the way I would do an RC passage.
J.Y.: Oh, so you would do the premise, conclusion, summaries, and try to read for structure? That's excellent.
Saumya: Yeah. I read for structure, see low and high resolution points, and make kind of a story out of a whole passage—what the point of the author is. I had to do that. I think when I first took the test, I got half of the questions wrong in RC. I was able to do only three passages. It was really bad.
J.Y.: That's really great. I wish people would emphasize that more because you do hear a lot of people saying read The Economist, but the next thing that's important is how you read The Economist. It's not just a leisurely casual reading. You're supposed to be reading The Economist, if it's a short article, like the way you read an LR passage. If it's a long article, you should be reading it like the way you read an RC passage. That's where you actually get some value out of it.
Saumya: In some passages, they talk about one person—how great that person is. In order to practice for that, I would read some obituary passages because they just keep praising the person. It's just all about that person and how great his work is. So I would do that sometimes. Maybe strange to some people but it used to work out.
J.Y.: Yeah, it worked. It totally worked. And then I guess if you found a sentence that was grammatically [19:15] [amiss] you would just try to parse it out, just like you would.
Saumya: Yeah. I used to watch a lot of 7Sage videos of you doing the passages, especially the ones you have updated later on. I think somewhere in the 50s. It got even more detailed. Those videos were especially helpful. I remember because the way you used to parse a referential phrasing and how you used to skip a certain portion of the line to just read the rest of the sentence, which is easier, and then connected back to make sense. That was very useful. Sometimes I just put my finger and read the rest of the sentence—
J.Y.: Just to cover up part of the sentence because it's getting in the way. Don't read it yet.
Saumya: I have seen a lot of your videos taking the test. I had my own notation technique but when I saw some of the 7Sagers taking, I think it's just your videos for RC.
J.Y.: Oh, the live videos where I'm actually taking a test fresh and then there's a camera filming.
Saumya: Yeah, live videos. When I was not improving on the RC section, even though my BR was really high, I started to see some live videos of you taking the RC section. I even recorded myself doing the section and then compared the timings and everything. I was making too many notes and it's just taking away from time. When I realized that, I started to finish the RC section.
I find it in RC, sometimes we internalize bad habits so much we don't even realize. It's important to expose those bad habits. It helps to see yourself doing the section and somebody experienced who has done the section, and see if you can pick up some good points from [21:19] [???] to the section. I started to go less on notation. During BR, it's very helpful to type out at least lower resolution summaries, if not high resolution summaries. I used to do it [21:34] [???] but I started to see much more improvement when I started to either write it with a pencil or type it out on my computer.
J.Y.: This is amazing. Hearing you say all this stuff, I have so many things I want to respond to. First of all, I'm glad you liked the new videos because this is something I've been doing over the past year or two—just going back over the curriculum and replace some of the older videos.
Saumya: It's amazing.
J.Y.: Thank you. It's time-consuming and also the new videos are longer, precisely because I do go into much more detail. I mean, the older ones I used to just kind of, like, wave my hand like it was a particularly hard sentence or something, but the newer ones I really do try to give very like fine grained, every little thing trying to explain. So the videos end up being a lot longer but they are annotated so I guess you can move around. I'm glad you found that helpful.
Saumya: It was very helpful. Your logical reasoning video explanations have also become much more detailed. It's so helpful especially the way you encourage students to fix a wrong answer choice in the new videos in LR. I think that is something people should do in their BR also.
J.Y.: That brings me to the second thing I wanted to say. Just hearing you talk about how you studied, now I know why you got that 170. It's because of all these things that you do. I'll point out some specific things that I think people definitely should do. One is you realize that you have some bad habits. That's not easy for people to realize—that there are a lot of things that they've internalized that aren't actually helping them with their score, with their performance. Like notation, for example. I never teach notation, precisely because it just takes too much time to notate the passages. The thing about notation is, I think implicitly, it has a faulty assumption, which is that some things are more important than other things, namely the things that you're notating on RC like that's more important. I think that's not true. I think like everything on RC is important. It's all signal. You just don't know which of the signals are going to be the salient signals. In other words, you don't know which lines the questions are going to call on. You don't know what part of the passage.
Saumya: There's also one technique you mentioned in your later videos which I found very useful for myself because there were parts of the passage that I wouldn't understand and dwell on earlier. If I don't understand, I will just stop there and try to understand before moving on. You suggested that we can flag that portion, just make a mark and read the rest of the passage to get clear on the structure. And if there is a question on it, then you go back and read it instead of wasting your time initially. It was very useful.
J.Y.: It's good for containment. Have you done PrepTest 85?
Saumya: No, I haven't.
J.Y.: Okay, well, I suppose it doesn't matter. On every single preptest, there's a passage where that technique you just described is useful. I just bring up PrepTest 85 because I was just making the video for it earlier today. But every single preptest has a passage where at the very minimum, one particular paragraph will be insanely difficult to understand. And even during blind review, you're going to be spending like five minutes on that paragraph alone, just trying to parse the language. It's super easy to get flustered and just start freaking out during the timed run, but the thing is, you don't even know if the questions are going to rise to the level of difficulty that this passage is currently at. So in other words, the questions could be far easier than having to parse out and find the meaning of the paragraph. It's really important to just not lose your pacing, not lose your cool and just contain that confusion. Just be like, "This is the part I don't understand but it's okay, I can still try to understand the low resolution, the structure, and keep moving." So that's really helpful.
The other thing you said that I thought was amazing was you're actually taping yourself doing RC to examine what it is that you do. I talk about this all the time, but I bet you probably something like—I don't know. Okay, safely, less than half of the people studying for the LSAT actually does that. I would guess probably more like 10% of people who study actually taped themselves and watch how they perform and do the timetables, like figure out how much time they're spending on the passage, how much time they're spending on each question, and then further compare their time to the timetables that we have prepared on 7Sage. All that is incredibly time-consuming and just a [26:25] [ton] more work.
Saumya: It can be very boring also.
J.Y.: Yes, it's really boring. I remember like nodding off watching my own video trying to record, "Okay, 35 seconds on this question, 22 seconds on this question..." But the data you collect out of that is so helpful. You really get to see where you're losing your time. It's amazing when sometimes you see yourself just get stuck on round one on a question that is so hard—that you spend like 180 seconds on. That's 3 minutes. That's way too much time. Three minutes is approaching 10% of the section time. You're spending it on one question, and then you get a wrong anyway. It's like, "Wow, what a bad choice."
Saumya: That also helps to develop an internal clock I think, when you see yourself and remember that it took this much time. I think it helps developing an internal clock. You automatically know that now it's too long. It's scary. It's getting borderline now, just move on.
I mean, the whole of exam, I think, is about building good habits and internalizing them in a way that you don't even think about it when you are in the actual exam. The whole exam is about that and not just the test taking part, but just sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time, and having your routine set for the test day. One figures out the optimum routine for themselves—what they should eat and what time they should go to bed. I think it's just good habits. At least, I think, mentally, one should do that.
J.Y.: I've spoken to so many students now who scored in top 1–2 percentile of the test, and everyone's, like, pretty different. But by and large, the one similarity is how intense every person is about this.
Saumya: The person I live with, my roommate, freaks out at the things I do sometimes. I have a migraine problem. I learned yoga much earlier also, but I have learned so many inversions because it just increases your blood flow to your head. Don't have any meals before that. If somebody is struggling with migraine, I would say that instead of popping pills do exercise. I used to have the most serious migraine because I used to play a lot of video games, and this has helped a lot. Since I started working out regularly, the episodes have decreased, almost one to none, if I don't go after the triggers.
J.Y.: The triggers being video games?
Saumya: Video games, chocolate, and too much sugar. So it helps. You could try doing a supported handstand or headstand for some time after warming up. It really helps. I remember during the test break I was doing a handstand in the bathroom because I was so nervous. There were some girls and they were like, "Who is this freak? What is she doing?" I was like, "Please don't pay attention to me. This is just my mechanism to—"
J.Y.: You should have just told them, "This is how I'm getting my 170. That's what I'm doing."
Saumya: Then I ate anything and I felt much calmer. This is scientific. It helps you. It can be very strange to people when you [30:09] [???].
J.Y.: I'm thinking about how, even when I was studying for this, it was just all consuming like this was when I woke up—
Saumya: It takes over your life.
J.Y.: Yeah, you're right. It just takes over your life. It's like everything else takes a backseat to this. That's the one thing I found. I wouldn't say it's a sufficient condition, but it's pretty much a necessary condition, at least anecdotally from my experience speaking to students who've done really, really well.
Let's see, what else. I'm hesitant to broach the subject of video games. I also really like video games. But I feel like if we started talking about that, I think I don't know how much that might be a disservice to our listeners.
Saumya: I would say that people should try Hollow Knight. That's the latest video game I have been playing. It's really nice.
J.Y.: Okay, we'll leave it at that. During your study process, did you do any kind of group studying or were you mostly studying by yourself? Did you receive tutoring? Did you give tutoring?
Saumya: I did join some blind review group on 7Sage. It was not always easy to attend them because of the time difference, but I did attend a few of them. I remember waking up at 4 A.M. for one of those. It's nice to study with others because that way you are actually forced to articulate your reasoning and not slack in the process. And also, when you see other people having similar doubts, it instills a sense that you are not alone in this and it takes the pressure off sometimes. I think it's nice to do that.
I did take two sessions of tutoring from 7Sage tutor Daniel. I did tutor for the LSAT also when I tried to score higher. I was suggested that that also helps—teaching somebody else who is struggling to break a plateau, like a 160 plateau. You have been there recently so it's all fresh in your mind. That was helpful. I think I should have done even more of that.
J.Y.: You mentioned you had two plateaus. The second one trying to break out of the high 160s. That's very, very hard. Tell us about how you did that.
Saumya: First of all, I recognized that it's going to take some time so that I don't get too worked up about it, and I just told myself it's going to happen, though I had moments when I thought, "Oh, how am I going to do this? This is just never going to happen." But I had to remind myself that that's going to happen. This is where you start, and then you take specific steps. I started to do even more thorough BR, like I started fixing my LR answer choices. For example, in a parallel reasoning question, if there is a wrong answer, I will fix that according to the stimulus. That is how I used to do BR.
Also in LR, one more thing I started doing was to come up with an analogous argument in my head to strip down the stimulus to the basic structure in terms of a topic I can relate to. For example, I would strip it down to something video game-related or health-related. I used to like those topics. So if there is a very difficult stimulus with the fluff and everything, and the argument is simply concluding something on the basis of correlation and have a presumption of causation, I will just strip it down in terms of something I can relate to. These were the two things I started doing in LR.
One more thing with the actual test taking (that was for BR but this is [34:22] for actual test taking), I said I would just trust myself more and become better at time management because I think I was making a lot of underconfidence areas. I mean, I was getting them right but I was just circling those questions for some reason. This is where I started to watch more of my own videos and people doing the sections, and I realized that I was introduced to this concept called confidence drilling. I did some confidence drilling, which increased the time I had for the most difficult questions. It helped me to get my LR in the range of, like, -2 or -3, and it used to be about -5 earlier. So for LR, that was really helpful.
For reading comprehension, I started not to dwell on the most difficult questions that I started doing. There were some questions which were so difficult. You just know that it was a very difficult question. Sometimes I would just skip it after like 1 minute, do everything else in the section and then come back to that question. I think that also helped because I feel there were some strategically placed time sinks in the RC section. Some of the questions are very difficult—at least one or two questions in the section used to be really difficult. So I thought, maybe I could save my time on those. Do others first and then come back to that. That helped me save more time.
For logic games, I practiced a lot and I was getting better at them, so most of my focus was on improving LR and RC. I started doing the foolproof method to break into the late 160s. I wanted to ensure that I'm getting a perfect score. I was still dwindling from -1 to -3, so I just did more of them, actually. One thing I started doing was noting down the specific inferences I used to forget—small things like when to/not to make a game board. Another thing was to do the conditional questions first. Use those game boards to answer the other questions and do the first question as you read the rules instead of noting down all the rules, which was introduced later.
J.Y.: Both of those are new, yeah.
Saumya: Those are very good techniques. For example, the small things like if you have a piece of grouping sequencing game and there's a rule which says that a particular game piece cannot go with these two, instead of writing in a negative way, you write it in a positive way to make the inference quicker. When I'm encountering such a question, I remember that, "Okay, these are the inferences I should look out for, even before reading the rules. I know this is going to happen because I made a note of it." So, that really helped.
J.Y.: Yeah, wow. It sounds like that was quite a lot. Again, I'm not surprised at all that you actually broke the high 160 plateau. Hearing you say all that stuff, I can just, I mean it's easy to say it's so difficult to actually do, but it sounds like you actually got improvements from all three sections, right?
Saumya: Yeah, that did happen. In the preptests, the highest I could get was 176. It was not consistent 176 but I used to dwindle somewhere in the 169 to 176, and later on it caught like 171, 173, 174 or somewhere there. I think if I had gotten more sleep, I would have scored higher.
J.Y.: Yeah. When you're trying to break a plateau, you're really trying to break it a few points at a time. You're not looking for that 167 to 175 jump. You're looking for that 167 to 169 jump, and then a 169 to 171 jump, something like that. So you really target very small specific things. Once you're up in that 160s level, the reason why the plateaus are so hard to break out of is because your margin of error is so tiny now, like you've already gotten the easy to pick up points. Now you're just dealing with a handful of really difficult questions.
Saumya: You just wanted to get like 5 or 6 more points.
J.Y.: That's right. It's very difficult. And I just want to reiterate some of the things that you said for LR, which I'm sure a lot of people who are familiar with the 7Sage curriculum know instantly what you're talking about, but some people might not have gotten there yet. Two things you mentioned for LR: During blind review, fixing wrong answers is a very powerful way of getting a masterful understanding of, like from the test writer's perspective, how they generate these attractive traps where you take a wrong answer and what you can do with it. It's either you can take the answer itself and fix it—meaning you delete or insert words and try not to change too much about it so that it still kind of resembles what the answer looks like, but then it becomes right. That's one way to fix it. The other way is to fix the stimulus. Maybe the stimulus can be changed slightly so that the wrong answer becomes right.
Saumya: Yes, that helps.
J.Y.: When you're doing analogy questions/parallel method reasoning questions, yes, you have to do analogies, but you can do that with flaw questions, you can do that with weakening questions. Just any LR question that has an argument is a perfectly good example for you to try to analogize—come up with your own analogy. If you're inclined to playing video games, video game analogies makes sense for you, just go for video games. If you like cats and dogs—I always default to cat and dog analogies.
Saumya: You do Star Wars.
J.Y.: I also do Star Wars analogy. That's right, yeah.
Saumya: I have never watched it. I need to watch Star Wars.
J.Y.: Are you serious? You got to watch Star Wars. Seriously, go watch it before law school. The other thing you mentioned about underconfidence errors is so crucial because they just don't show up on the question, like you get this question right but you're underconfident, which means you spend too much time getting it right. So the error shows up on a different question because you should have had more time on the more difficult question, but you didn't because you spend too much time on the easier question. That's underconfidence errors, really. It's like really a subversive kind of error. It's hard to catch.
Saumya: I missed out one thing: to go hunting.
J.Y.: Yes, go hunting for the right answer.
Saumya: For some questions like sufficient assumption, just pick it and move on. There is only one right answer. You know it from [42:04] [??? to ???] and just pick it.
J.Y.: That's right. For the PSA/SA questions, once you find the right answer, that's it. Anytime you spent looking at other answers is pure waste. It's just pure waste. So, much of what you said is really good. The LG is that—I mean, I think people just get really good at logic games, so it becomes this battle of inches where it's not just enough to get the question right. There's an efficient route to the right answer and then there's an inefficient route to the right answer. If you take the inefficient route, again, that will show up later. When you're in game four, you're going to realize, "Oh, I don't have enough time." Why? Because games one through three, you didn't take the most efficient route to the right answer. So doing the acceptable situation question as you go through the rules and then doing the questions with additional premises first—they all just make like a little bit of a difference. A tiny bit of difference here and there, but that difference adds up.
Saumya: That definitely helps. I used to target to have at least 12 minutes left for my fourth game.
J.Y.: Oh, good. Were you able to consistently hit that?
Saumya: Yeah, when I was scoring I used to have at least 11 minutes left all the time. When I was really good at something in a section, it could be 12 or 13. Once it was 16, I think because the section was easy. But I used to target at least 12. I should because sometimes they put a very strange game in the end.
J.Y.: That's true. A strange game that takes you a second to, like, close your eyes, put your pencil down and just breathe. Just breathe and stay calm.
Saumya: I observed it in your games also. You just need to stay calm, think about a game board and just put something down. It's the same inferences and it is just all the unfamiliarity of text. For example, it was this people game, I wouldn't reveal too much, it was about the kind of band people saw. It was a sort of simple grouping arrangement and they showed it like God knows what hell is this.
J.Y.: It's kind of like analogous to that shock strategy in RC where something is so difficult that they're hoping you just, like, get scared and flustered, that you just turn your brain off. And that's it, you just turn your brain off.
Saumya: This is where meditation helps, actually. When I used to bubble my answer sheet, I used to take deep breaths.
J.Y.: Yeah, just kind of pay attention to the contents of your mind. It's very helpful to stay centered. This is all, and I think the strategies you mentioned for LR tie in very well to tutoring someone too. A lot of the BR strategies you do yourself is time-consuming, and you're not sure if you're doing a great job because it's just you. There's no external check. But let's say that you are tutoring someone, then you and your student can work through like, "Hey, this was a flaw question, we figure out the right answer, we explain why each one was wrong." Instead of moving on, apply the analogy. "Hey, let's see if we can come up with an analogy. It's a pretty cookie cutter correlation/causation scenario. Let's see if we can come up with our own, different subject matter." It becomes kind of fun to have a back and forth with someone to do that. I mean, I obviously enjoy it that's why I'm teaching stuff.
Saumya: Yeah, it starts to get fun. It is tiring though, keep a [45:56] [???].
J.Y.: It's tiring, time-consuming, which again, this is why after hearing you say all this stuff, I'm not surprised at all at your amazing 20-point improvement. This is the necessary work that had to get done. And I think it's incredible because a lot of this stuff isn't explicit in the curriculum. A lot of it is implicit because, like, you just see it in the video. I do this all the time in the videos where I fix wrong answer choices. The idea is that it's like, "Hey, come on, you should do this too. You as a student should do this as well. Don't just count on me to do it. Obviously, I wanted to do it to show you how it's done, but I can't do that work for you. You have to do it so that you understand what's required."
Saumya: And also, there are questions which ask everything weakens except, so you will learn from other answer choices as well that this is one way to weaken, another way to weaken the same argument. Those questions are very useful for learning.
J.Y.: Okay, well, I'm aware that we're coming up on the one hour we had scheduled for the call but I just want to ask you one last question. Is there anything in particular that you're most looking forward to, about coming to the US and studying the law?
Saumya: I am very excited to learn about a new legal system and be part of a diverse class. I'm generally looking forward to be in another country for three years and do such a rigorous course. The idea is challenging, it's kind of daunting, and I'm not like 23 years old. I'm a little older than that but I think I would like to take up that challenge. I think it will be a great learning experience.
J.Y.: I think you're fully prepared to take out whatever challenge, whichever law school is lucky enough to have you as part of this 1L class.
Saumya: In earlier applications, except like top Yale and Stanford, I was being waitlisted everywhere else, so I was thinking that even though I felt it somewhere that mean for international students since we do not have an American GPA, they may not be as generous with scholarship, but I think that could be fixed by applying early in the cycle.
J.Y.: That's right. You got to let us know where. I'm rooting for you. I'm sure we're all rooting for you. How can we not be? I'm just, like, really impressed. The dedication that you put into this test is really inspiring.
Saumya: Well, now I really like it. Sometimes I miss studying for it.
J.Y.: All right, well, I wish you good luck. I wish you all the best.
Saumya: I wish all the best to everybody preparing for this, and they should remember that they're going to have their moments of helplessness and frustration and “I can’t do it” but you really can. Put in the work and be honest with yourself while deciding what kind of work you need to put into it.
J.Y.: Awesome. Thank you.
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